Results tagged ‘ Logan Watkins ’

Cubs add 4 players to 40-man roster

The Cubs’ 2012 Minor League Player of the Year Logan Watkins was added to the club’s 40-man roster. (Photo by Rodger Wood)

The Cubs added right-handed pitchers Trey McNutt and Robert Whitenack and infielders Christian Villanueva and Logan Watkins to the 40-man roster Tuesday, the last day to protect prospects from next month’s Rule 5 draft. The Cubs also designated Brian LaHair for assignment and optioned righty Carlos Gutierrez to Triple-A Iowa.

McNutt, who is currently ranked eighth on the Cubs’ Prospect Watch list, went 9-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 34 appearances (17 starts) with Double-A Tennessee. In four minor league seasons, the 23-year-old has a 27-16 record with a 3.45 ERA. After being selected in the 32nd round of the 2009 draft, McNutt started the Single-A Midwest League All-Star Game in 2010, was a midseason Double-A Southern League All-Star in 2011 and was a 2011 Arizona Fall League rising star. He has recently thrived after a move to the bullpen.

Villanueva, a slick-fielding third baseman, came over from the Rangers in the midseason deal for Ryan Dempster. The organization’s No. 7 prospect hit .279 with 24 doubles, 14 homers, 68 RBI and 14 stolen last season between Single-A Daytona and Texas’ Single-A affiliate, Myrtle Beach. The 2011 mid- and postseason All-Star in the South Atlantic League was signed by the Rangers in 2008 as a nondrafted free agent from Guadalajara, Mexico.

Watkins, the Cubs’ 2012 Minor League Player of the Year, batted .281 with 93 runs, 20 doubles, 11 triples, nine home runs and 52 RBI for Double-A Tennessee. He led the Southern League in runs scored, was second in triples and walks (76), and was fourth in on-base percentage (383). The 23-year-old possesses a career average of .285 with a .372 on-base percentage and was selected in the 21st round of the 2008 draft.

Whitenack joined Single-A Daytona in May after missing part of 2011 with Tommy John surgery. He went 1-6 with a 5.96 ERA in 15 starts. The organization’s No. 13 prospect was drafted in the eighth round of the 2009 draft, and has a career 19-18 record in the minors.

LaHair, who was designated for assignment, was a 2012 National League All-Star, batting .259 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI in 130 games for the Cubs. LaHair and the Cubs are reportedly working on a deal with a Japanese team. Gutierrez was claimed off waivers by the Cubs from the Twins on Oct. 24.

The Cubs’ current 40-man roster:

Pitchers
Scott Baker
Jeff Beliveau*
Michael Bowden
Alberto Cabrera
Shawn Camp
Lendy Castillo
Jaye Chapman
Casey Coleman
Gerardo Concepcion*
Rafael Dolis
Matt Garza
Carlos Marmol
Trey McNutt
Zach Putnam
Brooks Raley*
Chris Rusin*
James Russell*
Jeff Samardzija
Arodys Vizcaino
Robert Whitenack
Travis Wood*
* – LHP

Catchers
Welington Castillo
Steve Clevenger
Dioner Navarro

Infielders
Darwin Barney
Starlin Castro
Junior Lake
Anthony Rizzo
Ian Stewart
Luis Valbuena
Christian Villanueva
Josh Vitters
Logan Watkins

Outfielders
Tony Campana
David DeJesus
Brett Jackson
Dave Sappelt
Jorge Soler
Alfonso Soriano
Matt Szczur

Mesa’s fall league ends in a loss

Though the Arizona Fall League is mostly about improving on an individual basis and competing against some of baseball’s elite, young talent, it’s also nice to win a few games. Unfortunately for Cubs prospects on the Mesa Solar Sox’s roster, wins came few and far between during the AFL season.

Mesa dropped its season finale 8-3 to Phoenix Thursday afternoon, giving the Solar Sox a league-worst 10-20 record.

Matt Szczur went 0-for-4 in the leadoff spot, with an RBI groundout in the third inning. Logan Watkins finished 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

Nick Struck pitched the fourth and fifth innings, surrendering only one hit, a solo home run, and striking out a batter.

Despite missing the last two weeks of the season, Javier Baez finished in a tie for third in home runs (4) and finished sixth in RBI (16). Szczur finished tied for fourth with nine stolen bases, just one less than base-stealing phenom Billy Hamilton (Reds). He also drew 14 walks, good for a tie for seventh in the league. And despite playing in just nine games, Watkins’ on-base percentage was .375, thanks in part to his eight walks.

