A Trip Around the Minors

Posted by Lionel on May 9, 2009.
Iowa


Jake Fox-A slow week for Fox. 4 for 18, 2 runs, 1 RBI. He didn't hit any HR's, meaning his pace over 600 AB's dropped to 76. His OPS dropped to 1.348, but he still leads the PCL by over .2 points. He also leads the league in HR's, RBI's, TB's, and slugging percentage. He is third in batting average, behind recently recalled Matt Murton.

Kevin Hart-Hart shows flashes of brillance, than shows flashes of a pitcher who has never faced AAA batters. The latter was the case on Monday, where he gave up 4 hits and 3 earned runs. Two days later, he gave up another run on 2 hits, giving him 10 earned runs and 14 hits in 11 and 1/3 innings pitched.

Bonus-In 2008, Chris Robinson hit .214 at AA. But the catcher acquired in the Neifi Perez deal (yes, the Cubs were able to get something for Neifi Perez) is off to great start at Iowa. In 18 games, he's hitting .359 with 8 doubles. He has 4 of 6 stolen bases...as a catcher.

Tennessee

Welington Castillo-Maybe things are turning around for Castillo. He had 3 starts for Tennessee this week, going 4 for 12, including a hit in each game. He's still hitting a meager .167 against lefties, stratching out 2 hits in 17 AB's while K'ing 6 times.

Steve Clevenger-A ton of rainouts this week for Tennessee meant Clevenger only had 5 official AB's. He still managed a single, a double, and 3 RBI's to go along with 3 walks. His OBP is currently at .460 and has 9 walks to 5 K's.

Jay Jackson-Jay Jackson showed the brillance yesterday that turned him from a 9th round pick last year to a top ten prospect. Over 7 innings, he scattered 5 hits and 1 walk, yielding no runs. He struck out 10, bringing his total to nearly 1 per inning. Over his last 14 innings pitched, he's allowed 1 earned run.

Bonus-A top ten prospect last year, Tony Thomas is having a resurgent year. Over the last week, he's hitting .350 with 4 doubles and a triple. His K numbers are still high (21 in 24 games) and he's only 3 for 6 in stolen bases, but he has a 1.018 OPS, thanks in large part to 13 extra base hits.

Daytona

Tyler Colvin-It's pretty much a weekly roller coaster for Tyler Colvin. This week, we're at a peak. 10 hits in his last 30 AB's has brought his BA back up to .261. His week was highlighted by a 4 for 5 performance on Monday with 2 doubles, 2 runs and an RBI.

Starlin Castro-Castro continues to be hot when Colvin is hot. He had 9 hits in his last 23 AB's, including an HR. Unfortunately, that only raised his BA to .250 and he still has a sub .600 OPS. He is up to 6 of 7 in the stolen base department.

Andrew Cashner-As he returns from injury, his innings are coming along slowly. He pitched 3 innings on Wednesday, giving up a hit and 2 walks, while striking out 2. He's now up to 9 innings for the season, giving up 1 earned run. His WHIP is at 1.00 and BAA is .133.

Bonus-Dan McDaniel isn't considered a top prospect in the Cubs organization, but if he continues to pitch the way he has since being drafted in the 14th round last year, he will be soon. 4 starts, a 3-0 record, 21 and 2/3 innings, 3 earned runs. His ERA stands at 1.25, his WHIP at 0.74. He struck out 9 in 5 and 2/3 on Thursday.

Peoria

Josh Vitters-Vitters has been on a tear. Since the calendar turned, he's hitting .367 with 4 extra base hits, including 2 HR's. His .323 average is impressive, , especially with a .320 against lefties and .324 against righties. However, he has only walked twice in 93 AB's.

Ryan Flaherty-Flaherty has a modest 4 game hitting streak, but has 7 hits and 4 RBI's in those 4 games. Flaherty has 9 extra base hits in his 22. He also has managed to walk more times than he's K'd (14 to 12). Add 3 of 4 stolen bases, and you have to like his offensive skill set.

