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The Chicago Cubs have a .500 team in the farm system! Not only that, they are in playoff contention!

The Peoria Chiefs, thanks to a remarkable run that includes a seven game winning streak, now find themselves in fourth place in the Midwest League Western Division. The top two teams in each division in each half of the season make it to the playoffs. With six games to go before the end of the first half, Peoria trails second place Beloit by just four games. Even better, the Chiefs are travelling to Beloit for a three game series that starts tonight.

Peoria is the hottest team in the league, and Beloit has lost three straight. If you are hungry for an early taste of playoff race baseball, be sure to tune in for the Peoria vs Beloit game tonight at seven. As always, all internet radio feeds of all minor league games are free.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 29 – 36
After trailing early, Iowa rallied back to tie the game. The tie did not last, though, and the Cubs ultimately lost 9-7.

Jay Jackson started this game, and you know what that means. Sure enough, he was bad. He did not get out of the fourth inning and allowed seven runs on 11 hits with three walks. He did strike out five, which isn’t bad, but it was not enough to salvage this start. Hopefully Iowa will soon decide that this guy is not a starting pitcher and stash him in the bullpen where he has excelled this season.

Ty’relle Harris did a nice job in relief of Jackson. He recorded ten outs, struck out one, and did not give up a hit. Jeff Beliveau wound up with the loss after giving up two more runs in his inning of work, and Rafael Dolis was flawless in the ninth.

The Anthony Rizzo Show continues to roll along. This time he was 3 for 4 with two more home runs (he now has 22) and a double. He was also in the middle of an unusual 8-3-6-4 double play. Just a few more weeks and he should be in Chicago.

Dave Sappelt also had a two hit night that included a double, as did Josh Vitters. Sappelt and Vitters each had a walk as well.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 31 – 34
According to the weather, the wind was only blowing out at 4 MPH, but you would not know it from the box score. Tennessee was out hit 18 to 12 and fell 14-7 to Mississippi.

McNutt only recorded ten outs before he was chased. He gave up nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits while striking out two. The good news, so to speak, was that he did not walk anyone. I think it is safe to say that McNutt did not have his best stuff in this game, and as a result he took his fifth loss of the season.

Jeffry Antigua and Kevin Rhoderick both had pretty good games out of the bullpen, but Brian Schlitter struggled. The final inning went to infielder Nate Samson; he can now add a Double A strikeout to his list of accomplishments.

Junior Lake walked and crushed his fourth home run of the season in this game. Welington Castillo also homered. James Adduci had three hits; Justin Bour had two hits (including a double).

High A – Daytona Cubs. 28 – 34
Daytona is out of the basement and into fourth place. If they keep getting pitching like they did on Monday, they’ll keep climbing the standings in a hurry. Daytona rode another great start to a 5-0 road win.

Matt Loosen pitched six innings, gave up two hits, and struck out seven. After this great start his season ERA is down to 2.63. But as great as this start was, Daytona’s bullpen might have been even better. Hayden Simpson again demonstrated what he can do when he throws strikes as he struck out two in a hitless inning of work. A.J. Morris matched Simpson’s inning strikeout for strikeout, and Tony Zych trumped them both by striking out the side in the ninth.

Daytona had ten hits in this win, including two each by Greg Rohan and Ronald Torreyes. Rohan also doubled, as did Micah Gibbs and John Andreoli. The Cubs were again active on the base paths, stealing a combined four bases. Arismendy Alcantara swiped two bags (and now has 18 on the season). Torreyes and Andreoli stole one each (Andreoli’s was number 17).

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 32 – 32
The Peoria Cheifs got their season record back to even with a thrilling come-from-behind, 10-9 win at home.

Gerardo Concepcion gave up all nine of Kane County’s runs in his four innings of work. The damage was done on 11 hits (including a home run) and three walks. All nine runs were earned.

But then the bullpen stepped up and threw five innings of shut out baseball. Sheldon McDonald struck out two in his three innings of relief, Luis Liria walked two as he tossed a hitless eighth, and Hunter Cervenka picked up the win with a perfect ninth.

Dustin Geiger was slated to be the Opening Day third baseman for Peoria, but his season start was delayed by injury. He arrived in town last week, and last night he broke out with a huge game. Geiger finished the night 4 for 5 with a two run homer, three RBI (including the game winner in the ninth), and three runs scored. Paul Hoilman had three hits, including a solo home run. Sergio Burrell also had three hits (including two doubles) and Pin-Chieh Chen drove a triple as part of his two hit night. Zeke DeVoss also tripled.

Speaking of Zeke DeVoss, did you see his fantastic catch yet?

  • cjdubbya

    Have to absolutely LOVE that the Cubs’ Low-A club was represented on SportsCenter’s Top Plays! Well done, Zeke. Well done.

