A Trip Around the Minors...

In this week's edition, news on Rich Hill's rehab start on Thursday night in Daytona, a look back on the first halves of both the AAA and AA guys, and Bob Brenly's kid on fire for Boise

Iowa

With the All Star break for Iowa coming at roughly the same time as the Big Boys, let's look at the numbers on the season...

Felix Pie-Pie is hitting .264 in AAA this year, which is far from spectacular, but a closer look is more revealing. After Pie got sent down to Iowa in May, he finished out the month batting .156 in 64 AB's. Since the calendar turned to June, he is hitting .316. He seems to be working hard on cutting down the K's; he had one every 2.7 AB's in the Bigs, and then one per 5.8 AB's in May. In the last month and a half, it's been one per 8.3 AB's.

Rich Hill-Rich Hill wasn't supposed to be on this list. He was supposed to be locked in to the #4 starter's spot. And if he wasn't there, he was expected to be dominating in AAA. Instead, he posted a 2-4 record with a 5.88 ERA, and was put on the shelf. His first rehab start in Arizona made people question whether he needed an extended period away from the game to get his head on straight, after walking 3 and allowing 3 runs in just a 1/3 of an inning. In his next two outings, he didn't allowed a run, had a WHIP of 0.66, and struck out 11 in 9 innings of work.

Hill headed to Daytona on Thursday night for another rehab start. Things didn't go as well; 5 earned runs over 4 and 1/3 innings. He gave up 6 hits and walked 3 (a 2.08 WHIP). For more on the game, here's the wrapup.

Jeff Samardzija-Samardzija was an average pitcher at Tennessee, going 3-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 16 games. 15 of those were starts, but Jeff ND was struggling so much at one point, they skipped him in the rotation and he got an inning of relief. But much to my surprise, he has been better than average at Iowa, compiling a 3-1 record in 5 starts. His WHIP is still high at 1.45 and he's yielded one fewer HR than he did at Tennessee in less than half the innings pitched. The problem with Jeff ND's numbers at Iowa are that he has faced the Isotopes (of Albuquerque) in 3 of his 5 starts. The most positive mark for Jeff ND since being promoted is that he is averaging over an inning more per start than with the Smokies.

Kevin Hart-Despite being bounced between the carrying the pink backpack to the Cubs 'pen and starting for the I-Cubs, Hart has pitched well in Iowa. In 10 starts, he is 2-1 with a 3.55 ERA. He is striking out more than a batter per inning and has a 1.12 WHIP. He has only given up 3 HR's in over 40 innings pitched. The biggest downside has been that due to the constant shuffle, he has only averaged 4 innings per start for the I-Cubs.

Bonus-Bobby Scales, signed as a minor league free agent this off-season, probably isn't going to see Wrigley Field unless the Cubs are devastated by injuries at the 2-sack, but the 30 year old has put up some decent numbers at Iowa. He has hit .307 with a .390 OBP. As a switch-hitter, he has managed a .306 average against lefties and a .307 against righties. He has 11 HR's, 3 short of his career high.

Tennessee

As with Iowa, Tennessee enjoyed their All Star break this week, so again, let's review the season to date...

Tyler Colvin-Colvin has struggled in his third year of professional baseball, hitting just .238 for Tennessee. There isn't a particular time frame to point to and say that's why his average is so low, and he's gone .238, .241, .230, .255 in each month this year. He struggled at the beginning of the season with the K, but only has 24 in his last 160 AB's. On the positive side, 35% of his hits have gone for extra bases.

Welington Castillo-Castillo spent the first two months of the season at Daytona, hitting an average .273 without a HR. Then, thanks to injuries, he was promoted to Tennessee and took off. He's hit .329 with a .418 OBP and a .971 OPS. He has 4 HR's and one fewer double than he did at Daytona in 40 fewer AB's. As noted in TD, he was selected to the Future's Game and was considered the best defensive catcher there.

Jose Ceda-I feel like I am being terribly repetitive, but Ceda's success turned when he moved from the rotation to the 'pen. Ceda was 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA at Daytona, appearing in 15 games and starting 12. Once he was moved up to Tennessee, he was inserted in the back end of the bullpen and has gone on to save 6 games in 11 appearances. He has a 1-0 record with a 1.65 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. He has struck out a ridiculous 23 batters in 16 and a 1/3, and appears poised to potentially see the Bigs before the year is out.

