Javier Baez is not the first of the Cubs’ 2011 draft class to begin playing in a full season league, but he is definitely the biggest star to do so. The rest of the youngest wave of Cub prospects will be entering action soon. The short season league teams, Boise in the Northwest League and Arizona in the Rookie League, will be starting up in about two and a half weeks. It is too early to say for sure which prospect will be in which league, but I think we can expect highly touted players such as Shawon Dunston Jr., Daniel Vogelbach, Dillon Maples, and Trevor Gretzky will be in action somewhere.

The Dominican Summer League will be starting up soon as well, and the Cubs have a few very well thought of prospects in that league too.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 23 – 27
The wins keep rolling in. The Cubs scored early and ran away late as they beat the Cardinals 8-2.

Brooks Raley worked five decent innings and received his first win in Triple A. Manny Corpas came in for three innings of no hit relief. He was followed by Scott Maine, who worked a scoreless ninth.

With fifteen total hits in the game, Iowa had no shortage of stars on offense. Alfredo Amezaga, Dave Sappelt, Luis Valbuena, Josh Vitters, and Brett Jackson all had two hits in the game. Sappelt and Valbuena, along with the pitcher Raley himself, all had doubles. Jackson tripled, and Vitters hammered his sixth home run of the season. Jackson also stole his ninth base of the season.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 21 – 30
The Smokies became the first Cubs’ farm team to lose thirty games this year. The final in this loss was 8-4.

Dae-Eun Rhee had a horrible start. He got just seven outs while allowing seven runs to score on nine hits. Jeffry Antigua, on the other hand, had a great game. The southpaw threw three and two thirds scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and struck out five. Brian Schlitter allowed an additional run to score in his two innings of work, but Frank Batista maintained his spotless Double A ERA with another perfect inning.

Rebel Ridling hit his sixth home run of the season. Logan Watkins and James Adduci both doubled. The Smokies had additional chances to score in this game, but they were just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 19 – 28
The Cubs were off on Monday. There is a doubleheader today headlined by Robert Whitenack’s return to action.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 22 – 29
The Cubs 2011 first round pick arrived and had a good game, but Peoria lost 3-1.

Jose Rosario had a very good start. He lasted seven innings and gave up a run on three hits while striking out seven. Austin Reed gave up two runs in the final two innings, and it resulted in his third loss of the season.

Javier Baez went two for four in his Peoria debut; both of his hits were singles. Zeke DeVoss’s double was the only extra base hit for Peoria in this game, and ultimately that lack of slugging cost them. Thanks to seven walks they had plenty of scoring chances, but went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

  • oswego chris

    great stuff as usual Luke, unfortunately covering the minors this year looks to be about as much fun as following the “parent” club…

    Whitenacks return may actually give us a pitching prospect not from the 2011 draft

    this 2011 draft class is vital to the length of the rebuild…or build, actually

  • Fishin Phil

    Very interested to see how Whitenack comes back.

  • Cubs1967

    mlbtraderumors.com is quoting theo as saying cubs have had discussions with dempster about staying beyond next year…………

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sort of. I’ll be writing about that later, but there isn’t much meat. Theo’s just saying the kind of generic things that GMs/Presidents always say.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        I would be more shocked about the Cubs bringing back Dempster than Garza. Most of you know how much I think Garza will be traded.

  • mark

    “Jackson also stole his second base of the season.”

    should = Jackson stole second base for the 9th time this season. (I’m assuming, dunno why, he hasn’t stolen 3rd — base that is.)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not sure which bases he’s stolen either, but updated that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Good catch.  Thanks.

  • JulioZuleta

    Vitters has an OPS over .900 in May, an OPS of 1.060 in his last ten, 6 HRs in May, and he doesn’t turn 23 until the end of August. He also has a .046 OBP BA differential which is much better than years past. It’s easy to get frustrated with him, but he could literally spend two full years after this at Iowa and still come up as a 25 year old.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I call OBP/BA differential “IsoD” (isolated discipline). I don’t actually know if that’s a real thing, or if I just made that up. But I think it’s pretty handy. Just offering.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I like what Vitters has done this season.  PCL number inflation caveats apply, but it looks like Vitters made some adjustments and is now hitting the ball hard on a consistent basis.

      Interestingly, his strikeouts are also up.  I wonder if this is a side effect of him tending more to wait on pitches he can drive (as evidenced by that gaudy May SLG).  If that trend continues, we may be seeing Vitters stop being a guy who swings at everything he can hit and start being the guy who waits for pitches he wants to hit.  The scouts and first hand analysts have consistently said that, despite his numbers, he has a great eye and is very good at recognizing pitches.  He just did not use that eye.  Now, maybe, he might be using it.  It’s a trend worth watching as the season progresses.  If he finishes the season with a SLG over .500, I think he may reappear on a few Top 100 lists over the winter.

      • King Jeff

        If he finishes the season slugging over .500, I think he may appear in Chicago sooner than expected.

