Results tagged ‘ Peoria Chiefs ’

Farm Report Wrap-Up: Peoria featured top prospects in last year as Cubs affiliate

Third baseman Dustin Geiger was named the Chiefs’ season MVP (Photo by Roger 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 low Class-A Peoria Chiefs take the spotlight.

There weren’t many constants on the Chiefs roster this year, but the Cubs hope several players featured there will develop into cornerstones in Chicago.

Many locals got a sneak peek at the future when Peoria visited Kane County in Geneva, Ill., during the last weekend of the minor league season. Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler hit the longest home run of the season at that ballpark, a monstrous shot over the trees in left field. MLBlogger Born On Third Cubs caught the bomb on video (skip to 1:40 for the last swing):

That’s the sort of middle-of-the-order power potential that earned Soler a nine-year contract from the Cubs in June. Just 20 years old, Soler hit for a .338/.398/.513 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) with three home runs and five doubles in 20 games after his mid-August promotion from Short-Season Boise. He’ll now continue his season in the fall instructional league at the organization’s complex in Mesa, Ariz. That will allow him to get controlled instruction—as well as cultural immersion—under the watchful eyes of Cubs coaches.

He was replacing, in effect, Javier Baez, who showed he was worthy of the ninth-overall pick in the loaded 2011 draft class. He started the year in extended Spring Training before being assigned to Peoria when the weather warmed up around Memorial Day. From that point to his Aug. 4 promotion to high Class-A Daytona, Baez had a .333/.383/.596 slash line with 10 doubles, five triples and 12 home runs in 235 plate appearances. The shortstop also added 20 steals in 23 tries while establishing himself as arguably the organization’s top prospect.

Beyond that, the Peoria roster was a bit of a carousel due to injuries and promotions. The Chiefs featured 53 players this season.

Final Records:

First Half / 35-34, third place, 9.0 GB

Second Half / 28-41, seventh place, 19.5 GB

Storylines: The 2012 season marks the Chiefs’ last as a Cubs affiliate, as the organization announced a new player development contract with the Kane County Cougars this month. That will bring the Cubs within 50 miles of their low Class-A team or “right in our backyard,” as Jason McLeod put it. (more…)

Farm Report: Peoria’s Kirk tosses no-hitter

Players and fans of the Peoria Chiefs, the Chicago Cubs’ Class A affiliate, had more to celebrate on the Fourth of July than the country’s birthday—left-hander Austin Kirk pitched the eighth no-hitter in Chiefs franchise history in a 2-0 win over the Clinton LumberKings.

The 21-year-old struck out 10 and walked only two on his way to the first complete-game no-no for the Chiefs since 1988.

Here’s what our Minor League Prospectus, issued every February in Vine Line, had to say about Kirk in 2010:

“Polite to a fault, scouts love Kirk’s makeup but love his upside even more. His heavy fastball sits in the 88-91 range, and he pairs it with an above-average change-up. His curve also has potential. Kirk has a strong, durable frame with good strength in his legs and core. His fastball is explosive, and he locates it well at the bottom of the zone.”

Besides making an impact on the mound, Kirk already proved to be a winning personality off the field—even before the Cubs selected him in the third round of the 2009 draft. That same summer, when Kirk’s high school baseball team, the Owasso (Okla.) Rams, was making a run for the 6A state championship, Kirk and several teammates visited Odis McCormick, a longtime fan that had become too sick to attend games. Kirk and his teammates presented McCormick with one of Kirk’s old jerseys and a ball signed by the whole team. (more…)

The Road To Wrigley: Iowa comes to Chicago

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgIt’s often a long road for a lot of minor-leaguers to travel, but they do it because playing in the major leagues has been a lifelong dream.

Today at Wrigley Field, some of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs players and coaches just soaked up their big-league surroundings before their game against the Las Vegas 51’s in the second annual Road to Wrigley game.

Last year featured the Cubs’ low Class-A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs, including current Iowa hitting coach Desi Wilson, who served as Peoria’s hitting coach last year. He is the only repeat participant, but it doesn’t make the experience any less special.

“I just love seeing how the players respond,” Wilson said. “But it’s great for the fans to see some of the organization’s prospects.”

However, with Iowa just three and a half games out of first in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s North Division, the game still is a game–one they must win.

“We try to tell the guys that it is just another game,” said Iowa Cubs manager Bobby Dickerson. “But I’ll tell you what–this is special, and I am going to try my darndest to get as many guys in as I possibly can. Not everyone can make the big leagues. For some guys, this could be the closest they ever get.”

DICKERSON SANDBURG small.JPGSo it probably would be great for the Iowa Cubs to get out to a 14-0 lead by the third inning so Dickerson could sub guys in at will, right?

“Heh, well I wish it were that easy,” he laughed. “But there are places where I can pick and choose to bring some guys in.”

Last year featured Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (pictured, left), who managed the Peoria Chiefs and is now the manager of the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies. This year it was Dickerson’s (pictured, right)  turn at the helm.

“Heck, this might be the only time I’m up here, but hopefully not,” Dickerson said. “Desi made it up to the bigs as a player. I never did. So I’m just going to enjoy the heck out of this.”

For some Iowa Cubs, being at Wrigley Field was more than de ja vu. They’ve actually been here already this year. I-Cubs like right-handers Justin Berg, Mitch Atkins and infielder Bobby Scales all have seen cups of coffee with the big club this year. Heck, first baseman Micah Hoffpauir–who was optioned Aug. 7 to make room for Geovany Soto–still has his old locker. 

Clubhouse attendants Rich Rupp, Gary Stark and Tim Hellmann sheeted off the big-leaguers’ lockers with plastic and ran a steel rod the length of both walls for the minor-leaguers to hang their clothes. I patted Hoffpauir on the back to sort of “welcome” him back.

“So, Hoffy, it’s like you never left! But you can’t use your old locker?” I asked.

“Well, I didn’t want to ruin the delicate plastic sheets in front of them,” he laughed, pointing to his big-league jersey lurking just behind the I-Cubs jersey hanging on the steel rod. “But really it’s not that big a deal. And a lot of these guys have been here before earlier in the year, so for them it’s old hat. But for the new guys it’s great to see their faces as they walk out on to the field. Because [Wrigley Field] is an awe-inspiring place.”

Iowa Cubs general manager Sam Bernabe said: “For the Iowa Cubs organization, the game is extremely exciting. I’ve been in town two or three times in the past couple of weeks and to see our logo all over the place promoting the game, it’s incredible.”

Mike Huang

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