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The Dominican Summer League has been underway for about a week now, and while it is still much too early to start getting excited about any players or drawing any early conclusions about the Cubs’ wealth of talent in the league, there is no harm in checking up on this particular crop of hopeful prospects.

Kelvin Encarnacion, an outfielder with apparent five tool potential, is the early story this season. Through seven games and 21 ABs he has compiled a very impressive line of .381/.606/.762 with eleven walks and just six strike outs. He also has a triple, two home runs, and four steals in six attempts. The switch hitting outfielder will turn 21 in November. That is older than many of the prospects in this league, something that should be taken into account as we continue to watch his numbers.

On the mound, I like the early results from Daury Torrez. The right hander turns 19 today, and so far he has allowed just one earned run (a solo homer) in ten innings of work. He has struck out seven, walked no one, and is inducing ground balls at a healthy rate. All of those are good signs for a young starter and mark Torrez as one to keep an eye on.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 29 – 35
Iowa scored eleven runs in the span of two innings on their way to pounding Nashville 14-3.

Chris Rusin continues to move his name up the Cubs’ pitching depth chart. This time he threw seven innings and gave up two runs on six hits and struck out two. Looking past his basic line, we also see that he needed just 93 pitches to complete his seven innings, and that his ground out to fly out ratio was a very robust 12-2. If Rusin continues to prove that he can be an efficient pitcher who works deep into games and generates a ton of ground ball outs, he is going to get a chance to show that skill set at the major league level.

Several Cubs’ had good games, but Brett Jackson led them all. Jackson was 2 for 4 with a walk, three runs scored, a two run home run (his eighth) and his twelfth stolen base of the season. Anthony Rizzo also had an excellent day. Two of his three hits were home runs, giving him twenty for the year.

There was some concern that Rizzo’s wrist injury would be the sort of injury that could sap his power for some time. Considering he is hitting .412 and slugging .765 for the month of June, and considering that he has three home runs and three doubles so far this month, I think it is safe to say that his power is still intact.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 31 – 33
The Tennessee Smokies have quietly crept to within two games of .500 and are just seven games back of first place Jackson. They won at home on Sunday by a final of 4-2.

Like Rusin in Iowa, fellow lefty Eric Jokisch is continuing to impress in Tennessee. Jokisch threw seven and a third innings and allowed a single run on three hits and a walk. He struck out three. Also like Rusin, Jokisch was effecient (97 pitches) and posted a very nice GO/AO ratio (10 – 4). This is exactly want I want to see out of this guy.

Alberto Cabrera had a definite good/bad kind of game. He did record the final five outs, and he did strike out four of the five batters he retired, but he also gave up a run on four hits.

With just five hits and three walks the Smokies did not have many chances on offense, but they made the most of what they had. Nate Samson had two hits and scored twice to lead the team. Eric Jokisch even helped his own cause with a sac fly and an RBI.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 27 – 34
Despite another good outing from another lefty starter, the Daytona Cubs fell on Sunday by a final of 5-4.

Austin Kirk pitched six innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out two. Scott Weismann could not keep the Yankees in check, though, and gave up two runs in two innings despite striking out three, earning his first loss of the season.

After a brutal start to the season, it looks like Ronald Torreyes is really heating up. Thanks in part to his 3 for 4 game on Sunday, his season average is up to .222. After hitting just .137 in May, his June line currently reads .394/.432/.515.

Torreyes also stole his fifth base of the season in this game. Rubi Silva, playing center field for the injured Matt Szczur, stole his third.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 31 – 32
The Peoria Cheifs are one win away from becoming the only team in the Cubs’ organization to have a record of .500. A great effort by a group of pitchers led the Chiefs to a 4-1 win on Sunday.

Starling Peralta started the game and allowed four hits over three innings while striking out two. Then Austin Reed took over and pitched three shut out innings while allowing just two hits and earning the win. Felix Pena threw two shut out innings of his own, and Yao-Lin Wang struck out one to secure his eighth save.

Oliver Zapata was given a chance to bat lead off in this game, and he responded with a 3 for 4 performance that included a run scored and his ninth stolen base of the season. Taiwan Easterling reached four times on two hits and two walks, and Paul Hoilman smashed a three run homer to secure the margin of win.

In addition to Zapata’s steal, Easterling stole his thirteenth bag, Baez swiped his fifth, and Darvill took his seventh of the season.

  • Joker

    Softball question time – have any of the DSL guys ever made it over and had any lasting impact for the Cubs? I’ve had a tangent awareness of the DSL, but never tracked any of the players.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Starlin Castro started in the DSL in 2007.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        That’s the biggest name, by far.

        Keep in mind as well that the Cubs’ commitment to developing players out of the Dominican Republic is fairly recent.  Castro is the biggest name to emerge into the majors from that pipeline, but there are some other guys in the minors who followed the same path.

      • King Jeff

        That’s it? Time to close the facility. Castro is clearly not the kind of player the Cubs want to build around.

  • BoothJoe

    With the way Baez seems to be playing in Peoria, do you see the Cubs pulling him to go to Boise or do they leave him there and let him ride out the rest of the season?

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I don’t see why they would put him in a less quality league…stays in Peoria for the year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Baez is doing just fine in Peoria.  There is no reason to demote him.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yeah, originally, I thought it was going to be very reasonable for him to head to Boise when their season started. Now? I don’t really see the point.

    • MaxM

      I think he meant Daytona, guys.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Maybe for a few games at the very end of the season, but that would be about it.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Ah, in that case, still probably not – maybe a cup at the end of the season.

  • 1908Blues

    Sorry, had a ? but figured out the answer.

  • oswego chris

    Was yesterday “Lefty Starter day”..didn’t Iowa, Tennessee and Daytona all start lefties? It’s nice they pitched weill and all but I don’t get too excited about “finesse” type lines of 7IP 5 hits 2 er and 2 ks…I know it’s short-sided and dumb of me, but give me 6 ip and 10 or 12 K’s out of a lefty prospect…

    beggars(and we are worse than beggars right now) can’t be choosers….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’d love to have some high K/9 lefty power pitchers in the farm system.  Those are the guys you can imagine as No 2/3 starters in the majors one day, and that’s the kind of pitching prospect anyone would like to see.

      But I also like having some low WHIP, high GO/AO southpaws as well.  Those are the guys who can turn into the back of the rotation staters that eat up innings and keep the team in games.  I would not want the Cubs to ever have Rusin, Jokisch, and Kirk all in the same rotation, but I’d be pretty happy if one of those guys took the ball every five days and another one made it into the bullpen.

      • ETS

        Do we make too much of GO/FO ratios? Ardolis Chapman’s GO/FO ratio is terrible and he is doing just fine.

  • Kyle

    As soon as you said “21 years old” and “DSL” in the same sentence, I tuned out. If a kid is still in the DSL at 18, I get skeptical. But 21? Organizational filler.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not if they just signed him.

      (Which, upon checking, they did not. Signed him two years ago.

      • Kyle

        But why would a kid from the D.R. not sign until he was 21? The island is full of scouts following around kids and counting down to their 16th birthdays so they can sign. It’s kind of creepy.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I strongly suspect Encarnacion’s numbers are going to regress into nothing special in a month or so.  If not, I suppose he could be sent to Daytona next season like Elieser Bonne was.  That experiment has not gone badly so far.

        • Chris

          Probably wouldn’t hurt to bring him over to AZ or Boise, right? If he’s hitting, and he’s older, figure out if he washes out or not by pushing him a little bit. Maybe they’re just waiting for the short season leagues to start…

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Right now, it would probably be a waste of time.  He could just be opening the season on a very hot streak; there is no need to move him to Arizona until he shows he can sustain this level of performance (unless the coaches on the ground see something fundamentally different in his game… that’s different, but that’s not something I have access to).

            If he is for real, he’ll be brought over for the Arizona Instructional League this fall like Jeimer Candelario was last season, and he’ll be assigned into a league for the 2013 campaign.  And a few months after that, the Cubs will have a better idea just what they have.

    • JulioZuleta

      I was checking the stats for DSL guys, Jose Paulino has a 0.00 ERA with 10 Ks in 5 IP and he just turned 17 a couple weeks ago. Obviously tiny sample size, but a guy that young is kind of interesting.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        He’s another good one to keep watching.

        • Dougy D

          So how soon can a Dominican be brought to the continental U.S. to play pro ball? What if we are looking at an outstanding player and we are headed to the playoffs and have a guy go down to injury. Could the club bring up said pitcher (or whoever) if they thought it was the right move if he was 17? (I know it is a totally obscure question that would likely never happen, but with soccer they thought that Freddy Adu kid was that good.)

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I don’t think there is an age restriction on bringing players to the US.  Typically the Cubs let a player spend a full year (sometimes two) in the DSL before bringing them over, but I suppose they could rush that time table if they thought a player warranted it.

             

  • Cedlandrum

    Easterling is such an intriguing player. After a brutal start he is really starting to turn things around. He much like Hail Szczur didn’t devote themselves to baseball until signing with the Cubs. He has pretty good speed and is developing some plate discipline. Presumably he is a good all around athlete considering he played Wideout for FSU. should be fun to follow.

    • Chris

      Saw Easterling play last week and I liked how the ball just seems to jump off his bat. The problem I saw is he can’t hit the offspeed stuff, or at least didn’t in 3 games I watched. That’s how the Cougar’s pitchers were getting him out. In fact, the last at bat I remember they threw nothing but curve balls and he didn’t hit one of them. He has a Glenallen Hill build, broad shoulders, but hits the curve ball more like Pedro Cerrano.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        Call me a cynic, but he is 23, hitting .245 at low level class A ball. Kind of now or never time.

        • Chris

          Agreed.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          You’ve got to be careful when looking at season numbers for prospects.  They are still refining their game, and there is usually an adjustment period as they move from level to level.  In the case of Easterling, he got off to a very slow start (not a big deal, it happens), but has been steadily improving his numbers through may and into June.

          That’s not to say that he’s an amazing prospect, but I sincerely doubt his season line is indicative of much more than a slow start to the season.

      • JulioZuleta

        “Straight ball I hit very much”

        Everytime I see an Allstate commercial, it makes me feel so old. How can that old man be Perdro Cerrano.

  • Patrick G

    Rizzo is no doubt tearing it up, but one thing that still worries me is his strikeouts. In 215 at bats he’s struck out 42 times. Not sure if this improved or not from previous seasons, but that is fairly high, especially I’ve he reaches the Majors and faces better pitching.

    • Kyle

      19.5% is fairly acceptable for a power hitter. Obviously, lower is always better, but it’s not outlandish.

      • Drew7

        Isnt that about ML average? Rizzo certainly has above league average power.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      In addition to what Kyle notes, K’s and slugging are positively correlated.  Players buy contact at the cost of power by shortening and quickening their swings.  Now, a power hitter can fine tune his stroke and/or get a bit better at reducing his “swing” zone.  However, when you swing hard enough to hit a baseball 400′, you are starting your swing a fraction of a second earlier than when you just stab at the ball: and that means just a little more “guess” work as to where the pitch will be when it gets to home plate.

      For all the fact that people get uptight about strike outs, they actually are uncorrelated with winning: in most games, it is 50:50 as to whether the winning or losing team K’s more (from either pitchers’ or batters’ perspective).  This probably breaks down with extreme (e.g., teens) K’s: but there are so few of those every year that you don’t get much of a sample size with which to work.  (Also, for a starter to rack up that many K’s, he has to be not walking guys or giving up extra base hits: which means that a big K day both contributes to and is a by-product of a good pitching performance.)

      • Stinky Pete

        Prior and Javier Vasquez combining for 26 k’s. Prior had less but won the game. What a game. Yeah, only vaguely related to your post but that’s what I thought of when I read it.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          That’s certainly related!  One constant about every pitcher’s duel that I’ve ever seen is that one team loses despite a great performance.

          Was that the 2005 Cubs-ChiSox game that was basically Prior’s last good outing?  Or was that the ’03 Cubs-Yanks game where Prior got Jeter 3 or 4 times?

    • Can’t think of a cool name

      Question: Is K rate based off at-bats or plate appearances? Rizzo’s k-rate is slighlty lower if using plate appearances. Look at Jose Bautista last year, k-rate with at bats is 21.6%, with plate appearances 16.6. I know thats an extreme given his 132 walks.

