We had only two minor league games yesterday, both in the lower levels of the system. Since we have some extra time as a result of that, let’s take a look at the system leaders in a few statistical categories.

I’m just going to report raw numbers here. Keep in mind that each league is more or less favorable to hitters and pitchers compared to the others. A SLG of .420 in the Midwest league is a much better stat than that same number from the Pacific Coast League because of how much more pitcher friendly the Midwest League is. There are ways to normalize those numbers to allow a more direct league to league comparison, but we’ll save that conversation for a different day.

Not surprisingly, Anthony Rizzo is far and away the leader on the offensive stat boards. He leads the system in the counting stats like home runs (13), RBI (37), and hits (51) as well as batting average (.359) and slugging percentage (.704). In a stunning upset, he comes second to Ty Wright Nelson Perez in OBP… by one point (.421 to .420).

On the pitching side of things, Patrick Francescon is right at the top of the boards. He leads in WHIP (0.800) and opponents batting average (.160) and is second to Eric Jokisch strikeouts (48 to 39) and second Austin Kirk in ERA (1.75 to 2.09). I think the most surprising (and impressive) stat does not belong to any of these pitchers though, but to Chris Rusin. As we have discussed in the past, the Pacific Coast league is a notorious hitters paradise. Despite that, Rusin has a WHIP of just 1.050.

Of course, Rusin doesn’t have to face Rizzo. That no doubt is helping his numbers, if only slightly.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 17 – 21
The Iowa Cubs had a day off on Wednesday. They return home tonight in a multi-piano musical extravaganza!

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 17 – 23
The Tennessee Smokies were also off on Wednesday. They are now on the road in Mississippi.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 15 – 22
Dayton had a double header scheduled to make up for Tuesday’s rain out, but they only managed to play one game. The Cubs won that game 6-2.

Matt Loosen pitched a great game. He left with two outs in the sixth inning having allowed just one hit all night. Tony Zych blew that lead, but the Cubs rallied back for four runs in the eighth to give Zych his first win of the season. Ty’relle Harris pitched a scoreless inning to seal the game.

Matthew Szczur led the Cubs with a single and a triple in four at bats. Arismendy Alcantara also had two hits, as did Elieser Bonne. Sergio Burrell contributed a double for the Cubs, who were a remarkable 7 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 18 – 22
One big inning led to Peoria’s demise in this 5-4 loss.

Michael Jensen pitched four good innings, but he was still on the mound when Clinton scored four times in the fifth. It was Sheldon McDonald, though, who actually took the loss after allowing one run in his two innings on the hill. Luis Liria pitched a scoreless frame to wrap up the game.

Ryan Cuneo had three hits, including the Chief’s only extra base hit all night (a double). Wes Darvill and Taylor Davis both had two hits apiece. The Chiefs were efficient in this game, but took the loss despite going 5 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

  • Dumpgobbler

    Hey Luke / Brett, does Soler exist? Or is he some made up mythological creature? ūüėõ

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Mythological creatures generally have more evidence in their favor. ¬†I think we have to conclude he’s real.

      • Edwin

        Maybe Soler is like Santa Clause or Tinkerbell, and all we need to do is just believe enough, and we make him real.

        • JulioZuleta

          Starting to think there may be an age issue going on at this point. Hard to figure what else could be holding this up.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett
    • hansman1982

      and this extends the consecutive days mention of Jorge Soler streak to 55 days! One away from tying the famous mark set by Jim Hendry needs to be fired.

      • Jimmy james

        No that had to be much much longer

  • Edwin

    Rusin is also being helped by a .237 babip and a HR/9 of .57. Looking at the numbers, I feel bad for Travis Wood. He’s striking out 9.44 per 9 innings, walking just 2.62, for a K/BB of 3.60. Wood’s babip is .398, which explains his poor ERA. I’d love to see Wood get called up soon, I don’t think he has too much to prove in AAA.

