Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Knuckleballs and Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July!

If you don’t have plans to view the evenings’ traditional fireworks displays, consider calling up your local minor league baseball team and seeing if they are at home and still have tickets available. There will be lots of post game fireworks celebrations at ballparks all around the country today, and those fortunate enough to view them from the luxury of a ballpark will enjoy good seating, good drinks, and a better pre-fireworks show than most of those watching from outside a ballpark.

Of course, given the severe heat wave and drought strangling much of the country, fireworks may not be much of an option for some of you. In that case, a minor league game makes a great fall back plan.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Thanks to some good pitching, Iowa won 3-2.
Tennessee – Tennessee led early, but their bullpen completely fell apart in this 11-6 loss.
Daytona – Daytona scored six in the eighth, but their rally ended a touch early. They lost 9-8.
Peoria – Offensive struggles doomed Peoria to a 4-1 loss.
Boise – Boise committed four errors on the way to a 6-4 loss.
Arizona – Arizona lost in a high scoring affair, 8-7.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Randy Wells allowed one run in five innings, walked two, and struck out four.
  • [Iowa] Michael Bowden continues to pitch well for the Triple A Cubs. He struck out two in the ninth and earned his first save.
  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters had just one hit, but thanks to a sac fly he was able to drive in two of the Cubs’ three runs.
  • [Tennessee] Trey McNutt struck out four in his four inning start, but he also gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks.
  • [Tennessee] Logan Watkins (2 for 5) and Michael Burgess (2 for 4) both had a triple in this game. It was the seventh triple for Watkins and the first for Burgess.
  • [Daytona] Matthew Spencer pitched two and a third innings and allowed just a single hit and a single walk. Even though both runners scored, it was not a bad outing.
  • [Daytona] Elieser Bonne and Rubi Silva combined for five hits (including a triple each), three runs, and four RBI.
  • [Peoria] Joseph Zeller gave up two runs on six hits in his first game as a starter for Peoria. I have a little more on Zeller later in this article.
  • [Peoria] Hunter Cervenka might need to head to Daytona soon. He pitched three more scoreless innings in this game, striking out four in the process.
  • [Boise] Rafael Diplan pitched three innings of one hit baseball in relief.
  • [Boise] Jeimer Candelario finished with two hits and a walk. Through 71 AB his OPS stands at .952.
  • [Arizona] Daniel Adrian pitched two and two thirds innings and allowed one run to score on no hits, no walks, and three strikeouts.
  • [Arizona] Isaac Garsez hit his first home run of the season as part of a four hit game.
  • [Arizona] Jacob Rogers has looked good early in his career. He had another two hit game and currently sports a .500 batting average.

Other Minor League Notes

  • We’ve seen the other Cub farm teams step up their aggressiveness on the base paths from time to time this season, and on Tuesday the Iowa Cubs got into the act. Brett Jackson, Alfredo Amezaga, and Dave Sappelt all had a stolen base in this one.
  • Pitching against the Tennessee Smokies yesterday was none other the L.A. Dodgers’ top pitching prospect Zach Lee. The Dodgers have been heavily linked to the Cubs in a number of trade scenarios, and Lee is one name that occasionally comes up. I would say the odds are good that the Cubs had a scout or two of some type in the stands.
  • As I speculated last week, Joseph Zeller has been stretched into a starting pitcher and is now in the Peoria rotation. This otherwise routine maneuver is made artificially significant (at least for me) because Zeller is one of the few knuckleballers currently in the game. I am a huge fan of the knuckler as a pitch, and as a result I am seriously rooting for Zeller to find his way to Chicago one of these days. I would love to see him pitching in the back of the Cubs’ rotation for a dozen years or so.
  • Boise Hawks radio voice Mike Stafford wrote an interesting piece on the declining attendance numbers in Boise (and elsewhere) and some possible causes of that.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 35 – 51.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Third Place: 19.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 6-7
Southern League North Division – Fourth Place : 3.0 Game Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 7-6
Florida State League North Division – Second Place : 0.5 Games Behind

Low APeoria Chiefs : 3-9
Midwest League Eastern Division – Third Place : 5.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 6 – 13
Northwest League East Division – Fourth Place : 5.0 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 8 – 4
Arizona Rookie League East – Second Place : 1.5 Game Behind

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

18 responses to “Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Knuckleballs and Fireworks”

  1. dabynsky

    Is Zeller going to get to stay in Peoria? It was stated that Concepcion was sick and they needed a starter to take his place. This made it seem like it was just a temporary promotion to take his turn. Just curious because I too am pulling for the knuckler.

  2. jr5

    Do you think the shift of Zeller into the rotation is related in any way to R.A. Dickey’s run of late?

    1. dabynsky

      Not Luke, but I think this front office is pretty pro-knuckleball given the admiration they had for Wakefield and what he meant to the staff in Boston. The run Dickey has had certainly doesn’t hurt though.

  3. AB

    I thought Whiteknack was a knuckleballer??

    1. dabynsky

      He is not.

      1. AB

        http://peoriachiefs.mlblogs.com/2010/04/13/tuesday-lineup-starting-pitchers/

        According Nate’s blog from a couple of years ago, Whiteknack throws a knuckle-curve that is his top pitch and is an 80/80 on a scouting scale.

        I’d be interested to know how often he is throwing this in his comeback from TJS.

        1. dabynsky

          Knuckle-curve is a vastly different pitch than the knuckleball despite the name.

        2. Norm

          Knuckle curve and knuckle ball are completely different types of pitches. The curve has just one knuckle on the ball.
          And it most definitely is NOT an 80 pitch.

          1. Drew7

            The 80-grade has been thrown around like crazy this week.

          2. AB

            interesting. Even from wikipedia, there seems to be alot of semantic vagueness and fuzziness around the knucklecurve.

            I’ve never seen Whiteknack pitch, and there doesn’t seem to be much video of him out there professionally, so I was just going by what the scouting reports have said I was able to find.

            1. dabynsky

              The vast majority of pitchers who throw a knuckle-curve are pitches like what Norm described. It certainly isn’t the same type of pitch that Dickey or Zeller are throwing.

              1. chirogerg

                Ya. A knuckle-curve is just one way pitchers can throw a curve. You get pretty good topspin with this pitch, but it is slower and can be easier to pick up. After TJ surgery or not after it, throwing a knuckle curve will hurt your arm no more than a fastball or a regular curve would.

  4. @cubsfantroy

    It still took Wells 82 pitches to get through 5 innings. I don’t know how that can be called a good performance.

  5. josh2

    who has the higher ceiling? Baez or Candelario?

    1. djriz

      Baez is 19, Candelario is 18. At this point it’s a coin flip. SO much can happen in 4-5 years.