A Trip Around the Minors


Posted by Lionel on July 3, 2009.

The I-Cubs ATAtM list shrinks again, a couple of the Cubs best find new homes, A pre-Independence Day edition...

Iowa

Steve Clevenger-Clevenger's hitting streak ended at 10 games, and things haven't been so hot for him since. Clevenger's amassed just 4 hits during the week, hitting .182. Still, Clevenger's hitting .304 on the year between the two clubs with a .774 OPS.

Jeff ND-now with the Big Boys

Bonus-No need to do a deluxe edition of the I-Cubs All Star roster, as it's only one player, Chris Robinson. Robinson will be the PCL's starting catcher (yes, the Cub's organizational catcher logjam continues). Robinson is hitting .314 and has successfully stolen 7 of 9 bases this season.

Tennessee

Welington Castillo-4 starts for Castillo this week. A 2 for 4 performance was sandwiched in between three 0'fers. Castillo is hitting .154 for a combination of the months of June and July. Castillo only has 18 RBI's in 50 games.

Tyler Colvin-Colvin has a hit in his last 4 games and 7 of his last 8. He has a .901 OPS since being promoted back to Tennessee. But Colvin has also struck out at least once in 8 of his last 9 games. In 203 AB's this season, Colvin has K'd 45 times.

Jay Jackson-Jackson had his worst outing since April last Saturday, giving up 3 earned runs in 4 and 2/3 innings pitched. After not walking a batter in his previous 2 starts, Jackson yielded 4. Jackson bounced back last night, but didn't go deep into the game. He went 4 innings, giving up 1 earnie on 4 hits and 2 walks.

Andrew Cashner-The Cubs third best prospect according to BA has been promoted to play for Ryne Sandberg. Since Cashner hasn't officially toed the rubber for the Smokies, we'll take a quick look at his Daytona numbers. No record, a 1.50 ERA over 12 starts, a 1.10 WHIP and 1 HR allowed over 42 innings pitched. You have to wonder if this move puts him in line for a September callup.

Bonus-Jayson Ruhlman followed the unfortunate path that a few of his Smokie teammates did...he was demoted from Iowa after a slow start. Ruhlman has bounced back, posting a 3.00
ERA with a WHIP of 1.00. Both righties and lefties are hitting under .200 against him.

Daytona

Josh Vitters-With the #3 prospect moving up, who could the Cubs promote to keep the excitement level high in Daytona? Josh Vitters. While Vitters didn't have a hit in his first game, he did walk, something he did only 7 times in 70 games for the Chiefs. Vitters has 3 hits in his last 2 games, giving him a .273 BA in 3 games as a D-Cub.

Starlin Castro-The D-Cub fans may be spoiled, as they may be getting a peek at the future left side of the Cubs infield playing together. Case in point? Last Friday. Castro went 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, and a walk. He grabbed 5 RBI's, but also was caught stealing twice. He followed that up with a 3 for 5 night on Saturday.

Bonus-Daytona also added the Cubs 3rd round pick from 2008 in Chris Carpenter this week. Carpenter was 4-3 with the Chiefs, but posted an impressive 2.44 ERA in 15 starts. He had a 1.19 WHIP at Peoria and lefties were hitting .185 against him.

Peoria

Ryan Flaherty-Hopefully, Flaherty is getting things going. He's hit safely in 4 of his last 5 games, but also struck out 6 times. Beyond Flaherty's .238 BA, he's hit 10 HR's and has stolen 6 of 9 bases. He has a .740 OPS.

Bonus-A 20th round pick from the '07 draft, Jose Made was recently added to the Chiefs roster. After an '08 campaign in which he hit totalled 4 hits between 3 stops in 60 AB's (a .067 BA), Made has already amassed 6 hits in just 12 AB's for Peoria.

Boise

Hak Ju Lee-Lee is off to a hot start at Boise, hitting .340 with 12 runs in 12 games. He's hit in 11 of the 12 games this season, and already has 7 stolen bases in 9 attempts. The 18 year old is leading the league in stolen bases and tied for the lead in runs scored.
Bonus-An 18 year old out of South Korea, Jae Hoon Ha has shown a couple of good signs in his professional debut. First, he has 9 RBI's in 11 games, leading the team in that department. He's hitting .289 (thanks to 3 straight games of 2 for 4). But the most impressive stat is that he has struck out only once in 38 official AB's.


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No DeRo...No Problem. Cubs Make a Trade


Posted by Lionel on July 2, 2009.
UPDATED at 1:56 PM CT

While a lot of Cubs fans envisioned the return of Mark DeRosa to supply the Cubs with a utility-man, JH had other ideas. JH's return fire to the Card's DeRo trade?