On the rubber, Tony Zych fared the best of any Cubs pitcher. His 3.86 ERA in 14.0 innings would have been even lower had he not surrendered two earned runs in his final outing. While he struck out only four batters during the season, he walked only two.

Kevin Rhoderick was also solid in the hitter-friendly league. He posted a 4.82 ERA in 9.1 innings and managed to strike out 14 batters—sixth on the team—despite pitching fewer innings than all but two Mesa pitchers.

How the Solar Sox fared during the Arizona Fall League:

Mesa continues skid, falls to Scottsdale

Mesa just couldn’t get the bats going as the Solar Sox fell to Scottsdale 8-2 Wednesday. Scottsdale held the Sox scoreless until the ninth inning.

Trailing 8-0 in the ninth, Rubi Silva led off the inning with a single to right and advanced to third on a Jiovanni Mier (Astros) double to left. Fellow Cubs prospect Logan Watkins scored Silva on a ground out to second. Silva finished the game 1-for-3, while Watkins was 1-for-4 with a single in the seventh.

For the first time this fall, Cubs pitcher Tony Zych surrendered more than one run in an outing. The righty gave up a single to the first batter batter of the fifth inning, Slade Heathcott (Yankees), who advanced to third on a pair of pitches that got by catcher Gorman Erickson (Dodgers). Ronny Rodriguez (Indians) singled and scored Heathcott. After a David Adams (Yankees) walk and a Chris Dominguez (Giants) single, the bases were loaded. Zych got Adalberto Santos (Pirates) to ground into a double play, but a run still crossed the plate. Zych then got Ricky Oropesa (Giants) to ground out to end the inning.

Mesa’s fall league season wraps up Thursday when the team faces Phoenix, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Mesa comes up short vs. Surprise

The Surprise bats were just too much for Mesa in a 10-8 loss Tuesday afternoon. While no Cubs pitchers threw, the Solar Sox’s lineup included a trio of contributing Cubs farmhands.

In the fourth inning, Rubi Silva singled to center and scored from third three batters later on Rafael Ynoa’s two-run single. Ynoa, who represents the Dodgers, advanced to third on an error. Cubs center fielder Matt Szczur drove him home on a single past the pitcher. He would score later in the inning on a wild pitch.

In the fifth, Silva drove in George Springer (Astros) on an RBI single to right. The outfielder finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Szczur went 1-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Logan Watkins was 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Mesa heads to Scottsdale Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Watkins can’t help Mesa overcome deficit

Mesa had its four-game winning streak snapped Monday afternoon as the Solar Sox fell 8-4 to Salt River at home.

Logan Watkins reached on a walk and scored from first on a three-run double by Nick Castellanos (Tigers). Watkins was 0-for-2 on the day with three walks, boosting his on-base percentage to .444 in the six games he’s played in the AFL. He did commit an error at second.

Nick Struck pitched in the top of the sixth and surrendered two runs, one earned, on a hit and a walk. He struck out one. In the bottom of the sixth, he was ejected from the game.

Tony Zych pitched the ninth, giving up a leadoff double to Anthony Rendon (Nationals). Rendon moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Carlos Sanchez (White Sox) sacrifice fly for the only run of the inning.

Mesa hosts Surprise on Tuesday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Watkins powers Mesa to a two-win weekend

Mesa’s winning ways continued into the weekend as the Solar Sox downed Salt River 7-5 on Friday and outslugged Peoria 11-8 on Saturday. In both games, Logan Watkins’ bat played a pivotal role.

On Friday, Watkins doubled in the top of the second and scored a batter later on a Brian Ward (Orioles) single. He also reached base on a single in the fifth to go 2-for-5 on the day.

Rubi Silva finished 0-for-4 with a run scored.

No Cubs pitchers threw on Friday.

In Saturday’s matchup, Watkins’ bat really got going. He singled in the third inning and then hit his first homer of the fall on a solo shot to right field in the fifth. In the seventh, he singled again, scoring Jonathan Schoop (Orioles) from third. Three batters later, Watkins scored from third on a George Springer (Astros) single. He finished the day 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Matt Szczur also contributed in Saturday’s victory, going 2-for-5 with a single, a double and a run scored.

Dae-Eun Rhee got the start and went two innings, allowing one earned run on four hits and two walks. He struck out two.

