Matt Szczur, Photo by Mark LoMoglio/

Believe it or not, we are already approaching the middle of the minor league seasons. That means it is time for the various leagues to name their mid-season All-Stars. The roster for the Florida State League has been announced, and, despite their lackluster record, the Daytona Cubs are quite well represented.

Keep in mind that these players were not selected by a fan vote, as is the case in the majors. Ballots were given only to team managers, official scorers, and the media attached to each team. In other words, the only people voting on these awards are the people who are not only in the best position to evaluate the players, but are also people who are likely to know what they are talking about. This was not a popularity contest.

Representing the North Division of the Florida State League from the Daytona Cubs will be:

Nelson Perez and Greg Rohan are both older than we like to see in the FSL and are probably best considered fringe prospects and minor league veterans at this point in their careers. The other three are all solid prospects. Szczur is a Baseball America Top 100 guy, Alcantara has greatly improved his stock and is likely to be featured on many Cubs Top 25 lists over the winter, and Kirk is one of the better left handed starting pitching prospects in the Cubs’ system.

Speaking of awards, the Chicago Cubs have named Anthony Rizzo their Player of the Month for May (just like he was in April), and P.J. Francescon the Pitcher of the Month.

On a related note, I am in the process of writing up The Bleacher Nation Honors for May. That article should be coming sometime early next week.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 25 – 29
Iowa needed their starter to eat some innings, and that’s what they got. Iowa still lost 5-4.

Chris Volstad pitched into the seventh inning. He did not pitch particularly well (10H (2HR), 4R, 2BB), but he did keep the Cubs in the game. Jeff Beliveau allowed a run on three hits in the final inning and a third for the loss.

Brett Jackson had a huge game. He went 3 for 4 with a walk and his seventh home run of the season. Josh Vitters hit his eighth home run to tie the game in the eighth, and also walked. Luis Valbuena was 2 for 5 with two doubles, and Matt Tolbert stole his fifth base.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 24 – 31
There was a pitching duel in the South on Friday. The Smokies walked away with a 2-1 win.

Trey McNutt needed fewer than eighty pitches to throw six pretty good innings. He only struck out two, but on the other hand he allowed just one run on four hits. Most importantly, he threw 79 pitches and pitched a full six innings. That’s the longest outing of the season for the blister-plagued prospect.

Alberto Cabrera struck out four in his two scoreless innings of work, and Marcus Hatley nailed things down for his second save.

Michael Burgess had two hits, including his eighth double of the season. James Adduci had a three hit night as Junior Lake and Matt Cerda also had two hits each. Justin Bour doubled for the Smokies’ only other extra base hit.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 22 – 30
The final score read 16-7, but that’s merely a detail. In short, the Daytona Cubs won in a blowout.

Matt Loosen pitched five pretty good innings for the win. Hayden Simpson had one scoreless inning and two thirds of a not so scoreless inning. Tony Zych collected the final seven outs in hit-less fashion.

The offense poured on the runs in giant bunches. Eight of the nine Cubs scored twice. The lone Cub who did not cross the plate was Arismendy Alcantara, and he still collected a walk and an RBI. Ronald Torreyes and Greg Rohan both had two doubles, Micah Gibbs and Nelson Perez both hit home runs, and five different Cubs had multi-hit games.

Reading anything into a blowout like this is dangerous, but it is hard not to be encouraged by the day Torreyes put together. No one questions his gift for hitting, but so far this season balls off his bat have not been finding holes. The numbers say he has been extremely unlucky, but that may be changing. He now has two multi-hit games in a row and has kicked his June off to a fantastic start.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 24 – 31
Despite a horrible five error game in the field, the Chiefs stole a win 8-6.

Michel Jensen allowed five hits in five and two thirds innings as he won his fifth game of the season. Luis Liria and Yao-Lin Wang both collected five outs, both struck out three, and Wang collected his fourth save.

Pin-Chieh Chen hit his second home run of the season in this game. Taiwan Easterling, Anthony Giansanti, and Paul Hoilman all doubled for the Chiefs. Hoilman, Yasiel Balaguert, and Javier Baez each had two hits. Zeke DeVoss did not have a hit, but thanks to three walks he did score twice.

  • hogie

    I am really liking the power that Vitters is showing! Pretty pumped to see McNutt going a little longer as well. While he hasn’t been dominating, he has been effective.