Jeff Baker. The Cubs announced today that they have traded Alberto Albuquerque for Colorado's Jeff Baker, and in a corresponding move, they designated Ryan Freel for assignment. More on Albuquerque and Freel in a moment. Jeff Baker was hitting .130 for the Rockies...3 hits in 23 AB's, before a wrist injury sidelined him in late April. He has been on the D.L. since then, but is near the end of his rehab.

So why did the Cubs trade for him? I don't know. I guess they felt his utility-ness was more favorable than Ryan Freel's. Baker's natural position is third base, but he's played both other sacks (1 and 2) as well as the outfield. The confusing part for me is that the Cubs continue to stockpile utility players, yet none of them can play SS. Andre White is the only player who can realistically play SS other than The Riot. I guess Aaron Miles can play there in a pinch, but I just can't fathom bringing in guy after guy who is a good 2-sack and/or 3-sack and ignoring the fact that Lou is always saying how he'd like to get The Riot some rest.

Maybe JH feels Baker can produce like he did in '08, where he hit 12 HR's and drove in 48 in 333 AB's. I doubt anyone will be surprised to hear 8 of those HR's and 30 of the RBI's were at Coor's Field. In fact, his career .257 BA is really .295 at home, .205 on the road.

Not surprisingly, the Rockies were more than willing to get rid of him, given that they still have a plethora of infielders as well. Plus, Baker was moved to the 60 day D.L. because the team was at it's 40 man maximum, so they would've had to let someone when he returned.

So what did the Cubs surrender to get a career .205 hitter away from Coor's? Alberto Albuquerque (AA from now on...it's dizzying to write to type Albuquerque) was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 24 games of relief for the D-Cubs and righties were hitting a mere .174 off him. AA wasn't really considered a Cubs prospect because he didn't pitch at all last season (I assume it was based on an injury, but googling it did no good). So, the Cubs didn't give up much in this deal, at least on the surface.
Freel's tenure with the Cubs was brief in actual active duty. When he was acquired (from the Orioles for Joey Gathright), he was on the D.L. (yes, JH seems to like making trades for players currently hurt). He played in 10 games in May before heading back to the D.L. He played in 4 games since his second return from the D.L. He hit .143 for the Cubs with 1 run and 1 RBI.



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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.

Excellent

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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All Star Update-Southern League

Posted by Lionel on June 29, 2009.

I previously announced the Class A minor league All Stars via the weekly ATAtM, but I decided to profile the numerous Tennessee Smokies who made the Southern League All Star team separately. Here are the six:

Jay Jackson-This was an obvious selection. While his 4-3, 3.15 ERA overall doesn't jump out, his 4-0 record and 1.55 ERA in the last 9 starts tells the story. Jackson was a 9th round pick by the Cubs in the '08 draft (yes, only a little over 1 calendar year ago) and is a top ten prospect in the Cubs system.

Casey Coleman-Coleman's 2.79 ERA is the fifth lowest among pitchers in the Southern League. Combine that with an 8-3 record and only 4 HR's yielded in 87 innings pitched (his 87 IP is 4th in the league) and you've got yourself an All Star. Jackson has gotten most of the notoriety as being a lower drafted player having success, but Coleman was a 15th round pick in that same 2008 draft, 461st overall.

Brian Schlitter-Schlitter made the All Star team on the strength of his closing numbers: 12 saves, 3rd best in the Southern League. He has better than a 2 to 1 K/W ratio, but nothing else jumps out. He's 0-4 with a 4.64 ERA and 7 HR's allowed. Schlitter was acquired from the Phillies in exchange for Scott Erye late last year.

Darwin Barney-Barney is 4th in the league in batting average (.317) and is one of only three infielder's hitting above .300. He's mostly a singles hitter (his slugging % is just over .400) and he still has some work to do defensively (16 errors), but that average is hard to ignore. Barney was a 4th round pick in the '07 draft and is the Cubs 19th best prospect according to BA.

Blake Lalli-Lalli is one of the other two infielders hitting above .300 in the league, as he enters play tonight at .302. Much like Barney, Lalli is mostly a singles hitter. One of the more impressive things about the 1-sack is that he was actually an NDFA (non-drafted free agent) who the Cubs signed out of college.

Jim Adduci-Adduci joins Lalli and Barney in the .300 club, although he is one of the 9 OF's in the Southern League (which means that the Smokies have 25% of the .300 hitters in the league). But Adduci adds a little more...he is tied for 5th in the league in stolen bases, with 17. The Cubs acquired Adduci from the Marlins. How? Well, he was supposedly given to the Cubs by the Marlins as compensation for Zach McCormack, who failed his physical after the trade. McCormack was part of the deal that sent Todd Wellemeyer to the Marlins, so you'll often see that he was "traded" for McCormack.

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