Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Rocket Ship Spencer

I seem to remember reading that under Epstein and Hoyer the Cubs would be taking a more patient approach to promoting players. They would not rush anyone as the Hendry front office was sometimes accused of doing, but would allow their players plenty of time to develop at each level. And then they met Matthew Spencer.

The converted outfielder started his first season a pitcher with Boise. That lasted three games and 4.1 innings.

He then moved up to Peoria. I hope he did not bother to unpack, because he pitched a grand total of two innings in one game for the Chiefs before he was promoted again.

Yesterday marked his debut with High-A Daytona. He did not pitch particularly well in his two innings, but I honestly don’t know if that is a credit to the opposing hitters or a result of the frantic pace of the near coast-to-coast promotions. Regardless, I think he did pitch poorly enough to earn a second game in Daytona. If that game goes very well, though, I would not be shocked if he was promoted yet again.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa rallied in the ninth but came up a run short. The Cubs fell 4-3.
Tennessee – Strong pitching led the Smokies to a 3-2 win.
Daytona – Daytona did not have much offense in this 5-2 loss.
Peoria – Peoria dropped the final game of the series 9-5.
Boise – It was a hitters night in Idaho as Boise won 12-6.
Arizona – Arizona opened up an early lead and was able to hang on for the 12-8 win.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Brett Jackson had another Brett Jackson game. He struck twice in four at bats, but when he wasn’t striking out he hit a double, a home run, stole his 16th base of the season, and drew a walk.
  • [Iowa] Jeff Beliveau picked up the final five outs of this game, four of them by strikeout.
  • [Tennessee] It may not have been his best start, but Eric Jokisch allowed just two runs on seven hits in seven innings of work to keep his guys in the game. Kevin Rhoderick got the win by pitching two hitless innings.
  • [Tennessee] The Smokies’ scoring was bookended by home runs. Michael Burgess got things started with a solo shot in the third, and Logan Watkins put the Smokies ahead with a home run in the eighth.
  • [Daytona] Even though Kyler Burke struck out six in his four innings on the mound, he took the loss.
  • [Peoria] Zach Rosscup seems to be rebounding well from his arm surgery. He pitched two innings for the Chiefs in this game, striking out five.
  • [Peoria] Anthony Giansanti was 0-1, but he scored twice thanks to three walks. Oliver Zapata was 3 for 4.
  • [Boise] Michael Hamann struck out two in two innings of work. He was the only Hawks pitchers not to be scored on in this game.
  • [Boise] Stephen Bruno was 2 for 4 with a double and a triple. Jeimer Candelario (3 for 5) and Shawon Dunston (1 for 3, BB) also had a double in the game.
  • [Arizona] Daniel Vogelbach was 3 for 4 with a double and a walk. Shortstop prospect Carlos Penalver also had three hits and a double.

Other Minor League Notes

  • How fast things change. At the beginning of this season, any time Josh Vitters managed to walk twice in a week it was first paragraph, headline stuff. On Saturday he walked twice in a game, and here I am burying the story in the ‘Other Notes’ section. He is on pace to obliterate his career high for walks in a season.
  • The Tennessee Smokies are in a three way tie for second place in their division, just two games behind league leading Chattanooga. Their next three games are in Chattanooga. If you want a taste of Cubs’ baseball with playoff implications, tune into the Tennessee Smokies July 1-3. As always, the radio feed will be free online through the Smokies website.
  • A couple of outfielders arrived recently in Boise. Bijan Rademacher appeared in three games for Arizona before being promoted to the Northwest League where he has so far played well. Trey Martin has also been sent up to Boise and was 1 for 5 in his first game there.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 34 – 49.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Second Place: 18.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 5-5
Southern League North Division – Second Place (tie) : 2.0 Game Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 6-4
Florida State League North Division – Second Place : 0.5 Games Behind

Low APeoria Chiefs : 3-6
Midwest League Eastern Division – Fourth Place : 3.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 6 – 10
Northwest League East Division – Third Place : 3.0 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 7 – 2
Arizona Rookie League East – Second Place : 1.0 Games Behind

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation. He can be found on Twitter as ltblaize.

51 responses to “Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Rocket Ship Spencer”

  1. oswego chris

    after looking up Spencer…and seeing that he is 26, and I am guessing throws hard…I’ll give Hoyer and Theo a pass on rushing this guy….I think its different with a converted bullpen arm…

    heard Svuem talking the other day about the prospects earning call ups and not just bringing them up out of desperation…this is so true and has been a Cub problem for decades…

    1. Brett

      Yeah, converted bullpenners are kind of a universe unto their own. I suspect the Cubs want to know whether he’s legit by the end of this year.

  2. Clark Addison

    Vogelbach is raking. Does Rizzo’s hear footsteps?

    1. Brett

      Feels like there’s an obvious joke there…

      1. ThereWillBeCubs

        I see ripples in my coffee

        1. Brett

          dr ian malcolm

          1. Stinky Pete

            If you could choose between being the highest rated first base prospect in the Cubs System and getting mad cow disease, what would you choose?