    • Lance Dickson

      One of the story lines in spring training was how close Jackson, Rizzo and Vitters had gotten. Those two guys might be the biggest influences in Vitter’s development. We have to believe that he is getting better instruction than ever before, but the pressure to improve from those peers is likely as important. Being grouped with the two of them might be the most important thing to happen to him in his development as a prospect.

  • farmerjon

    Luke, I rarely comment, but thank you so much for all the hard work. I’m very excited about the “build” (notice the lack of re) and in a year like this with the big club it’s nice to have diversions. There seems to be a surplus of talented middle IFs in the system, do you for see any being moved with some upcoming trades for more substantial returns

    • Luke


      I do think the Cubs will be open to trading some of their middle infielders at some point.  I’m not sure if that point is his July or this winter, but I think we will see it happen.

      With few exceptions, these guys aren’t going to be the major return for a team in any deal.

  • Cerambam

    I havent been too high on Vitters and barney lately and was nervous about Jackson there for a while but its so Nice to see a collective improvement of Jackson, Barney and vitters they all seem to be progressing nicely wouldn’t it be great if it just worked out…. Barney vitters Castro Rizzo Jackson …. Soler? Collective age = 34 so young

  • Crockett

    Alcantara…I have not seen him, but his stat line is crazy. Terrible K/BB but good contact numbers and a fair bit of power for a 20 year old in the league (if he’s not lying about age).

    But oh my god, look at the defense…22 errors ALREADY, 17 at SS. How is that even possible?! That’s almost an error every other game (49 games played)!!

  • nkniacc

    I expect either Vitters or Lake to be traded either in a throw in in July deal or in the winter

  • Alex

    The Peoria Chiefs are handing it to Kane County right now. 13-0 in the 6th inning. Baez hit his first HR for the Chiefs tonight. I hope they save some of this offense for tomorrow. I’m going to the game and want to see them duplicate this offensive output.

    • njriv

      Is the game at Peoria or Kane County?

      • Alex

        It’s at Kane County.

    • Alex

      I’m listening in on the Iowa game as well. They’re winning 5-0 in the 3rd. Rizzo is back in the lineup tonight and has an RBI double.

      • njriv

        Yeah I was just checking in on the Iowa game. I was wondering when the next Peoria and Kane County game was, I live probably 20min way from Kane County Stadium.

  • Alex

    The Chiefs play there tomorrow afternoon and Monday evening. I’m looking forward to going to the game tomorrow and seeing Baez and Balaguert.

  • Chris

    I just wanted to check in. Just got home from the Chiefs-Cougars game in Kane County. I thought I would share a few tidbits from the game. The Chiefs were dominant at the plate. Baez hit his first homer and it was impressive. SP Jose Rosario was dealing. KC couldn’t do anything with him. Taiwan Easterling also homered, getting all of one to left-center. But the most interesting thing that happened involved Baez. In a 15-2 game, with a 3-0 count, he swung viciously at the next pitch. One of the KC coaches called time, ran out to the mound, said something quick to the pitcher, then raced back into the dugout. The next pitch hit Baez right in the ribs. He reacted, but the umpire got in front of him and immediately threw the pitcher out of the game. Can’t swing on a 3-0 pitch with a 15-2 lead. He wasn’t hurt or anything, so hopefully that is a lesson he takes away from this game. I know his character has been questioned a few times. I just hope it’s a teenager figuring things out. Not to end on a down note… Baez also made a few good plays in the field too. Nice problem to have so many potential SS prospects to go along with Castro.

    • Luke

      Goldstein, via twitter, had the lead at 13-0 at the time.

    • Luke

      Also, I know we had a few readers at this game.  If you all would like to combine your thoughts and impressions into a thread on the Message Boards, I’ll link it in tomorrow’s Minor League Daily.

    • djriz

      I don’t think Baez has a character problem. I think he has an attitude problem.
      I think it’s cool for a change.. (a few more ‘rib shots’, and he’ll learn)

      • Chris

        Maybe I was being too kind… I’m trying not to judge the kid, but everything I’ve heard about him is he’s one cocky S.O.B. But still, he’s 19 with a few million in his pocket. it may take a little time to teach him not to be that way. Or a few more bruises in the mid section…

        • Can’t think of a cool name

          Unless he disregarded a take sign, he did nothing wrong. His job is to be the best ball player he can be. That coach is a “brave” man. Have someone throw at a 19 year kid. He’ll never be on the field and be held accountable for his actions.

