I can’t figure Randy Wells out. He pitched pretty well for the Chicago Cubs in several games, so we know he can pitch. He says mostly the right things when he talks about being sent to Iowa, so I’m pretty well convinced he knows what he needs to do in order to return to the majors. And then, despite that, he completely fails to get the job done. At this point I think Wells has effectively buried himself on the Cubs pitching depth chart. At the end of spring training he was the Cubs’ sixth starter. Now, I think he’s more likely the tenth.

On the other hand Gerardo Concepcion is looking very much like a solid pitching prospect. After a rough start to his professional career many impatient Cub fans had written him off entirely, but those assumptions were enormously premature. Concepcion has been improving steadily, and on Tuesday he served notice to us all that we should not give up on him so easily. He still has a lot of work to do, but it is good to see very clear signs of progress.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 17 – 21
After an extended stay in California, the Iowa Cubs can finally look forward to a game in their own ballpark. Their West Coast tour ended with a 9-4 loss.

Randy Wells picked up his second loss of the season by allowing seven runs in his five innings of work. As you can see from his line (7R, 8H, 3BB, 6K), he just did not pitch well. Manny Corpas, Esmailin Caridad, and Jeff Beliveau were all very good in relief, but Mike McDougal struggled badly in his Iowa Cubs debut.

Gioskar Amaya made his 2012 debut as a pinch hitter in this game, and he made the most of it. He hit a double in his one at bat, came around to score when the next batter homered, and finished the game playing at second base. He’s still very likely to be sent down in a day or two, but he has to feel good about leaving Triple A with a slash line of 1.000/1.000/2.000.

In what is starting to feel like a daily occurrence, Anthony Rizzo homered yet again (his thirteenth, if you’re still counting) as part of a 3 for 4 day. Alfredo Amezaga also homered (his second).

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 17 – 23
Two more pitchers whose stocks are rapidly rising featured prominently in this game. The Smokies overcame their errors and rallied for a 10-8 win.

If Dae-Eun Rhee felt frustrated after this game, no one would blame him. On the one hand, Rhee gave up just two hits and two walks in his four innings of work. On the other hand, thanks to a stack of Tennessee errors, he allowed six runs to score (two earned). Jeffry Antigua allowed two more runs in his inning of work, and then the bullpen shut Jacksonville down.

Marcus Hately had another good appearance, but the real eye opener was Casey Weathers. Weathers has great stuff, but he has never been able to control it. Typically he walks about as many as he strikes out. On Tuesday Weathers picked up his second win of the season by not allowing a base runner at all. He faced six batters across two innings and let his defense retire all six. That’s a very encouraging sign from a guy who has walked 14 batters in 11 innings this year.

The other pitcher who is improving his stock is Alberto Cabrera, who picked up his second save in this game. As a starting pitcher, Cabrera had not enjoyed very much consistent success in the Cubs’ system. The Cubs responded by moving him into the bullpen full time, and he is thriving there. What Cabrera is doing in Double A now reminds me of what Rafael Dolis did at the same level last year. Don’t be surprised if the Cubs leave spring training in 2013 with both Dolis and Cabrera pitching in the back of the bullpen.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 14 – 22
Daytona was rained out. This is a regular occurrence in the Florida State League.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 18 – 21
The Chiefs are creeping ever closer to .500. Thanks to some good work by the pitching, they won again, 2-0.

Gerardo Concepcion picked up his first win of the season by throwing six innings of shutout baseball. He walked three, allowed three hits, and struck out three. First inning troubles have been the hallmark of Concepcion’s starts, but in this game he breezed through the opening frame without incident. All in all, it was a very encouraging outing for a badly beleaguered pitcher. Even better, a recent scouting report claims that his fastball has been clocked in the low nineties in a recent game.

Ben Wells finished off the game with a three strikeout performance of his own, and collected his first save.

Zeke DeVoss was two for two with two walks, two runs scored, and an amazing four stolen bases. Taylor Davis also had two hits, including a triple.

  • Steve

    Junior Lake, Dillon Maples, Javier Baez, Dan Volgelbach….

    I’d give an apple for just a little update on these cats….

    • ETS

      Lake just started playing again in tennessee. Through 41 ABs his line is 342/475/594.

      The rest are still in extended ST. See Arizona Phil’s blog for more.

      • TWC

        Lake’s sporting a 1.069 OPS?  *pfft*

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’ve been talking about Lake quite a bit since he started playing a few weeks ago.  The others are not playing with any of the farm teams yet.  As soon as they are (likely when the short season leagues start up), you’ll see them in the Daily fairly frequently.

