Results tagged ‘ Kane County Cougars ’
(Photo by Jason Wise)
Albert Almora has always felt most comfortable when he’s on a baseball diamond. For the first time during the 2013 regular season, he’ll get that opportunity.
The Cubs’ 2012 first-round draft pick was transferred to Single-A Kane County on Wednesday after missing the first portion of the season with a broken hamate bone in his wrist. The sixth overall pick of last year’s draft entered the season as the organization’s second-best prospect and minor league baseball’s No. 33 overall prospect, according to Baseball America. The publication also lists Almora as the best hitter for average and the best defensive outfielder in the Cubs minor league system.
After signing with the Cubs in early July, he split time between the Arizona Rookie League and Short-Season Boise. In 33 combined games, the outfielder hit .321/.331/.464 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 12 doubles in 140 at-bats.
Almora joins an impressive list of former first rounders to play for the Cougars including Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Blanton.
Please don’t judge me, but …
I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan. Look, there wasn’t much I could do about it. I moved a lot when I was younger and lived in Atlanta in the early ’80s. With each subsequent move, I was able to follow the Braves because of TBS.
Here’s what I remember about the Braves from my younger days—1981 was a miserable, strike-shortened year; 1982 was a blast until the postseason (a phenomenon I didn’t realize would repeat itself throughout my adulthood); 1983 was solid; and then depression set in.
The Braves were 80-82 in 1984, and that was by far the best it would get until the franchise began its unprecedented run of regular-season success in 1991. The late ’ 80s saw a wretched slide that reached its nadir in 1988, when the team went 54-106.
So why am I recounting this sad chapter from my childhood? I see a lot of similarities between what the Braves were doing in the late ’80s/early ’90s and what the Cubs are doing now.
In 1990, the Braves went 65-97, good for last place in the NL West, 26 games behind the Reds. In 1991, they shocked the baseball world by winning 94 games and getting all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Since then, they’ve been one of the most stable and consistently excellent teams in pro sports.
But the Braves’ worst-to-first run didn’t come out of the blue. In fact, the team probably wasn’t as bad as its record in 1990. If you look back at the roster, it included names like Steve Avery, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Mike Stanton, Ron Gant and David Justice. All those players had some important things in common—they were young, untested, and between the ages of 20 and 25.
When we talked to Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein for our January issue, something he said resonated with me.
“There are two ways to really improve your team in a hurry from one year to the next,” Epstein said. “One is sign impact players or bring in impact players from outside the organization. The other is to have a wave of young talent that’s approaching their prime years at the same time.”
The Cubs might not shock the world this year, but they’re building that wave of talent—players who can grow together, win together, lose together, and ultimately figure things out together as they move into their prime years.
One of these waves is at the major league level now in Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson. Epstein calls these players the “Cubs core.” And the organization is developing another strong group in the low minor leagues with high-ceiling players like Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Pierce Johnson and Dillon Maples.
In the May issue of Vine Line, we talk to the Cubs core about what it means to them to play in Chicago and how they plan to turn potential into major league success. One thing is clear—no matter what the record said at the end of 2012 or what it says right now—these guys do not buy into the presumption that the Cubs are years away from winning.
We also check in on the new minor league affiliate that is helping develop the next wave of top talent. After eight years with the Peoria Chiefs, the Cubs switched their Midwest League affiliate to Kane County, located about 40 miles from Wrigley Field’s doorstep. There are huge benefits to having a farm team nearby, and the Cougars and Cubs both hope to take advantage of that in 2013 and beyond.
Finally, we look at the other side of the Cubs equation—the fan base. This season, the team has developed an advertising and marketing campaign based on the fierce dedication and undying passion of the best fans in the game. We talk to the stars of the new ads and the Cubs front office to find out how it all came together.
Here’s to a brighter future.
Zach Putnam pitched well for Triple-A Iowa Tuesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Kane County Cougars captured a walk-off win Tuesday, while Daytona had its three-game win streak snapped and Iowa continued to struggle. Tennessee was off and will host Chattanooga Wednesday. Here are the highlights from Tuesday’s games:
IOWA CUBS (0-6)
Iowa suffered its sixth-straight loss to open the season, dropping a 4-2 decision at Round Rock. The 0-6 mark is the worst start in franchise history.
- LF Darnell McDonald (.313) went 1-for-3 with his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the second inning He’s hit safely in all five games he’s appeared in.
- RF Brett Jackson (.280) recorded his second-consecutive, multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored.
- DH Ty Wright (.222) went 2-for-4 to snap a four-game hitless skid.
- RHP Zach Putnam (1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 SO) and RHP Rafael Dolis (1.0 IP, 1 H) each worked a scoreless inning of relief.
DAYTONA CUBS (3-2)
Daytona had its three-game winning streak snapped, as the D-Cubs committed four errors in a 5-4 setback against visiting Clearwater.
