Three good young lefties took the mound on Wednesday for the Cubs farm teams. Only one of them came away with a win. Still, the fact that the Cubs sent three good young left handed starting pitching prospects to the mound is an encouraging sign. Whispers out of the offices at Clark and Addison suggest that the Cubs would like to develop a more left handed starting rotation. If that is the goal, guys like Raley, Del Valle, and Concepcion could all have very bright futures as starters in Chicago.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 8 – 12
Iowa was off yesterday. Twenty games into the season the Cubs are in second place in their division, but they are well behind first place Omaha. Anthony Rizzo leads the Pacific Coast League with seven home runs. He is also one of the youngest players in the league.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 10 – 11
Brooks Raley was not at his best as the Smokies lost the road opener 5-1.

James Adduci and Nate Samson combined for five of the Smokies’ seven hits but it just was not enough. Tennessee could not get any sustained rallies going.

Brooks Raley wasn’t awful (5.1 innings, 7H, 4R, 2BB, 5K), but he wasn’t as good as we’ve seen him in the past. Jeffry Antigua allowed a run on two hits in relief.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 6 – 13
The Daytona offense is definitely heating up. On Wednesday they took a road game 6-4.

Frank Del Valle pitched six good innings (4R, 5H, 6K) on his way to his first win of the season. Bryan Schlitter and Tony Zych combined for three innings of scoreless relief. Zych got the save, but it was of the Marmol variety. He gave up a double and two walks to load the bases before Matt Szczur rescued him with a great catch for the final out.

Speaking of Szczur… he did it again. Once again this guy managed to score a run despite not reaching base via a hit or walk. He’s done this so often this year I’ve taken to calling the phenomenon after him. So, in this game, Szczur scored two runs and one of them was a Szczur. As I type this he is tied for first in runs scored in the entire Florida State League despite having on OPS of just .592. The guy he is tied with, Rob Segedin, has an OPS of .926.

Szczur and Ronald Torreyes both stole two bases in this game. Greg Rohan contributed a two run homer to the cause, his fifth of the season.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 8 – 11
Whether from nerves or just an early lack of control, Gerardo Concepcion got his professional career off to a rough start with a five run first inning. The Chiefs chipped away at that gap, but ultimately they lost this one 6-3.

After he got out of the first inning, Concepcion was fairly effective. He struck out only two (against one walk), but he did a nice job inducing ground outs. There was apparently no public radar gun in the ballpark; we may need to wait awhile before we get accurate numbers on just how hard he can throw.

After Concepcion left the game, Yao-Lin Wang and Andrew McKirahan were both good in relief. Each pitcher finished the game with his ERA still at 0.00. Personally I’m still hoping Wang returns to the rotation at some point, but the move to the bullpen certainly seems to agree with him.

Offensively the Chiefs were strong up the middle. Zeke DeVoss, Pin-Chieh Chen, Taylor Davis, and Wes Darvill (that’s 2B, CF, C, and DH (but usually INF) if you’re scoring at home) all had two hits. DeVoss launched a solo home run, his second of the season. So far I like what I see on the stat sheet for Peoria this year. The Chiefs have a number of young players who are able to get on base and score in a number or ways. This is a good crop of prospects; don’t lose track of these guys.

  • TC

    Hey Luke,

    Kevin Goldstein recently said on his podcast that he’s heard from scouts that Rizzo has eliminated a few holes in his swing, and his bat is looking quicker this year. Have you heard/seen that anywhere else?

    • irwinmf

      Greg Rohan “contributed” a HR……….How about Greg Rohan leads the FSL in HR’s
      and other offensive numbers… about Rohan as an example of how flawed the system is giving money to unproven kids and calling good players “filler”.

      How about Fleita and Epstein falling in love with another IFA Cuban mess, 6 million
      dollars for a sort tossing lefty just because he is Cuban.

      These two decision-makers are Clowns

      • Mrp

        How about Rohan being 25 and almost 26 and being way too old for Daytona?

        • hansman1982

          Nope, just like Kerpflunkel he is being held down by front office politics. Because we all know you become a successful MLB GM by being more worried about the prospects you “select” than promoting good prospects who will succeed.

          See, it is a giant Triacontagon in MLB. 38 years ago, the powers that be determined that Theo would be annointed as the one to bring the WS to Boston and Chicago and he was taken under Bud’s wing. The Tribune was chosen to be the owner of the Cubs because the other bidders could not be trusted to do what MLB wanted – keep the Cubs down until Theo could complete his task in Boston. When the Cubs went up for sale in 2009, that was another cog in the wheel of the plan, Ricketts was chosen because he could be trusted to stick to the plan.

