A Trip Around the Minors...

In this week's edition, streaks end for some of the Cubs top prospects, Blake Lalli isn't sasfied just hitting .330, and Dan McDaniel gets sextupled.

Iowa

Felix Pie-Pie struggled at the end of last week, going 0-8 over the weekend with 6 K's and a walk. But Pie fared better as the week began anew. He currently has a 4 game mini-hitting streak, including a HR last night. On the week, Pie went 4 for 22 (.231) with 3 runs and 2 RBI's. Pie was also caught stealing twice.

Kevin Hart-Hart pitched three scoreless innings this week, striking out 5 and earning two saves. He didn't give up a hit or a walk. For the month, Hart has a 1.86 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP. Since being moved to the Iowa 'pen, Hart has a 1.98 ERA and hitters are hitting .156 against him. It seems like Hart is a late-year pitcher.

Mitch Atkins-The streak has ended, and it ended in a bad way. Going into Tuesday, Atkins was 7-0 with a 3.61 ERA in 7 starts at Iowa. Tuesday night's line-2 innings pitched, 6 earned runs, 4 walks. The damage was done on grand slam. Atkins took the loss and watched his ERA jump over a full point.

Bonus-Bobby Scales, who the Cubs signed as a minor league free agent before the season to fill the 2 sack spot, has an 9 game hitting streak. Scales has 3 HR's, 9 RBI's, and 8 runs over the stretch, which came directly after a platinum sombrero (5 K's in a game) on August 11th.

Tennessee

Tyler Colvin-Colvin hit .333 for the week, collecting 4 multi-hit games. But more impressive was his slugging percentage for the week; .741. He had a double, two triples and 2 HR's. He had 4 RBI's and 4 runs. Colvin's slugging percentage for the year is only .426, but that's in large part due to the .255 batting average. If you are unfamilar with slugging percentage and looking for a comparison, the Phillies starting 3-sack Pedro Feliz has a .254 BA and a .421 slugging percentage.

Welington Castillo-Castillo only played in 4 games this week, and he went 1 for 12 in 3 of them. But in the fourth game, played on Monday, Castillo went 5 for 6 with an RBI. That 5 for 6 performance is saving an otherwise terrible month for Castillo; Monday's RBI has been his lone RBI for the month. If you removed Monday's performance altogether, Castillo would be hitting .156 for the month with 2 runs, zero RBI's, and zero walks.

Jose Ceda-Ceda managed to earn a save this past week, but that's not because the Smokies have moved him back into the closer's role. Rather, Ceda was asked to two the final two innings of Tuesday night's game. He fared well, striking out 4, including the last two batters of the game after giving up two singles. Ceda has a 1.69 ERA over his last 5 appearances.

Donnie Veal-As much as it was disappointing to see Atkin's streak end, I would take it for a Donnie Veal victory, which occured last night and ended his two month draught. Veal showed his ability to dominate, giving up just one earned run (off a solo shot) in seven innings of work, including 8 strikeouts. The biggest news may be the fact that he only walked one, after allowing at least 3 walks per start in his last 5 starts.

Bonus-Esmailan Caridad was promoted to Tennessee in June after a mixed bag at Daytona, as mentioned in this previos ATAtM post. Caridad is now 6-3 for a last place team and has posted a 3.52 ERA, 3.12 after the All Star Break. The 24 year old has surrendered a staggering 14 HR's in just 71 and 2/3 innings pitched at Tennessee, but 10 of those have been solo shots.

Daytona

Tony Thomas-On Monday, Tony Thomas went 3 for 5, giving him a .313 batting average for the ATAtM week. Then, the Hurricane/Tropical storm landed over Daytona and sat there, raining out the rest of the week. On the season, Thomas is hitting .264 with 21 stolen bases, but has struck out 102 times in 104 games.

Bonus-Blake Lalli, the 1-sack/catcher for the D-Cubs, continued to show his value to the D-Cubs on Monday night by pitching the 10th inning. He threw a scoreless frame, giving him the victory. He's now pitched 3 innings, giving up only a walk and a hit while striking out 4. Oh, and he's hitting .336 with 7 HR's and 43 RBI's for Daytona, when he's not pitching.