- DH Zeke DeVoss (.300) went 1-for-5 with a solo home run.
- RF Jorge Soler (.450) extended his hitting streak to five games, including three straight, multi-hit affairs, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a RBI.
- LF-CF John Andreoli (.471) reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base. He owns a five-game hitting streak and back-to-back multi-walk efforts.
- LHP Sheldon McDonald (0-1, 3.38) worked 2.2-scoreless innings of relief, surrendering two hits while walking two and fanning one.
KANE COUNTY COUGARS (2-4)
Cougars third baseman Jeimer Candelario smacked a game-winning single to left field in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 6-5 walk-off win against visiting Clinton.
- SS Jeimer Candelario (.241) finished 2-for-5 with the game-winning RBI.
- DH Rock Shoulders (.480) extended his hitting streak to six games, going 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, a home run and one RBI. He has recorded two or more hits in four-straight games.
- 1B Daniel Vogelbach (.310) recorded his second three-hit game of the campaign, going 3-for-5.
- RF Bijan Rademacher (.294), SS Marco Hernandez (.136) and 2B Gioskar Amaya (.269) collected two hits apiece.
- RHP Eduardo Orozco (1-1, 6.00) picked up his first win of the season despite allowing two unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning.
2011 Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo will start 2013 with the Kane County Cougars. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs made their fair share of organizational changes during the offseason, from roster transactions to the proposal to restore Wrigley Field. But one of the bigger moves this winter was partnering with the Kane County Cougars as the club’s new Single-A affiliate. The Cougars play their home games in Geneva, Ill., roughly 40 miles west of Chicago, which gives fans a chance to view the future of the organization up close.
On Tuesday morning, the Cougars announced their Opening Day roster, and it’s full of high-upside talent that Cubs fans should (and now can) keep an eye on.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach headlines the squad’s roster, along with a trio of exciting young infielders in Jeimer Candelario, Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez. Vogelbach, a 2011 second-round pick, is viewed by many as the best power hitter in the organization.
Pierce Johnson, a right-hander the Cubs selected in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft, could be one of the organization’s best young arms. Lendy Castillo, a 2011 Rule 5 pick who got into 13 games last year for the Cubs, will also start 2013 with Kane County.
Here is the full roster manager Mark Johnson will have at his disposal when his squad opens up on Thursday:
Justin Amlung RHP
Jeff Antigua LHP
Jose Arias RHP
Lendy Castillo RHP
Ian Dickson RHP
Nathan Dorris LHP
Michael Heesch LHP
Pierce Johnson RHP
Eddie Orozco RHP
Felix Pena RHP
Stephen Perakslis RHP
Tayler Scott RHP
Brian Smith LHP
(Photo courtesy Boise Hawks)
The Cubs front office—and Midwest fans of the team—already are planning to wear out their odometers on day trips this spring. Located about an hour west of Wrigley Field, the Class-A Kane County Cougars will feature a host of legit prospects, many of whom starred for the ultra-exciting Boise Hawks last summer.
One player expected to start there is Jeimer Candelario, just one of more than 60 players covered in Vine Line’s annual Minor League Prospectus. The issue will hit newsstands in February, and single issues are available by calling 800-618-8377. It’s an exhaustive rundown, perfect for Spring Training and beyond. And if you’re heading to the Cubs Convention this weekend, make sure to stop by the Down on the Farm panel Sunday at 9 a.m., hosted by broadcaster Dave Otto and Vine Line Managing Editor Gary Cohen.
IF | JEIMER CANDELARIO
Born: 11/24/93 in New York, N.Y.
Acquired: 2010 Non-Drafted Free Agent
Tools: HIT, POW
2012 STATS (Short-Season): .281 AVG/.345 OBP/.396 SLG (71 G)
Barely the age of the typical high school draft pick, the 18-year-old Candelario held his own against college-age competition in the Northwest League. He’s a big-framed, stocky kid who can really swing the stick, and he has a chance to be a special hitter. If you’re willing to spare the expectations, he’s a bit like Pablo Sandoval in that he’s a switch-hitter who hits for average, has man strength and will try to stick at third base. But Candelario’s defense needs work, as he battled inconsistency in the field for the Boise Hawks. Most promising may be his surprisingly advanced plate approach. He plays the game under control and with a real rhythm to his work in batting practice. He’s one to keep an eye on in his first year of full-season ball.
Other players featured in this section: Infielders Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez and Dan Vogelbach; catcher Wilson Contreras; outfielder Trey Martin; and pitchers Dillon Maples and Ben Wells.
Plus, tidbits on IF Ronald Torreyes, RHP Jose Rosario, RHP Austin Reed, IF Carlos Penalver, RHP Tayler Scott, RHP Michael Jensen, OF Jeffrey Baez, IF Zeke DeVoss and OF Pin-Chieh Chen.