          Now, the Cubs are merely putting the pieces into play so that we can ensure that only the proper players and coaches are on the field for when we win the World Series against the Marlins in 2015 (2014 will see many big changes in the world of baseball). It doesn’t matter if you are good at baseball or not. You need to have the right background, heritage and name to be on the Cubs WS winner. Anyone else, will be supressed. This really is the only explanation that fits the “front office releases people based on office politics” theory or the theory that Theo and Co. purposely built the 2012 team to fail.

          Hold on, there is a knock at the door from some guy claiming to be from the MLBCIA…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Never mind how Rohan is doing.  When can we get a Mordor playing on the Cubs?  That would do wonders for the cute and cuddly reputation…..

          • Luke

            I hear Mordor has a couple hard hitting outfielders who might be on the board when the Cubs pick in the second round.  They move pretty slowly, though.  Might be those heavy uniforms.

            • Brett


              (Not that I’m not right there with you…)

            • CubFanBob

              One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor

              • Brett

                One Does Not Simply Change Starlin Castro’s Position.

      • Norm

        HAHA, good stuff.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Thanks, I always enjoy a good laugh with my morning coffee. 25 years old, 4 years with the club and still in A ball? He also has as many errors as he does HR. Do we really need every family member of a minor leaguer who feels jilted spouting off here? If you really want to have a discussion about it, take it to the Message Board.

        • Luke

          I’m hesitant to dismiss any player based purely on age.  I’m in the vast minority in that opinion, but sometimes guys do get blocked, overlooked, injured, or otherwise delayed.  That can result in ignoring a player who should not be ignored based purely on their age and level.  That said, I watch ages and league average ages and relative ages and a couple custom statistics I have developed that factor in age like a hawk.

          And Rohan is an interesting case.  On the one hand, he’s old for his level.  On the other hand, he did enter the system out of college and has moved fairly steadily up the ranks.  He finished the past two seasons in Daytona and really didn’t play badly there.  While it is true that he is too old for High-A, it’s also true that his offensive production is in the range I’d expect for a guy who is too old for High-A.  I can’t rip him for playing well where he was sent.  He should be Double-A, I think, except that he’s blocked at first by Justin Bour and Rebel Ridling, in left by Rebel Ridling and others, at third Matt Cerda and eventually Junior Lake (not to mention that I don’t think Rohan is really a third baseman to begin with), and so forth.  He’ll get his shot at some point, and until he gets that shot I’m reluctant to just write him off altogether.

          For now, I’ve got Rohan pegged as a potential offense-first platoon / utility guy in the majors – a Jeff Baker kind of guy.  I don’t think he’s a future star, but I think he does have a chance to emerge as a valuable bench contributor and role player.  However, the line between that sort of player and a AAAA guy is razor thin.  It’s too early to say for sure which side of that line Rohan will land.


          • KyleNovak

            I definitely agree with you here.

            Any GM worth their salt should always look to take advantage of any undervalued commodities, whether it is in the foreign market, with potential older “non-prospects”, MLB cast-offs, etc.

            And that means a thorough evaluation which takes everything into account.

            If you are looking at another team’s prospects, why did they not get promoted at a certain time, or who might be blocking their advancement?

            It’s tough to commit MLB-playing time to up-and-coming prospect with no past experience, and it’s especially tough if they aren’t the “can’t-miss” top-of-the-draft variety. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a possibility, given the proper research.

        • AuntieAbreuBK

          Fleita signed a fellow Cuban, probably his nephew, a 25 year old
          outfielder named Elisier Bonne to clog an OF spot in Daytona.

          So, what family member we talking about Cubbie Blues?

          Are we making a general discussion about rostering or are we
          discussing something else?

          Bonne stinks, Bonne is 25, way too old for Adv A baseball, and obviously failing, and at the expense of two younger super-athletic guys, one received in the Fuko trade, and the other, a college AA who made strides at Peoria in 2011 and was cut in favor of this political decision——–Bonne/Fleita.

          Open ye Eyes and see the err of his ways, his being TheoFleita and the homeboys

          • AB

            Yes Abreu and Klacadchdyfdaski are so well regarded they have been immediately scooped up by other teams after the Cubs made the huge mistake.

            edit: actually they haven’t. I guess the next step is the Cubs “ruined” their reputation.

