Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Matt Szczur, Photo by Mark LoMoglio/

Matthew Szczuris going to remember this one for a long, long time. The center fielder had been severely limited in playing time lately by a knee injury, so a game like he had on Wednesday had to feel extra special.

Hitting in his usual slot atop the batting order, Szczur was 3 for 6 with a double, two runs scored, and a one out grand slam in the fifth inning. That blast, his second homer of the season, was the blow that pretty much put this game away. That he hit it against the Mets only makes it all the sweeter, especially given what happened in Chicago just a few hours prior.

While this big game highlights that he has been hitting High-A pitching fairly well since returning from the injury, the Cubs should not be in any hurry to promote him. Szczur is still learning to translate the athletic abilities that could have made him an NFL draft pick into baseball abilities. There is no reason to rush him at this point in his career. I think he could be a very late season call up to Tennessee, but I would not expect anything more than that during the normal season. He could be a candidate for the Arizona Fall League, though, if he continues to play well.

Should he maintain his progress, I think his major league ETA is somewhere in 2014. His defense in center will not be an issue; the bat remains to be seen. If he can keep his OBP high enough he projects as a nice lead off hitter. If he can’t, he’ll probably look to wreck havoc on the bases out of the eight slot.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The wind was blowing out in Iowa, but only Oklahoma City was able to take advantage in this 10-6 Cubs loss.
Tennessee – Tennessee got out hit 20 to 2 and lost at home 11-0.
Daytona – Since Daytona blew out the Mets 12-1, I won’t even talk about their three errors. Promise.
Peoria – Peoria tried to rally, but it was much too and way too late to make any real difference. The Chiefs lost 8-3.
Boise – The Hawks were swept in Spokane. The final of this one was 6-2.
Arizona – The game time temperature was only 102 degrees in this 5-4 Cubs win.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Jeff Beliveau pitched the eighth inning and allowed one hit while striking out the side.
  • [Iowa] Alberto Cabrera has been promoted to Iowa, and his first game there this season was both good an bad. On the bad side, he gave up two runs in two innings on three hits, including a home run. On the good side, he struck out five.

  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters‘ hitting streak grew another game as he went 2 for 4 with a double, his first triple of the season, and a walk.
  • [Tennessee] Not much went right for the Smokies in this one. Their best highlight was a triple by Logan Watkins, his sixth.
  • [Daytona] By spreading six strikeouts over six scoreless innings, Austin Kirk picked up the win.
  • [Daytona] Greg Rohan had a pretty good day at the plate himself. He finished the game 5 for 5 with two doubles.
  • [Daytona] John Andreoli stole his 26th base. Elieser Bonne replaced Rubi Silva in the middle of the game and stole his 12th.
  • [Peoria] Since arriving from Arizona all Dustin Geiger done has done is hit. After his 2 for 4 performance in this game his average is up to .339. The strikeout rate still concerns me, but Geiger is well on his way to moving his name into the Cubs’ third base prospect conversation.
  • [Boise] Shawon Dunston and Marco Hernandez both had two hits for the Hawks.
  • [Arizona] Trey Martin raised his early season average to .400 with a 3 for 5 game that included his first triple. Daniel Vogelbach is also hitting .400 after he went 1 for 3 with a walk.
  • [Arizona] Like much of the rest of the farm system, the Arizona Cubs seem to be more than willing to run. The base thieves in this game included Bijan Rademacher (twice), Neftali Roasio (a catcher), Rashad Crawford (twice), David Bote (he also homered), and Trey Martin.

Other Minor League Notes

  • The pitching in the Tennessee game did give up twenty hits, including seven off of Dae-Eun Rhee and ten off of Casey Harman, but it wasn’t all bad. Despite the inflated score the Smokies spared the bullpen and only used three pitchers. And on top of that, Jeffry Antigua did not have a bad game. He stranded the two runners he inherited from Harman, and over the course of the final two and a third innings he gave up just one run on three hits while striking out four.
  • After a rough road trip that resulted in a sweep in Spokane, the Boise Hawks finally get to come home and try to start a winning streak. Their opponent? The same Spokane team that just swept them. And just to top matters off, their bus broke down on the way home to Boise. This could be one tired team when they take the field tonight.
  • I’m starting to wonder if the Cubs are stretching knuckleballer Joseph Zeller into a starting pitcher. He had been pitching well out of the bullpen for Daytona (3.60 ERA, 29K / 13BB) so it came as a surprise to me when he was sent all the way down to Boise. He has been working out of the pen in Boise as well, but the appearances have been longer ones. He pitched two innings in his first game on June 23 and three and two thirds innings yesterday. I hope the plan is to stretch him out. I’d love to see the Cubs feature a knuckler as their fourth or fifth starter one of these years.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 33 – 47.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Second Place: 17.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 3-4
Southern League North Division – Second Place : 1.5 Game Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 5-2
Florida State League North Division – Second Place : 0.5 Games Behind

Low APeoria Chiefs : 3-3
Midwest League Eastern Division – Third Place : 2.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 4 – 9
Northwest League East Division – Fourth Place : 2.5 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 5 – 2
Arizona Rookie League East – Second Place : 2.0 Games Behind

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