      • Steve

        I apologize Luke…I guess I missed these reports. I’ll pay closer attention my good man.

        Now, I have to ask….is this your *real* name or is this an alias??

        Luke Blaize is just too damn cool to not be made up.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          It’s my real one.  I’ve used a pen name now and then, but all my baseball and video game writing has been under my real name.

  • ETS

    This is all speculative so take it with a grain of salt – Wells says all the right things but his body language doesn’t. I get the impression he feels he is beyond Iowa when he throws. My reply to that is that if you are obviously better it should show and it hasn’t. I think he too for granted last off season that he would be in Chicago, and I’m wondering if his off season prep wasn’t to the extent it could have been. In my mind the best thing for his career and for the Cubs if if Randy Wells gets “hungry”. He is definitely approaching a crossroads. Let’s hope for the best.

  • http://Cubbie4life.weebly.com Tonycampanathebasethief

    Junior lake is in AA hitting very good he even has collected a bit of walks but still striking out he also already has 6 errors!

    • Gabriel

      he’s only struck out 5 times against 8 walks…that’s pretty damn good. And errors will be made by young infielders – I think if he’s moved to 3rd he’ll improve in that department.

  • JB88

    Loving what Zeke DeVoss brings to the table. If Watkins jumps to Iowa this year, I wonder if we might see DeVoss in Tennessee at some point. Granted that would be a big jump but it sounds like he is just terrorizing Low A ball.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He’s getting on base, but his hitting has been somewhat inconsistent.  On the other hand, the Midwest is a notorious pitchers league.

      If Watkins moves up, I think Rubi Silva will the guy getting the call to Tennessee, but that in turn would open a hole in Daytona for DeVoss.

      • Cedlandrum

        I hope Logan plays the whole year in AA. He is doing fine, but he needs the AB’s in AA. It is easy to forget that he had a monster steak to get his avg. to .281 last year. So far this year he is hitting in the .260’s. Now I like Logan a ton I am very high on him, maybe more so then others, but he isn’t ready for AAA yet

        I hope the new management will let guys play longer in each league.

  • MikeW

    If Alberto Cabrera is pitching in the back end of a major league bullpen, we as Cubs fans are in trouble. He doesnt have near the stuff Dolis does.

    • Cedlandrum

      I disagree actually there stuff is actually very comparable. In fact I think Cabrera’s stuff is actually better so to speak. His sinker actually has more movement then Dolis and Dolis has plenty.

      They are in some ways mirror images of each other. Both have a very good sinker that at times they can’t control as far as knowing where it will go. They both throw in the mid 90’s They are both big tall guys with room to add weight to there frame. They both throw a breaking pitch that they don’t control very well and use it mostly to show something else.

      I know some were turned off by Cabrera last year because he struggled at Tennesee and Iowa, but he was pushed way too aggressively. He was actually younger then Dolis and pitching a level above, because the Cubs management thought he would help last year. He should have started in Daytona and finished in Tenn.

      I wouldn’t be surprised in Cabrera was a mainstay in the bullpen by next year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He doesn’t have Dolis’s sinker, but by many he accounts he has a fantastic fast ball.  As a reliever, he needs only polish one good secondary pitch and he’ll have the tools he needs to succeed.

      Edit: Or maybe he does have a sinker about as good as what Dolis shows.  Either way, he should do well in the bullpen.

      • Cedlandrum

        Cabrera’s problem at times last year was that he fell behind so much that he would have to give in and throw the 4 seamer and that one is pretty straight. Hard but straight.

  • Brandon

    I have been pleasantly surprised with Dolis in Chicago. Last year in TN he was a “cardiac kid”….often loading the bases before retiring the side for the save. He caused several stomach ulcers last season, but put up stats that made you believe he had a solid future. I think we have already seen that in Chicago….but there is something about 92-96 MPH with sink that gets everyone excited. i wish him the best…..but have seen the worst first hand. Let’s just say I hav not rushed to add him to my fantasy team.

    Jeff Beliveau is a stud and I believe you will see this promising left hander in Chicago to stay very soon. The dude is NAILS and has ice water in his veins. I see a long and prosperous career ahead of him. He also sports on of the best faux-hawks in the system. Marcus Hatley is a close second. haha. Nick Struck finally ditched the real mowhawk and has been pitching better ever since. I think he got the memo…..that mowhawks AREN’T PRO!! Sorry for the hair report…..but I got sidetracked.

