Today the Chicago Cubs are expected to welcome a pair of AA players from the Tennessee Smokies (whose season just ended, as team lost in the Southern League Championship Series), catcher Steve Clevenger and pitcher Rafael Dolis.

Clevenger, 25, has been in the Cubs’ system since 2007, and is a candidate to be the Cubs’ primary back-up catcher in 2012. He’s been transitioning to catcher for a number of years, and has always hit for average – he sports a career minor league line of .308/.369/.421. He was at .319/.383/.475 this year, splitting time between AA and AAA. Don’t expect Clevenger to get any starts in these last couple of weeks, even if Geovany Soto sits out a game; the smart money says such starts will go to Koyie Hill. You know, because Hill will be with the Cubs next year. (That’s totally sarcastic, but, given how many times Hill has risen from the dead with the Cubs, I kind of wonder….) Prove me wrong, Mr. Quade. Prove me wrong.

Dolis, 23, has been an organizational favorite since signing as a teenager six years ago. So enamored with Dolis were the Cubs that they placed him on the 40-man roster two years ago to protect him from the Rule Five Draft, even though he hadn’t yet pitched above High A, and was just 21 at the time. Since then, he’s managed only to creep up to AA, as his results have failed to meet the hype. This year, he was the Smokies’ closer for most of the year, logging 17 saves, a 3.22 ERA, a 1.321 WHIP, and striking out just 5.9 batters per nine innings. He may see an inning or two of work, but he’s going to have to impress the Cubs in Spring Training next year (if he makes it through Winter on the roster) if he hopes to pitch for the Cubs any time soon.

  • CubFan Paul

    talk about rising to the occasion, Clevenger’s Iowa numbers: .407/.454/570, up in every category from Tennessee ..only 3HRs (8 total including tennessee) but why hasnt he been called up sooner?

    if Clevenger can’t be the backup catcher in 2012 then why not utility guy (sorry Barney)?

    • Brett

      Rising to the occasion/hitting in the PCL.

      • CubFan Paul

        sooo, outperforming even the best PCLers batting average&slugging wise isn’t impressive? ..thats why i dont see why LaHair isnt getting more at-bats now also. shouldn’t the best of The Best count for something?

        • Brett

          Who said it wasn’t impressive? I was just providing valuable context. Also valuable context: 25 years old, and just 25 games. Let’s try to keep it all in perspective.

  • Louis

    What is the PCL’s total average? I bet you will know Brett. Gotta be like .280

    • Toosh

      The median BA in the PCL was .2865

      • Brett

        The median OPS, IIRC, was something like .820. It was nuts this year.

  • auggie1955

    That dugout at Wrigley is going to be awfully crowded. I’m not even sure if the Cubs have enough folding chairs in the bullpen. I hope these guys get a chance to play, but we already know the odds of that happening.

  • baseballet

    Can someone let me know why the hitting stats are so inflated in the PCL? Isn’t that the Cubs’ AAA team, or is the PCL another league? The PCL seems to be some kind of hitter’s paradise that only excites Japanese scouts.

    • Brett

      Yes, the PCL is the AAA league in which the Cubs’ AAA affiliate (Iowa Cubs) plays. The stats are always a bit inflated due to some very, very hitter-friendly parks. The numbers were even more inflated this year, it seems, because of a general lack of quality pitching in the league.

  • http://Bleachernation Dan Ballard

    Welcome to the bigs boys, have a seat and get cumphy. Koy Hill needs his playing time and Dolis wont get reps over the vetran leadership we get from Grabow.

    • SirCub

      Yup, Hill and Grabow sure have earned their playing time!

  • Ryan

    Why do the Cubs even bother? Quade won’t play them. Look at today’s lineup.

    • TWC

      Exactly. It’s like Quade is actively working against the best interests of this team.

      Isn’t there anyone on the staff (or upper management) who can be bothered to take Quade aside, put a hand on his shoulder, and let him know that it’s in the organization’s best interests to see what the kids can do?  Does Quade really think he’s playing for his future?  Does he really think that he has one after this past year?

  • bacboris

    Brett, the whole bit about Koyle Hill wasn’t cool, not even as a joke. We all should have learned a long time ago that tone and inflection are lost in Cubs managerial dynamics. You keep poking that bear and he could be starting.

    • Brett

      My bust.

      To whom it may concern: If you re-sign Koyie Hill for 2012, I will find you.

  • Fishin Phil

    Isn’t there anyone on the staff (or upper management) who can be bothered to take Quade aside, put a hand on his shoulder knee in his groin, and let him know that it’s in the organization’s best interests to see what the kids can do?

    Fixed that for you old buddy!

  • cubsklm

    Good luck to Clevenger.

    But he’s got some pretty big shoes to fill!
    I mean come on he’s got to beat out Koyie Hill next year.
    An 8 year veteran backup catcher who has a
    career batting average of .210
    8 career Homers
    75 career RBIs
    Plus the Cubs gave him a raise last off season.

    And you wonder why the Cubs stink. Give the ABs to Hill, Baker, at our slugging cleanup hitter DeWitt – instead of LaHair and Clevenger.

  • die hard

    hope springs eternal…..cant wait til next year

  • Kevin

    If the cubs only get 1 free agent who should they go after

    • Toosh

      I would rather see the new GM trade for players instead of signing FAs. That keeps the payroll more manageable.

      • Hogie

        I don’t know, farm isn’t very deep right now, trades might be tough to manage.

        • Brett

          Just depends on how high the Cubs set their sights. If, for example, James Shields is made available, the Cubs probably won’t be able to land him. But I’m sure the Cubs could pick up a lesser/older/more expensive starter.

  • Kevin

    Ok than who would u like make it reasonable

  • Chris

    Wait.. So, we picked up two people with one open roster spot (Wood).. come to think of it.. Why isn’t Zambrano on the Active Roster anymore?

    • Brett

      In September, the active roster can be anyone on your 40-man roster, so the Wood injury wasn’t really required to make the two call-ups. Dolis was already on the 40-man, so there was no need to make a spot for him; Clevenger was added, but I believe the 40-man was at 39.

  • Brandon Howes

    As a AA junkie for Tennessee, let me offer my 2 cents. Clevenger was our everyday catcher and clearly in charge of the pitching staff for a team making a run at a Southern League Title. I think for his development, it was more important that he be the everyday guy in TN than be a backup to Castillo in AAA. Steve is a great guy. Solid catcher and will make a great addition as a left handed hitting catcher to backup Soto (hopefully in 2012). Rafael Dolis is a pitcher with unbelieveable potential. That said, every time he came into the game the past 2 months, I needed a Tums. This guy has an unbelieveable fastball, that oftem times overwhelmed AA hitters. Time will tell whether or not he can do it at a higher level. His control is spotty, and he seems to make everyone nervous…..but he sure is fun to watch. GOOD LUCK BOYS… deserve the opportunity!!

    • Brett

      Thanks for the feedback, Brandon. Our man on the ground in Tennessee!