For the first time since June 17th, a streak of 21 consecutive games, Brett Jackson played an entire game without a strike out.

Hitting second in the order, behind Alfredo Amezaga and ahead of Adrian Cardenas, Jackson finished 2 for 5 with a double and his 22nd stolen base. And no strikeouts. It has been a month since that happened. A month. That’s incredible.

Checking his splits, his K% in July is a more reasonable (but still too high) 33.3%, well down from the horrifying 40.7% he posted in June. The sample size is less than ideal, but given that he had made comments early in the month that recognized he needed to work on his two strike approach and cut back on the strikeouts, I am willing to believe that this is a sign of progress. I still do not expect to see him in Chicago any time soon. Likewise, I still think he projects at best as a good, but not great, all around outfielder.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Despite Jackson’s historic milestone, the Cubs lost 7-2.
Tennessee – Tennessee went down quietly in a 9-2 loss.
Daytona – The Cubs cruised to a 6-1 win.
Peoria – The Chiefs had the night off.
Boise – Thanks to some great pitching, the Hawks won 5-0.
Arizona – The Cubs rallied for three in the ninth to pull out a 6-5 win.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Esmailin Caridad struck out two in two scoreless innings.
  • [Iowa] Late season call up candidates Josh Vitters, Adrian Cardenas, and Dave Sappelt all had two hits in this game. Sappelt also gunned down a runner at home.
  • [Iowa] With his two hits, Josh Vitters pushed his hitting streak up to 16 games.
  • [Tennessee] Frank Batista pitched scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings, and Tony Zych pitched a scoreless ninth.
  • [Tennessee] I hope you aren’t tired of hearing about Logan Watkins. This time he finished 2 for 5 with his ninth triple. His second half OPS is currently .977. He will not turn 23 until late August.
  • [Daytona] Matt Loosen pitched an excellent game (7.1 innings, 1R, 6K), but don’t take my word for it. BN’er butlerdawgs was there and wrote all about on the Message Boards.
  • [Daytona] Matthew Szczur, back in the lead off spot, had another 3 hit game. Ronald Torreyes and Elieser Bonne backed him up with two hits apiece.
  • [Boise] James Pugliese allowed a single hit in five innings while striking out five.
  • [Boise] And when Pugliese went to the bench, the bullpen was more than able to finish off the shut out. Michael Heesch and Pete Levitt pitched two frames each.
  • [Boise] Trey Martin was 3 for 3 with two walks, his third home run and his fourth stolen base.
  • [Arizona] Chad Martin struck out the side in the ninth inning for his first save.
  • [Arizona] Daniel Vogelbach hit his seventh home run and his second triple as part of his 2 for 5 game.
  • [Arizona] Shawon Dunston, David Bote, and Carlos Penalver all reached base three times with two hits and a walk. One of Bote’s hits was his second double.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Digging into Brett Jackson’s numbers a little more, it turns out that June was a wild aberration all the way around. His astronomical K% strongly suggests he was in a serious slump. The truth is, though, that he just wasn’t. He finished the month with a line of .282/.352/.545 that included six home runs. No matter how you slice it, June was a good month for the outfielder (except for the strikeouts). How did he manage to put up solid numbers despite that crushing K%? I think two numbers tell the story. First, his BABIP (Batting Average On Balls In Play) was an impressively high .463. Second, and this partially explains that unbelievable BABIP, nearly 30% of the balls he did hit were line drives. Line drives have a good chance of turning into hits, and that in turn raises numbers like BABIP and OPS. If Jackson can find a way to cut those strikeouts down to 27% or so while maintaining a high line drive rate, he is going to have a nice career.
  • I think we can take Chris Volstad off the list of potential post-trade Ryan Dempster replacements, if in fact he was ever on the list. He started last night for Iowa, and it did not go well.
  • There were a few interesting roster shuffles in the low minors this week. After beating up rookie league pitching for 17 games, Timothy Saunders takes his .493 batting average to Daytona. That is a huge jump that probably had something to do with Daytona’s usual SS Arismendy Alcantara going on the 7-day DL. Also moving up to Daytona will be Hunter Cervenka. Cervenka was off to a horrible start in the Boston farm system this season, but ever since he came to the Cubs he has been pitching very well. I would not get too excited until he shows he can keep that up against tougher competition, but Cervenka is a reliever worth monitoring. Finally, OF Bijan Rademacher will move from Boise to Peoria. He was one of the Cubs higher position player selections in the 2012 draft.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 40 – 57.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Third Place: 18.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 12-14
Southern League North Division – Fourth Place : 4.5 Games Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 12-14
Florida State League North Division – Fifth Place : 4.5 Games Behind