    Kevin Rhoderick is another promising bullpen candidate. While he is small in stature, he is FEARLESS. Has a Bugs Bunny changeup that buckles knees and can sneak a fastball by you. His herky jerky delivery is a little concerning from an arm injury standpoint, but you can’t argue with the results. The three amigos (Marcus Hatley, Kevin Rhoderick and Casey Weathers) in TN are fun to watch, and appear to be even funnier in person (and on twitter). These guys are quite a trio and I am enjoying watching their recent dominance in the bullpen after a slow start to the season (from Hatley and Weathers).

    Cabrera has been very solid as well, but I have yet to see “big league stuff”. He spent most of 2011 in AAA so I was surprised to see him back in TN, but I believe he has accepted his role in the bullpen and is going to make the most of it.

    I still have no idea how Jeffrey Antigua gets batters out……but he does. He does not throw particularly hard, but he is left handed and hides the ball well.

    Brian Schlitter is working his way back from Tommy John. He was a dominant closer with TN in 2009, and is back with us now, after an early may promotion from Daytona. The results have been mixed so far. I see good velocity and tilt, but he is giving up hits. His body language also shows frustration, which I hope he corrects. He has “big league” stuff, and I think it has to be a little frustrating to know you’ve been to the show and are back in AA. But if he can regain his form, I look for him to ascend to Iowa at some point this season.

    Pitching in TN has been pretty decent. i like our 5 starters and would rank them (Raley, Beeler, Rhee, McNutt and Struck). Raley and Beeler seperate themselves based on poise and stuff alone. I really like both of these guys and can easily see them in a starting roation in the show. It is important to note that McNutt’s pitch counts have been limited as he battles blister problems.

    • Cedlandrum

      I’m surprised that you don’t think that Cabrera has shown big league stuff. Last year in Iowa it wasn’t his stuff that was a problem it was his control.

      This year he is striking out over 11 batters per 9 and has a WHIP of less then 1.1 and has lowered his walks per 9 by 1.7 per 9

      What pitches is he throwing this year?

  • Bails17

    Could J. Lake be our answer at 3B in the future? How close do you guys think he is? 2013? 2014?

    • Cedlandrum

      He could be, but I think to truly measure that you will have to wait to see how he is by the end of this year. He is still so RAW. If he has a great season then you can look a little bit more seriously at him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Lake’s future is most likely in right field or on third base, but I don’t think he’ll be ready until mid 2013 at the earliest.

  • Puma0821

    Would love to see Lake up here in Iowa some time this year, but here’s hoping he keeps tearing it up and gets the call to the bigs straight from AA like his buddy Starlin!

    Also, if Lake does become the “3B of the future”, what do you guys think happens w/ Vitters? His bat dosen’t seem to be able to carry a corner outfield spot… any chance he can play 2nd?

    • When the Music’s Over

      Even though its the same story for Vitters (low BB rate, swing at everything), I am still going to hold out hope on Vitters at 3B. He seems to have issues with his first year of every level, so don’t see any reason to give up on him at AAA just yet. That said, I don’t think 2B is an option for him.

      Also, with his arm and athleticism, Lake would look great in RF. It’s all about his ability to develop with the bat right now.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Vitters should develop enough power to fit in left field just fine.  He still has a good chance of becoming a solid, everyday player in the majors at third or in left.  Remember, he is one of the youngest players in Triple A right now.

  • AB

    wow Brett Jackson is really struggling. his numbers are especially bad considering its the PCL.

  • JungleDrew

    I think what eveyone has to remember about alot of these guys in TN and IW is they will be traded. We have Garza right now as our only proven starter. The Shark is unproven, and Dempster is most likely trade bait. So where is our pitching coming from? As stated our 10th guy on the depth chart is wells, but none of those guys ahead of him are of future ace status (Wood, Coleman, Lopez, Volstad, Maholm). In fact the only one I see making it to the majors and sticking around even for a full season as a starter at this point is Chris Rusin. So Lake or Vitters are going to be shipped for a top level pitching prospect. They will be packaged up with dempster in july, and sent to Detroit (my guess at least). So I am very excited to see all of these guys playing well, because it means if they somehow make it to the bigs, we have good position players, but when they get traded, they’ll bring in good starting pitching prospects.

  • Kevin

    Any news to report on Jorge Soler?

    • TWC

      You’ll be the first to know, kid.

  • Kevin

    Other than Rizzo I’m not too optimistic about major league ready players in the Cubs farm system.