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Well, day two of the draft was interesting. Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement we saw a near historic run on college seniors in rounds six through ten. That isn’t necessarily a good thing for those seniors, though, as they are generally expected to be offered less than slot.

The Cubs began Tuesday looking for some quality pitching prospects, and when the day ended they had found quite a few. Josh Conway fell to the fourth round because of elbow surgery, but if that elbow recovers well he could be one of the draft’s biggest steals. I think a lot of people went to sleep on Anthony Preito, the smallish lefty from Texas, as well. Jim Callis said he has hit 97 MPH. He also has had some arm issues, but it is not difficult to imagine a flame throwing lefty having success in the Cubs’ bullpen one day. In my opinion, though, the most intriguing pick is Corbin Hoffner. Hoffner is big, athletic, young for a college pitcher, and put up some pretty good numbers for St. Petersburg College. All the raw ingredients are there for him to become a quality starting pitching prospect.

And I don’t think the Cubs are done yet. They have another twenty five rounds to draft, followed by the signing of some undrafted free agents. This is the part of the draft in which a great front office can separate itself from a merely good one. The Cubs have struck gold in the very late rounds several times in the past few years, and I do not expect that to change this year. The next Trey McNutt is lurking out there somewhere. It’s up to Tim Wilken and Jason MacLeod to find him.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 25 – 33
Iowa led for eight innings. Unfortunately, the game is nine innings long. Iowa lost 4-3.

Frankie De La Cruz threw 27 pitches and left the game after two innings. Jay Jackson then came in. Since this was a relief appearance, it was the good Jackson who took the mound and allowed one run over five innings while striking out four. When working out the bullpen, Jackson’s ERA now stands at 1.84. When he starts, it is 8.42.

Scott Maine struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning setting up Rafael Dolis in the ninth. Dolis gave up a two out, two run homer that ended the game.

Iowa scored three times, but they did it with just three hits. Luis Valbuena and Diory Hernandez both doubled; Brett Jackson had the team’s only single.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 26 – 33
The Smokies had no trouble scoring runs in this one. They blew out the Biscuits by a final of 12-3.

Once again, Eric Jokisch was fantastic. The lefty threw seven innings of shut out baseball, walking one and striking out one. What he lacked in strikeouts he made up in ground outs, 13 of them to be exact. Brian Schlitter and Ty’relle Harris ran into a bit of trouble in the late innings, but they easily held on the lead and preserved Jokisch’s second Double A win this season.

When a team scores 12 runs on 15 hits, you know there will be plenty of offensive heroes. Justin Bour went 4 for 6 with a double to lead the team. Two hit nights were had by Jae-Hoon Ha (with a triple), Logan Watkins (with a double), Michael Burgess, and Matt Cerda. Collectively, the team was an impressive 7 for 19 with runners in scoring position.

I think it is time to pencil Jae-Hoon Ha’s name on the list of candidates for promotion to Iowa. Ha, listed by Baseball America as the best defensive outfielder in the system, has been steadily improving his numbers since a slow start to the year. He is now the number three hitter in the Smokies line up, and with his 1.023 OPS in his last ten games it is not hard to see why. Including his time with Tennessee last season, Ha is nearing 450 ABs and 120 games at Double A. I don’t think he has much left to prove here. Hopefully the Cubs will send him up to Iowa in a few weeks .

High A – Daytona Cubs. 25 – 31
And suddenly the once hapless Daytona Cubs are just six games under .500. This is a team that could make a run for the second half title and a chance to defend it’s 2011 Championship. They rallied on Tuesday for a 6-5 win.

Austin Kirk kept Bradenton in check for the first six innings. He struck out seven, walked three, and allowed just one run to cross the plate. Three more runs scored on Jeffrey Lorick in the seventh. Ryan Searle gave up one run in the final two frames and received his third win of the season.

Nelson Perez had two hits, including his tenth home run of the season. Rubi Silva smacked a double as part of his two hit night. Ronald Torreyes and Greg Rohan also doubled in the game.

Taylor Davis had both his first stolen base and his first caught stealing of the season. This is somewhat remarkable because Davis, although he played third base in this game, is a catcher. When was the last time we saw even a part time catcher attempt two steals in the same game?

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 26 – 32
The Peoria Chiefs were off on Tuesday, but there is some news here to report. In fact, this should have been reported a few days ago (I did mention it on Twitter at the time).

