Results tagged ‘ Tony Zych ’
Infielder Arismendy Alcantara could see time at Wrigley Field this year.
(Photo by Rodger Wood)
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. We’ll post some of the profiles here on the blog in the coming weeks so you can keep track of all the names to know in the Cubs highly ranked system.
Also From the Series
2014 Minor League Prospectus- The Elite
Close to the Big Leagues
“The most important currency in the game right now, from a baseball standpoint, is either massive amounts of payroll flexibility or a real surplus of above-average young players who are major league ready or already making an impact in the big leagues,” said baseball president Theo Epstein at last December’s Winter Meetings.
Epstein admitted the Cubs aren’t where they want to be in either area, but said when it comes to the latter, they’ve taken the appropriate steps to get there soon. The front office has drafted well and made smart trades. As these prospects continue to develop and get closer to the majors, Epstein said, “They’re infinitely more valuable, to us and potentially in a trade, than they are while they’re working away in the farm system.”
Though none of the organization’s upper-tier players will be ready to start next season in the majors, there are several others who could make an appearance at Wrigley Field at some point in 2014. The Cubs may not compete for a division title this summer, but some prized young talent will likely provide a glimpse of just how good this team could be in the near future.
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: TENNESSEE
2013 STATS: .271/.352/.451 (133 GAMES)
After spending much of his career at shortstop, Alcantara shifted to second base when Baez was moved up to Tennessee. He is solid with the glove, but his real value comes on offense. The switch-hitting leadoff man is one of the more dynamic players in the organization, with a rare speed-and-power combination to go along with on-base skills and the ability to play in the middle of the field.
A hot start to the season earned him a spot in the Futures Game, but the Dominican tapered off a bit in the second half. With a tremendous amount of ability and strong makeup, Alcantara has what it takes to excel in the majors, but the Cubs brass want to be sure he can perform consistently throughout the season before he gets the call to Wrigley.
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: TENNESSEE
2013 STATS: 54.2 IP, 3.13 ERA, 35 K, 17 BB (9 STARTS)
A finger injury cut short Beeler’s 2013 season, but he looked good when he was on the mound and built on that success in the AFL. With his velocity ticking up to 94 mph and a newly developed cutter—which helped him fend off lefties, previously his bugaboo—Beeler looked like a new man. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but rather relies on his defense, inducing ground balls by staying low in the zone with impressive sinking action on his pitches.
Beeler was added to the 40-man roster to keep from losing him in the Rule 5 draft, something that was a legitimate concern after his impressive AFL performance. As a big, physical strike thrower who knows how to pitch, he fits the bill for what the Cubs are looking for in an arm.
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: IOWA
2013 STATS: .210/.296/.330 (95 GAMES)
It was just a few years ago that Jackson was supposed to join Starlin Castro on the big league roster and light up the North Side with his immense talents. The Cal-Berkeley product didn’t get his chance until the summer of 2012 and struggled mightily with his strikeout rate. After the season, Jackson worked hard on his swing in an effort to reduce the whiffs, but early on, nothing changed.
“He came into Spring Training, and I think when the results weren’t there right away, he probably started pressing a little bit,” McLeod said. “When he went to Iowa, he got off to a slow start. The strikeouts started piling up again, and then unfortunately he got nicked up and missed quite a bit of time before he came back.”
When he returned to action, the Cubs sent him to Double-A, where his struggles continued. But the organization hasn’t given up on Jackson, who, from a physical standpoint, can do a lot of things not many others can do on a baseball field. Given a fresh start, the team hopes he can put a horrendous 2013 season behind him and somehow reduce his swing-and-miss tendencies. His combination of power, speed and defense could definitely come in handy for a major league club searching for high-end talent in the outfield.
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: IOWA
2013 STATS: .201/.303/.381 (107 GAMES)
Olt is another third baseman who may end up at Triple-A. Once deemed untouchable in the Texas organization, he found himself battling eye issues last season as his prospect status tumbled. He was ultimately swapped with other players for Matt Garza. The two keys for Olt will be putting his poor season in the rearview mirror and finding whatever it is he needs to take care of his vision problems.
Like Vitters, Olt will be moved around the field to increase his value, playing his normal third base, along with some first base and corner outfield. He strikes out a lot, but when he’s right, the whiffs are mitigated by his plus power and ability to take a walk. He is also an excellent defender at third. The Cubs would love nothing more than for Olt to come into camp healthy and hitting, and stake a claim to the big league third-base job early on.