Low APeoria Chiefs : 10-14
Midwest League Eastern Division – Fourth Place : 4.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 12 – 20
Northwest League East Division – Third Place : 7.0 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 17 – 5
Arizona Rookie League East – First Place : 1.5 Games Ahead

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Logan Watkins is a stud. I was at the game last night and the Smokies were down huge, but this guy’s motor never stops running. A late inning all-hustle triple in a game that was out of hand shows you the type of character that this guy possesses. Several diving attempts on defense to balls in the 3-4 hole show that he simply never gives up. I really like the looks of this kid, and as I look around at the (positional) lineup of the AA Smokies, the guy that stands out as probably the only future MLB player is Logan Watkins.

    Junior Lake is still a nightmare. Yes…he can drop a bunt for a single, but he strikes out a ton and has not delivered a meaningful hit with runners on base in seemingly WEEKS! The team is frustrated with him. I believe his manager is frustrated with him. And I know the fans are tired of the effort as well. The Chicago brass continue to order the team to play the kid, which I understand, but TRUTH BE TOLD…..if it were up to Buddy Bailey to field the team that he wanted….I believe Junior Lake would be sitting on the bench.

    Jae-Hoon Ha is still inconsistant, but has shown signs of getting his swing into a more consistant groove (pardon me if you’ve heard this before)…..but he is exciting to watch. Really like this kid.

    Got my first look at new catcher Chad Noble last night. He looks to be a good receiver and throw guy….but showed nothing with the bat in his first game. Credit the Jackson Generals pitching staff…..which is stacked.

    Smokies are 4.5 games back and head on on a tough (dog days of summer) 9 game road trip. They play 4 in Chattanooga (only about 90 minutes from here) so I think we’ll go check out a game or two this weekend (I am addicted…help me). This road trip could shape the 2nd half. Need to go 6-3 to climb back in it. If we go 3-6…..stick a fork in the Smokies.

    • Brett

      Good stuff as always, Brandon.

    • Luke

      I would not be surprised to see Lake traded this month. I’m not sure he has a future in the Cubs’ system (blocked at short, eclipsed at third and in right), and his value probably isn’t going to get any higher than it is right now.

      • AB

        why wouldn’t they try him as a pitcher first with the lack of power arms in the system?

    • Richard Nose

      That’s awesome man. Gotta love it. I think they need you in that clubhouse.

  • Jack Weiland

    Apropos of nothing, I would like to say I love the Cubs and you all are great.

  • Jack Weiland

    Re: Brett Jackson

    He’s certainly an odd duck. But I’d take a .463 AAA BABIP with massive grains of salt. Even with such an outstanding line drive rate, that BABIP is against AAA fielders and is unsustainably high. Even if his expected BABIP in this case would be around .400, that knocks him down to a much less impressive triple slash line.

    • Luke

      Like I said, his month of June was a wild aberration. .463 is the highest monthly BABIP I recall seeing for any player that high in a farm system. I think he will always be a high BABIP guy, even in the majors, because he does blend speed, selectivity, and a line drive producing swing, but .463 is just nuts.

      • Jack Weiland

        Right. I agree it’s very hard to parse out the statistical noise right now. I haven’t given up on the guy, but I’m a heck of a lot more concerned than I was this time last year. And he’s been bumped significantly down my list of Cubs prospects (partly due to new sigings, but still).

    • KWD22

      Does anybody else think Jackson will end up being a lot like Colby Rasmus. Good solid defense, decent average and OBP., 20/20 potential, but will strike out 100-150 times a season.

