It is very early in the season for Boise, but not too early for a player to draw attention with some standout pitching. Rafael Diplan, a twenty year old right handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic, has worked out of the bullpen in three games. In his total of nine innings pitched he’s allowed just two hits and four walks while striking out ten. Opponents are hitting just .065 off him. While his great start to the year is not enough to definitely put him in the conversation with the Cubs’ better pitching prospects, it is enough to put him on our prospect radar.

But how is it that we had not been watching out for this guy already? It turns out that, in 2011, he was in the Arizona Rookie League, but his performance was, to put bluntly, awful. He pitched 14 innings and finished the year with just eight strike outs and an ERA over seven. Anyone looking purely at the numbers would have looked right over Diplan. On paper, nothing predicted his breakout start to the 2012 season.

This sort of event is not uncommon. Just because a player has a bad start, or even a bad year, in the minor leagues, it does not mean we should simply ignore him from then on out. Players are in the minor leagues so they can find out what they need to do better, and then practice doing it better. Those who make progress, even if that progress is statistically invisible, stick around in the system. That educational aspect of the minor league process is often hidden on the stat sheets.

Scores From Yesterday

IowaChris Volstad pitched a decent game, but Iowa lost anyway by a final of 4-2.
Tennessee – Tennessee withstood a Jacksonville rally in the ninth to hold onto a 7-6 win.
Daytona – The Cubs were winning behind more fabulous pitching until a complete train wreck of an eighth inning. They lost 7-2.
Peoria – Peoria had their chances but could not cash in on them as they lost 4-2.
Boise – Boise got all their runs in the fifth inning, but they needed a few more. The Hawks fell 5-4.
Arizona – The Cubs pummeled the Royals 13-2.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Another game, another good performance by a farm team bullpen. Mike MacDougal and Rafael Dolis combined to toss three scoreless innings in relief of Volstad.
  • [Iowa] The good news is Brett Jackson had two hits, including his second home run in as many games. The bad news is he also struck out three times.
  • [Iowa] Ty Wright has quietly become as hot as any player in the farm system. After hitting two doubles on Saturday his line for June reads .356/.391/.439.
  • [Tennessee] Casey Weathers earned the win by allowing one hit and one walk while striking out four in two innings of relief. Weathers, the other guy in the Stewart trade, has closer potential if he can harness his stuff and stay in the strike zone. Games like this one are definitely encouraging, but I’d be happier if he could string four or five of these outing together.
  • [Tennessee] Logan Watkins had another good game. This time he went 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, a walk, and two runs scored.
  • [Daytona] Now this is the Robert Whitenack we have been waiting to see. The post-surgery pitcher threw five shutout innings in which he allowed three hits and struck out three. Brian Schlitter followed that up with two no-hit innings of his own.
  • [Daytona] Matthew Szczur stole his twentieth base of the season.
  • [Peoria] Gerardo Concepcion pitched a decent game. In four and a third innings he allowed three runs on five hits, three walks, and struck out three. Sheldon McDonald pitched a very good game in relief of Concepcion. McDonald struck out two in two and two thirds innings of no-hit baseball.
  • [Boise] Shawon Dunston doubled and stole his first base of the season in this game. Marco Hernandez also doubled.
  • [Arizona] Well regarded pitching prospect Loiger Padron has finally arrived from the Dominican Summer Leagues. In his Arizona debut he struck out three in two innings of no-hit ball.
  • [Arizona] Daniel Vogelbach went 2 for 6 with two doubles and four RBIs to lead the Cubs. Timothy Saunders, batting lead off, went 6 for 6.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Jeffry Antigua started for Tennessee on Saturday. Since he has been working out of the pen lately, I’m not surprised he only made it through three innings. Hopefully this is the beginning of the Cubs stretching the intriguing lefty back into a starter. He’s been a bit of a sleeper pitching prospect for some time now, leading to some projecting him as high as a No. 3 starter in the majors. That may be a touch optimistic, but I’m all in favor of him getting the opportunity.
  • Let’s not be too quick to write off Michael Brenly. After spending two seasons in Daytona without ever putting up great numbers (his 2011 OPS was .496) a lot of analysts had classified the catcher as organizational filler. He moved to Tennessee in 2012 and the initial results did nothing to change that opinion. But then he started hitting. His numbers have steadily improved over the course of the season, and in June he as a line of .321/.472/.901. The monthly sample size is limited (10 games), but he already has eight walks against seven strikeouts. If he keeps this up for another month or two, I think we’ll have to consider him a good candidate for a major league backup catcher job one day.
  • Dustin Geiger has been passed up by many other third base prospects on the organizational depth chart, but it would be a mistake to forget about him. The twenty year old right handed hitter had to delay his season due to injury, but since arriving in Peoria he has put up a very healthy OPS of .867. His strikeout rate has to come down (32.5% so far), but given his career numbers are closer to 20% and that he only has a few games in Low-A, I’m not worried yet. He rates well behind Javier Baez, Junior Lake, Josh Vitters, and Jeimer Candelario as a third base prospect, but he could still have major league potential.
  • Two of the Cubs’ signings from Cuba appeared yesterday. Ricardo Estevez got the start and allowed one run in an inning and a third. He was relieved by Carlos Martinez-Pumarino who pitched four and a third innings, Martinez-Pumarino earned the win by allowing just one run on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 32 – 44.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Second Place: 14.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 2-1
Southern League North Division – First Place (tie) : 0.0 Games Ahead