The Cubs host Salt River on Monday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Zych strong as Solar Sox rally to top Phoenix

The Solar Sox let a three-run lead over Phoenix slide into a 3-3 tie in the top of the eighth, but Mesa got a run back in the bottom of the frame and held on for a 4-3 victory Thursday afternoon. Outside of Tony Zych, however, it wasn’t the most exciting day for Cubs farmhands.

Zych kept his solid fall going with two scoreless innings of relief. The righty surrendered just a pair of hits and walked none.

Matt Szczur went 0-for-1 with a pair of walks. Logan Watkins was 0-for-4 but reached on a fielder’s choice and crossed the plate as the eventual game-winning run. Rubi Silva pinch-ran for Aaron Westlake (Tigers) but was forced out on a fielder’s choice.

Cubs minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck got roughed up in his 1 1/3 innings on the hill. He retired the side in order in the seventh but ran into trouble in the eighth. The leadoff hitter singled and the next batter drew a walk. After a flyout to right, Grant Green (Athletics) homered to center to tie the game.

Mesa heads to Salt River Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Suprise’s pitching blanks Solar Sox

It was an offensive struggle for Mesa Tuesday afternoon, as the Solar Sox fell 7-0 to visiting Surprise. The team managed just six hits in the losing effort.

Cubs minor league player of the year Logan Watkins, who replaced the injured Javier Baez on the Sox roster, recorded his first hit of the fall season with a single to right in the fifth. He also drew a walk to finish the day 1-for-3. Matt Szczur singled in the seventh for his only hit in four at-bats.

Fresh off of earning the victory in Saturday’s Rising Stars Game, rightly Tony Zych pitched a scoreless eighth inning, retiring the side in order.

Mesa heads to Scottsdale on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

How the Cubs have fared:

Farm Report Wrap-Up: Keep an eye out for some sleepers on Smokies roster

Tennessee Smokies infielder Logan Watkins was named the organization’s 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. (Photo by Rodger Wood)

Today we continue our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. The Double-A Tennessee Smokies are next in the spotlight.

For all the talent we’ve written about in the lower levels of the Cubs system, it was the Tennessee Smokies who featured two full seasons from the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.

Two nights ago, infielder Logan Watkins and right-hander Nick Struck were honored by Jason McLeod and farm director Brandon Hyde in a pre-game ceremony at Wrigley Field. Watkins was a 21st-round pick out of high school in the 2008 draft, and he’s shown a consistent ability to get on base throughout his minor league career. This year, he hit for a .281/.383/.422 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) and collected 76 walks in 588 plate appearances. His 13 percent walk rate was three percentage points higher than his already lofty career standards, and his slugging percentage was nearly 50 points higher despite having roughly the same batting average. In other words, it was a career year.

Of course, Watkins’ skill set is broader than just patience. He has versatility in the field—spotting at shortstop and center field in addition to second base—and the speed to rack up double-digit triples and stolen bases. He bats left-handed too. A 23-year-old sleeper to track as he likely moves to Iowa next year.

Struck also is turning out to be a late-round sleeper. A 2009 39th-round pick out of an Oregon community college, Struck emerged as the Smokies’ ace a season after he split time between three levels (A, AA and AAA). His 155 innings led the team, and he finished with a 3.18 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Just as importantly, his hits and walks allowed ticked down from a year ago, while his strikeouts climbed to just over seven per nine innings.

Struck isn’t a high-ceiling type—in other words, someone with a high-90s fastball or a wipeout breaking ball—but he’s succeeded with poise, pitch ability and a versatile four-pitch mix. He turns 23 this month and also is likely to wind up in Iowa next season.

Final Records:

First Half / 35-35, tie-second place, 7.0 GB

Second Half / 37-33, tie-second place, 4.0 GB

Storylines: This is a team that the Cubs front office hopes will develop some future contributors in Chicago. Matt Szczur struggled in his first taste of Double-A, but he has the toolset to hit for average and use his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield alongside Brett Jackson. Right-hander Trey McNutt has had mixed success since his breakout campaign two years ago, but this summer, the Cubs found a new home for his plus fastball and power breaking ball in the bullpen. Shortstop Junior Lake also is smoothing out rough edges, but he has a ceiling that few prospects in the higher levels can match. Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha deserves special mention after a successful all-around campaign including a home run in the Futures Game.
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