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Have you voted in the Top Ten Positional Prospects Poll over on the Message Boards yet? If not, head on over and do so. Don’t forget that you’ll need a Message Board account, and that those accounts and your main page account are separate things. [Brett: That picture there was done by Tim at Cubby-Blue many years ago for a former feature here at BN, but it works just fine for this as well. You should go visit Cubby-Blue, because Tim is awesome.]

Thanks to Cubbie Blues, we also have some early results from the poll. Despite his strikeouts, Brett Jackson is receiving 100% of the vote, as is Javier Baez. Junior Lake is right behind them with 97%, followed by Jorge Soler (93%), Josh Vitters (90%), Albert Almora (who has not signed yet (86%)), and Matthew Szczur (83%). Those seven have separated themselves as the top group in the fan polling. There is a 20 point drop to the next group of prospects. I am not sure if that means these are the players Cubs fans have the most hope for, or if these are simply the players most Cubs fans have heard of. Regardless, that is as promising a bunch of positional prospects as we have seen in the farm system in some time.

Rounding out the top ten are Jeimer Candelario (62%), Daniel Vogelbach (52%), and Zeke DeVoss (40%).

Does that match your personal Top Ten Positional Prospects List (it definitely does not match mine)? Can’t imagine how DeVoss made the top ten when Gioskar Amaya didn’t? Think Reggie Golden is being unfairly penalized by his injury? Think Jae-Hoon Ha should be in the top five? Then head on over to the Message Boards and cast your vote. We’ll keep an eye on the results and check back in with the poll from time to time.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa out hit the RedHawks, but the RedHawks out scored Iowa 3-1.
Tennessee – This one was pretty much over in the top of the first. Tennessee lost 13-6.
Daytona – Daytona claimed first place in the division with a 14-4 blowout win.
Peoria – Three Peoria errors did not help matters as the Chiefs fell 7-3.
Boise – After losing three straight to Spokane, Boise came home and thumped that same team 12-2.
Arizona – The Arizona Cubs won in a blowout, 11-2.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Chris Volstad took the loss, but despite that he pitched well (7 IP, 6H, 2ER, 7K).
  • [Iowa] Jay Jackson pitched another perfect inning in which he struck out two.
  • [Iowa] Matt Tolbert enjoyed his best game of the season. He finished 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, and his seventh stolen base.
  • [Iowa] Adrian Cardenas returned to Iowa and promptly resumed hitting. He was 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base.
  • [Tennessee] This was a miserable game for Trey McNutt. He failed to escape the first inning, allowed eight runs (four earned) on six hits, walked one, and had no strikeouts.
  • [Tennessee] Michael Brenly hit his third home run as part of a 2 for 4 night. Nelson Perez also went long.
  • [Daytona] A.J. Morris pitched two scoreless innings, striking out one.
  • [Daytona] Matthew Szczur went 3 for 3 with two walks, three stolen bases (giving him 26 for the season), and three runs scored.
  • [Daytona] Arismendy Alcantara was 3 for 5 with a three run home run (number five on the year) and his twenty third stolen base. Ronald Torreyes and Rebel Ridling also hit long balls for the Cubs.
  • [Peoria] Javier Baez went 3 for 4 with a walk, two doubles, and three stolen bases.
  • [Peoria] Gerardo Concepcion had another rough first inning, but he did recover enough to make it through six innings on 87 pitches.
  • [Boise] Ian Dickson struck out six in his five inning start.
  • [Boise] Chadd Krist went 4 for 5 with two doubles. Wilson Contreras was also 4 for 5 with a double.
  • [Arizona] Carlos Martinez-Pumarino did not start the game (Hunter Ackerman did, but he left after one inning), but he did pitch five shutout innings in which he allowed just three hits and struck out five.
  • [Arizona] Jacob Rogers got the start at DH in this game, and in true DH fashion he went 4 for 4 with a double and two home runs.
  • [Arizona] Trey Martin also had big game. The center fielder finished 3 for 4 with a double.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Three runs (two earned) on six hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings is enough to make Volstad’s game notable, but there is a little more to this one. He also posted a GO/AO of 10-2. When Volstad came to the Cubs he was often billed as a heavy ground ball pitcher. If he can get that ground ball stuff working again, it could be a big help to him should he get called back to Chicago.
  • The top of the Tennessee batting order could all be part of the Cubs’ future. Logan Watkins is a plus defensive second baseman who has broken out to the tune of a .942 OPS in June. Jae-Hoon Ha is the best defensive outfielder in the system and will soon be appearing for the World Team in the Futures Game. Junior Lake might be the most exciting prospect in the upper minors. All three have major league potential, but don’t expect to see them in Chicago in 2012.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 33 – 48.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Second Place: 17.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 3-5
Southern League North Division – Second Place : 2.0 Game Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 6-2
Florida State League North Division – First Place : 0.5 Games Ahead

