Let's Just Switch Iowa and Chicago

Posted by Lionel on July 1, 2009.

With a team like the Cubs, you can't expect the minor leaguers to have a huge impact. But amazingly, it seems like the Cubs are getting more production from them than some of the regulars. So I decided to rank the AAA players based on their performance in the Bigs to how a minor leaguer being called up should perform.

Below Average

Chad Fox-It's hard to remember that Fox even played for the Cubs and it's something I'm sure he'd like to forget. His callup lasted 1 outing shorter than last year, at 2, before another arm injury that will probably mean the end of his career. Fox's performance wasn't helping...5 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning.

Jeff ND-Samardzija was the first player called up from AAA this season. His first stint wasn't so good, lasting only 2 weeks, as he compiled a 8.10 ERA. But he was sent downt to work on a second pitch, and Lou said after his first return outing on Tuesday that he thought he looked a lot better. While the Cubs don't want to waste Jeff ND in the minors, he needs to prove something or he'll be sent back in favor of Ascanio or Hart.

Jason Waddell-When the Cubs added Waddell, I thought they finally had a 2nd leftie in the 'pen. Not that his 5.40 ERA at Iowa and the fact that lefties were batting .346 off him were making him attractive, but at least there were options. Well, 3 games in, and Waddell was gone. He is on the D.L. for a undisclosed, non-baseball-related injury reason, so when/if he'll return is up in the air. He left with a matching 5.40 ERA in the Bigs.

At Par

Kevin Hart-A limited sample size, but Hart has pitched relatively well in his 3 appearances since being recalled a week and a half ago. While he has a 2.45 ERA, he has walked 4 in less than 4 innings of work. Hart is probably a quick fill in until Angel Guzman comes back from the D.L., especially with Jeff ND up.

Above Average

Jose Ascanio-Ascanio was called up when Chad Fox went down, and was returned to Iowa when Jeff ND returned to the majors this week. Ascanio has been one of the cogs that has solidified the bullpen, giving up 6 earned runs over 15 and 1/3 innings. And while the Cubs have too much invested in Jeff ND to keep him at Iowa, Ascanio had struggled as of late, prompting the demotion.

Andres Blanco-Andre White was another headscratcher when he was called up, because he hadn't played in the Bigs since '06. And while Blanco has only hit .231, he's done the little things you'd expect out of a bench player. He plays solid defense (getting the #1 web gem last night, which you can see here) and has good AB's. He has more walks than K's and is tied for the team lead in sacrifices.

Sam Fuld-It only took one game for Fuld to play above average. A 2 for 4 performance, including a double last night, a diving catch, and throwing out a runner at home with a great throw from left will do that. Fuld is likely only here until ReJo comes back next week, but with last night's performance, we may see him log some PT.

Bobby Scales-When I heard that the first position player the Cubs were calling up from AAA was a 31 year old who'd never sniffed the Bigs, I thought the Cubs farm system was in bigger trouble than I'd expected. But Scales performed admirably in a 25 games before his return to Iowa. He hit 3 HR's and had a .466 slugging percentage, which ranks higher than everyone but D.Lee, ARam, Sam Fuld (in his 1 game), and Jake Fox.


Jake Fox-Fox was leading the minors in the triple crown categories (BA, HR's, RBI's) when he was called up. There were a lot of questions as to whether he would actually get to play, because he was considered a defensive liability basically everywhere. So, Fox took matters into his own hands and hit his way onto the field. His .316 BA and .509 slugging percentage are 3rd to Fuld and ARam. He has given Lou a solid option at 3rd until ARam comes back, and you have to wonder where the Cubs would be if Fox had been playing the 3-sack instead of the Fontenot experiment.

Randy Wells-Called up as a replacement for Zambrano, Wells has been nothing short of amazing. His 2.43 ERA is almost a full point better than any other starter on the staff and he has a 3 to 1 K/W ratio. Wells has also saved Lou's 'pen, going at least 6 and 2/3 in 7 of his last 8 starts. Unless he falls apart or they trade him, expect him to be in the rotation for the remainder of the year. All this from a guy considered to be about the Cubs 50th best prospect in their system.

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