Peoria

No Top Ten Prospects

Bonus-Dylan Johnston (4th round, 2005) came off the D.L. on Thursday red hot. After his 45 day layoff, Johnston he has hit .409 with 3 HR's and 6 RBI's in his 6 games. He also struck out 6 times, bringing his total for the year to 75 in 68 games. Johnston hit only .212 between Peoria and Boise last year, but has a solid .278 batting average this year.

Boise

Josh Vitters-Josh Vitters hitting streak finally came to an end on Wednesday after 25 games. Vitters jumped back on the horse with a 2 hit performance last night. For the month of August, Vitters is hitting .353 with 10 doubles and 3 HR's. He has a .961 OPS for the month. Since I've played this game with Hoffpauir, if you extrapolated Vitters Boise numbers over a 600 AB season, he'd have 205 hits, including 59 doubles. On the defensive side, Vitters has committed 9 errors, which would be 25 in a full season.

Bonus-Dan McDaniel, the Cubs 14th round pick from June, had a rough week. On Saturday, he pitched an inning and two thirds, giving up 2 earned runs. On Tuesday, he gave up 3 earned runs in an inning and a third. The bad news? It raised his ERA over a point and a half. The good news? His ERA is still at 2.05. The two outings this week sextupled the number of runs he'd given up (that is, it went from 1 to 6). The right-hander still has a WHIP under 1.00 and has a 13.67 K's per 9 ratio.

TD: Answering Your Questions


Recently, we received a question on why this year's 1st round pick, Andrew Cashner, was starting for the Boise Hawks when the Cubs have said he projects as a reliever. I replied with a short statement, but since then, I have felt I slighted our loyal TD fans. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to expound upon my answer.
The short answer (the answer I provided) is that teams often start guys to build up their arm strength. But that's really only a part of it. In fact, that usually has more to do with guys on the Big Club who go down to AAA to build up their arm strength because they are middle relievers who may need to go 3 innings or make a spot start. Relievers who are in the low levels and are starting usually see the benefit of building their arm strength, but there's more to it.
A guy who goes 3 innings is going to see a lot more...more batters, more bad counts, more situations. If you bring a young guy in and he faces 3 guys, blowing them all away, it may not mean much. It could be the 7-8-9 hitters and all could be righthanded to the righthanded reliever. Putting a guy in for at least 3 innings at the start of a game means that he will get to see the entire team's lineup. He will learn how to pitch a lot more instead of relying on beating people with one pitch. Not only does it help the pitcher, but it helps the coach ID what needs to be worked on and it gives the scouts and player personnel a better look at how a guy is progressing.
In addition, putting a guy in the rotation gives the coaching staff a chance to work more with the pitcher. If you have a guy like Cashner throwing 2-3 days in a row, the next day he's going to need off from throwing. He's not going to get a lot of time to "practice" his craft. A starter gets the chance to throw a side-session with the pitching coach, which allows the player to develop more.
You can also rotate guys in and out of the rotation, allowing them to experience the 'pen and the rotation, which again, helps their development. They get to throw side sessions, build up arm strength, but also work on getting warm to come into games and allow the player personnel to evaluate them as both a starter and reliever. The Boise Hawks have used 11 of the 18 guys who've pitched for them this year in a starting role; the Peoria Chiefs, 10 of 16. The Hawks don't have a single guy who has started in every game in which he's appeared. The Chiefs have only one guy who hasn't come out of the 'pen and that's primarily because he's been on the D.L. since the end of June.
All in all, there are a number of benefits to having a guy start early in his career. But, not all clubs choose to follow this philosophy. Some clubs will keep a top prospect who projects as a reliever strictly in a relief role. That line of thinking is that a player will develop the tools and skills necessary to do the job he projects to do better if he hones his craft in only that role.

Minor League Movers

Iowa

The I-Cubs received a boost to their beleaguered bullpen on Sunday when Angel Guzman reported from Tennessee to Iowa on his rehab. Guzman, the Cubs top prospect in 2003 (according to Baseball America) has battled a series of injuries that would be a surprise to anyone but a Cubs fan. Guzman threw 3 innings on Sunday, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out 3.

Tennessee

No Moves

Daytona

Billy Muldowney (8th round, 2006) was sent to the D.L. this week. Muldowney has had a solid season, going 6-3 with a 2.85 ERA between Daytona and Peoria this week, including a 1.13 in his last 3 starts. Leo Perez, the pitcher turned catcher turned coach, was once again activated.