Low APeoria Chiefs : 3-4
Midwest League Eastern Division – Third Place : 2.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 5 – 9
Northwest League East Division – Fourth Place : 2.5 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 6 – 2
Arizona Rookie League East – Second Place : 1.5 Games Behind

  • Cubs Dude

    Great effort McNutt… Our pitching prospects are scary bad.

    • BD

      Anybody who thinks this guy could be used an add-on to a Dempster or Garza trade, etc. to boost the return- they are kidding themselves. They might as well start converting him to a reliever now.

      • Cubs Dude

        Yeah not sure what the deal is with him.. In my opinion the the biggest task by far for the front office to fix, is our pitching prospects. I know they tried thru the draft, but man does it need some work. Our pitching is why all the records have been so bad in the minors.

      • willis

        Yeah it’s time to move him to the pen and realize he’s a failed starter. He had one decent year and has been filth since. Again, like Shark, he has some nasty stuff but starting just isn’t his card. He could be another power arm in the pen for years to come. He’ll never be a starter in the majors though.

      • Ari Gold

        Remember the Cubs had a choice to send Mcnutt or Archer to Tampa Bay. Whoops. But at that point those 2 were regarded the same.

        • Richard Nose

          Dear God I hope that’s not 100% accurate. I don’t like throwing up on myself.

          • hansman1982

            even if it is then its a case of Hendry actually selling high on a prospect that kind of came from nowhere.

    • Steve

      Saw him in Chattanooga about 2 months. If he is the best we have, what a world, what a world!!!

    • hansman1982

      Good Job, Good Effort…

      I now hate that kid for spurring on the Heat

    • AB

      The AA starting rotation is downright terrible. Antigua probably should be given another shot. He can’t do much worse than what they have.

  • King Jeff

    DeVoss came from Miami where he played in a few College World Series, so he’s been on national tv and played quite a few games under the American spotlight, Amaya has not. I would assume that’s the reason DeVoss is getting the love. Personally, I love DeVoss’ game and I hope he continues to develop, he’s got great skills for the top of the order.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      His OBP for Peoria has been great.  I wish his average were a little higher, but I’m honestly not sure if it is where it is because he struggles to hit Low A pitching, or if it is because he tends to work himself into a walk.  He might be one of the few hitters in the system who could stand to be a touch more aggressive at the plate.

      • Andrew

        Isn’t his BABIP unusually low for someone his speed?

        • Colin

          Its at .311 with his average being .242 and last year his babip was.394 with an average at .311.

          So yeah it has dipped

  • cjdubbya

    Do we see Volstad and Jackson up w/ the big club by the end of the year? Looks like Jay Jackson (clarifying) has been pretty studly all year out of the ‘pen, whereas w/ Volstad, someone’s going to need to start if Dempster/Garza/Maholm(?) get traded at the deadline. Hopefully he can keep inducing a ton of groundouts, that’d be swell.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I think we’ll see both up.  Volstad will likely be first, but Jay Jackson should get a look September if not before.

  • Edwin

    I think it’s about time to switch McNutt to a reliever. Man has his stock fallen.