          • njriv

            Its one of those unwritten rules, if you are up by so much and you are swinging at a 3-0 count, stealing bases, bunting for hits you are basically showing the other team up.

            • Can’t think of a cool name

              I’ve played baseball all my life never heard of the unwritten rule of swinging at a 3-0 pitch. Agree with bunting for hits and stealin bases. In my opinion, I want more Baez’s on my team than not. KC’s coach shoudl teach his pitcher throw strikes.

              • Njriv

                Yeah me neither, there is a lot of grey area when it comes to that. I’ve looked all over and I can’t find the book in stores anywhere!

              • Drew7

                Ive also never heard of that rule. The other 2 *rules* are more about squeezing extra runs in and showing the other team up. Bailing a kid out that cant hit the strike-zone during a blowout seems like something the opposing coach should be happy about!

                • Njriv

                  Yeah I’ve never heard of it, same thing with the whole Dallas Braden “Get off my mound” thing. I mean I get it, and how it can piss people off but I’ve never heard of them.

  • Chris

    That could be my mistake. I know they were up 13 runs at the time, and the game ended 15-2.

  • lou brock lives

    Who is the manager at Peoria & why didn’t he have the take sign on ? This kid obviously needs someone to hold his hand & teach him the game . Castro has the similar problems in Chicago & is still way behind in his learning the finer points of the game.

    • Can’t think of a cool name

      Agree. Unless Baez dismissed a take sign, KC’s coach should take up his issue with Peoria’s manager.

      • Luke

        Peoria’s manager is as professional as they come.  I have a very hard time believing he would instruct anyone to swing away on a 3-0 count when his team is up by 13 late in a game.  That’s nothing but a blatant attempt to pad an individual stat line.

        It seems few batters ever swing away on a 3-0 count in any situation anyway.  The general rule when ahead 3-0 is to take the pitch all the way.

        This isn’t one of those gray areas of baseball, like whether or not bunting for a base hit is OK late in a no-hitter (it should be, by the way).  This one is pretty basic.  Showing up an opponent is frowned on in all forms of organized sports except, due to their stupid system for choosing a champion, college football.

        I don’t think Kane County’s manager should have made a point of running to the mound to instruct a hit.  That was also out of line (and he was justly ejected for it).

        • Hansman1982

          How about this to add to the unwritten rule book. When your team is down 13-0 late don’t get in a 3-0 hole, I hate pansy-assing it regardless of which side I’m on and doubly hate it when getting beat.

          • Can’t think of a cool name

            Liek this Hansman. Throw strikes = no problems.

          • Hansman1982

            Put another way…if Baez had been 0-7 at that point should the defense not try to get him out?

        • Can’t think of a cool name

          IMO, if Baez disemissed the signed, he should be held accountable. If your not told not to swing at a 3-0 pitch (sorry for the double negative) you go ahead and do your best. I’m sure if Baez hit one in the gap and jogged to first and didn;t go for extra bases people would say he’s a dog.

  • Chris

    Game ended 15-3

  • Chris

    Just checked the box score, it was 15-2 when Baez was hit in the ninth inning. Then KC scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th to make it 15-3.

  • Scotti

    If Baez was swinging 3-0 my only concern is whether it was a pitch in his zone or not. NEVER give up an AB just because you are up X runs in the Xth inning. That isn’t selfish and that isn’t padding–that is winning baseball. Do pitchers throw intentional balls when their up X runs? Do coaches run out to the plate to instruct hitters to let the bat “slip” from their hands and fling it at the pitcher? If you’re down 13 runs and you don’t want to play any more than throw in the towel. If you don’t want to quit the game then play the game.

  • Big Joe

    Unless the game is only a run or two in difference, I would say bunting late in the game, and trying to break up a no-hitter is extremely bush league. If you’re down 2-0 in the 8th, by all means, get on base. But, bunting, say…down 7-0 in the 8th…just to ruin the no-no? If the guy hitting in front of me bunts his way on in that case? Well, I’m expecting one in the ribs for me.