Four Peoria Chiefs were named to the Midwest League All-Star team. Paul Hoilman, 1B, he of the franchise record hitting streak, will be a starter in the game, as will catcher Rafael Lopez. Zeke DeVoss made the team as a reserve second baseman, and LHP Kyler Burke will be available to pitch in relief for the All-Stars.

And there is more. It is possible, though not confirmed to my knowledge, that Burke is now the first player in Midwest League History to appear in separate All Star games as a batter and as a pitcher. That’s just cool.

  • hansman1982

    The next 30 days are going to be interesting in terms of players getting shuffled around as Rizzo and Jackson come up, now that Theo and Jed can concentrate on finding new homes for half the MLB roster it is an exciting time to be a Cubs fan.

    • CubFan Paul

      Agreed. But do you think BJax will come up with Rizzo (hopefully around june 21-23)?

    • ETS

      I doubt Jackson comes up

      • dob2812

        Really no reason for Jackson to come up unless Soriano is traded and there’s no point us taking that for granted. Maybe if DeJesus was traded, or LaHair.

        Basically, Rizzo could come up now and not displace anyone unduly (he won’t come up now but he could) because no one is going to argue that Campana’s place isn’t on the bench but there’s no real room for Jackson unless a trade or two goes through.

        Also, he probable needs to stay in triple-A. He doesn’t look totally ready and there’s no point rushing him if he’s not.

        • CubFan Paul

          And simple trade of Reed Johnson to a contender needing a spot starter/4th OF will free up CF for BJax.

          & Rizzo would displace Bryan LaHair last time I checked

          • Tim Mo

            It doesn’t seem BJax is ready and why would you bring him up to corrode on the bench as a 4th OF? I have no problem waiting until September to see BJax.

            • CubFan Paul

              “will free up CF for BJax”

              You misread my comment. Whenever BJax comes up he’ll be the starter

              • Tim Mo

                I see.

            • djriz

              Unless he regresses, I’d like to see Jackson get both August and September. That would be a very good ‘adjustment’ period so we can get max productivity from him in 2013.
              I’d like to see Vitters get Sept. Then he’ll know what adjustments he’ll need to make in to ready for the bigs mid-season 2013.

      • Kyle

        Agreed. He might, but I’m beginning to doubt it too.

        The list of guys who K at his rate in AAA and then succeed in the majors is very, very slim. He’s got to stay down there until he adjusts, or else MLB pitchers will eat him alive.

        • Noah

          I don’t know if you can honestly expect Jackson to change at this point. I’d be fine with leaving him in Triple A another year to see if he can, but odds are the Cubs will either have to give him an extended shot to start at the major league level despite all the Ks, or trade him now.

          Agreed that the list of players with his K rate who succeed is small, though.

          • Drew7

            I hope he can make the adjustment. The Cubs need more guys with his patient approach at the plate. I have confidence in him getting the K-rate down; I know he hasnt shown that at AAA, but just 2 years ago between A+and AAA it was just over 21%, so its not like its been crazy high his entire career.

            I just feel there is way to much on-base skill combined with decent power, along with good defense, to not give him an extended look at some point this year.

            Kyle – how good of a defensive OF’er do you think he will be at the ML level? will it be enough to offset, say, .240/.330/.400 if his offense doesnt fully translate?

            • Kyle

              I expect his MLB defense to be above-average, but not excessively so.

              240/330/400 is plenty for an above average CFer.

              The scary part is that striking out at the rate he does brings 200/290/360 into play, and his defense won’t carry that.

          • Jim L.

            I agree with you, Noah, I think Jackson is going to be part of a trade at some point. I don’t see him making the adjustments and Theo&Jed will move him while his perceived value is still high.

  • farmerjon

    September pipe dream…
    1 samardzija sp
    2 clevenger/castillo c
    3 Rizzo 1b
    4 Baez 2b
    5 lake 3b
    6 Castro ss
    7 Jackson lf
    8 almora cf
    9 soler rf

    4th of szcuzer
    5th Campana
    Ut barney
    Ut vitters

    I know it’s a pipe dream, but that’s the future I’ve been daydreaming about sitting in the tractor makin hay

    • Cedlandrum

      Maybe the future in like two-three years. Playing Baez, Szczur, Soler and others would be detrimental to their development. It is fun to dream though. That team though might not win a game.