  • Edwin

    Looks like Whitenack pitched well yesterday. 4IP, 4 K, no BB. Second start in a row with no walks.

    • willis

      Yeah they are bringing him along slowly, and for good reason, but he may very well be the best pitching prospect in the system.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    Good to see Brenly coming around.
    Luke, how is he doing over all?
    Is he going to amount to anything or is he just getting a look because of his Dad?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He’s emerging as a legitimate backup catcher prospect. I wouldn’t give up on him yet.

      • hansman1982

        I think backup catcher has always been his ceiling but from what I have read he is a solid (but not spectacular) fringe prospect.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    As mentioned above, this game was over in the 1st inning, so on days like this, it is fun to try and find a silver lining.

    Last night’s silver lining came in the form of an absolutely workman like we effort from Catcher Mike Brenly (son of Bob). The game was already out of hand; but Brenly played what I considered to be his best game of the year. He was a warrior. In the 5th inning Brenly took a 59 foot pitch short hop in the throat. Hard to imagine as he was wearing a hockey style catcher’s mask. The pitch was swung at and missed, so nearly collapsing with pain, he still had to fight to throw out the runner (who was ruled safe on a bush league call). After the play, he collapsed to his knees, threw off his mitt, and tried to compose himself. I thought for sure he was going to hurl right on the field. With Manager Buddy Bailey and the trainers at his side, he fought to stay in the game (Note: Juan Apodaca had been recalled from AAA and was in transit and Luis FLores (the backup) announced his retirement earlier in the day). Matt Cerda (I’m guessing) was the emergency catcher. Brenly caught his breath, had a sip of water finished the inning and then promptly HOMERED in the home half of the inning (after Nelson Perez’s bomb). Very cool to see……but the excitement was not over yet. Later in the game, with a runner on second base, a single to centerfield certainly was going to plate the Barons’ 12th run…but Jae-Hoon Ha who possesses an outstanding arm, fired the ball home, that hit the downslope of the pitchers mound, and skirted the ball along the ground to Brenly at the plate who gloved the ball and was mowed over by the runner. Brenly holds on to the ball for the out. Think about this….the game was out of hand….Brenly is the only catcher, he is getting his brains beat in, and he stays in to fight, and delivers a home run and takes a crushing blow at the plate in a runaway game. He showed his teammates and fans what he is made of. My respect level for this kid went up several notches last night. NICE JOB.

    As mentioned above, another highlight was Nelson Perez’s towering HR over the right field secondary fence (out of the park) into the trees. A true blast. Hard for me to forget the 2 strikeouts on 6 pitches earlier in the game….but it is always fun to see Nelly blast one, and smile at the girls in the stands as he crosses home plate and heads to the dugout.

    Junior Lake may have had 2 hits, but they were of the meaningless variety. Note, he struck out twice on 3 pitches each. He needs a boat oar when it comes to making contact with a breaking ball. (Will Luke and Brett post the pic I sent them??) Expectations are way to high for this kid based on what I am seeing at the AA level. His hits are on fastballs in non clutch situations. He is over .300 which is great, but a lot of those have come on bunts. It is good to see a guy who can bunt. My point….the numbers don’t tell the whole story. You may see 2-5 and think he had a good game. Trust me….he didn’t. He is still young, and I do root for him…..but his performance level compared to the hype is not appropriate.

    Finally, Nate Samson pitching the 9th inning was another fun thing to watch. Nate is a position player (primarily 3B and 2B) who pitched an inning earlier this season (with less than stellar results). Nate drew 4 lefthanded batters who looked like giants…..and I was fearing the worst. Nate gave up a sharp single, and got 3 flyouts to pitch a scoreless night. Pretty cool sight to see. Way to go Nate.

    Ya can’t win em all…..but you can always find a silver lining.

    Back at it tonight at Smokies park and I’ll be there!!

    Brandon

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Wow Brandon, Thanks!

    • Cubs Dude

      Good stuff Brandon. You da man..

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Good stuff.