High ADaytona Cubs : 2-1
Florida State League North Division – Second Place (tie) : 0.0 Games Ahead

Low APeoria Chiefs : 0-2
Midwest League Eastern Division – Second Place : 1.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 3 – 6
Northwest League East Division – Second Place (tie) : 1.0 Game Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 3 – 1
Arizona Rookie League East – Second Place : 0.5 Game Behind

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Tigers are looking for a right handed power bat. Alfonso Soriano anyone? They got the DH in the American league, wouldn’t have to play in the OF so it seems to be a match made in heaven because wouldn’t cost them much, they also need a second baseman Darwin Barney? They are also are in the market for a starting pitcher? Garza? Dempster? How about Soriano, Barney, Dempster for Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos? Far fetched and probably giving to much from the Tigers side but that be a beauty of trade for the Cubs.

  • @cubsfantroy

    The Tigers won’t give up Castellanos. Especially for Soriano, Barney, and Dempster/Garza. <,<

    • nkniacc13

      Yeah they have said Castellanos is virtually untouchable. Also the expect Victor Martinez back this year so that is where the DH spot is likely to go they do have an intrest in 2b and SP

  • oswego chris

    wow…lots of work on this one Luke and thanks again for these,,,

    I think this Vogelbach is the real deal as a hitter

    • @cubsfantroy

      I agree about Vogelbach. I have watched some youtube videos and the guy looks great. He has a weird swing, but that could just be because it was, what looked to be batting practice.

      • EcoGeek

        Didn’t he have a rough start this year? Is he turning it around?

  • King Jeff

    I’ve seen Brenly play a few times over the last two seasons and I’ve been impressed with him. He knows the game and always seems to have a good at bat, even if the results hadn’t been there before this year. He is great defensively, and his arm is pretty good. I think he’s the perfect backup catcher and could eventually develop into a solid starter as he matures.

  • Carew

    Brett Jackson seriously needs to stop the K’s somehow. He may be pressing but come on.

    On happier side..T. Saunders 6 for 6?!? I know its super early for them but dayum. Wasnt he a late round pick this year?

    • Beardy Mcnuberton

      BJ isn’t the only one. in yesterday’s games, if you exclude the AZL rookie league game, the Cubs as an organization, walked 12 times and struck out 48 times. (I added the numbers in my head so I could be a little off.)

      • EcoGeek

        So much for The Cubs Way(tm).

        • DocPeterWimsey

          You need to read the whole subscript following the tm: “Results may vary from franchise to franchise.  Do not take if you suffer from heart murmors, rage or anxiety.  Offer does not apply to players signed by Jim Hendry.”

    • djriz

      Yeah, BJax’s K rate is worrisome, but he is hitting over .300 with a .900 OPS in June. If a spot opens in the outfield (Soriano trade or LaHair flame-out), I say bring him up and lets see what he can do.

      • Cubs1967

        i agree; to avoid all the rizzo hype, bring bjax up at the same time and it may keep the media off both……………not like the team can get any worse and the only way to adjust to the majors is to be in the majors….not AAA. dejesus is a 4th OF at best anyway and its obvious lahair’s value is virtually zero so there isn’t any harm in benching a platoon player at best at this point.