      • Drew7

        PA’s

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        It is almost always based on plate appearances.  There is a minority of cases in which at bats is used, but the utility of an AB based K% is questionable in most situations.  It’s always better to double check, since some people do use the two interchangeably, but you are almost always correct in assuming plate appearances.

        • hansman1982

          ya, you should always use PA – otherwise it is difficult to match it to BB rate and if you used AB for BB’s (or even K’s) then it would, theoretically, be possible to have a BB and K rate above 100% or have the two combine for over 100%.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        As you suggest, the walks are why you need to use PAs.  That makes it easier to distinguish between the two types of high K players: the free swingers and the deep counters.  Bautista is a classic deep counter. Given Rizzo’s walk rates, he must be a pretty good deep counter, too.

  • Jp

    Soler Power coming soon??? There has got to be something coming before 5pm, I’m sure his scumbag agent will want him all over the tv during primetime so he can squeeze a few endorsements from companies before he even steps foot in North America.

  • Dougy D

    I went to the I-Cubs game yesterday in Des Moines. Great game. Rusin looked good and of course the ball was leaving the yard off of some Cubbie bats. Unfortunately, the first 2 homers (B. Jackson and Rizzo back-to-back shots) came while my dumb ass was getting a brat. Doh! I was able to see Apodaca go yard after that though, as well as RIzzo. I was with my buddy Ralph (not sure what his name is on here) and his wife and kid. Good times. His boy wasn’t doing a real good job of paying attention (we’ll cut him a break, he’s a kid) but before Rizzo’s second homer I told him that he was going to hit a homer on the next pitch so that he would pay attention. He actually did hit the homer and I am pretty sure the boy saw it. Anyways, it’s been a couple decades or so since I saw the I-Cubs play and it was a good time at a good park.

    (EDIT: Oh and Brett, I did wear my blue BN shirt to the game: and a shameless promo for Brett- BN apparel is available right here on bleachernation.com (I figured that I would beat you to the punch)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Good stuff.

      The nearest minor league team to me is in Aberdeen, Md, and is a short season league team.  I’m very much looking forward to the start of the short season leagues so I can get over there for a game or two this season… even if they won’t be Cub games.

      • Dougy D

        It looks like I will be heading to Cedar Rapids to see the Cheifs visit this summer as well as hitting up a Boise Hawk game when visiting a friend in Idaho. I guess that it’s probably better than seeing the big league club this season, at least. Thanks for all the work you are doing with bringing the minor league clubs to us. It gave me some things to look for at the game. Oh, and for all of you that aren’t aware, Corey Patterson plays for the Nashville Sounds. I’ll give credit to Ralph for some well deserved heckling sent Patterson’s way.

        • Deer

          Why does Corey Patterson deserve to be heckled?

          • Dougy D

            Because it’s fun I suppose. He misplayed a ball in left and let it get over his head.

          • Ralph

            Yeah, he misplayed two balls actually… I just felt like I needed to give him the business.

    • Ralph

      That was the first time for me at an I-Cubs game… good time.

    • Katie

      Glad you made it to a game! Everyone should come to Des Moines this summer instead of Chicago!!

      • Ralph

        Neat stadium, cheap $8 tickets for a good GA seat, not over-crowded, hot day but a good breeze from the river, Rizzo hits 2 homers, B-Jax hits a homer, Rusin pitched well, I-Cubs win 14-3, managed to squander a bunch of money on beer… I highly recommend it. As Dougy said, we are gonna hit up the Chiefs in Cedar Rapids vs. the Kernels on July 7th or 8th too. Only 2 hours from Iowa City, I don’t know why I don’t go to Des Moines more often.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Luke, who from Peoria do you see making the bigs other than Baez?

  • hogie

    Luke, what is the report on Juan Apodaca? When I went to Iowa the on sunday, he hit a ton of balls very hard. The homer he hit was hammered over the clubhouse in left, absolutely crushed!
    Also from that same game, Jackson is as advertised. He had a homerun, walk, strikeout, stolen base (as you mentioned in the monday post) and also made a running catch followed by an off balanced stike to second.

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