  • Cubs Dude

    Luke, whats your thoughts on Hunter Cervenka? He seems to be tearing it up. I thought he was a throw in the Byrd deal, but seems to be putting together.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Given his track record of struggling, I want to see him sustain his success for a while longer before I get too excited.  I’d also like to see him repeat that success against tougher competition.

      That said, he is off to a great start as a Cub, and that is encouraging.

  • florida Al

    luke or brett any thoughts on where soler will start? daytona/peoria/tenn?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Arizona.  He’ll report there for training, and I tend to think his first professional game as a Cub will come in the Arizona Rookie League.  Once he’s gotten used to playing baseball again (remember, he hasn’t played in a game in a year or so) he’ll head for Peoria (most likely).

      • Leroy K

        he hasn’t played for a year?? oh vey…

  • MaxM1908

    Is it time to start worrying about Concepcion? I feel like he’s had far more of these multi-run outings than quality starts. Has anyone identified what his issue is? Is it control? Velocity?

    • MaxM1908

      I just checked his stats. After 10 starts, it looks like he’s sporting a .343 opponent BA, has 26 BB and 23 Ks. His WHIP is 2.02. I just want to make sure his struggles are fixable and not a result of inherent weaknesses as a pitcher.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        They are fixable.  Word out of Peoria is that he is working on a pitch.  He still projects as a No 4/5 starter in the majors.

      • Edwin

        On the other hand, he might not be that good. It’s possible the Cubs scout’s overrated him, just like they overrated Hayden Simpson. Either way, it’s probably too early to tell.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          In this case, you would have to say that nearly the entire baseball scouting community overrated Concepcion.  There was not much disagreement on this guy.  He was and is regarded as a fairly polished (for his age) potential fourth starter.  He did not offer a huge upside, but not did he offer much risk.

          The Cubs were widely criticized for overpaying for him (particularly by teams who wanted him and missed out), but that’s about it.

          • Kyle

            So if the Cubs were criticized for overpaying him (and it was pretty widespread. There was a lot of snickering among the prospect pundits around the web too), how is that not overrating him?

            I’m certainly not giving up on him, but at this point I don’t see anything that makes him any different than our mass of guys who could, theoretically, if everything goes right, become a big-league fringe starter like Paul Maholm. He’s the Cuban Chris Rusin at this point, in my mind.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Yep.  He always was the Cuban Chris Rusin, so to speak, although I consistently got the sense that he was viewed as having a higher floor than most of the Cubs’ horde of pitching prospects.

              As for the Cubs’ overpaying for him if they did not overrate him: the Cubs had money and needed talent they could project to the majors.  So they spent the money to land some additional talent before the new CBA restrictions set in.  They paid him a great deal more than he would have made without the new CBA caps looming, I think, but I really don’t think that mattered to the Cubs.  They had the money, and they needed the talent.  Similar to Jorge Soler, the Cubs were not going to let themselves be out bid on a guy they could get for nothing more than cash.  And they weren’t.

              Given the Cubs’ situation at the time, I’d call that a smart move.

            • AB

              His stats in Cuba were that good to begin with.

              Even when you have a pitcher that is young for a league, he should still get decent K numbers if he has the stuff.

              I buy the excuse that he’s adjusting to the states more than he’s working on pitches.

          • Edwin

            Maybe the entire scouting community did overvalue Conception. It happens. Either way, like Kyle said, the Cubs obvioulsy valued him more than any other team. Conception isn’t that unique of a talent, so it doesn’t make sense to bid more than you think he’s worth.

            I don’t mind the Cubs signing him, but he’s not that special of a prospect. Just because scouts got excited about him doesn’t mean he can’t bust just as easily as any other player in the system. If he starts performing well, his stock will rise, just like any other prospect that performs well. If he keeps performing poorly, his stock should drop.

        • ETS

          Hayden Simpson is apples to oranges. Concepcion is a case of let’s buy one last pitching prospect while it still only costs us money. Simpson was a let’s over draft a kid and hope he signs under slot. Completely different situations.

          • Edwin

            I wasn’t as concerned about the situations, as much as I was pointing out that sometimes scouts overvalue players. They might think a player grades out as a first round talent, or a fifth round talent, and they might be completely wrong. Maybe Conception is working on certain aspects of his game that will hurt his performance in the short term, but help him long term. Or maybe he’s just not as good as we thought. Either way, once a prospect starts playing in the minor leagues I’m more concerned with how he performs relative to his league, and less concerned about his scouting report, where he was drafted, or what his prospect rank is.

            • chirogerg

              I read on BN about a week ago that Concepcion is supposed to just throw his fastball, which is the least advanced of his pitches.