            (Yeah, sorry. I don’t get the initial joke. But when I see Jeff Goldblum I think of the Harry Caray sketch.)

            1. Brett

              It’s a Jurassic Park thing.

    2. Pat

      If he’s worried about what some kid is doing his second time through the Arizona Rookie League, he’s got some serious confidence issues. I really doubt it’s the case. Most guys with his level of success are confident bordering on cocky.

      1. Brett

        Your overall point is spot on, but saying Vogelbach is on his second time through the AZL is just flat-out misleading. He played six games there last year as a cup of coffee, not an actually tour through the league.

        (Anyone else find it amazing that Vogelbach is slugging .655 without a single homer yet?)

        1. Drew7

          Probably could be higher – Id imagine some of those 2B would be 3B’s if he wasnt a damn bowling ball.

          1. Kyle

            His speed is actually pretty average. Maybe even better now that he has lost weight.

            1. Drew7

              Good to know. How much weight has he dropped?

        2. Pat

          Didn’t look at the stats for last year. Did he play anywhere else? It seems like I saw more than 6 notes on how he did in specific games. Memory error I guess. The point remains than no one in the majors should be looking that far over their shoulders. AAA maybe if the guy at their position is killing it.

          1. Brett

            He played in the Fall instructionals in Arizona, which may be what you’re thinking of. It’s not really a league (they collect stats, but the games are not real games – it’s like extended Spring Training).

            And, yes, again, the overall point is spot on – no one in the bigs is thinking about Vogelbach.

        3. Jp

          I’d like to know how many of those 2Bs were of the ground rule variety. Also I’m pretty sure with just a touch of elevation a bunch of those would’ve been long gone. Not at all worried about Big V’s power numbers. Also it has got to be time to see what Vitters’ can do on the big stage. I think it would be nice to see him get a third of a season under his belt before next year. He always seems to struggle the first season he’s in a new level so might as well get it over with this year…

          1. djriz

            Agree on Vitters. If he has mentally matured enough, AND Valbuena falls off a cliff, why not see what he can do? I can’t see our production at 3rd being any worse.
            If you do look at Vit’s past, he usually only struggles the first 4 to 6 weeks at new levels. (that is NOT to say he’d be a surefire star after his adjustment period).

        4. JasonB

          Sounds like lots and lots of 2Bs – that’s a good thing – 2Bs turn into HRs when he gets older and stronger. Of course, it is Arizona so power numbers will always be inflated.

    3. JasonB

      Even if Vogelbach is legit, he’s still 3 years away. Let’s hope that’s the case – it’ll be a good problem to have

      1. João Lucas

        What we should really hope for is that the National League will have the DH by then.

        1. Tommy

          I would never wish for that.

          1. João Lucas

            Yeah, I know, it’s a sensitive issue.

  3. Brandon - AA Correspondent

    The Smokies have defeated the Birmingham Barons 7 out of 10 at Smokies Park….but like many numbers, those too are misleading. Man…I am sure guys those Barons are heading out of town. They played us tough, and when they did win…they beat the hell out of us.

    Yesterday’s game was a lot of fun. Despite 100+ degree temperatures throughout the day, the Smokies found a way to cool off the Barons’ bats….and the reason for that is the confident, strike throwing abilities of the Smokies’ new ace….Eric Jokisch. This was a matchup of organizational aces, and the game proved it….the game was flying by…and finished in less than 2 and a half hours (thank goodness…..see 100+ degree temps above). This kid has a quiet confidence about him that oozes potential. He is left handed and throws strikes…a nice combination. A mistake to our nemesis (Barons #40 Martinez….who seems to be up to bat every single inning) was his only mistake. Look for Eric Jokisch in a local Iowa Kroger soon.

    Mike Burgess is sizzling. No other way to say it. The weather is warm, and he has found his confidence. LOVE THIS KID! He has light tower power, and has really started to shine. He is playing almost every day, and has inched his way up in the lineup to do some damage with guys on base. He and Juston Bour are driving in a lot of runs for this team. Lost in the discussion is Burgess’ very solid defense. He glides towards balls in the gap and gloves them down and has a plus arm and is accurate with his throws. Between Burgess, Ha and Adduci….the Smokies outfield is pretty darn good.

    Logan Watkins blasted a go ahead homer in the 8th to keep his hitting streak alive. Again, this kid has an approach throughout the game that just leads you to believe he “gets it”. I appreciate the way he plays the game, and as I have stated before, in my opinion, he is clearly the leader of this team. He plays every day, and plays hard.

    Our bullpen was once again fantastic under the bugs bunny changeup up Kevin Rhoderick. Kevin came in and sealed the deal once again for the Smokies. This was a huge game. After stumbling in Jacksonville and finding a way to lose that series to the Suns, the Smokies needed game 5 against the Barons to win the series and get back to .500. Between Rhoderick and Batista in the back end of the bullpen, I love the Smokies chances of success when they have a lead in the 7th inning.