Donnie Veal-Some of Veal's numbers show he's been strong for Tennessee with a 3.67 ERA and 80 K's. But those numbers are a bit deceiving; his WHIP is 1.48 and he's barely averaging 5 innings per start. His ERA was 2.60 when he entered June, but he's yielded at least 4 earned runs in half of his last 8 starts and only won one game.

Bonus-Esmailin Caridad, a NDFA from December 2007, was promoted to Tennessee after an average start (6-4, 4.41 ERA) at Daytona. Since being called up, Caridad has elevated his game. In 6 starts, he is 4-1 with a 3.31 ERA. Amazingly, he has given up 7 HR's accounting for 10 of the 13 runs he's given up...i.e. he has only given up 3 runs not involving an HR in 35 innings of work.

Daytona

Tony Thomas-Thomas has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, although he garnered a single single in the 4 games he reached safely this week. He's also struck out 10 times in the last 9 games. On the season, he has 93 hits and 87 K's in 86 games. On the week, he hit .250 with 3 walks and a run. He added 2 stolen bases in 3 attempts, giving him 16 SB's in 22 chances on the season (a 72.7% success rate).

Bonus-Marquez Smith (8th round, 2007) was promoted to Daytona about a week ago after hitting .295 with 14 HR's. Since being called up, he's continued his torrid hitting. He has a .348 BA in his first 7 games with 5 RBI's. He has 2 doubles and a triple to go along with 3 walks, giving him an OPS of .972.

Peoria

Bonus-Nate Samson, a 34th round pick for the Cubs in 2006 out of high school, is finding a groove for Ryne Sandberg's Chiefs. He has an 8 game hitting streak, hitting .424 over that stretch and adding 11 points to his overall batting average, now at .311. He's only K'd 36 times in 338 AB's. He added 2 stolen bases this week, bringing up a terrible stolen base success ratio to 5 of 13.

Boise

Josh Vitters-Vitters is on a 6 game hitting streak, including 8 hits in his last 14 AB's. He is in the midst of a 4 game doubles streak. During the streak, he has scored 6 runs but only driven in 1, despite hitting out of the 3 hole. For the Hawks, Vitters is hitting .344 with a .895 OPS.

Bonus-Michael Brenly sandwiched two 0 for 3 days at the beginning and end of the ATAtM week with a mid-week 8 for 11 over 3 games. He scored 7 times for the Hawks in that 3 game stretch. He was hitting .192 before Monday, he exited Wednesday with a .351 BA. In limited AB's, Brenly has managed an even .400 OBP.

Chicago Cubs Trade Rumors - July 18th

A mere 2 weeks to go now until the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Jumbo here with some fresh trade nuggets for you. Enjoy:
  • Lots of stuff from Baseball Prospectus's John Perrotto over the last couple days. First up, in this article ($) Perrotto has this interesting note that includes a pretty conspicuous indication of the Cubs' feeling on CF prospect Felix Pie:
    Cubs: They're still looking to add some pieces, but their top priority was filled with the acquisition of right-hander Rich Harden from the Athletics last week. Fuentes and Padres shortstop Khalil Greene are possibilities, and the Cubs are making disappointing center-field prospect Felix Pie very much available.
  • My question: if we dump Pie, who the hell is going to play CF for the Cubs next year and into the future? In my opinion Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds, and Kosuke Fukudome are not, in any combination, sufficient options in CF for this team this year, let alone long term. The upcoming free agent class heading in to '09 is garbage, containing such HOFers like Corey Patterson, Former Cardinal Jim Edmonds, Rocco Baldelli, and Jacque Jones. Yeah. Other than Mark Kotsay, who's 33, and Mike Cameron, who has a club option for '09, that's it. So what exactly is the plan here? Why jump ship on Pie now, when his value is in the crapper? This, if it turns out to be true and we do move Pie, is just one of the things that really frustrate me about Jim Hendry. Can we, for once, NOT give up and sell low on a prospect?
  • This leads me, however, to something that I've been privately yammering for for a couple weeks now. Those yammers have grown even larger now that the Cubs have addressed their primary need, a brand spankin' new SP. It's that we should trade for a CF. If we get a CF in return, I'm cool with dumping Pie. But not unless we get a guy that we can pencil in on Opening Day 2009 in that CF slot. So who's out there? MLB Trade Rumors has a tidy list of some potentially available CFers. The object of my recent yammerings is David DeJesus. I could probably go into more deets on this in a separate post but getting this guy would be huge for the Cubs. DeJesus is a lefty. He hits leadoff. He's currently raking at a rate of .306/.302/.474 for an OPS of .836. He's got 10 HRs and 7 SBs. And he's locked up thru 2010 with an option in 2011. Plus, nobody effs with DeJesus. Not like the Royals need him...let's flip Pie and some young pitching for a guy that could set the table for the Cubs (screw Soriano and his glass ego) into the playoffs this year and into the future. Willy Taveras could also work, but I'm much, much less excited about his bat.
  • Digressing back to the Perrotto piece, Bruce Miles gets his debunk on with his Inside Pitch blog, stating:
    One trade that is not happening is one for the Padres' Khalil Greene. My Cubs people emphatically tell me they are not interested in Greene, a shortstop who was cited in a couple of reports over the past few days. Ryan Theriot is performing just fine at short for the Cubs, with an OBP of .396, which has him sixth in the NL. All Lou has to do is make sure to give Theriot a day off now and then and play Cedeno at short. That should help avoid any September collapse, such as the one Theriot endured last year.
  • Miles also has this interesting note from the posting linked above. Jeff ND huh?:
    The Cubs got plenty of help from within last year, with Geovany Soto and Kevin Hart performing well enough to make the playoff roster. I expect to see Micah Hoffpauir and, yes, pitcher Jeff Samardzija this September.
  • Next up from Perrotto is this piece ($). In it, Perrotto states that the Cubs remain open to trading Jason Marquis, and has this about a new name, Aaron Heilman:
    The Mets are willing to trade right-handed set-up man Aaron Heilman, who many scouts believe would be better as a starter, and the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Athletics, and Cubs have interest.
  • MLB Trade Rumors comments on the Bruce Miles article and also picks up on Miles's mention that the Cubs might be pursuing the Rox Brian Fuentes. I just don't see this deal getting done. There are a lot more teams out there than need a lefty RP than the Cubs do. Other teams will surely outbid Hendry here.
  • One quick note to pass along in case you haven't heard-the Phightin' Phils have acquired Joe Blanton from the Oakland Athletics for a pretty decent batch of prospects. Good move by the Phillies who are sure to be in the NL race to the end.

TD Recommends: Nate Silver, Father of PECOTA

Great article from something called University of Chicago Magazine on Nate Silver. Nate Silver is Baseball Prospectus's managing partner, founder of the PECOTA projection system, and an all around huge nerd (I mean, I've never met the guy, but c'mon) whose job is pretty friggin' awesome. Even the stuff this guy does just jacking around is awesome. If Nate's not careful, he may enter man crush territory. Lucky him.

Towel Drills: From the Bleachers

As mentioned earlier, the TD staff recently attended the weekend series agains the Giants. We sat in the Left Field Bleachers and enjoyed a gorgeous day with no clouds. Although the Cubs lost to the Giants, we were fortunate enough to sit behind the greatest dude.

I kid. This guy was a complete idiot. He scared the kid that sat next to me. He shouted nonsense on to the field. He drank a crap load of beer. He sounded as though he failed to pass 4th grade...

You know what? Here is a video of him and you can judge:

video

Chicago Cubs Key to Second Half Success

Paul Sullivan, of the Chicago Tribune, released an article today for what he considers are the five keys to making it happen. Below is a quick summary of his five and then I give my five keys to making it happen (my non obvious keys).

Paul Sullivan:
  1. Feeling at home on the road. This seems obvious as the Cubs are 20-26 on the road. The big series coming up, July 28-31 in Milwaukee.
  2. Fukudome Factor. Paul believes that Fuku's current slump is due to time off and Alfonso Soriano and possibly his current position in lineup.
  3. Getting Marmol's mind right. As Jumbo mentioned in a previous post regarding the all star game. Maybe the all star game is what he needed.
  4. Keeping Marquis in groove. Marquis will have his third start in 26 days on Tuesday night. A key is keeping him rested and focus.
  5. Staying Focused. Pinella has to keep the team focused as it gets better and better and closer to October.

Arthur.

