Results tagged ‘ Stephen Bruno ’

From the Pages of Vine Line: 2014 Minor League Prospectus, Ready to Break Out

Duane-Underwood

Duane Underwood has one of the highest ceilings of all the Cubs arms. (Photo by Scott McDaniel)

For many Chicagoans, February means cold weather. At Vine Line, it’s all about the Cubs minor league prospectus. In the February issue, fans can check out frequent contributor Sahadev Sharma’s player breakdowns for more than 45 of the organization’s top prospects, from teenagers like Eloy Jimenez to elite talents like Javier Baez. This is our final online installment. For more information, pick up the February issue of Vine Line.

Also from the Series:
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – The Elite
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – Close to Big Leagues
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – International Impact
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – Pitching Depth

READY TO BREAK OUT

Not every name in the Cubs system sits atop prospect lists like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. But the best organizations not only have top talent and balance, they also have players not everyone has heard of who have a chance to blossom into very good major leaguers.

Whether they’re lacking the flashy tool that garners headlines or are just a little raw and haven’t yet put everything together, there are definitely names worth watching in the Cubs system. And many of these prospects could become much more familiar to fans over the next nine months.

STEPHEN BRUNO
DOB: 11/17/1990
POSITION: 2B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: DAYTONA
2013 STATS: .362/.436/.478 (19 GAMES)

There’s no two ways about it, this kid can flat-out hit. With a front-to-back stroke, Bruno uses the whole field, attacks the fastball and has the ability to stay on the breaking ball. Unfortunately, his season ended early with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. If not for that, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for Bruno to hit his way up to Double-A.

He likely won’t be ready by Spring Training, but the hope is he’ll be able to get on the field early in the minor league season. When he does, expect him to once again hit line drives all over the field.

ROCK SHOULDERS
DOB: 9/26/1991
POSITION: 1B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: KANE COUNTY
2013 STATS: .258/.352/.445 (117 GAMES)

The man with the best name in the system mashed at a tough park for hitters in Kane County early on, earning organizational Player of the Month honors in April. A full-figured kid, Shoulders is more athletic than many realize. He played third base as an amateur, and there are those in the Cubs organization who believe he could have some value in the outfield.

With a winning combination of patience and power, the bat will always be enticing. Now it’s a matter of developing versatility on defense or finding one place to play and really focusing on it.

DUANE UNDERWOOD
DOB: 7/20/1994
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: BOISE
2013 STATS: 54.1, 4.97 ERA, 36 K, 27 BB (11 STARTS, 14 APPEARANCES)

Outside of C.J. Edwards and perhaps Pierce Johnson, Underwood may have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the organization. Unfortunately, he came into Spring Training in less-than-ideal shape, which led to inconsistent performance throughout the season. The hope is that he learned his lesson and will prepare appropriately this offseason so he can come into the spring ready to take off.

As far as the stuff is concerned, when he’s on, the fastball is 92-96 mph, and he has a knee-buckling curve. But consistency is an issue, and he didn’t get as many whiffs as you’d expect from a guy with his stuff.

“He’ll come into next season as a 19-year-old, and we’re just waiting for the light to come on,” McLeod said. “His upside is as high as anybody we’ve got.”

CHRISTIAN VILLANUEVA
DOB: 6/19/1991
POSITION: 3B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: TENNESSEE
2013 STATS: .261/.317/469 (133 GAMES)

Already a big league-caliber defender at third, Villanueva showed some pop for the first time in his career in 2013, hitting 41 doubles and 19 home runs. There are some swing mechanics the Cubs will continue to work on with him, and they’d like to see him improve his plate discipline as far as controlling the strike zone. But Villanueva has the profile teams look for at third base, especially if the power output remains at the level he showed this season. Defensively, his hands and feet are as good as anyone’s.

DAN VOGELBACH
DOB: 12/17/1992
POSITION: 1B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: DAYTONA
2013 STATS: .284/.375/.449 (131 GAMES)

Vogelbach grew up playing baseball in the Florida sun, so the cold late spring in Kane County was a shock to his system this past season. Many balls that normally would have cleared the fence or fallen for doubles became easy outs. However, his struggles in a cold and rainy April helped him grow immensely as a player. By the end of the year, his numbers were solid, and he’d done enough to earn a promotion to Daytona.

The bat has always been a plus for Vogelbach, as he shows light-tower power and can drive the ball to all parts of the field. Of course, the biggest question will always be his body and whether it will keep him from sticking at first base. While he’ll never be mistaken for slender, there have been some positive signs of late.
“He was probably the best I’ve ever seen him look [in November for instructs] in Arizona,” McLeod said.

McLeod pointed to next season as being a huge year for Vogelbach. He’ll have to continue to stay in shape and prove his bat can carry him to the bigs.

GIOSKAR AMAYA (2B) – Amaya had an up-and-down 2013, but he has bat speed, power for a second baseman, solid plate discipline and the speed to steal a base here and there. He’s a very hard worker, but he can be too tough on himself from time to time. Still, he’s an intelligent ballplayer with tools and plus-makeup.

SHAWON DUNSTON JR. (OF) – Dunston grew up a lot in 2013 after struggling early in his professional career. He had a strong first half in Boise but fell off toward the end. He has all the tools, drew a lot of walks and can steal bases. The Cubs are working on his bat path, as Dunston tends to get a little pull-happy.

KEVIN ENCARNACION (OF) – Encarnacion hit for average and power, drew walks and stole bases in a strong year at Boise. He’s a switch-hitter with a corner-outfield profile. Though he was a little old for the Northwest League, his confidence improved this season after a strong performance. He shows a fluid swing with a very good idea of the strike zone.

DUSTIN GEIGER (1B) – This streaky, big-bodied power hitter mashes lefties and holds his own against righties. Geiger should move into a hitters’ park in Tennessee next year, so he needs to keep putting up offensive numbers and improving defensively.

JACOB HANNEMANN (OF) – Hannemann was a surprise third-round pick in last summer’s draft. He flew under the radar because he hadn’t played for a few years due to a Mormon mission and commitment to the BYU football team. He has a strong left-handed bat and a good feel for the strike zone. From a tools standpoint, he’s a dynamic guy with tremendous speed, a Jacoby Ellsbury-type body and athleticism. He’s raw because of limited playing time, but the Cubs are betting on his upside.

CARLOS PIMENTEL (RHP) – Recently named the Dominican Winter League Pitcher of the Year, this strong-armed reliever has proven to be a tough match-up. He’s a short-arm guy, and hitters often have a tough time picking up the ball. He has been up to 94 mph with the fastball, which he complements with a slider and a solid change-up. His command and control can waver, but he’s a pitcher who gives opponents an uncomfortable at-bat.

IVAN PINEYRO (RHP) – Acquired in a trade with the Nationals for Scott Hairston, Pineyro is a strike thrower with an impressive change-up. He’s not a stuff guy, but the belief is he can end up at the back end of a good major league rotation.

—Sahadev Sharma

Cubs minor league recap: 4/14/13

BRIAN-WEB

Brian Bogusevic posted his third-straight, multi-hit game Sunday. (Photo by Stephen Green)

While Kane County’s doubleheader in Wisconsin was postponed due to inclement weather, Iowa, Tennessee and Daytona all collected a win Sunday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:

Iowa Cubs (3-8)

Iowa won its second game in a row, plating three fifth-inning runs in a 4-1 victory over visiting Albuquerque.

  • LHP Chris Rusin (1-1) went seven innings, surrendering one earned run on four hits for the win.
  • CF Brian Bogusevic (.378 AVG) recorded his third-straight, multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
  • 2B Darwin Barney (.200) went 0-for-1 with three walks, a run scored and a stolen base (1) in the second game of a rehabilitation assignment.
  • 3B Ian Stewart (.000) went 0-for-3 with a walk and a RBI (1) in the first game of a rehabilitation assignment.
  • 1B Brad Nelson (.205) was 1-for-4 with a team-high two RBI (7).
  • RHP Zach Putnam (8.44 ERA) converted his first save, walking one and fanning three in 2.0 scoreless innings of relief.

Tennessee Smokies (5-5)

Tennessee plated two runs in the first inning, one in the fourth inning and four more in the seventh in a 7-3 victory over visiting Chattanooga, the Smokies third straight win.

  • RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (1-1) went six innings, surrendering one hit and allowing no earned runs.
  • RF Jae-Hoon Ha (.343) reached base four times, going 3-for-3 with a walk, a double (2), a run scored and a RBI (6).
  • 2B Ronald Torreyes (.667) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and a RBI (1).
  • LF Rubi Silva (.345) was 2-for-4.
  • 3B Jonathan Mota (.227) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI (2).

Daytona Cubs (5-5)

Daytona used a three-run seventh inning to race past host Tampa, 3-1.

  • RHP Zach Cates (1-1) surrendered one earned run over six innings, striking out four in the win.
  • DH Stephen Bruno (.385) went 2-for-4 with a run scored. He extended his hitting streak to eight games (.424), including six multi-hit affairs.
  • 1B Dustin Geiger (.286) went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
  • C Micah Gibbs (.286) was 2-for-4 with a double (2) and a RBI (5).
  • LHP Frank Del Valle (0.00) converted his second save, striking out the side in a perfect ninth frame.

Prospectus Preview: 2012 Draft Class, Stephen Bruno

Bruno_0255

(Photo by Scott McDaniel)

Other Prospectus Previews:

Close to the Majors / Robert Whitenack

2012 Draft / Pierce Johnson

Down the Pipeline / Jeimer Candelario

Close to the Majors / Nick Struck

2012 International / Jorge Soler

2012 Trades and Claims / Barret Loux


Stephen Bruno has spent only a few months donning Cubs minor league attire. But from what the organization has seen out of the 2012 draft pick, it’s safe to say he knows how to handle the bat.

The seventh-round pick from the University of Virginia crushed anything and everything opposing pitchers threw at him in 2012. He jumped right into Short-Season A Boise, and was a key piece of the team’s championship series run. The organization hasn’t found a set position for the 22-year-old infielder yet, but he can play a variety of spots effectively.

Chicago-area Cubs fans should be excited as Bruno could start the 2013 season playing with a young but exciting Single-A Kane County squad, the new minor league affiliate located about 40 miles west of downtown.

Bruno is just one of more than 60 players covered in Vine Line’s annual Minor League Prospectus. The issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. It’s an exhaustive rundown, perfect for Spring Training and beyond.

IF | Stephen Bruno
Ht./Wt.: 5-9/165
B/T: R/R
Born: 11/17/90 in Audubon, N.J.
Acquired: 2012 Draft (7)
Tools: Hits for Average
2012 STATS (Short-Season): .361/.442/.496 (AVG/OBP/SLG)

Bruno, who was a standout among standouts on the stacked Boise short-season squad, is a professional hitter who can flat-out rake. Few are capable of going on a tear like he did in his first pro season. It’s not clear where he’ll play—he could be an average second baseman or play third base/outfield (Bruno also tried on the catcher’s gear in fall instructs, though it’s an unlikely landing spot). Still, his bat will keep him in the lineup, despite lacking big power. There weren’t many college hitters available in the draft, but the Cubs feel they got a good one out of the University of Virginia.


Other players featured in this section: Outfielder Albert Almora; and pitchers Paul Blackburn, Pierce Johnson and Duane Underwood.

Plus, tidbits on RHP Ryan McNeil, RHP Josh Conway, LHP Michael Heesch and IF Tim Saunders.

Farm Report Wrap-Up: Hawks turned talent, youth into postseason run

Albert Almora (Photo Courtesy of Alex Hernandez/USA Baseball)

Today we begin our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. First up, the Short-Season Class-A Boise Hawks.

When Albert Almora took batting practice earlier today at Wrigley Field, Theo Epstein commented to reporters that Boise “had a prospect at every position” by the end of the season.

One of those prospects was Almora, of course, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Almora played a strong center field for the Hawks and also hit for a .292/.292/.446 slash line (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) in 65 plate appearances. That included seven doubles and a home run in his 19 hits. Before his mid-August promotion, he had hit for a .347/.363/.480 slash line in 80 plate appearances with the organization’s Rookie-level complex team.

Other names that are well known to watchful Cubs fans are catcher Willson Contreras, first basemen Dan Vogelbach and Rock Shoulders, second baseman Gioskar Amaya, shortstop Marco Hernandez, third baseman Jeimer Candelario and infielder/outfielder Stephen Bruno.

Don’t forget the pitching: Pierce Johnson and Tayler Scott were impressive in the rotation, while Michael Heesch formed a crucial part of the bullpen.

Final Records:

First Half / 13-25, third place, 8.0 GB

Second Half / 24-14, first place, 8.0 GA

Storylines: The Hawks won the Eastern Division’s second-half championship to make the postseason, despite being the Northwest League’s youngest team. They came back from a one-game deficit in their best-of-three series against the Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks) but couldn’t do the same against the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) in the championship series. (more…)

Farm Report: Boise evens divisional series to set up decisive Game 3

Scott McDaniel / BoiseHawks.com

After a frustrating battle with situational hitting for the first 17 innings of the series, the Boise Hawks poured it on in the ninth last night to force a deciding Game 3 in their first-round playoff series. The Hawks and the Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks) will settle it all tonight in a game that you can hear at 7:05 Central Time via BoiseHawks.com.

Boise scored seven runs in the ninth to break a 4-4 deadlock and ultimately went on to win 11-5. Albert Almora, the sixth-overall pick of the 2012 draft, was at the center of several rallies. He hit a two-out triple with the Hawks trailing by a run in the eighth, and scored on a wild pitch. The next inning, he followed up Jeimer Calendario’s two-run triple (which was misplayed in the outfield) with a two-run double to put the game away for good.

Scoring Recap: Boise struck first, taking a two-run lead on Gioskar Amaya’s home run in the third inning. Yakima answered right back in the bottom half, thanks to a double, walk, bunt and then two-run single by Kevin Medrano. Batting ninth, Trey Martin led off the fifth with a double, and he scored on Stephen Bruno’s single for a 3-2 lead. Medrano and Joseph Loftus led off with singles off reliever Michael Heesch in the bottom half. They scored on a one-out single to give Yakima a 4-3 lead. Almora came up big in the eighth with a two-out triple and scored on a wild pitch to tie things up. In the top of the ninth, the Hawks took off. After two quick outs, Boise put nine straight men on base and took a commanding 11-4 lead. Tyler Bremer closed out his third inning of work by allowing just a run in the bottom of the ninth for the 11-5 win.

Top Performances: Boise starter Tayler Scott was sitting in the low-90s on the Yakima stadium gun. He didn’t have his best stuff, according to Hawks broadcaster Mike Safford, but he battled out of tough situations throughout his five innings of work. His ability to induce ground balls on all three of his pitches showed again yesterday.

Speaking of ground balls, second baseman Amaya picked a sharp, one-hopper in the first inning to start a double play and keep things scoreless. Amaya did just about everything yesterday: He gave Boise a 2-0 lead in the third when he turned on an inside fastball for a home run. He also added a couple of sacrifice bunts and a walk. Amaya’s natural tools may not match up with some of his teammates’, but he proved himself in myriad ways as a 19-year-old in the Northwest League. He’s one to watch.

Tonight’s Starting Pitchers: Felix Peña is expected to take the hill for the Hawks. The 22-year-old, Dominican born right-hander is now in his second season in the U.S. He throws a fastball, curve, slider and change. His fastball gets some sink when he locates it down, which is always a key for him. The slider can be a strikeout pitch when buried low and away from a right-handed hitter. His curveball is a slow change of pace and can be inconsistent, but he gets good downward break when he gets on top of it. Sometimes it looks like he’s rushing through his delivery, but he’s shown the ability to adjust in games.

Peña’s two starts against Yakima this year were polar opposites. On July 25 at home, he gave up seven hits and four earned runs in four innings. On August 21 at the Bears, Peña allowed just four hits and an unearned run in five innings.

Yakima’s starting pitcher was unknown as of last night, but it looks like they’ve settled on 18-year-old right-hander Jose Martinez. He’s made just two appearances outside of the Dominican in his career (10.2 IP, 4.22 ERA).

The Big 6-0-0: Safford celebrated his 600th Northwest League broadcast last night. It was only his 594th with the Hawks—he also has six games with the Spokane Indians under his belt. Listen to him again tonight at 7:05 Central Time at BoiseHawks.com.

—Sean Ahmed

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