Peoria

The Chiefs swapped OF's on Thursday, sending Cliff Andersen to the D.L. and activating Dylan Johnston from the D.L. Anderson, a 9th round pick in 2006, was suffering from a strained left calf muscle. Johnston, a 4th rounder from '05, had been hitting .299 in the 44 games prior to his injury, after a slow start to the season. He's still managed to hit 11 HR's in only 66 games for the Chiefs this year.

Boise

No Moves

Late Season Help (Part II)


In Part II of Late Season Help, we'll look at the guys on the fence for getting promoted to the Big Club when rosters are expanded on September 1st, as well as guys who could be added to the 40 man roster so they can be called up. With Iowa in a playoff race, the Cubs may be a little hesitant to call these some of these guys up to sit on the bench, but Tennessee (in last place) should be fair game. In case you missed Part I, click here.

Keep Playing Hard if you want to sniff the Ivy (or carry the pink backpack)

Jose Ascanio-With Ascanio logging some PT at Chicago, you'd think that the Cubs would want to add his arm to the 'pen, even if he had a 7.94 ERA in the Bigs. But things haven't been wonderful for Ascanio in the cornfields lately. He has a 8.03 ERA at Iowa after the All Star break and has given up 6 HR's in his last 18 innings pitched. If the Cubs call him up, I wouldn't expect to see him on the field unless one team has a double digit number on the scoreboard. I don't expect him to return unless there are some injuries to the other relievers.

Angel Guzman-At the beginning of the year, it seemed like the only stat Guzman was going to add was another full year on the DL, which has become an annual tradition for the Cubs 2003 BA Top Prospect. But he has been throwing since early June and is now rehabbing at Iowa. He has made 4 appearances in 3 stops, giving up 2 earned runs 11 innings pitched. Of course, to be added, he will have to be removed from the 60 day D.L., which is the only basis that puts him on the fense. Let's hope he can contribute to the 'pen like he did last year, when he had a 3.60 ERA as a reliever in his short time in Chicago.

Carmen Pignatiello-Pignatiello is teetering toward being called up because he happens to throw the baseball with his left hand. His 7.05 ERA at Iowa is teetering him back toward not being called up. His ERA has been bad all season; 10.50 in April, 6.48 in May, 4.26 in June, 9.45 in July, and 8.10 in August. Despite all that, he has managed to keep lefties at bay, as they are only hitting .164 off him. But even that has it's problems, as he has also given up more walks than hits to left-handed batters. My money is on the Cubs adding him, just because he is a southpaw and the Cubs have no other options.

Felix Pie-Ohh, what to do with Felix Pie. He needs more seasoning. He needs more AB's. He needs consistent AB's. But, he may be the Cubs starting CF next year, so he should get some experience in the Bigs. Or maybe not. So, what should the Cubs do? Pie is hitting .280 at Iowa, .321 after the All Star Break. A week ago, he had a 6.92 strikeout per AB ratio. A week later, it's down to 6.11 (thanks in large part to a golden sombrero on Saturday). The Cubs could use another left-handed stick off the bench and could use a solid defense OF to spell Edmonds' old ass or to cover some of Sori's mistakes, but the argument will no doubt be whether it's better to have him sitting on the Cubs bench not logging at AB's or playing in the AAA playoffs. I have mulled this over in the powerful, Cubs-driven mind that I have, and I still don't have an answer. I think it might actually depend on whether the Cubs still see him as a coveted prospect, which according to John Heyman of SI, they don't.

Jake Fox-Fox has been really good at Tennessee after starting off slow at Iowa. He's the only guy listed as a catcher on the 40 man roster that isn't in the Bigs, but the problem is he really isn't a catcher anymore. He's played 1-sack, OF, and DH'ed for the Smokies, so he has the postional flexibility that Lou likes. I am guessing the Cubs add a catcher to their roster instead of calling up Fox, but if Lou wants to have an emergency catcher, Fox could get the nod. Fox has a .300 batting average and 22 HR's for the Smokies, including .353 after the All Star Break, and sometimes, these call ups are based on merit, and those numbers merit the promotion.