      • Norm

        If you up those K’s to 190-220/year, drop the average to about 220…..yes.

        • Ari Gold

          I agree Norm.

        • Drew7

          How upset would you be with a Jackson line in 2013 of .220/.310/.415? Im sure the casual fan would be calling for his head, but personally, I’d be ok with that.

          • Luke

            .220 seems low to me.

            I’d buy .240/.335/.440 though. So long as his defense stayed at a high level, that wouldn’t be bad at all.

            • Drew7

              I would be very pleased with that line. I suppose he’d have to strike out a ton for his average to be too terribly bad since, as you noted, he will likely always carry a pretty elevated BABIP (LH, good speed, good approach).

  • Richard Nose

    I can’t stop staring at Toronto’s farm system! Gotta get them in on Garza. They have something like 8 of thier top 14 according to were 1st, Comp, or 2nd rounders in 2011 or 2010. Get a couple of Sanchez, Nicolino, Snydergaard…they’re all 19 or 20, pitching well, still young enough to be able to get a couple of them beacuse of uncertainty. Of course we should be able to get more than that, but it’d be a nice start.

    • Jack Weiland

      A lot to dream on there, for sure, and it would address a weakness in the Cubs’ system to boot. Big fan of all those young arms, except Nicolino.

      • Richard Nose

        Whatcha got on him? I don’t know much about them, I just see their basic stats age and size, and I dont know a damn thing about the advanced stats you guys all do.

        • Jack Weiland

          Not advanced stats, per se, and at the lower levels of the minor leagues stats are way less important/trustworthy. Just scouting reports I’ve seen he doesn’t have the same ceiling as Norris, Sanchez, Syndegaard, etc. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus wrote this about him earlier this year:

          “Lefty Justin Nicolino has the most polish of the group, and also a 0.00 ERA in 12 innings while striking out 13 and walking just one. With outstanding location and a plus changeup, he’s dominating Low-A hitting, but his velocity is preventing scouts from projecting too much for him. β€œHe could be the first to get to the big leagues, but it’s hard to get too excited about a guy throwing 87-91 mph,” said one scout. β€œI really liked him, but it’s hard to see him as more than a No. 4 or 5 starter.”

          • Richard Nose

            Good stuff, thanks man.

            • Jack Weiland

              No problem. And, I should say, the difference is most of those other guys have a shot at being a #1. Is it likely? Of course not. But they have the stuff starter kit to be a very good SP someday, whereas Nicolino seems more like a back end guy.

          • SoCal Cubs Fan

            I think there was a guy who wore # 31 with th Cubs who had outstanding location and a plus change up with the same velocity!

            • Jack Weiland

              Ha, right. But you know … the odds of Justin Nicolino being Greg Maddux 2.0 are extremely low. Possible, yes, but real, real low. Maddux was one of a kind.

              • SoCal Cubs Fan

                I agree, just saying the radar gun is not always right! Someimes it’s the head, heart, and bulldog!

                • Jack Weiland

                  Agree completely that velo is not the be all, end all. But it’s pretty important, and having success without it is kind of rare.

  • Cerambam

    Is there a time of the year where minor league call ups begin to happen similar to september call ups to the majors? did i just answer my own question?

    • Luke

      Sort of. Sometimes we’ll see players bumped up a league in the last two weeks or so of August. Also, if a team is in the hunt for a postseason berth it is not uncommon for some of the more polished prospects to be promoted onto that roster as reinforcements for the stretch run.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Glad to see Jackson went one game without striking out. If that’s really news worthy.

    I think Dempster will go to the Angels. They have what it takes to get him. This game isn’t who shows up at the dance first wins the prize. It’s who arrives just as they close the doors that will win the prize.

    I think Garza will end up in Texas after the Angels get Dempster. We will get Olt for 3B and we will snag some nice pitching prospects. I think Theo would love for there to be a bigger sense of urgency on Dempster but it doesn’t really matter when the move it’s who they move too. Nolan Ryan will come hard after Garza when the time is right and that’s when he feel’s compelled. That’s after the Angels take Dempster.