  • Kevin

    I’m concerned with the new collective bargaining agreement as it limits the amount of money that can be spent on the draft.
    ‚ÄĘ Teams may only sign Draft picks to Minor League contracts and will be taxed and/or penalized for exceeding the designated signing bonuses (previously called slot recommendations) for the sum of their picks in the first 10 rounds.
    ‚ÄĘ Teams will also be taxed for exceeding signing-bonus pools for international free agents. The pools will be based upon winning percentages from the previous season, allowing the league’s worst teams to spend the most money in the international arena.
    With these new policies in place, IMAO, trading for prospects will be somewhat limited.
    I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I wrote extensively on the subject back when the CBA was agreed upon. Will have more when the Draft arrives.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’m taking a wait and see approach. ¬†I can make a case that the new CBA both inflates and deflates the value of prospects for separate reasons, that it will make teams both more and less likely to trade away prospects, and that the landscape after the agreement with look both similar to and radically different from the landscape before. ¬†Again, for entirely different reasons.

      A lot of it depends on the players taken in the drafts and their willingness to sign for slot. ¬†If they generally continue to demand bonuses well in excess of slot, things are going to get very weird in a hurry. ¬†If they generally agree to accept slot or near-slot money, then I’m not sure we’ll see much change.

    • Cubbie Blues

      My fear is that baseball will start losing even more athletes to the other pro sports. I’m not talking just about the one that are college two sport athletes as these are rare. I am talking about what the kids do earlier in life. Say a kid sees that he has some ability and is athletic. He will naturally look to see what he could possibly make (insert college joke here) in each given sport. He then sees the money in the NFL, NBA and MLB. Given that the MLB monies are now limited he will naturally start focusing on the other sports and baseball will fall to the side.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        That’s one possibility.

        The other possibility is that the kid will notice that NFL players have a career life¬†expectancy¬†of less than five years and that there just aren’t many roster slots available in the NBA, and then they will notice that baseball players can get paid to play for more than twenty years (including time in the minors) and don’t tend to end their careers with horrific injuries or multiple concussions. ¬†Add in the roughly 4,000 players who belong to a major league teams’ organization at any given point, and baseball might look like the safer bet.

        I agree that losing youth mind share could be a problem for baseball going forward, but I don’t think the biggest culprit is the CBA. ¬†I think its ESPN. ¬†So long as Sportscenter insists on treating every routine dunk as the single greatest athletic event in the history of man, baseball is going to have a hard time finding mind share.


  • jp

    This is random but how long is Javier baez going to crush instructional league pitching before they put him in Peoria?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Probably until the short-season leagues begin in June, and he may wind up in Boise instead of Peoria.

  • Ivy Walls

    Wood, Rusin and Rizzo

    Both the book and esp. the movie ‘Moneyball’ expressed the trap that many baseball people and fans fall into regarding looking at players instead of focusing on performance. Kevin above hoped that T. Wood would be called up soon even though when PCL batters bats place his pitches in play they fall in at a rate of almost Ted Williams final .400 season. Wood came up and performed well and was able to string together innings where he retired what I recall was between 10-13 batters in a row. Rusin on the other hand is performing way above the hype and expectations of let us say the self proclaimed experts, (remember the conference room in ‘Moneyball’, these guys knew it all and Beane knew that they didn’t really have a clue what was important.)

    Cubs definitely have an open rotation spot available as Volstad has not performed. What to do with Volstad is another question but I think bringing up Rusin is probably the answer and it continues with the tertiary sub-plot of this year’s Cubs, performance as a means to making the big league club. LaHair is the poster child, but Clevenger has shown us he is a sticker and possibly everyday starter when/if he returns healthy. Dolis is a sticker though I don’t think really in the 9th inning role. Campana is a sticker as he has come up and provided needed OBP and energy.

    This all leads to Rizzo. Cubs cannot trade LaHair and Soriano for different reasons. LaHair is a find, a genuine hitting machine and Soriano has a contract that no one wants but still has some value. Rizzo cannot be called up until July 1 or there abouts because of the Super Two status, he has to play less than 87 games this year and if he doesn’t he will most likely fall in the top 22% of players in the position who have less than 3 years of experience and more than 2. But when Rizzo comes up LaHair has to move and the only spot is LF where I think Cubs should platoon him and Soriano and eventually move Soriano to a part time/bench player.

    • Drew7

      I was with you regarding fans falling in love with players, but I think your examples of Wood and Rusin are a bit mixed-up.

      If someone was looking at these 2 from a sabermetric standpoint, they, like Kevin, would see Wood has the peripherals you want to see in a pitcher – a great SO/9 rate coupled with a pretty low BB/9 rate. What’s hurting him is his the BABIP; a BABIP of .400 (over .100 points above his career avg) is a case of flat-out bad luck, and is a good reason not to judge a pitcher on ERA (once that comes back to the norm, so will the ERA).

      Rusin, on the other hand, is getting extremely lucky in that regard, and his numbers will probably make an adjustment the other way.


  • jp

    Yeah that sucks, Boise doesnt start until the middle of June and the little ive been able to find online about him he’s tearing the cover off the ball. I dont want to rush him through but as Lou Brown would say after one of Baez’ recent HRs “it’s off a guy that’ll be bagging groceries in a couple weeks”.

  • mark

    What are you talking about, Ty Wright? I’ve got his OBP as .280 at Iowa and .296 combined.

    Anyone know why last night was the first time Szczur has played since May 10th?

    • AB

      Daytona has had a couple of rain outs and a day off

      I see Ben Kcczlkzyki’s nemesis, Elisier Bonne, has had an outstanding month, hitting over 400.

      Szczur and his Juan Pierre slap-stick hitting ways are heating up.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      You’re right. ¬†Somehow I read Nelson Perez and wrote Ty Wright. ¬†Fixing that one now.

    • Ryan G

      RE Szczur: Grandmother’s funeral

  • Njriv

    I feel better in a strange way about BJax than Rizzo. Don’t get me wrong I think both of them are going to be great players, but I think it is a good thing for BJax that he is struggling now. It’s better for him to fail in the minors and work his way out of it than doing that in the Majors. On the other hand the minor leagues have been pretty much a joke to Rizzo, but he did struggle last year, granted he did not have that many at-bats but it seems like his struggle is going to occur when he gets called up, he seems like he would press too much. Hopefully I’m wrong and he rides his hot streak into the majors.

  • Swaz46


    I’m heading to Clinton tomorrow night to see the Chiefs take on the LumberKings. I’ll give you a little recap when I get back.

  • mark

    FWIW, it appears that Rizzo is the only position player in the system who’s really banging on the door to break into the MLB. There’s still the question whether he’s been able to shorten his swing, as LaHair apparently did. If he has, he’s probably MLB material right now. No question, Cardenas deserves the look he’s getting, but if he becomes a regular contributor it’ll still be a bit of a surprise–a pleasant one, but still a surprise. Vitters is up and down, some positive some negative, certainly not ready. Jackson is doing far worse than I expected. I was somewhat skeptical re his readiness because of his SOs in Spring, but despite my previous comments, I expected much better from him at AAA at this point. I sure don’t see any position player ready to make a Castro-type leap. As it is, I hafta believe the best bet for improvement–Rizzo aside–is from a trade near the deadline to a team that may feel a gamble could put them over the top and will be willing to pay for it.

    • hardtop

      its too bad jackson isnt panning out. ¬†im¬†beginning¬†to see campana as liability more frequently than he is an asset. ¬†makes me miss marlin byrd, especially after watching bowden pitch. ¬†hindsight’s 20/20 but…yuck.

  • Cubs Dude

    Blake Parker is getting called up. What’s that guy like on the mound?

  • King Jeff

    He’s pitched well at every level he’s been at and he throws strikes. He’s not really a prototypical closer, but that means he doesn’t have the usual control problems that they have either. He could be a pretty good short man, easily better than Castillo or Bowden.

  • Katie

    Just trying to spread the word that I’ll be at the Iowa Cubs game in Section A if anyone wants to stop by and say hi! I’m hoping to score some more autographs.

  • Katie

    That’s tomorrow night I’ll be there with my son, not tonight.