    Now it’s off to a 3-game set versus our geographical rivals the Chattanooga Lookouts. We seem to have a lot of success against these guys, even in their own ballpark. Hoping to bag 2 of 3 and come back home for 6 games homestand.

    GO SMOKIES

    Brandon
    bhowes34 on twitter

    1. Brett

      Should Burgess be getting a look in AAA?

      1. djriz

        Yes, Brett, yes they should.

      2. Brandon - AA Correspondent

        I don’t think he is ready for the jump to AAA. Partially, because I would be super bummed if he left TN…and also….I don’t think he is ready. I think Adduci is probably more prepared for that jump. Mentally, and age wise……I think Jim Adduci is probably the guy to fill a hole at AAA while allowing some of these kids to get even more seasoning in an environment that keeps their confidence up while also exposing them to the dog days of summer in a pennant race.

        Ha and Burgess are exciting, and I could see a scenario where both make it to the show and don’t embarass themselves. But I do believe in my heart of hearts, I am going to look back and say “man….we have had some studas come through here….remember when Burgess and Ha were in the same outfield?”.

        I hope I am right.
        Brandon

        1. Jeff

          Hey Brandon,

          Are you going to the Smokies game today? Come on down and sit in the 105 degree heat with me and we can get “Smoked” together!

        2. djriz

          Exactly why is Burgess not ready? He’s relatively old for AA, so it’s not age.
          Does he have issues with breaking stuff? Bad plate discipline? Overwhelmed by good pitching?
          Just wondering where he is in his development.

    2. Carew

      These posts are great. Thank you

    3. JasonB

      “Look for Eric Jokisch in a local Iowa Kroger soon”

      Iowa Krogers are referred to as Hy-Vee by the locals

    4. Jeremy

      Brandon, great reports as always.

      Question for you, I’ve recently read some reports that Lake hasn’t really looked as good as his stats indicate. I’m wondering what do you seen so far from Lake at AA? It seems to me that he has taken some major strides forward in his development this year in terms of plate approach.

      Also, great to hear about Watkins. I’m a big fan of his and I think he is the 2B of the future. It’s really nice to read about his demeanor on the field. I really think that leadership and your actions on the field are underrated.

      Thanks again for your reports Brandon! Keep up the great work.

  4. JasonB

    Brett / Luke – lots of Cubbie love on BA’s Hot Sheet this week

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/prospect-hot-sheet/2012/2613626.html

    Szczur is considered the hottest of the hot and Candelario is mentioned at the very bottom in the Helium Watch section

  5. Spencer

    Cool. Go Spencer.

  6. Jason "Thundermug"

    Where is Dillon Maples ? Is he in the Cubs Protection Program ? All the hype does this kid really exist I’m sure he does but he is like a ghost Can anyone fill me in the latest with him Thanks

    1. djriz

      He’s working out with Hayden Simpson!

    2. Illini Iceman

      Dillon Maples (@dsmaples)
      6/29/12 8:01 PM
      My back….is….hurting….

      He has had a few injuries that have kept him from pitching yet this season.

      The minor league forum at nsbb.com is a very good place to keep up on things like this if you are interested in a deeper dive on Cubs prospect status.

      1. Drew7

        I wouldnt say “deeper dive”. Luke does a great job at keeping us up to date- both here and in Luke’s Corner on the MB.

        1. Illini Iceman

          No offense was intended to BN, I follow and like both sites but it doesn’t hurt to get information from multiple sources. There are daily minor league discussion and box score threads at NSBB and a bunch of regular posters there that are very knowledgeable about the Cubs system so it has a lot of content. I knew the Maples answer immediately just from reading the posts over there on a daily basis.

  7. Jp

    I’m starting to think he doesn’t exist also. Kid gloves is one thing but this is absurd. I would understand if someone just came out and said he needs TJS but no word yet? At this rate he’ll be ready to pitch 6 innings in a game around 2016 season.

  8. Jason "Thundermug"

    Thank you Illini Iceman for the update and the site I’ll check it out :) and hopefully he can get things straightened out health wise eventually and can start pitching

  9. MoneyBoy

    Brett/Luke … I’ve seen it “reported” that #2 pick Duane Underwood is signed.  Any thoughts?

  10. Shelby Menge

    The Chicago Cubs need to sign Albert Almora this year. Come on 2012 Cubs sign Albert Almora please…

  11. Carew

    Is Adduci gonna be the OF version of Crash Davis from Bull Durham? The type of guy that will eventually make it to the show but will essentially be a player-coach?

  12. Benny

    Until this year, Burgess has struggled to make contact and hit for average. He’s hitting righties well this year (.282 8 hrs 26 rbi’s.) Against lefties he is hitting (,234 with 1 hr and 1 rbi. His plate discipline has seen a lot of improvement in the last few seasons.

  13. Kevin

    Baseball America is showing the Cubs have signed 22 of their 42 picks. (see attached link)

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/draftdb/2012xteam.php?team=1004

    Are there any reports on signability issues with these picks? Other than rounds 1 & 2, who should the Cubs focus to sign?