  1. Pitching Strikes. Keeping the walks down is key.
  2. Not over-pitching. The Cubs have a strong record and being healthy in September and October is key for the pitching staff.
  3. Small Ball. While we can hit the crap out of the ball. It will be key to see some more base stealing and hit-n-runs. These lead to easy runs.
  4. Minimizing Runners Left in Scoring Position. Jumbo's greatest hate in life. Leaving cubbies on base when they were there with 0 or 1 out.
  5. Kerry Wood. We will have more 1 or 2 run games in the 9th. His ability to continue to pitch as he has is KEY.

Jim Edmonds Gets Married

Dear Diary-

Do you want to know how this 38 year old spent his All Star Break? Well, I got hitched. Allison and I headed down to the St. Louis County Courthouse to get in line with 24 other couples. Knowing it was a big occasion, I naturally threw on a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt. I think she took it pretty well for a 28 year old who was getting married at a courthouse on a random Wednesday. We didn't bring our son, Landon. I just didn't think the 2 year old would need to see it. We didn't bring my two girls from the first marriage, either. Knowing that a girl dreams of her wedding, I told her I would take her out for a big, fancy reception where I would drop a lot of dough, and boy did I deliver. We headed to my restaurant in St. Louis, where we didn't have a reception big enough to even mention to the manager.


James Patrick
P.S. They even put it in the newspaper!

Towel Drills's Midseason Prediction Extravaganza

As the All-Star break comes to a close and baseball starts back up today, we here at Towel Drills thought it about time to update our preseason predictions. Those predictions included such gems as Jumbo picking the White Sox to finish last in the AL Central and Lionel taking the Cardinals come in last in the NL Central (Arthur couldn't even be bothered to make picks this spring). So you know we're good at this.

The TD staff takes a crack at the 2nd half divisions and postseason and also gives their All-Star rosters at this link. Check 'em out and let us know who you guys got in the comments section.

When you're done pouring over our picks to see who you should go bet your first born on in Vegas-check out Mark DeRosa's First Half Awards from his blog at MLBlogs.

Minor League Movers

A trip to the White House, news on the promotions of some of TD's players of the 1st half, a Dutchman making a move, a guy who has a Cardinal connection, and a guy who sounds like he has a Cardinal connection, all in this weeks MLM.

Iowa

Last Wednesday, the I-Cubs sent Dumas Garcia (who had yielded 4 earned runs in 4 innings in his short stint at Iowa) back to Tennessee and promoted Matt Craig. Craig's promotion was well deserved; he was hitting .333 with a .492 OBP in 42 games at Iowa. On Friday, the Cubs and I-Cubs swapped relievers; with Kevin Hart being called up and a struggling Michael Wuertz being sent down. In addition, the I-Cubs called up Mitch Atkins for Tennessee and inserted him into the rotation (replacing Hart's spot in the rotation). Finally, in a bizarre twist on roster management, the Cubs have parted ways with Joe Simokaitis. Simokaitis, a 10th rounder in 2005, was hitting a mere .183 at Tennessee before being called up to Iowa. He played in two games at Iowa and was apparently released. The Mariners picked him up and assigned him to Advanced Class A ball.

Tennessee

The news from Tennessee is all about catchers, which shouldn't come as a surprise, as the Smokies backstops have spent a lot of time on the D.L. One such person is catcher Chris Robinson, who was taken off the D.L. this week. Smokie fans shouldn't get too excited as Robinson's only hitting .208 for the Smokies this year. To add some depth, catcher/1 sack Blake Lalli was promoted from Daytona. Lalli started the year in Peoria before being promoted to Daytona, and is hitting a combined .325 on the year in his three stops.

Daytona

As predicted in last week's MLM, Drew Rundle was simply keeping the seat warm while Ryan Harvey was on the D.L., as he was sent back to Boise on Monday after Harvey's 7 day stint on the D.L. ended. Harvey's being placed on the D.L. was actually retroactive by one day. The minor league teams rarely place guys on the D.L. retroactively (given the 7 day time frame), but the organization must have felt it necessary in this case.

Peoria

With Josh Donaldson being sent to Oakland's system and a few roster spots open, the Chiefs were able to poach from Boise's roster last Wednesday. Rebel Ridling, who was torching Northwest League pitching to a .366 average, joined a couple of other 2008 draftmates in 7th rounder Luis Flores (catcher need to replace Donaldson) and 12th Rounder Jake Opitz. Also missing from the Chiefs is their manager, Ryne Sandberg, at least for tonight. Sandberg will miss tonight's game to attend a dinner at the White House with 12 other HOFer's.

Boise

Chris Carpenter (no, not that Chris Carpenter) headlines the class of guys who were promoted to Boise after Peoria made their raid on the Hawks roster. Carpenter was the Cubs 3rd round pick this year. Also added were a couple of FA's signed within the last year, Dwayne Kemp and Pat Mahoney. Kemp is from the Netherlands and thus he was not eligible for the draft (making him simply a free agent, instead of a NDFA). Mahoney, an NDFA from this year out of UConn, is the cousin of former Cardinal and current I-Cubs coach Mike Mahoney. To make room, the Hawks have released Arik Hempy, a 17th rounder from the '07 draft.

All Star Game 2008: How the Cubs Performed

11-0-1. 1996. That's how long it's been since the National League beat the American League in the All Star Game. Unreal. This pisses me off not only because the game now determines home field advantage in the World Series, but because it further fuels the flames of "AL fan guy" to continue to rip the NL for being the inferior league. Last night was close, at least, but what does that get you? To look ridiculously ahead to our dream scenario, that means that IF the Cubs make it to the series this year, they're going to have to do it on the road, where they're a 20-26 ball club instead of with home field advantage, where they're an amazing 37-12. Not insignificant.

That said-hey, they tried. I bet manager Clint Hurdle still took the guys out after the game for some Dairy Queen, even though the game didn't end until sometime this Friday (it's called time travel). And I'm sure the Cubs record 8 All Stars tried their bestest to win. But it didn't happen. Cubs Alfonso Soriano (hand) and Kerry Wood (blisters) didn't play. Let's take a quick look at how the rest of the Cubs fared in the loss:
  • Ryan Dempster: Wow...Demp looked good. Dempster came into the game, his 2nd ASG but first where he played, in a tied up 9th inning. The NL needed Dempster, who just threw about 120 pitches on Sunday, to shut down the AL-and he did. Big time. Dempster struck out all 3 batters he faced (Kinsler, Navarro, and ASG MVP JD Drew), K'ing the side, and looking like a bad ass doing it.
  • Carlos Zambrano: Big Z also threw great in his 2 inning of work last night. Z took over in the 3rd after Ben Sheets started the first two innings. Zambrano gave up a leadoff single to Ichiro but held the AL hitless thereafter. Milton Bradley reached on a throwing error by Hanley Ramirez, but Z promptly picked him off at first. Z's performance also included a really strange play where he threw this really weird, slow, looping curve-ish ball that went over Manny Ramirez's head. Not sure if he was joking around or if the ball slipped or what, but that pitch is definitely not in Z's repetoire.
  • Carlos Marmol: Is this what the kid needed? How could his confidence not be boosted after this? If that's what's been bothering Marmol, then maybe his squeaking into the ASG as a replacement for Kerry Wood is exactly what he needed. Marmol pitched one inning, the 13th, allowed nuthin', and struck out two. Great to see.
  • Geovony Soto: Cubs rookie C Geo Soto didn't have much of a game. Soto played the first five innings, going 0-2 with a K. In Soto's first AB he appeared to have just missed on a ball that, perhaps if he's not shaken by the nerves of starting his first ASG in Yankee Stadium, he hits out of the park.
  • Kosuke Fukudome: Fukudome also went 0-2 with a K, but looked much less gooder than Soto. I hear the argument that the league and pitchers are starting to catch up to Fukudome and that is what's leading to his struggles of late. How can you explain that here where he's never faced any of these AL pitchers?
  • Aramis Ramirez: Finally, Aramis Ramirez took a walk against Francisco Rodriguez in his one plate appearance. Given that the game was tied at that point, it was actually a decently important, and good, AB for ARam.

Khalil Greene?, What's Eating Carlos Marmol, Rich Hill & Beat Writers Mailing it In