Pick Me, Pick Me! (guys not on the 40 man roster)

Jose Ceda-Ceda, as mentioned in ATAtM on multiple occasions, has been working the 8th inning of Smokies games instead of the 9th, leading to suspicion that the Cubs were getting him ready to get called up and work in relief. Ceda has struggled a bit in the setup role, but has only given up one run in his last 5 and 1/3 (over 5 appearances). The Smokies used him to pitch both the 8th and 9th last time out. The Cubs are likely going to put him on the 40 man roster after the season's over anyways, in order to protect him from getting plucked in the Rule V draft this December, so that may impact the decision. Since his future is in relief, the Cubs concern about his arbitration status is probably diminished.

Welington Castillo-The Cubs Future's game representative may get added to the 40 man roster to give Lou another catcher. The Cubs may or may not add him to the 40 man this offseason anyways, to protect him as they will Ceda. But if the Cubs feel confident he isn't MLB ready, they may not bring him up to sit on the bench and start the aribtration clock ticking. Castillo has hit a solid .278 at Tennessee this year, but his main prowess is his defense. I don't think he's going to get the call, but it might not be a bad idea to get him some experience at least catching some MLB pitchers.

Casey McGehee-Probably a long-shot, but McGehee is the I-Cubs 3-sack and the Cubs could use a backup 3-sack. Currently, the only options they have are ARam, DeRo, and in an emergency, Ronnie C. McGehee's hit .294 with 12 HR's and 82 RBI's this season. The thing that may give him a boost into being added to the 40 man roster is that if my math is correct and my knowledge of MLB rules is correct, he will have been in the Cubs system for 6 years, meaning he would be a 6 year free agent this offseason and can sign with any club.

Koyie Hill-Hill wasn't on my list until I read Bruce Miles blog post which said that the Cubs would consider adding Hill (Bruce and I didn't necessarily agree on who's getting the call). Those who can think all the way back to last year will remember that Hill spent a decent amount of time in Chicago; he played in 36 games when the Cubs needed catchers. Hill only hit .161 during that stretch, but stuck around becuase he could handle the staff and was solid defensively. With the Cubs not really needing to add offense at the catcher's position, Hill may be added to the 40 man roster to serve as the 3rd catcher. He's hitting .272 with 14 HR's for the I-Cubs as their primary catcher.

Doug Deeds-Acquired in the trade that sent Craig Monroe to the Twins, Deeds isn't likely headed to Chicago. But since he's put up some good numbers, I thought he was worthy of mention. A Southern League All Star, Deeds is hitting .331 with 36 doubles, 10 HR's and 8 SB's on the year. He's a left-handed stick who can play all three OF spots. The Cubs should have enough depth at OF, but if they keep Pie and Fox in the minors, Deeds may be the guy who gets added for OF depth.

Late Season Help (Part I)

With the expansion of the rosters now less than 2 weeks away, I thought I would take a look at the guys who could be called up to add some depth to the Cubs. The first thing to note is that to be eligible to be called up, the player must be on the 40 man roster (or added to the 40 man roster). As it stands now, the Cubs have 38 guys active on the 40 man roster. That doesn't include Angel Guzman, who is on the 40 man roster, but doesn't count toward the limit because he's on the 60 day D.L. (which is the whole basis for the 60 day D.L.). Chad Fox is on the 15 day D.L., but with no return in sight, he may be transferred to the 60 day D.L. if the Cubs want to add another player.

In Part I, we'll look at the guys who definitely should and definitely shouldn't be heading to Chicago in September. Tomorrow, in Part II (of II), we'll review the guys on the fence and guys who could be added to the 40 man roster to be called up.

Pack Your Bag for Chicago and Try to Stay Healthy for the next 2 Weeks

Kevin Hart-For a long time, Hart was switching roles between Chicago and Iowa, starting for the I-Cubs and coming in in relief for the Cubs. But since the middle of July, Hart has pitched exclusively in relief. He hasn't faired well against major league competition, giving up 17 earned runs in less than 20 innings pitched (a 7.91 ERA), but has seen success since being used as a reliever at Iowa. There, he's posted a 2.31 ERA and 3 saves in 10 relief appearances. If nothing else, Lou should want to see if he can recreate the magic he had last September when he posted a 0.82 ERA and was on the Cubs post-season roster.

Jon Lieber-Lieber has been rehabbing, making a start for the rookie ball club and a start for the Peoria Chiefs. If I am reading my MLB rules correctly, the rookie ball doesn't count as a rehab start, and therefore, he made his first official rehab start on August 5th. Why is this important? Because, the rules state that a pitcher may only rehab for 30 days before he must be recalled or released. In this case, the August 5th date is perfect because it means the Cubs can remove Lieber from the D.L. come September without having to worry about moving someone down and without having to release him. How much he pitches is to be seen, but he should be on the roster, given that they seemed to perfectly start his rehab after August 1.

Michael Wuertz-Wuertz kind of became a forgotton man after being demoted in July. Unfortunately, he didn't forget that he was demoted. Despite a 3.55 ERA for the Cubs, Wuertz has a 4.30 ERA for Iowa over 14 and 2/3 innings. He has managed to record 24 of 44 outs he's recorded via the K, and he's held righties to a .172 average. Of all the relievers the Cubs have in the minors, you have to figure that Wuertz is the first man they'll recall, based on his relative success in Chicago.

Micah Hoffpauir-There's really no need to even comment here. Scroll through almost any portion of our website if you are confused. If he isn't on the team, I'm heading to Vegas to throw all my money down on Iowa winning the PCL crown (unless the Cubs don't bring up any of the Iowa relievers).

Good Luck finishing out your minor league season, if you get to play

Adam Harben-The average Cubs fan is probably saying Adam Who? Then again, the average Cubs fan probably doesn't read a post about September Call-ups. Adam Harben was acquired by the Cubs from the Rangers in the trade that sent Phil Nevin to Texas. Harben underwent Tommy John surgery in late 2006 and is in his first full season back from the surgery. Harben has a 5.37 ERA this year for Daytona between starting and relieving. He is currently on the D.L., making him unavailable even if the Cubs wanted to use him, unless he returns from injury. A guy who didn't pitch well for Daytona isn't going to pitch well for Chicago.

Rich Hill-It's almost unfathomable to be mentioning Hill in this article, let alone putting him on the Good Luck list. But in all actuality, he may not even be in the playoffs for Daytona (currently tied for 1st place), as he was put on the D.L. earlier this month. Hill last pitched on July 30th, and based on his performance and injuries, it may be time for the Cubs to have him hang up the spikes for the year and come back next year with a clear head and fresh arm.

Billy Petrick-It's hard not to remember Petrick from last year, given that he is generously reported to weigh 240 lbs. He pitched in 8 games for the Cubs, struggling to a 7.45 ERA. Petrick had started the season in Arizona and then went to Daytona, where he ended up on the D.L. after only 8 outings. Since then, he has been placed on the Cubs suspended list, but no official word has come down as to why he was placed on that list and anything I would guess on here would be pure speculation (not that this entire article isn't pure speculation). In any case, if he pitches again this season, it isn't going to be in Chicago.
Sam Fuld-So Fuld is the only man on the 40 man roster who is currently playing, but isn't likely to head to Chicago. He is hitting a mere .254 at Tennessee, but has a respectable .355 OBP. The only way I see him heading to the North Side is if the Cubs don't call up Pie and decide they need a defensive OF. Given that they can always use Hoffpauir and Fox in the OF, I don't see Fuld being called up. With the Smokies in last place in the second half after a last place finish in the1st half, Fuld's season probably has a few weeks left.

Wrigley Fields...Yes the person not the stadium

The Seattle Times reports the following:

Years before 7-year-old Wrigley was born, his father Jerry Fields says he'd already decided what he'd do. Coming from a family of Cubs fans and with his particular last name, he decided to name his first son after the Friendly Confines.
Little Wrigley Fields will meet his destiny on Aug. 29 at a Cubs home game against the Philadelphia Phillies when he'll throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field.
His mother, Kathy, says she mentioned Wrigley's name in front of a former Cubs official, who promised her Wrigley would get to throw out the first pitch.
Kathy said when Jerry first told her he wanted to name his first son Wrigley, she initially thought he was joking. But Jerry later stood firm when they found out they were having a boy.

As great of a name as "Wrigley Fields" is for a person let's leave the name Wrigley for gums, stadium and Dogs. I feel bad to what will happen to this young man as he grows up...

Ronnie Woo Woo: He knew the Mac

This past weekend Chicago paid respects to one of the great comedians that recently passed, Mr. Bernie Mac. In attendance at the memorial: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Cedric the Entertainer and Ronnie Woo Woo.

The Sun Times reports, "Cubs superfan Ronnie "Woo-Woo" Wickers was also in attendance -- in full Cubs uniform." Full Cubs uniform?

RIP Mac