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: IOWA
2013 STATS: .267/.368/.465 (33 GAMES)
When Vitters plays, he usually hits. Unfortunately, he was waylaid by injuries for much of 2013. Add in the Cubs’ newfound system depth at the hot corner, and suddenly Vitters is a player without a position. Though he’s been in the organization for seven years and already has had a taste of major league action, Vitters is still only 24.
Now that Triple-A first baseman Justin Bour was selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, Vitters will get some time at first base as well as in the outfield at Iowa to increase his versatility and value going forward.
The California native doesn’t take many walks and only flashes average power, but if he can find a spot defensively, he has a chance to be a solid contributor. His ability to hit could help him become a serviceable asset in the majors. Because his hand-eye coordination is good enough that he makes contact with almost everything, pitch selection will be key.
Others to Watch
ALBERTO CABRERA (RHP) – After being used as a starter in 2013, Cabrera will likely contend for a bullpen spot next spring. He has a big fastball and a wipeout slider, which could make him a very valuable weapon in a late-inning role.
ERIC JOKISCH (LHP) – The Northwestern alum doesn’t light up the radar gun, but he is a big, durable, left-handed starter. Though Jokisch eats a lot of innings and throws strikes with an 87-90 mph fastball and a strong change-up, he needs to tighten up his breaking ball. He doesn’t have plus stuff to wow scouts, but he could be a more physical version of Chris Rusin.
ARMANDO RIVERO (RHP) – A hard thrower from Cuba, Rivero hits the mid-90s and has a diagonal-slanting slider. He looked strong in the minors and though the results weren’t great in the AFL, the experience gave him much-needed innings against a higher level of competition. He could be a factor in the bullpen in the near future.
MATT SZCZUR (OF) – Szczur, a steady performer throughout his minor league career, improved in numerous offensive categories in 2013 and took a step forward defensively. The hard-nosed, athletic outfielder will likely start the season in Triple-A and has a chance to contribute at the big league level as a fourth outfielder in the Reed Johnson mold.
TONY ZYCH (RHP) – Zych has top-notch velocity in the 95-98 mph range, but he sometimes struggles to miss bats. He throws a lot of strikes, but the quality can waver night to night due to an inconsistent delivery that requires some effort and energy. When it’s working, the velocity is elite, and he has a hard, sweeping slider that could be effective in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen.
Jorge Soler homered and drove in two on Sunday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Tennessee Smokies and the Daytona Cubs picked up a win after Sunday night’s games while Iowa and Kane County both continue to search for their first victories of the season after falling short this weekend. Here are the highlights from Sunday’s games:
IOWA CUBS (0-4)
Iowa suffered its fourth consecutive defeat to start the season, falling 7-3 at Albuquerque.
- RF Ryan Sweeney went 2-for-3 with a walk and a solo home run.
- CF Brett Jackson (1-for-4, R) and LF Darnell McDonald (1-for-4, R, 2B) also collected hits and a run.
- RHP Casey Coleman allowed two runs on three hits in 2.0 innings out of the bullpen, striking out two.
TENNESSEE SMOKIES (2-2)
Tennessee stranded the tying run on second base in the ninth inning, losing 5-4 at Pensacola.
- 1B Justin Bour (2-for-4, R, RBI) collected two hits including a RBI double in the third inning.
- 3B Tim Torres walked and singled twice in three at bats.
- RHP’s Tony Zych (1.2 IP, 2 H) and A.J. Morris (1.1 IP) combined to hold the Blue Wahoos scoreless over the final three innings.
DAYTONA CUBS (3-1)
Daytona scored nine runs over the final four innings to shutout Brevard County on the road, 9-0.
- RHP P.J. Francescon (1-0) surrendered one hit in five scoreless innings, striking out six.
- RF Jorge Soler (2-for-4, 2 R, BB, 2 RBI) homered for the second-consecutive day, knocking in SS Javier Baez (1-for-4, R, SB) in the sixth inning.
- LF John Andreoli reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs, a triple and a RBI.
- RHP Yeiper Castillo struck out three batters in two scoreless innings.
- RHP’s Luis Liria and Austin Reed recorded the final six outs in order to complete the shutout.
KANE COUNTY COUGARS (0-4)
Quad Cities scored two runs in the 13th inning to defeat host Kane County, 3-1, and finish off the four-game sweep.
- CF Oliver Zapata went 2-for-5 with a walk from the leadoff spot.
- LF Rock Shoulders (2-for-3, BB) extended his hitting streak to four games.
- LHP Michael Heesch took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before surrendering the first hit and run of the game.
- RHP Felix Pena pitched 5.2 innings of scoreless relief, allowing three hits and walking one while striking out five.
(Photo by Rodger Wood)
The 2012 season was a good one for right-hander Tony Zych. The reliever successfully made the difficult jump from High-A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee while retaining a K/9 ratio of around nine. He also got better acclimated to tougher opponents.