      I suspect Cerda would have been the backup catcher, but he hasn’t been behind the plate in quite some time.

       

  • Andrew

    The poll that’s up is for positional prospects, but is there any pitching prospect that is a better prospect than our tenth best hitting prospect?

    • Cubs Dude

      I would say no. Maybe they trade some positional prospects away to get some young pitching? Man, they need to do something..

    • chirogerg

      Maples and McNutt, maybe Whitenack

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Add Pierce Johnson to that list.

        There is a large group of pitchers who should certainly be in the conversation.  We’ll see how things stand at the end of the season.

        • Jack Weiland

          Speaking of Maples, any update on where he is? EST still?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Last I heard he was supposed to start pitching in mid July.  Most likely that will be with the AZL Cubs.

    • mak

      Probably not in top ten, unless you have a reason to still like McNuitt. Maples maybe at 10, but still hasn’t thrown a professional inning. Probably a good group of guys in the teens/20′s if you include Whitenack, the new draftees, Kyler Burke, Cabrera, Jensen and Francescan. But out of all of those guys, very few TOR starters (if any), while at least 7 of the top 10 positional prospects have everyday starter ceilings.

    • Josh

      Maples. I don’t think McNutt will amount to anything. Hopefully we can get some high end prospects for Garza and Dempster

  • ETS

    Is it fair to say this has been a great season for Watkins? Does he break through on top prospects list next season? It’s too bad he is a little further along. It would make me more confident trading barney if we had someone like that waiting.

    • Brandon – AA Correspondent

      I would not call this a great season for Watkins…but I love what this kid does, and believe he is going to be the starting 2B in Chicago in 2014. He is a winner, and simply plays the game correctly. Every pitch. Every out. Every grounder. Every time he is on base…it is with focussed intensity. The kid takes nothing for granted. As a defender (scale of 1-10), I have him at a 7-8 based on what I have seen. He can turn the double lay and make all of the plays you want to see from second base. Range is OK, but not spectacular. As a hitter, he has a lot going for him. Has surprising pop when needed, but understands that is not his role. He can bunt. Hits line drives. Has good speed. Can hit the gaps and generally does not make “bad outs”. You can count on a good at bat (to move a runner over) if that is the situation that is called for. His mental approach to the game is what sets him apart from his peers, and with his tools throughout the game, I believe he is a legit 2B prospect and someone who will be in the big leagues someday.

      My 2 cents from my perch in row 1 at Smokies Park.

      Brandon

      • ETS

        good stuff. Only part that worries me is how similar that reads to Mike Fontenot in the minors.

      • Can’t think of a cool name

        Turning a double lay is impressive! (I kid, I kid).

  • scorecardpaul

    Thanks Brandon, I look forward to reading your take on the games and players. on a side note, (and this may sound stupid). I buy and sell a lot of Cub stuff on Ebay. Mostly what I sell is stuff I don’t need for my collection. I sometimes have to buy stuff I don’t want so I can get what comes with it in the lot. I was selling a group of Cub minor league balls that had been signed by various Cub players. One of the balls was a Logan Watkins. I didn’t even know who he was at the time. After the auction ended, it ended up that it was his father who had won the auction. He wanted it because it was on a ball that he had never seen before. I ended up sending it to him for free because he was such a cool dude. I guess my point is simply this… he must come from a good family, and sounds like a good kid himself. I am rooting for him big time, and now wish in a way I had one of his autographed balls lol.

    • Brandon – AA Correspondent

      He is a good kid. I actually got to the field early one day (season tix holders get in 30 minutes prior to the general public). I got a chance to have a pretty good conversation with him. I came away impressed. He is humble, polite and is a baseball nut. Just loves the game. When the game starts..he is all business too. While the numbers may not show it, he is one of my favorite players on this year’s team, along with Mike Burgess and as always Nate Samson (because he is just so darn cool).

      Brandon
      bhowes34 on twitter

  • MightyBear

    Has Pierce Johnson signed? If so where is he? If not, where will he go when he does?