        • @cubsfantroy

          DeJesus a fourth outfielder at best? LOLOLOLOLOLOL

          • EcoGeek

            And LaHair’s value is virtually zero.

            • nkniacc13

              some people hold Lahair in decent value. not a ton of value mind you but he has some

          • Cubs1967

            ur right…..0.3 WAR is an everyday OF; so is 2 homers and 16 ribbies……..LMAO at the stupidity. here’s a list of RF in the NL.

            werth-hurt-still better

            tabata-davey wins

            cargo-lMAO again

            so kim’s husband is 14th best NL……….you know anything about baseball, boy?

            • MichiganGoat

              Okay the profanity and calling out other commenters needs to stop, if people disagree with you respond in a professional manner. You listing of players and WAR arguements is a quality assessment and response, but to get angry and swear because someone disagrees with you is just childish.

            • Brett

              You’re walking very close to the line, Cubs1967. You can make your point without being condescending or calling someone “boy.”

            • The Show

              Why do you think everything Theo and Jed does is the way its going to stay that way? They got DeJesus as a decent stop-gap in RF until someone else can take his spot. He takes pitches, he’s a good defender in right with a good arm , he takes pitches and he is a good base RUNNER and not a stealer. I wouldn’t mind in three years, if the Cubs are competitive and DeJesus (who would be 35) can still provide those things, if they were to sign him as a 4th OF. Competitive teams need a decent 4th OF’s, so I wouldn’t really see it as a bad thing.

            • Drew7

              Cubs1967: Ive argued with you over Dejesus’ value for weeks, and the only argument we ever hear is centered around WAR. It is a good statistic, but certainly not the be-all-end-all of a debate on a players value. The defensive part of the calculation of WAR also treats DD a little unfair, I think.

              Dejesus is unfairly compared to other RF’ers with WAR; as noted by Brett in my post regarding positional OPS+, hes actually producing right at average for a CF’er and just below for RF. He lacks power, but a .370 OBP is more than servicable from your leadoff hitter.

              Is he a star? No…but certainly not deserving of all the grief.

      • MichiganGoat

        Maybe, but BJax should not called up until he can play everyday. Unless major trades are made that open up a OF spot I doubt he’ll be up until September for a cup-o-joe

        • willis

          Fa show….you don’t even think about calling him up just to sit him Quade style. When (if) he comes up this year he plays everyday. Has to. If not, keep him down where he can play.

          For the record, I think he’s going to be a very good OF in the majors when he’s called up.

      • rcleven

        Plenty of time to see what he can do in a September call up.

    • Jeremy

      He’s 22, so it’s not surprising that he is more advanced then the competition.

      • EcoGeek

        Is 22 really that old for AAA? LaHair was playing AAA at 28 last year, right?

        • nkniacc13

          no its about right or a little young

          • Brett

            It’s definitely young.

      • Drew7

        If you were talking about A+, then you’d be right. If I remember correctly, the AA club has one of the youngest teams in the southern league and they still average 23.5 yrs old or somewhere close to that.

        We tend to let the Bryce Harper’s of the world skew our expectations for prospect age relative to level.

        • djriz

          Luke did a nice piece on prospect ages and playing level when he started this gig. I didn’t memorize it, but it went something like this:

          AAA— 22 thru 24
          AA——21 to 23
          A+ —–20 to 22
          A ——19 to 21
          (this represents age ranges expected of legit prospects).

          Also, take avg ages of teams with a grain of salt. There are a lot of fringe prospects, aka organizational filler, that skew the average age number. Think Rebel Ridling.

          • Drew7

            Well, most of those org fillers are in AAA. If you look at the Cubs AA roster, the avg age is promising; they are the youngest team in the league and still have a record above. 500, which is great.

            Youre right, looking at the average age and comparing it to that of a prospect doeant mean AS much, but the lower you get, the more worth it has (Torrreyes in A+ @ 19 comes to mind).

  • JoeyCollins

    Liking the new format more and more. Great work Luke the minor league daily has become a requirement for my mornings.

    • rcleven

      Ditto Luke. Keep up the great work.
      You even got me to go to see the Chiefs when they came to to town and I loved it.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Any idea when we will see Soler? I would like to go to a Peoria game soon and see him play.

    • MichiganGoat

      I believe the deal is not finalized, still needs too pass physical and paperwork. I don’t know if he’ll make it to Peoria this year. He might go to instructional or extended ST we can get a good view of him and work in specific skills. I could see him jumping to AA quickly next year if he is as developed as we hope.

    • Tommy

      According to the last sentence in this article:

      Soler should be there by July.

    • Tommy

      and this from the local paper:

      talk of him making it to Peoria by late summer.

      I went to the game last night. Balaguert (who played CF with him in Cuba) looks pretty good, and Concepcion pitched. But our high draft picks: Baez and DeVoss are still the exciting players to watch at the moment.

      John: do you live in Peoria?

      • ibcnu2222 (John)


  • RoughRiider

    Luke, Since when is allowing 8 on base and 3 runs in 4 1/3 innings a “decent game”? Or did you mean it was a “decent game” considering his past performance ? That would be a litlle over a 6.00 ERA and a whip of around 2.00.

  • The Show

    I heard Rizzo went 0-4 three times in the last four games. I know its virtually nothing to worry about, but is he sensing the call-up a bit?

  • Tommy

    Can anyone explain to me what they use the short season A league for as opposed to sending a player to Low A? What is the difference in these two leagues, and what is the purpose?

    • Luke

      Short season tends to catch three kinds of players: young guys who needed extra time in extended spring training, youngish players who are recovering from injuries or changing positions, and somewhat more advanced players who were taken in that years’ draft.  You can find plenty of exceptions to these categories, but that is a good place to start.

      The league is a mix of players taken from high school and college, and as a result it is a little harder to pin a typical age on a short-season player.

      Low-A is the first of the full-season leagues.  Ideally most of the players here came out of high school, have probably spent at least one partial season as a professional in Rookie or Short Season ball, and to a great extent are learning how to handle the daily grind of constantly traveling and playing 140 games a year.

  • nkniacc13


  • jungledrew

    I couldnt help but notice that your list of 3b prospects lists lake ahead of vitters… I realize that this could just be a coincidence and just how you typed them out, but it at least indicates you think of Lake before Vitters. im just wondering why? from all stats that Ive seen Vitters is the better offensive and defensive player. They are of a similar age and vitters has shown the ability to hit better at each level. i did my own comparative analysis of lake and vitters and with a similar number of at (exluding rookie ball) Vitters took the cake in every offensive category… And if we’re just talking obp and ba even darwin barney has better minor league numbers than lake… I just dont get the hype on this kid… Please help me understand…

    • Luke

      I believe I typed that string of names at 2:30 AM.  It is not intended to be in any sort of rank order.

      • jungledrew

        Well i work 3rd shift so its my 230am right so I was probably just reading too much into it

        So i was thinking an updated prospect top 30 might be good to do now that we have the draft done and before trade season kicks into high gear… Maybe one that ranks soler and almora while rizzo is still a prospect…

        • Luke

          If I did one today, Almora would not be in it.  He hasn’t actually signed yet.

          I also hesitate to rank the 2012 draftees until I have some professional game data on them.

          I’m not ruling out the idea of a midseason ranking… there is definitely a demand for in-season lists of that kind… but it isn’t something I’m committing to quite yet.  I have some ideas for what I might do, but I’m still pondering.

          • jungledrew

            Well do you have any big changes like some one new in the top 15? And i consider Almora signed until he doesnt so include him until we have reason not too (i mean how would rank him compared to baez and maples etc)

  • Kevin

    Luke – can you give us an update which players drafted in the 1st 10 rounds haven’t signed yet?

    • Luke

      Almora and Underwood are the last two.  McNeil has not officially signed yet (I think), but he is expected to any time.

      Both Almora and Underwood are expected to sign, although Almora may push it right to the deadline.

  • Jp

    Scott boras will make sure that he holds out til the last possible minute to make sure he makes every f’n peso he can… Whatever, good for almora because if he’s a bust this could be his only chance at a big payday.

  • #1lahairfan

    what is wrong with concepsion

    • Leroy K.

      baseball is harder in America than Cuba.

    • AB

      I’m shocked a guy who barely averaged 5K/9 innings in Cuba isn’t doing better

  • Kevin

    The new CBA allows for two years of compensation for failure to sign a draft pick. Does this apply for all rounds or just the 1st round?

    • Brett

      First three rounds.

  • nkniacc13


  • Kevin