Once the Smokies wrapped up their 2012 campaign, the Chicago-area native made the trek to Mesa to represent the Cubs in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League. There he finished with a 3.86 ERA and made the All-Star team for his bullpen efforts. And in mid-January, Zych was one of 12 prospects invited to the Rookie Development Program, a week of seminars in Chicago designed to better prepare prospects who are nearing the major leagues.
Though the power arm will likely start the season in Double-A, Zych could find himself on the major league roster by the end of the season.
Zych is 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.
RHP | Tony Zych
Born: 8/7/90 in Crete, Ill.
Acquired: 2011 Draft (4)
Tools: Velocity, Fastball, Slider
2012 STATS (High-A): 3.19 ERA, 36.2 IP, 32 H, 7 BB, 36 K (Double-A): 4.38 ERA, 24.4 IP, 26 H, 12 BB, 28 K
It’s max arm, max effort for Zych, the former University of Louisville closer who has been on the fast track to Chicago. He throws a mid-90s fastball with a hard slider, and has a short, deceptive delivery that features some ugly recoil. Still, he isn’t an extreme strikeout pitcher—merely a good one who uses his slider as more of a complementary offering. McLeod envisions Zych’s fastball as one that will run in on hands and stay off barrels. Both his velocity and mound makeup profile for the late innings. Though he’s just two years out of college, that future could come as soon as 2013.
Other players featured in this section: infielders Junior Lake, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; outfielders Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur; and pitchers Alberto Cabrera, Trey McNutt, Brooks Raley, Nick Struck and Robert Whitenack.
Plus, tidbits on OF Jae-Hoon Ha, LHP Chris Rusin, LHP Frank Del Valle, LHP Zach Rosscup, RHP Matt Loosen, IF Justin Bour, RHP Marcus Hatley, LHP Austin Kirk and RHP Eric Jokisch.
Infielder Logan Watkins participated in this week’s Cubs Rookie Development Program.
(Photo by Rodger Wood)
Since Theo Epstein was named Cubs President of Baseball Operations in November 2011, the organization has been stressing the Cubs Way. After getting a full season to view their minor league talent, upper management decided to give a select group of prospects a small crash course on what Cubs baseball is all about.
Starting last Friday, 12 prospects the organization feels are knocking on the major league door have been in Chicago for the club’s first annual Rookie Development Program. The prospects have spent their time going to seminars, practicing at Northwestern University and getting better acclimated to the ways of major league baseball.
“The whole thought behind it really is to get some players in the minor leagues … expose them to the market, get them in a smaller group and talk about what to expect when they get here, how to be professionals, how to handle the media, how to deal with the fans,” said Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod.
The minor leaguers, including notables Javier Baez, Matt Szczur and Trey McNutt, have received instruction from former pitcher Kerry Wood, Bears linebacker Nick Roach and current pitching coach Chris Bosio. Former Cub Mark Prior was scheduled to fly in and speak to the group Thursday, though he is unable to make this weekend’s Cubs Convention.
Today’s low-key practice saw the pitchers throw a little long toss before getting on a mound, while the position players took fielding practice and eventually got some rounds in the batting cages.
The organization’s player and pitcher of the year, Logan Watkins and Nick Struck, were both in attendance. Others joining them were Dallas Beeler, Jae-Hoon Ha, Marcus Hatley, Barret Loux, Zach Rosscup, Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych. All players at the program are scheduled to be at this weekend’s Cubs Convention.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Ready to get the 2013 baseball season started? The Cubs campaign kicks off next weekend, Jan. 18-20, at the 28th Annual Cubs Convention, held for the first time at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in downtown Chicago. The event will feature more than 75 current, past and future Cubs players and coaches, and will offer more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities.
The Opening Ceremony begins on Friday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m., and will feature player and alumni introductions on a red carpet runway that will offer special VIP access to children 16 and under. Following the Opening Ceremony, guests will find some of their favorite Cubs throughout the hotel for an exciting Autograph Hunt Game. The evening will conclude with longtime Cubs Convention favorite Cubs Bingo, led by Wayne Messmer, as well as a live radio broadcast of WGN Sports Night.
Saturday’s program continues the gaming fun with the return of Cubs Jeopardy, which pits alumni pitchers Milt Pappas, Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith and Rick Sutcliffe against alumni position players Jose Cardenal, Jody Davis, Randy Hundley and Todd Walker. Cubs Family Feud makes its Cubs Convention debut Saturday afternoon, as Cubs alumni Bobby Dernier, Jon Lieber, Gary Matthews and Billy Williams take on current Cubs Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, Brett Jackson and Ian Stewart.