    • Chris

      He’s in Arizona.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        For now.  I suspect he could get a taste of Boise or Peoria before the season is out.

  • Ogyu

    I know it’s too soon to make any long-term judgements on Concepcion, but if he can’t handle the first inning of his starts, maybe he should be switched to a relief role at some point. Or perhaps he should be used in long and middle relief for a period of time in the minors. If he gets some consistent success in that role, try him again at starter next season and see if he does better.

    • Cubbie Blues

      It’s way to early to give up on him as a starter. You want to leave your starting pitchers as starters for as long as possible before sending them to the pen. Also, we have no idea if he is trying to work on something particular or if it takes him an inning to get into a rhythm / find his slot.

    • Colin

      Again some patience cubs fans. This just his 11th start in a totally new environment, nothing we could even imagine dealing with the language and getting adjusted. Plus hes only projected at a 3-4 starter at the best? He just needs to pitch and continue learning and getting comfortable living here.

  • Freshness21

    Luke, Baez seems to be stealing quite a few bases. Is his speed really that good, or is this just a case of inflated minor league stats and Single-A catchers/pitchers who can’t hold runners?

    • Colin

      Goldstein in twitter rated it as 50 and then said something like just getting stolen bases doesn’t make him any faster.

      But he’s getting results and that’s what matters over attributes.

      • Jack Weiland

        Also worth noting that for Goldstein 50 speed is pretty fast … pretty sure he had like a 50-55 on Bryce Harper’s speed. He’s not a Billy Hamilton, but it’s pretty quick.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Right now he could still 25 bases a year, but I think he’ll slow as he starts to add muscle.  He’ll always be a threat on the bases, but it will be more of a Castro sized threat, not a Campana sized one.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Luke,

    what is the status of Matt Spencer’s transition from outfielder to a pitcher? I see he has already been moved from Boise to Peoria. In your opinion, do you think this transition to a pitcher has a chance to succeed? Or is this just a guy hanging on?? It will be interesting to see if he can advance back to TN….as you know; his nickname is the Morristown Masher (Morristown is close to where the mokies play…where he grew up) so he has quite a following locally. He could always hit for power, but was not necessarily a great defender. Hoping for the best here…and just wondering what your thoughts on the matter may be,

    Would be interesting to see how far this may go. He is left handed and apparently can throw some heat.

    Brandon
    bhowes34 on twitter

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I think he can definitely make it as a pitcher… key word being can.  It’s a long way from ‘can’ to ‘will’.  The Cubs have plenty of experience with these types of transitions.  Kyler Burke, for example, just made the Midwest League All-Star team as a pitcher.  A couple years ago, he made it as an outfielder.

  • JulioZuleta

    Zych got promoted to AA. Arismendy Alcantara HAS to be in the top 10. Way ahead of DeVoss, and Golden and Vogelbach. Baez, Soler, Almora, Jackson, Lake, Candelario, Vitters, Szczur, Alcantara, Castillo. In that order.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Austin Kirk LHP starting down at Daytona has only given up 1 HR in over 90 innings pitched this year. The guy’s ERA is at around 2.25 pitching in a very tough league. I would suggest he is due for a promotion & is probably the Cub’s best starter in the minors thus far in 2012.
    Definitely should be given top 10 consideration based on his numbers & his age – 22.

  • daveyrosello

    re: the latest on position player prospects. What’s the latest on Rubi Silva? Earlier in the year, I saw he was raking, but having seen any updates for some time. I’m hoping out of Watkins, Silva, Amaya, Torreyes, maybe even DeVoss, somewhere in there the Cubs can find a major-league quality 2B.

    Also haven’t heard much on Taiwan Easterling for awhile now.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Silva started hot April, the league’s pitchers cooled him off in May, but he started to heat back up in June.  His average is coming back, but the OBP and SLG have not matched that yet.

      Taiwan Easterling has missed time with an injury.  He just started playing again June 26.

  • Leroy K.

    As long as he doesn’t act like Carlos ;) (Silva or Zambrano) lol…

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