  • King Jeff

    Luke, any word on why Marco Hernandez was demoted? Was it more of a roster crunch type of deal, or do they want him to work on some things in EXST? I was under the impression that he was looking much better over the last month or so, just wondering if it was a case of something wrong with him, or just wanting Baez to see some real action?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not Luke, but my take: I think he didn’t take to Peoria quite like the Cubs hoped he might, and wanted (1) to get Baez some starts at short in Peoria, and (2) to demote Hernandez to Boise (which is still reasonable for his age) – but the short season hadn’t started yet. So he gets bumped down to extended Spring Training, which seems a lot worse.

      • King Jeff

        There’s only what, like two weeks left before Boise starts, so it’s not that big of a deal. It does sound like a pretty rough demotion though, what equates to two levels.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    He was demoted to make room for Baez.  I’m sure they gave him a list of stuff to work on, but clearing room for Baez was no doubt the leading motivation.

    I don’t like the move.  Hernandez did get off to a slow start, but he had been playing much better over the past month.  And, unlike Baez, there is a very good chance that Hernandez can stay at shortstop defensively, and that he could turn into a pretty good one.  I’d rather have seen the Cubs send Darvill back to Arizona and play Baez at third.  Demoting players who are playing well rarely sits well with me regardless of the reasons for the move.

    I assume Hernandez will wind up in Boise in a few weeks.

    • King Jeff

      That’s kind of what I figured. I just think that if they wanted to get Baez playing at Peoria, they should have had him working at third in Arizona. Shortstop is getting awfully crowded in this system right now.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      See, Luke and I don’t always agree…

      I totally disagree about playing Baez at third, even for a short time. Hernandez is a legit prospect, and should be taken care of, but he’s no Baez. So if one has to bend to accommodate the other, it should be Hernandez doing the bending. For now, Baez is a shortstop, and should try to stick there as long as possible. If he’s going to be in Peoria to challenge his bat, the Cubs still need to keep him at shortstop for now. That means every start he makes, for now, should be at short.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Let me put it this way: if rankings services believed Baez could stick at short long-term, he’d be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball (I am not exaggerating). That’s how valuable he would be as a legit shortstop, given his bat. So the Cubs have to do everything possible to give him a long, full, fair shot of sticking at short (and working on his game there).

        • King Jeff

          Good point.

        • Kyle

          I’m going to dissent on that one pretty strongly.

          We all like Baez, but that’s *vastly* overstating the quality of his bat or his future as a prospect.

          The No. 11 prospect on Baseball America’s list is Manny Machado, a SS in the Orioles’ organization. He’s considered an excellent defensive SS *and* held his own offensively as an 18-year-old in mid-A ball last season.

          The No. 7 prospect is SS Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers. He hit 299/364/510 as a 19-year-old in AA, and is considered a plus defender long-term at SS.

          Even if Baez was a sure thing to stick as an adequate defensive SS, he’d still be a tier behind these guys as a prospect.

          • King Jeff

            Not if he’s adequate defensively and projects to be a 40 homerun bat at shortstop.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              I don’t think very may are projecting 40 HR out of Baez.  He has plenty of power potential and should hit well enough to play a corner outfield slot, but that’s a pretty aggressive projection.

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                “Projecting 40 HR’s” is reserved for the Giancarlo Stanton’s of the world.

              • King Jeff

                I know 40 hr’s is a stretch, and that 40 hr now means more than it did a few years ago. I also have heard nothing but rave reviews about Baez and his potential power and bad speed. His teammates are already calling his bp sessions “can’t miss”. His bat has special potential, and if he sticks at shortstop, that makes him a lot more valuable.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Not that the 40-HR is realistic, but “adequate defense” from 40 HR shortstop could make Derek Jeter look like Omar Vizquel!  This is useful to keep in mind: Jeter created more wins than did Vizquel despite the fact that Omar probably could have fielded circles around Derek (as in, run to the end of Jeter’s range, then do a circle or two, and still field the grounder).  And Capt’n Clutch was not a 40 HR guy.  (He was a good OBP guy with decent pop; actually, he still is, or at least in the small sample size of 2012!)

            • Kyle

              Sure. But he doesn’t project to 40 HRs.

              Just so we’re clear, no one hit 40 HRs in the National League last year. Only two guys did in the American League.

              Projecting a guy to 40 HRs means you are projecting him to be in the conversation for the best power-hitter in the game.

              There probably aren’t five guys in the entire minors who project to 40 HR power.

              • King Jeff

                Yeah, the 40 homerun comment was a stretch. I was trying to emphasize the potential of his bat as compared to the position he plays.

                • Kyle

                  And that’s a fair point. That’s what makes him a very valuable prospect.

                  It just doesn’t make him a top-10-in-baseball prospect. To be a top-10 prospect as a SS, you need to have the bat *and* the glove. Profar and Machado both do.

                  Think of it this way: At any given time, there are about 5 years worth of prospects in the minors, and a little less than half of them are non-drafted IFAs.