Fans can meet many of the club’s offseason acquisitions—including pitchers Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Edwin Jackson; catcher Dioner Navarro; and outfielder Nate Schierholtz—at the Meet the New Cubs session hosted by new television analyst Jim Deshaies and play-by-play broadcaster Len Kasper.
Additional Saturday sessions include:
- Ricketts Family Forum—Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd Ricketts speak with Len Kasper and fans about their experience as team owners over the past three years.
- Meet Cubs Baseball Management—President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, Executive Vice President/General Manager Jed Hoyer, Assistant General Manager Randy Bush, Assistant General Manager Shiraz Rehman and manager Dale Sveum speak about the club’s recent moves and what lies ahead for the 2013 season.
- From Draft Day to the Big Leagues—Cubs minor league prospects Dallas Beeler, Matt Szczur, Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych discuss what it’s like to get drafted by the Chicago Cubs and advance through the minor leagues.
- Dale Sveum and the Coaching Staff—The Cubs manager, bench coach Jamie Quirk, hitting coach James Rowson, assistant hitting coach Rob Deer, bullpen boach Lester Strode, first base coach Dave McKay and third base coach David Bell speak with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies about what’s in store during the staff’s second year.
- For Kids Only Press Conference, presented by Advocate Health Care—A unique Q&A session where kids ask the questions to Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Brooks Raley, Anthony Rizzo and Chris Rusin.
- Renew Wrigley Field—Cubs executives discuss ideas to preserve and renew iconic Wrigley Field based on input from Cubs fans, season ticket holders and the community.
- Not for Women Only—Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, James Russell, and Travis Wood discuss their personal sides and lives off the field.
- WGN Radio’s Sports Central—This live broadcast with WGN Radio’s Jim Memolo and Glen Kozlowski will feature segments with David DeJesus and Matt Garza; Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija; Tony Campana and Starlin Castro; and Brett Jackson, Edwin Jackson and Anthony Rizzo.
Sunday’s program features two panel sessions to close out the Convention:
- Down on the Farm—Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod, Director of Pro Scouting Joe Bohringer and Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde will be joined by Cubs farmhands Chris Rusin and Josh Vitters to give a breakdown of the Cubs minor league teams from Iowa down to Mesa. Hosted by Vine Line editor Gary Cohen and broadcaster Dave Otto.
- Stat Sundays—Broadcasters Jim Deshaies, Len Kasper and WGN’s Bob Vorwald offer insight into the statistics they analyze and feature during Stat Sundays throughout the season.
In addition to the sessions highlighted above, the Convention includes many new and returning activities throughout the weekend for fans:
Rookie of the Year Movie Night, presented by the Cubs Kids Club, makes its Cubs Convention debut. Fans can eat popcorn and relax with family and friends Saturday evening while watching the popular film, Rookie of the Year.
Walgreens Field is a new miniature turf diamond that gives kids a fun place to take practice batting, play pick-up wiffle ball games or participate in professional instructional clinics as part of the Baseball Interactive Zone. Cubs players and coaches will pair up with Illinois Baseball Academy instructors to conduct a series of training opportunities for fans of all ages throughout the weekend.
Comcast SportsNet Chicago is giving fans the chance to test their play-by-play broadcasting skills in a custom-built fantasy broadcasting booth. Guests will call a pre-recorded play in the booth, then download a recorded copy of their work for keeps.
MLB Network’s Strike Zone allows fans to test their arm speed and win prizes at an inflatable speed pitch.
The Sony PlayStation Gaming Zone gives attendees a chance to take a break from the action to play MLB 12 The Show at one of several Sony PS3 kiosks.
The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center returns with an area dedicated for families to exercise their creativity with the small building blocks.
American Girl’s Activity Area features activities inspired by American Girl dolls and the chance to win a new doll and book.
The Chicago Sun-Times Photo Kiosk lets fans have their picture taken for the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times with customizable headlines that make for a memorable souvenir.
Fans can learn about or contribute to the history of the Cubs franchise in collaboration with team archivists. Historical pieces of memorabilia will be on hand for viewing, and guests can receive professional tips on how to preserve their own valuable keepsakes. Attendees are invited to share their personal stories with a video crew, and they may be used in future promotions or publications.
Limited individual weekend passes for the 2013 Cubs Convention are still available for $60 per pass plus convenience fees. Visit www.cubs.com/convention or call 1-800-THE-CUBS. A percentage of the proceeds from the Cubs Convention benefits Chicago Cubs Charities. To date, Cubs Convention has raised approximately $4 million for Chicago Cubs Charities.
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 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 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:
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:
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: