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
Iowa – Chris 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
AAA – Iowa Cubs : 32 – 44.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Second Place: 14.0 Games Behind.
AA – Tennessee Smokies : 2-1
Southern League North Division – First Place (tie) : 0.0 Games Ahead
High A – Daytona Cubs : 2-1
Florida State League North Division – Second Place (tie) : 0.0 Games Ahead
Low A – Peoria Chiefs : 0-2
Midwest League Eastern Division – Second Place : 1.0 Game Behind
Short-Season A – Boise Hawks : 3 – 6
Northwest League East Division – Second Place (tie) : 1.0 Game Behind
Rookie League – AZL Cubs : 3 – 1
Arizona Rookie League East – Second Place : 0.5 Game Behind