If Javier Baez is coming to Peoria, as noted here yesterday, Marco Hernandez could find his job as the everyday shortstop in jeopardy. After a truly dismal month of April, Hernandez has rebounded to hit .312/.339/.442 with a home run and three triples in May. Since Hernandez is the best prospect in the system who is likely to stay at shortstop (and is a pretty good prospect over all as well), I doubt the Cubs will want to force Hernandez off the position. Does that mean Baez will play second and third, or does it mean that Hernandez will be shipped out to another team in the organization?
Odds are good that we will find out soon.
Meanwhile, let’s not focus on Baez so much we lose track of the rest of the system. The Cubs have been making a number of roster moves up and down the farm system lately. One name in particular that sticks out is outfielder Yasiel Balaguert. We don’t know much about Balaguert. He is another Cuban defector, and scouting reports have been all over the map on him. While some reports question his bat, other accounts from spring training this season have been very complimentary of his ability to hit. Regardless, he has been assigned to Peoria. We should get a good look at this guy fairly soon.
Another name worth noting: Robert Whitenack. He has now officially been assigned to Daytona. We should get our first look at the post-surgery edition of this promising right handed starter in the near future.
Frankie De La Cruz continues to pitch well in Iowa. After his start on Saturday (5 Innings, 4H, 3ER, 4BB, 5K) his ERA is just 2.85. That’s good at any level, but especially so in the Pacific Coast League. Keep his name in the mix for future openings in the Chicago bullpen.
After De La Cruz, Iowa sent Ryan Rowland-Smith to the mound for two scoreless innings, followed by a pair of struggling relievers. Neither of them have an ERA under six. Naturally, Nate Robertson and Mike MacDougal both worked one inning without giving up a hit.
The prospects put on a show in this game as four of the Cubs’ best prospects all hit a solo home run. Steve Clevenger (who hit his first) also hit a double as part of a 3 for 3 day. Brett Jackson launched his fifth home run as well as a triple. Anthony Rizzo also had two hits in the game, including his 17th home run. And finally Josh Vitters continued his very good performance of late with his fifth home run of the season.
Trey McNutt, Ty’relle Harris, and Marcus Hatley all pitched pretty well in this game, but not well enough to ensure a win. McNutt took the loss, his fourth of the season. This game marked Harris’s first game in Tennessee this season. Harris was pitching for the Smokies last year when an accident ended his season. Fortunately he seems to be healthy again; he was off to a great start in Daytona before the call up.
The Smokies were shut out, so there isn’t much offense to talk about. Michael Burgess was 2 for 3, but that’s pretty much the only highlight.
Matt Loosen struck out seven in six innings of work as he collected his second win. Jeffrey Lorick threw two innings of scoreless relief, and Scott Weismann picked up his second save. Combined, the trio stuck out ten batters while walking exactly none.
Concepcion gave up eight runs (five earned) on twelve hits and one walk. He struck out four. When Concepcion exited in the fifth, Felix Pena stepped in. Two innings later Pena left after giving up three more runs on two hits and and two walks. Hunter Cervenka pitched a scoreless two plus innings to finish the game.
By the way, as a member of the Cubs’ organization, Cervenka, recently arrived from the Boston system, has an ERA of just 1.50. Given some of his other numbers I doubt he will sustain that success, but for the time being he is doing well in his new uniform.