Yeah, this picture doesn't make a lot of sense except for the fact that the game is in New York (gee, have you heard...this is the last year for Yankee Stadium!!!). But it looks cool. I'll admit it though-I'm more interested in this year's All Star game than I have been in a long, long time. Few quick links as I sit here dreaming that the results of tonight's game will actually matter to me...
  • First up, a quick trade rumor to pass along. The Cubs may, or may not, be allegedly kinda sorta interested in San Diego Padres's SS Khalil Greene. The San Diego Union Tribune ran an article yesterday stating that the Cubs had inquired about Greene. However, the article was yanked off the site that evening. Something going on or did the Union Tribune's man simply run with some bad info? (Not that a legit reporter would ever do that, right?
  • We all saw Carlos Marmol blow up last Saturday. Wasn't pretty. But what's going on with Marmol? Is it fatigue? Has he gone "Rich Hill" on us? Something else? Any Cub fan has to be at least somewhat concerned about what we'll get from Marmol in the 2nd half of the season. Hardball Times has this great and extremely detailed look at Marmol this year that tracks and analyzes Marmol's stuff, including speed and movement on his pitches, across the year to see what's up. A taste of their conclusion:
    Marmol began the year on fire and had a terrific April and May thanks to incredible speed and movement on his fastball and his electric slider. As the calendar turned to June, Marmol's stuff began to slip and he paid the price. While his slider appears to have regained form, his fastball still isn't back. While a much straighter 95 mph fastball still is an effective pitch, it isn't anything like what he was throwing previously.

    I don't expect Marmol to regain the elite fastball the rest of the year because he didn't seem to regain it after a light June and it isn't likely he will have more rest than that from here on out. He is going to have to learn to get big league hitters out with just a very good fastball. Obviously that can be done, but it will be a transition for him. Expect his strikeout rate to drop back down closer to 10 per nine innings than the 13 he has posted.
  • Here's an encouraging Rich Hill update from The Cub Reporter. A sample of the good news:
    Coupled with his previous outing last Sunday when he worked four innings of one hit ball with six K, Hill has now gone 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB and 11 K over his last two outings since modifying his delivery under the auspices of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins and AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud.
  • It's All Star break review time for the Daily Herald who has a couple article ups that look back at the Cubs' first half. First up is Bruce Miles's "Five things we should have known about the Cubs" that takes a look back at the major questions facing the club during spring training. Amazing to think where this team was and where it is now. For instance, sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley on Sunday, I was thinking about how if you told me in spring training that the starting OF I would see on the field would be Mark DeRosa in RF, ex-Cardinal Jim Edmonds in CF, and Blue Jay castoff Reed Johnson in left, I'm pretty sure I would not have thought that the Cubs would have the best record in the NL at that point.
  • Next up, Bruce takes a look at the things that most didn't see coming this year for the Cubs in an article titled "Some odd things that have happened to the Cubs" Yeah, I'm pretty sure Brucer is completely mailing it in right now.

Josh Vitters Remains the Top Prospect

A fan wrote in to Baseball America and asked Jim Callis who he would project as each team's #1 prospect now that we are at roughly the midpoint of the season. To my surprise, he stayed the course with Josh Vitters (despite changing 18 top prospects), although he stated Jose Ceda was making a strong case for the top spot. Looking at what each has accomplished, I think it's hard to stay the course with Vitters No. 1.

Ceda started the year in Daytona, as a starter, and struggled, but the Cubs were simply trying to have him build more arm strength. He went 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA in 15 appearances, 12 starts. But he struck out almost a batter per inning and held the opponents to a .212 batting average. Then he was promoted to Tennessee, where he was inserted as the Smokies closer. He has had 10 appearances, 14 and a 1/3 innings, 2 earned runs, giving him an ERA of 1.26. He has struck out 21 guys and has 5 saves.

Meanwhile, Vitters started the year (or shortly thereafter) at Peoria, where he hit .214 and was demoted after 14 AB's. He has rebounded nicely at Boise, hitting .308 with 11 extra base hits in 26 games.

I get that Vitters hasn't celebrated his 19 birthday (Ceda is 21) and that he hasn't even played a full season of professional baseball, but a guy hitting .308 at Boise after being demoted doesn't ring of top prospect to me.

Towel Drills announces upcoming clothing line

Toweldrills is pleased to announce that Toweldrills(tm) merchandise will soon be offered for sale. We recently released our first tshirt at the Giants/Cubs series this past weekend. Two of our staffers wore these shirts in the bleachers on Sunday and by the looks of some of the other bleacherers, I think we have a hit.

The faces of the staffers have been concealed for their own good. They would just ruin the look of the shirt.

Short Hops

A few notes from the weekend...
  • Carlos Marmol was selected to replace Kerry Wood on the All Star team, making it 8 for the Cubs (beating the Red Sox 7).
  • Welington Castillo didn't really have a Future's Game to remember. He batted twice and struck out both times.
  • Despite rumors that the Cubs might shut Rich Hill down to get his head on straight, he appears headed back to Iowa soon as his rookie-ball rehab has been a success.