The Cubs drafted well during the three day event, but, as we all know, drafting doesn’t mean anything if a team can’t sign its players. Operating under the limits of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that could be tricky.
Or so we thought.
And then two of the players taken ahead of Albert Almora, the Cubs’ first round pick, signed quickly and for well under slot. According to reports, Kyle Zimmer agreed to a $3 million dollar bonus with the Kansas City Royals. That’s half a million under slot. And Carlos Correa agreed to a $4.8 million dollar bonus with Houston, which is $2.4 million under slot.
The implications on the Cubs are potentially huge (and potentially non-existent). In the first place, it is going to be tougher for Almora to demand a signing bonus from the Cubs in excess of the $3 million the Royals paid to Zimmer. He can still do it, but it is a tougher case to make. And likewise, with two of the top picks ahead of Almora signing for under slot, the Cubs are in a bit of a stronger position to push for an under slot deal of their own. Scott Boras can, and likely will, try to ignore all of that, but it looks like he will have a tougher time of it. [Brett: For what it's worth, I asked Kevin Goldstein whether he thought under slot signings like Correa and Zimmer would have an impact on negotiations with Almora, and he said no. As in years past, in baseball, it seems that the amount the guy ahead of you got doesn't necessarily have any bearing on how much you'll get. Goldstein said Almora - if/when he signs - is going to get a lot more than Zimmer.]
It is still too early to predict what the bonus will be for Almora, though I should add that virtually everyone believes he will sign, but in the short term it looks like the early advantage in those discussions is with the Cubs.
With back to back doubleheaders starting today, Iowa really needed a good start from Chris Volstad in order to keep the bullpen rested. And that is exactly what they got as Volstad pitched seven pretty good innings. He allowed four runs on eight hits (including one home run), and struck out seven. He did not get the decision, but he did eat a lot of innings; that should pay off over the next few days.
At the beginning of the season, Josh Vitters was the number eight hitter in the Iowa lineup. Since then he has improved his game to the point that he now hits fifth… right behind Anthony Rizzo. He did well in that spot on Thursday, driving a double and drawing a walk as part of a 2 for 3 night. Luis Valbuena and Brett Jackson also doubled. Ty Wright upstaged them all with an eighth inning two run homer.
Dae-Eun Rhee did not have a good game. In his five innings of work he allowed seven runs (five earned) on nine hits and struck out no one.
Fortunately, the bullpen was great. Casey Harmon, Brian Schlitter, and Alberto Cabrera combined to pitch four shutout innings as the offense rallied to take the lead. Cabrera got credit for his second win of the season.
Three different Smokies had three hits in this game: Jae-Hoon Ha, Junior Lake, and Matt Cerda. Logan Watkins and Justin Bour had a pair of hits each. Oddly, Tennessee did not have a single extra base hit in the game. They made up for that fact, somewhat, with a lot of base runners. Watkins had two walks in the game, and James Adduci walked four time. Adduci also had the team’s only stolen base.
High A – Daytona Cubs. 26 – 31
Robert Whitenack was due to take the mound for Daytona, but the weather had other ideas. A rain out on Thursday means a doubleheader on Friday. Whitenack should take the mound in Game One of the twin bill.
Michael Jensen won his sixth game with five great innings. The young pitcher threw five innings of one hit baseball, walking three and striking out seven. This was easily one of the best starts in his professional career. Felix Pena struck out five in his two innings of scoreless relief, and Hunter Cervenka pitched the final two frames for his first save.
The Chiefs did not have much offense, but they did not need much. They turned their two hits and five walks into two runs with most of the action coming at the top of the order. Between the three of them, Zeke DeVoss, Taiwan Easterling, and Anthony Giansanti accounted for all the scoring in the game.