  • mark

    Latest from the Szczur watch:

    Local minor-leaguers: Szczur sits out again:

    Matt Szczur (Lower Cape May Regional) missed his fifth straight game for the Daytona Cubs, who beat the Bradenton Marauders 6-5 on Tuesday night in the Advanced Class A Florida State League.

    The team had not announced any injury for Szczur, who remained on the active roster but has not played since being named an FSL all-star.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for the update. I asked the Daytona Cubs (on Twitter) if they’d like to comment, and they did not respond.

      I don’t want to play conspiracy theory, but it’s pretty strange for a guy to sit for five days without a mention of an injury or being placed on the DL. On the rare occasion that happens, it’s often trade related.

      I’m NOT saying that’s the case here.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Or personal reasons.

        There are no whispers of a Szczur related trade (that I’ve heard anyway), and if there is it is coming together very slowly.  An injury would likely have been announced by this point.  It is getting puzzling, though.

        • Ryan G

          I hope not. Szczur’s always been one of the guys I was highest on.

          • Cedlandrum

            Is he finishing up school work or something?

        • mark

          Very puzzling.

          Trade? Nobody sits for 5 games for that reason–the other team wants to see as much of the guy in action as possible. Sitting is a last minute can’t afford an injury thing.

          Injury? We would have heard something by now.

          Arrest, traffic accident? Also would have heard.

          Personal? Illness in family and such like are regularly mentioned as reasons for not playing.

          No comment? Very strange in ordinary circumstances.

          Conclusion? Probably not ordinary circumstances, but can only guess.

      • Sam

        I’m heading to Des Moines this weekend.. Planning on going to one out two cubs games.. Suggestions on which games and whose pitching I can’t seen to find out.. Thanks!

        • hogie

          I’m heading there too! Don’t know if you will still be in town, but we plan on going to the monday game, might go sunday though.

          Katie, do you know who is lined up for the weekend?

        • bob

          The Friday night games always have a really good fireworks show afterward, if you like that.

  • RoughRiider

    It’s interesting that you would be hoping for “the next Trey McNutt”. I realize he was drafted in the 39th round and at this point looks pretty good but so does Patrick Francescon who whas drafted in the 40th Round.

    I’d be hoping for the next Mark Grace 24th or Ryne Sandberg 20th (By Phillies). Even Rick Wilkins 23rd. How about Bruce Sutter as an undrafted free agent? Randy wells 38th.

    When it comes right down to it, it’s very very rare to pick anyone after the 15th round that will be an impact player in the future. The Cubs have had a handfull, at this point, who have been drafted & signed and have had any real impact. The same can be said for Boston over the last ten years. But we can hope. Good luck Cubs !!!

    • Drew7

      The top 10 draft positions in terms of WAR include the 19th, 20th, 22nd, and 30th rounds.

      The main point regarding the draft (which has been mentioned by Kyle and others) is that the difference in the value of the picks is definitely not equal for each spot you move up or down; 5 of the other 6 spots in the top 10 belong picks 1-4 and 6, with the #1 pick netting close to 40% more than the next highest!

      • RoughRiider

        Gobbledegook !!!

  • The Show

    Whats going on with BJax? I really liked him, and I thought as many others that he was going to be the CF of the future and part of this young core. Is that still part of the plans? I know he’s been struggling this year, he was turning it around as of late, but I’m pretty sure he’s been pressing a bit to get that call causing him to do too much and swing at pitches he normally wouldn’t. I keep hearing people talking about trading him and how he is a 5th OF at best, what a guy can’t have an off year? Keep him at Triple-A until the All-Star break next season if you have to, no need to rush him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      The 5th OF at best talk is pure exaggeration.  Jackson’s K% is always going to be high, but to start the season in Iowa it was too high.  He’s got to get it back under 25% (and the farther under the better) before the Cubs should comfortable promoting him.

      His game is and always will be about a lowish batting average, a high on base percentage, lots of balls hit very hard, and pretty good defense.  There is no reason to think he can’t hit well enough to play in right or center field on a regular basis.  He isn’t a regular All-Star candidate, but he has all the makings of a solid, regular, everyday major league outfielder.

  • willis

    If/when BJax is promoted, he’ll be the starting CF. And it can’t come soon enough. Campana is not and never will be an everyday starting Major League ball player.

    It might not be until the trade deadline but we’ll see Jackson this year. I’ve seen him 5 times down here in Memphis and each time he has impressed. He looks the part. Yes his K rate is a little alarming, but dude has everything needed to be a solid if not good OF for this club.

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