              • TWC

                Oh, that website is crap. You can’t trust a word they post.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  We need a Ban Hammer on aisle 1.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Eh. He’s pretty much right.

                  • TWC

                    That work?

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      I knew it was around here somewhere.

      • MaxM1908

        How many pitches does he already have in his arsenal? Is his scouting report that he is primarily a breaking ball pitcher? If so, I guess it makes sense to focus on the fastball and get that up to an acceptable level.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Last week, his manager said it’s mostly because he’s just throwing fastballs right now.

      • hansman1982

        I would like to see them let him tear it loose for a game just so he can build confidence – failing consistently (even if doing something specific like throwing 90% fastballs) is not good for the mind.

      • Edwin

        That sounds like a manager saying manager things.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Maybe. But it also makes sense, in this case.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Players are in the minor leagues to improve their game.  That often means they are told, for purely instructional and developmental reasons, to do things in a way or at a rate that they would not normally do in a real game.  It is completely normal.

        • Kyle

          It definitely might be. It might be true, too.

          I’d say it’s definitely time to worry about him, but keeping in mind that it’s possible the Cubs really are holding him back and that when he’s allowed to unleash his breaking stuff more regularly it’ll get better.

          That said, the best case scenario is that he’s a pitcher with MLB usable breaking stuff who has trouble locating his weak fastball and is having it crushed by A-ball hitters. That’s not exactly encouraging.

          • hansman1982

            they are crushing it because that is mostly what he is throwing. If you put him in a high school game and tell him to throw 90% fastballs he is going to give up a handful of runs. Even if you throw 102 MPH but that is all you throw, you are going to get shelled, unless you have command that would make Maddux blush.

            • Kyle

              They are crushing it because it is slow and he has trouble locating it.

              I should note that in the Peoria start of his I listened to, he threw a fair number of breaking balls, especially in two-strike counts. He may not have thrown as many as he liked, but he was certainly allowed to throw them in key situations.

              • hansman1982

                I have no doubt his fastball sucks and they are allowing him to throw breaking balls, I am just saying, unless you have the greatest fastball in the history of the game, if you throw that far too often, its gonna get shelled. Doubly-so if it isn’t good.

                I am not saying he is a future Ace Cubbie but I am not getting too worked up yet. Worst case scenario he doesn’t pan out like 99% of the kids in the Cubs farm system.

                • ETS

                  Bob howry?

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Wasn’t that the game where he allowed no runs and just a few hits?

                • hansman1982

                  if that is the case and he does have amazing breaking stuff then it certainly isnt time to worry about him.

                • Kyle

                  It was. Which lends credence to the idea that when he can throw his breaking ball, he can make A-ball bats miss.

                  But it still doesn’t explain away the trouble he has locating his fastball (he had four BBs in that game and fell behind in the count a lot). That’s really discouraging for a guy who is supposed to be polished.

  • Dougy D

    Great catch

  • dreese

    “Speaking of Zeke DeVoss, did you see his fantastic catch yet?”

    His fantastic catch was on sportscenters top ten this morning. I believe it was number 9?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Number 7. And it’s crazy awesome.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Who from this Peoria do you see making the bigs in the next 2 to 4 seasons?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      No one in the next two seasons, except perhaps a reliever or two.

      Several players would be on the table over the next four years.  Javier Baez is the most obvious choice, but Pin-Chieh Chen isn’t too far behind him.  Yasiel Balaguert is also well thought of in many circles.  Paul Hoilman has demonstrated that he can hit; I would expect him to go as far as his bat can take him.

      On the mound there are several pretty interesting candidates.  Ben Wells, P.J. Francescon, Yao-Lin Wang, Michael Jensen, and Kyler Burke probably headline the list at this stage.

      • Tim

        Luke, where do you expect Jorge Soler to be placed for the remainder of the season?

      • Drew7

        I could see DeVoss being in the 2B conversation in 3 years

    • Chris

      My opinion, Baez is probably the only position player that has a good chance to be in the majors within 2-4 years, realistically. SP Jose Rosario has been impressive of late and has stuff that might get him there as a back end starter/ long reliever. RP Felix Pena throws really hard and has had more success the last few appearances. I could see him as a bullpen righty in the majors. There are several other fringe guys that might make the necessary improvements, but these are the guys that I believe have projectable tools to make it right now. Taiwan Easterling is an impressive athlete too, and the ball flys off his bat. The problem is he doesn’t seem to be able to hit the breaking stuff.

  • Patrick G

    Will Lake be staying in AA all year or will he be a September call up or even called up to AAA?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Since he started his Double A career last season, I think he’ll head to Triple A later this summer.  There is really no reason not to make him a September call up since he is already on the 40 man roster.