                  Your expectation for the No. 8 overall pick in the draft would be roughly a No. 60 overall prospect. If he’s top-50, you’ve done very well for yourself. And the jump from top-50 to top-10 is huge, it’s the extreme end of the bell curve.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            If Baez were believed to be a good defensive shortstop, I see him in the Machado/Profar conversation (which is why I chose top ten – I had those two in mind, specifically). I probably overreached, but not by much. Baez’s bat could easily be as good as theirs. We’re just talking projection here. The only thing keeping him out of those conversations is the belief (probably correct) that he can’t stick at short (and play it well, like those guys).

        • djriz

          If Baez’s hit and power tools are why we drafted him, then his defensive position (at this point) isn’t that important. I think changing positions AND playing at a higher level is more than the Cubs want to give him at this point. Let his bat do the talking now, and wait until spring training to change positions (if necessary).

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Position is an important part of the equation.  Suppose Baez could hit 40 HR.   (I know that he’s not going to be that sort of player, but that is the number that people had mentioned.)  That’s 18 net HR from a LFer, but about 25 net HR from a SS.  The teams that get to play with the fancy bunting in October are almost always very high (positive) net slugging (as well as high net OBP).

        • Cheryl

          If he”s that good, then is there a possibility that Castro will be traded?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Not anytime soon.

      • King Jeff

        If the Cubs front office see him as a shortstop, then no doubt he should play there until he proves he can’t. If they see him as a future third baseman or right fielder, then I think it would have made more sense to let him get some time at those positions in EXST before promoting him. With this move, it makes me sort of believe that they see him as a true shortstop prospect, and have no interest in moving him around on defense.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Like Lake, they’ll try to keep him at short until they just can’t.  Anything else hurts his potential trade value.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Even if the Cubs front office see him as a 3B in the future, they should STILL keep him at shortstop; they should make the player force their hand rather than assume a move to 3B will be needed.
          Maybe “Top 10” is overstating it, but his point remains, he’ll be a much more valuable player as a SS, so don’t move him until you have to.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            One thing to keep in mind is that playing third base is not “shortstop light.”  There are some things SS’s have to do that 3Bmen do not: they have to make longer throws, they have to range far wider on grounders/liners, and they have to get to the “shallow flyball” popups.  However, much of playing 3rd is about the quick footwork a dancer or a fencer needs: you don’t dash to a grounder so much as you shift your body to it (if that makes any sense.)  Now, this is nice to have a SS – it helps for getting a good jump before your dash – but you can make up for it with good hamstring induced acceleration.  Also, the angles on liners and grounders is different: in particular, the liners hook dramatically more to 3B than to SS.  And, of course, fielding bunts and short dribblers is something that SS’s almost never have to do.

            So, if the Cubs are going to keep Baez and see him at 3rd, moving him there to master the position would be a good idea.  However, as Luke and others note, it will hurt his trade value: “it is known” that 3rd base is just SS-lite, after all!  (All chant: “it is known!”)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Then move Hernandez to third for a few weeks before sending him to Boise.  But don’t take a guy who is playing well and punt him into extended spring training.  Success should be rewarded, not condemned by an enforced stretch on the sidelines.

        It could be that Hernandez is nursing a minor injury of some kind and could use a few weeks off to rehabilitate, but if so that has no been reported.

        I don’t mind Baez going to Peoria or Hernandez dropping to Boise.  I just really don’t like banishing Hernandez to Arizona for a few weeks despite playing well in Peoria.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          All fair.

  • Dick

    I’m surprised that Manny Corpas hasn’t been brought up. He has had a couple dismal outings early in the season, but has been pitching really well lately (0.77 WHIP in May).

  • Kyle

    Vitters just homered on Tuesday night, keeping his hot streak going.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he could translate this year’s PCL numbers to the bigs, together with average defense at third, the Cubs might actually have something in him. I always preached the patience/age thing with Vitters, but, at the same time, I remained skeptical.

      • Kyle

        It’s easy to get caught up in a hot streak, but I’m definitely starting to write his name in a near-future Wrigley lineup. In very, very, very light pencil.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          He walked again as well.

          • Kyle

            Intentional, though. Legit intentional But still, nice that he’s being feared enough to warrant it.

            He’s up to .281/330/468 (2 more points to get to an even 800 OPS would be so sexy). The league as a whole is hitting 277/324/428, so that makes him a solidly above-average hitter in the PCL, while being one of just six position players 22 or younger to be regulars in the league.

            I’m starting to get ahead of myself here with the Vitters love, but he’s regaining some serious shinyness.

    • Vitters for 2012!

      Ive always been a big fan of vitters. I don’t understand why so many have given up on him! I think hitters could be a solid everyday third baseman for years to come. I defiantly think that .280-.290, 20-25 HR(More likely 20)and around 85 RBI is not out of reach along with solid defense.

  • cubsin

    In April, Vitters slash line was .261/.307/.304/.611. In May, it’s .294/.345/578/.924. I’m very hopeful that he’s figured out AAA in a month, rather than his usual full season. I’m hoping that Vitters, Rizzo and Jackson all get called up around the trade deadline, rather than having them wait until September.