            • AuntieAbreuBK

              nobody gets signed at the start of the season

              Cubs F’d these 2 disrespectfully

              Theo is a jerk

            • AuntieAbreuBK

              Klacadchdyfdaski was raking

              Theo ignorantly cut low bonus guys to make room for IFA Bonne


          • Luke

            Bonne is a pretty interesting story.

            As I understand it, he basically arrived in a tryout camp in the Dominican Republic at the age of 24.  I have seen little to no consistent reference to his baseball background before that time.  He played well enough, despite his age, to make the Cubs DSL squad.  He played well enough in the DSL to be sent to the US where he surprisingly was dropped onto the Daytona roster out of spring training.  Surprising from our point of few, that is.  The scouts who saw him didn’t see surprised by it at all.

            He got off to a slow start (typical for players in a new full season league), but since then he has hit safely in 8 of his last 10 games.  In that stretch he has homered twice and swiped four bases.  As raw as he is, he’s only striking out in 25% of his at bats.  That’s decent for a guy who was jumped over three levels in a single off season.

            It’s tough to find too many scouting reports on Bonne, but the ones I have seen are cautiously optimistic.  His age and lack of a known background seem to weigh against him, but the scouts like what he can do on the field.  There seems to be a general consensus that Bonne has the tools necessary to not only hold his own, but to be a quality prospect.  I want to see what he can do in Double A before I get too excited, but for now he is one of many fringe guys I’m keeping a close eye on this season.

            • AuntieAbreuBK

              he had another great 0-4 again

    • Norm

      Not Luke, but Keith Law said the same thing

      • Luke

        I’ve seen positive comments on Rizzo’s swing from a number of sources.  So far the numbers agree with the scouts, but it is early yet.  I haven’t been able to see him in person… but then I didn’t see him before he joined the Cubs either, so I wouldn’t be able to do an accurate first hand comparison.

        Still, it’s a very encouraging sign on Rizzo.  He got the majors, struggled, went back to the minors, and made the changes he needed to make to address his struggles.  That’s a formula for lasting success.

        • ferrets_bueller

          If he made those changes, then that is awesome. It the reason why I wanted him to be in the minors this year.

          I saw quite a bit of him in SD, for fantasy research purposes. He had massive holes in his swing, mostly because it seemed to keeo getting longer and longer the longer he was in the majors. If he fixed that, and can keep it quick…he’ll be a monster. If not….he’ll hit .240 and K once a game.

          • Luke

            The story he is that he shortened his swing up quite a bit.  He is still having a little trouble hitting lefties, but he is killing right handers in Iowa.

  • florida Al

    cant wait to see concepcion in daytona….i will go see him..

    • Deer

      His K ratio was not good in Cuba, I hope that develops in the low minors if we expect him to be a ML starter one day.

    • Billy

      Who cares about his K ratio, getting outs is the only thing that matters

      • Drew

        That’s true, outs are the only thing that matters. The opponents BA is .000 on K’s, and obviously higher on balls put in play; the more balls a pitcher allows to be put in play, the more hits he is likely to give up (especially a guy that isnt considered a “power arm”).

        Also, High strike-out pitchers allow a higher percentage of weak contact. In general, their Opponents BABIP is much lower, and they also allow fewer HR.

        So, while outs are the only thing that matter, the more SO you get, the more outs you are likely to get.

  • HuskerCub

    Any news on Soler?

    • Mrp

      No not yet, unfortunately. I believe he is still trying to establish residency in the DR. I don’t remember Cespedes taking this long to get his, but maybe I’m just being impatient.

    • Luke

      There are a few conspiracy theories being floated that say that MLB is intentionally delaying his free agency status so that he will fall under the new CBA rules and will be unlikely to be signed for an absolute fortune.  I sincerely doubt there is validity to those theories.  Until he has residency status in the Dominican Republic, there’s not a thing MLB can do about any of it.

      As far as I can tell, that residency status could arrive any day now.  That has been the case for the past two months or so, and it will continue to be the case for as long as it takes until that happens.  It’s frustrating, but that bureaucracy for you.

      • Norm

        Yeah, there is nothing that MLB or anyone in baseball can do about this. It is all residency stuff. The only answer thats give is “Before July 2″…but even that is now “probably before July 2”.

      • hansman1982

        My theory is that the OFAC rushed Cespedes for MLB so he could be here before Spring Training and I think they wanted to get Soler done quickly but thanks to the bevy of reports about teams offering XYZ contract, OFAC said, “You know what, we seem to have misplaced his paperwork. We expect it to turn up on June 1.”

        MLB then told the teams to shut up about Soler or else it could be after the July 2 deadline, hence the complete drop off in news about him.