Bonus-The Cubs traded a pitcher named Matt Avery to the Nat's for Ryan Buchter during the Winter Meetings last year. He is a leftie who gave up his first earned run on Wednesday. He has made 9 relief appearances for the Chiefs, spanning 12 and 1/3 innings. He has struck out 16 (1.30 strikeouts per inning). If he hadn't walked 6 batters, he'd be absolutely dominating.

The Others

No news of Dae Eun Rhee or Hak-Ju Lee.

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The Perfect Storm

Posted by Lionel on May 8, 2009.

I reported earlier today that the Cubs were discussing the acquisition of Ryan Freel and I was against it. To refresh your memory, I was against it if it required the draining of the Cubs farm system. Well, it didn't. It cost the Cubs Joey Gathright and some cash. Congratulations, JH. After the deals you'd made throughout the offseason, trading Gathright for Freel is a good move. But that should've sent Bobby Scales back to AAA. However, a perfect storm arose for Scales that will likely keep him in the Bigs for a couple of weeks. Let's look back at what happened in the past couple of hours.

First, Joey Gathright cleared waivers (as reported earlier). What I find significant about this is that there wasn't a single team willing to pay his $1M salary to have him on their team. When JH signed Gathright, I didn't understand why he was signed a guaranteed contract (and not a minor league contract with a spring training invite). Given that he cleared waivers, it still doesn't make sense.

Next, the Cubs made the trade for Freel. With Gathright technically being traded, Randy Wells was able to "come up" to the Bigs without the Cubs making another move, although Freel's acquisition would require a move tomorrow.

So, it seemed like the addition of Freel would mean Bobby Scales would be sent down. But then ARam dove for a shot down the line. If you didn't see it, you don't want to see it. He immediately grabbed his wrist, then his shoulder. He has a dislocated shoulder...the severity of which is unknown. Based on the pain ARam was in when he left the field, I would find it hard to believe he remains on the active roster. Early reports are he'll be out 4-6 weeks. In other words, they will DL him and add Freel without another roster move. So, Bobby Scales gets to feast on the MLB spread instead of PB&J at Des Moines, while Lou tries to manage the Tiny Triumvirate with the addition of 5 foot, 9 inch Ryan Freel.

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Ryan Freel?

Posted by Lionel on May 8, 2009.

Jim Hendry and his old friend Andy McPhail must've realized the other day that they hadn't made a Cubs-O's trade in a couple of months, so they started talking. According to Ken Rosenthal, the O's and Cubs have been in discussions, and the fact that Joey Gathright cleared waivers today added some sizzle to the rumor.

I like Ryan Freel. I like the way he plays the game. And I think there is a use for Ryan Freel on the Cubs, because they could use a backup 3-sack that doesn't require moving lil Mikey and forming the Tiny Triumvirate (I'm still searching for a good term for the vertically challenged threesome of Miles, The Riot and Fontenot covering the 4-5-6 defensive spots). He would also replace Gathright's speed, as he was swiping 35+ bags a year when he was logging regular time.

But my biggest concern is what the Cubs are going to give up for him. According to BA, they have the 27th best farm system in baseball. That's also called the 4th worst. A large part of that is the number of guys they've traded away (they traded away 3 top ten prospects from last year). What that means to me is that they shouldn't be beefing up the Orioles farm system to get a guy who is 2 for 15 this year and is coming off the D.L.

Freel wants out of Baltimore, the O's want to shed his 3.3 million dollar contract, and the Cubs could use a backup 3 sack. So, trade a low (and I mean low) level prospect and take on his salary, or tell Andy McPhail to shove off. He should be focusing on getting Rich Hill back to the majors so the Cubs get a decent player in the PTBNL deal that sent Hill to Baltimore.

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Roster Roulette

Posted by Lionel on May 5, 2009.

When Bobby Scales was called up on Monday, it raised two questions. Why wasn't Jake Fox called up and what were the Cubs going to do about the fifth spot?