  • Tim

    im sure hoping Soler is in Peoria by September 2nd! Just bought tickets last night to the Kane County Cougars and Peoria Chiefs game, hoping to see him and Baez play

  • ETS

    Luke or brett (or anyone who knows) does bleacher nation have a table of draft picks and if they have signed and if it’s known, for how much?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No one has officially signed yet, so no. Even after, I don’t think I’ll be keeping a running table – instead, I’ll be posting when they sign, and then doing a total recap after the July 13 signing deadline. Cubs.com has a table if you’d like one, though: http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/team/draft.jsp?c_id=chc

      As for amounts, I’ll note them in the recap (and the individual posts) to the extent they’ve leaked into the public, but they aren’t always reported. The only place you might be able to find some of them is Baseball American (which will also have a table like you’re talking about), but it requires a subscription.

      • hansman1982

        I think we have Rymel and Johnson, unofficially, so far.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          There are a few more (Prieto, for example). It was in Saturday’s Bullets, I believe.

  • http://bornonthird.mlblogs.com/ George Cotugno

    Great job as always Luke!
    … want your thoughts on Greg Rohan, seems like he has been stalled in the system a while. Drafted in 2009 as an older player by draft standards (23), and hasn’t gotten above high A, but his power has spiked this year. In 61 games this year he is hitting .302, has 11 HR, and 54 RBI, with a .539 SLG, and .910 OPS, it’s impressive. Too old to be thrown into a deal? Doubt he has any future with the Cubs at 1B given the circumstances (age, LaHair, Rizzo).

    - George

  • koyiehillsucks

    Is anyone else sort of concerned with B. Jackson? His avg. has been around .260 for a while and he is a strike out machine…

    • Kyle

      Definitely concerned. I don’t think we can take the “high floor” for granted anymore. Not being able to hit in the majors is definitely within the range of possibilities at this point.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        He’s been on fire for a month now. At least that’s something.

        • MaxM1908

          Brett Jackson leads the PCL with 82 Ks. The next closest to him? Brandon Hicks, 65 Ks.

          • Drew7

            Hes also top 20 in BB’s, SB’s, Slg%,Total Bases, 2B’s, and leads the league in 3B’s. He’s just now getting a full season’s worth of PA’s in AAA.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Nobody’s saying anything positive about the Ks, that’s for sure.

        • koyiehillsucks

          Define hot?
          Unless my memory is bad I don’t remember him being on any sort of good streak.
          Vitters seems to have picked up his play the last month or so…

          • The Show

            Well he raised his average from about .230 to about .260 in little over a week or so.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            His OPS has been over .900 for about a month now, IIRC. That’s pretty hot.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      His average is lower than I like, and his strikeouts are higher, but his OPS is .844.  That’s not bad.

      I think he needs more time in Iowa.  The expectation was that he would be up sometime this season, but unless his strike out rate drops closer to 20% for a sustained stretch, I have no problem leaving him in Iowa to start next year.  He is young enough still that extra development time won’t hurt him at all.

      • hansman1982

        a far cry from last September when people were calling for Bush’s head because Jackson wasn’t in Chicago.

        • The Show

          I think he was ready last season, Sveum said he was ready coming out of spring training. I think his slow start was due to him pressing, knowing he was so close to a call-up. He ‘s been doing pretty good for the last month or so. I am not ready to give up on him yet and he could just be having an off year, it wouldn’t bother me that much if he starts next year in Triple-A.

      • Drew7

        I agree it wouldn’t hurt him to stay in Iowa for the remainder of the season, but I’m a far cry from being really concerned about Jackson. I think his patience and power should carry him enough to be at least an average regular, even with a high K-rate

        Nobody reasonable has ever expected him to be star, but if he can get that SO-Rate down around 24-25%, along with an above-average OBP and good defense, I’ll be more than happy.

  • MikeL

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jed/Theo throw in Jackson along with a veteran in a trade before the deadline to get the maximum return.

  • Pingback: Cubs' Minor League Daily: Peoria Is In A Playoff Race | Bleacher … | Baseball News Report

  • Mrp

    Rizzo just left the ICubs game. Limped off the field. I missed the play that he got hurt on though, anyone see it? I really hope this is nothing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Didn’t see it. Reactions from those who did range from extreme fear to “precautionary.” Words like “favoring knee” and “visible pain.”

      • hansman1982

        nice…well looks like we may avoid Super-Two status now.

    • Chris

      Mrp,

      My brother is at the game and reported that Rizzo slid into the dugout after chasing a foul ball pop-up. There was a minor delay. He left the field under his own power

  • Chris

    My brother Greg just reported that Rizzo is “walking it off with the trainer in between innings. Barely a limp”.

    Potential massive-PHEW!

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