Jake Fox has done everything possible to earn a callup (.400 BA, 12 HR's, 1.411 OPS), but Lou didn't need another OF or pinch hitter. He needed a guy who could spell part of the vertically-challenged infield (Miles, The Riot, Fontenot) who were playing every day. Scales provided that with his start today. If the Cubs need an extra bat or if they have a slew of OF's go down, Fox will be the man.

As for the fifth spot, there was discussion that Jeff ND would get the spot, but Lou felt that the 'pen had started to get assimilated to their roles and didn't want to change that. While Jeff ND pitched a 6 inning game at Iowa on April 18th, that is the only time he went more than 4 innings since Spring Training, so he isn't necessarily stretched out.

So what are the Cubs 40 man starter options? Minor League Pitcher of the Year Mitch Atkins has an ERA of nearly 7 in 5 starts. Jose Ascanio has been starting, and pitching well (1.25 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), but has averaged only 4.2 innings per start. Marcos Mateo started the year in Daytona, and while he's been moved up to Tennessee, he's only averaging 3 innings per start (he has a 1.08 combined ERA). That leaves Randy Wells (the guy expected to be called up).

Wells is off to a 3-0 start with a 2.77 ERA. He has a 3 to 1 K/W ratio and has averaged 5.2 innings per start. Guys are hitting .204 off him. Righties are only hitting .172 against him, which is especially beneficial with the predominately right-handed lineup he'll face in Milwaukee on Friday.

With Wells promotion, it'll mean Bobby Scales MLB career will move from 0 games on an MLB roster to 4 games. Look for him to be recalled if the Cubs lose a player in their infield.

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Did Lou start celebrating Cinco de Mayo early?

Posted by Lionel on May 5, 2009.

Here's today's Cubs starting lineup:

1) Gathright CF

2) Miles SS

3) Fukudome RF

4) Lee 1B

5) Hoffpauir LF

6) Fontenot 3B

7) Scales 2B

8) Hill C

9) Marshall P

Closer (if needed)-Aaron Heilman

Before you start thinking Lou has been downing Corona's, let's look at why he's resting a lot of his regulars. The Cubs are on their first four game winning streak and will at least split the 2 games series with the Giants. It gives Gathright his first start of the year and gives Scales a chance to play. It puts 8 lefties in the lineup (the only one not batting leftie is D-Lee). But mostly, it is because the Cubs #5 starter is facing the Giants #1 and reigning Cy Young award winner. So, if the Cubs are going to have a bad matchup, this would be it. Ideally, the Cubs would have an off-day tomorrow (Lou usually likes to give his regulars 2 days of rest).

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Welcome to Chicago, Bobby Scales

Posted by Lionel on May 4, 2009.

If you haven't heard, the Cubs put Z on the D.L. today and called up Bobby Scales. If you had already heard, I'm sure you said "Who?"

Scales is a 31 year old career minor leaguer. He joined the I-Cubs last year, his 9th career season. He was a non-roster invitee this spring to Cubs camp and was back in Iowa until today.

Scales is your classic utility player. He a switch hitter whose seen time at all non-battery positions during his career. He has been primarily a 2-sack and he's probably not going to spell The Riot (he has 3 games at SS in over 750 career games), but he can play either corner spot and all three OF spots. He hit .320 with 15 HR's in 387 AB's, but he also struck out 90 times and was only 7 of 12 in stolen bases. He's off to a .303 start this year, including .385 against lefties.

This is a move to stick a 25th guy on the roster. With The Riot, Sori, and Fontenot being the only three players to have played in every game, he is valuable in being able to give the infield a little more rest while trying to keep guys healthy. I'm not sure we'll see him start, especially with ARam ready to get back into the lineup, but he could spell a couple of guys late in games or as a pinch hitter/runner.

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A Trip Around the Minors

Posted by Lionel on May 3, 2009.
For the time being, there's no reason not to report on Jake "Micah Hoffpauir Jr." Fox every week so that someone else will get a chance to be the bonus player for Iowa...

Iowa

Jake Fox-Just another week for Fox. .353 BA, 3 HR's, 5 doubles, 6 runs in 5 games. His OPS jumped back up from 1.374 to 1.477 for the year. If he stayed on this pace for the year (600 AB's), he'd hit 89 HR's and 592 total bases.

Kevin Hart-Given that it's still early in the season, Hart's numbers continue to look inflated because of one bad outing. His ERA is at 5.79, but if you take out the 5 run, 1/3 of an inning performance, he has only given up 1 earned in 9 innings. He walked one and gave up no hits in his three innings this week

Bonus-It's been a season of tough luck for Jose Ascanio. He took his decision yesterday in an I-Cubs loss. He's 0-1 despite giving up only 3 earned runs in 21 and 2/3 innings this year. The reason he doesn't have any W's is because he's only 5 innings once, that coming yesterday.

Tennessee

Welington Castillo-Castillo has been in a season-long slump, but maybe his performance on Tuesday will help him dig out of it. He had the first multi-hit game, a 2 for 4 with a single and an HR. He had 2 RBI's and scored twice. On the season, he's hitting .175 and has 12 K's in 11 games.

Steve Clevenger-The left-handed batting catcher is having the polar opposite season of Castillo. He's hitting .333 with an OPS of .984. On Monday, he was an HR short of the cycle. In every start he's had this season (10), he's been on base at least once.

Jay Jackson-After a slow start to the season that saw Jackson take losses in each of his first three starts, he showed why he's a top ten prospect in his fourth start on Wednesday. 7 strong innings, 4 hits, 3 walks, 4 K's, and only one earned run. He helped his own cause as well, going 2 for 2 with a solo HR.

Bonus-Blake Parker is following up a solid 2008 season with a strong start at Tennessee. The right-handed reliever has closed out 8 of the Smokies' games, including 3 saves. He gave up his first two earnies on Tuesday, giving him an ERA of 1.74. He has struck out 15 batters in 10 1/3 innings, with at least one every outing so far.

Daytona

Tyler Colvin-Colvin is a streaky hitter who is in the middle of a downturn. In 6 games this week, Colvin managed only 2 singles in 21 AB's. He was off to a nice start in being patient with 11 walks in 11 games, but hasn't drawn a free pass in the last 9 games. Despite that, he still leads the team in walks.

Starlin Castro-The Cubs other top ten player at Daytona is struggling just like Colvin. He had 3 hits this past week in 25 AB's, and all three of his hits were singles. In 20 games this year, Castro has only walked twice (72 AB's). He also has 5 errors.

Andrew Cashner-The Cubs 1st round pick from last year came off the D.L. and started for the first time this year last Sunday. The Cubs are taking things slowly, as he only pitched 2 and 2/3, but he only gave up 1 hit, 1 walk and 1 run. He started again on Friday, going 3 and 1/3 innings, walking 2, allowing 2 hits, and not giving up an earnie.

Bonus-Before last Saturday, Robinson Chirinos had just one triple. Given that he's a catcher, a triple in 16 AB's is good. But in three of his next four games, Chirinos would triple, giving him 4 in now 32 AB's. If you think it's a matter of playing in a particular big park, it's not. He's tripled in 4 different parks. If he stayed at this pace, he'd have 63 triples in a season (assuming a catcher would get 500 AB's).

Peoria

Josh Vitters-There isn't anything wrong with Vitter's stat line, there just much that's impressive. He's hitting .310 with 3 doubles, a triple, and an HR. He has 8 RBI's and 9 runs. He's only hitting .233 with runners on base, but .294 with runners in scoring position.

Ryan Flaherty-Flaherty has watched his BA tumble, thanks to 2 hits in 17 AB's. It's now at .263. But he did walk twice yesterday and hit an HR, so things might be turning around. Despite his BA, he still has an OBP of .382.

Bonus-6th round pick from last year Josh Harrison is off to a nice start at Peoria. In 75 AB's, he has 27 hits (a .360 BA) including 7 extra base hits. He has stolen 5 bags, but has also been caught 5 times.

The Rest

No news on Hak-Ju Lee or Dae Eun Rhee

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