    I think there is a very strong possibility that Geovany Soto goes to the Natties or the Rays. Those are the two best landing spots for him. Both teams have a real need at catcher. If the Cubs can send a decent package to the Rays we can get some very good pitching back in return.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankee’s come after Soriano in August. They will wait until then because they have a big lead and they aren’t under any pressure right now. But if the RedSox get hot with their players coming off the DL they will make a move. They could just wait on Sori because he may come at a better deal later in the summer…might be there line of thinking.

    • Jack Weiland

      I’d love for all of those guys to be traded, but something (based on nothing) says they won’t all move. Maybe they will. Would be fun, at least, before the doldrums of August, post-sale, when the team REALLY sucks and has absolutely nothing to play for.

    • JoeyCollins

      That would all be amazing and almost sounds too good to be true.

    • David

      The Mets may be another possible destination for Soto.

  • BD

    How do you balance Jackson’s line (.282/.352/.545) with the strikeouts? Meaning, at what point can his production out way the fact that he strikes out so much?

    • Jack Weiland

      I think it’s a question of what his “true” talent level is, and it’s really hard to tell with his unusual stat lines. If he hits 282/352/545 in the majors everyone will be quite pleased (with plus, D, to boot) no matter how much he strikes out. The question is how much of that AAA production will translate with such a high K rate, and one that presumably will get even higher as a ML player. Can he overcome it? Tough to say, but it’s really unlikely. He’d have to avoid making outs otherwise at a ridiculously impressive rate.

    • Norm

      Take a look at Dallas McPherson’s minor leage/major league numbers…

      • Drew7

        I have nightmares about Jackson having the same fate…

    • ETS

      If he had an OBP of .352 with a SLG of .545 I don’t care if he k’s the other 64.8% of the time. The real question is can he sustain such a slash without reducing the k rate and either he is one anomaly that can or, much more likely, he cannot maintain such a slash without reducing the k rate.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Any word on why Darwin Barney came out of the game last night? Valbuena moved to 2B. I hope like hell Theoyer isn’t trading Barney. I think that could be one of the biggest mistakes of his tenure here.

  • AK

    I apologize if this question was asked already, and I know it’s quite soon to be asking such questions, but I was wondering where Dan Vogelbach would fit in should he make it to the big leagues (eventually)? Obviously this is just pure conjecture at this point, but it is clear that Rizzo is the first baseman for the Cubs now and the future. Where could Vogelbach move to?

    • Luke

      The Cubs would solve that problem when and if it happened. Vogelbach is a very long way from the majors and it is impossible to predict what all could happen before he might arrive.

    • Myles

      The American League.

      • Jim L.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next CBA, or sooner, we see the DH in the NL. Vogelbach / Rizzo problem solved.

        • MaxM1908

          The day the NL adopts the DH is the day that I stop watching baseball. Whenever I hear someone talk about adding the DH to the NL, I always think of this clip: “Dingers! Dingers! Dingers!”

          • Cyranojoe

            It’s probably going to happen, barring an unexpected Selig retirement…

          • Tim Kelley

            I don’t understand why people are so opposed to the DH in the N.L. Watching a game is supposed to be enjoyable. Is it more fun to watch Garza or Ortiz in the box? Managing a bench in a DH league would also be easier and more practical. Guys like Campana would have much more value on a team with a DH. I understand the whole 9 fielders, and 9 hitters argument, but the game evolves. This is not 1910, teams that play small ball are teams that lose.

            • The Man. The Legend. The RBI King: Hack Wilson

              I agree 100%. At first I was like get rid of the DH, but w/o roids-HGH-greenies, etc. the game will go back to the 1970’s and 1980’s where 35 dingers will be a monster season. With AL teams offering 8 to 10 yr deals knowing the player can DH it’s more than just a principle thing anymore. Pitchers can’t hit. They get paid too much to be hurt bunting or running the bases; kinda like how the Qb is so protected in the NFL. Soriano, although overpaid would be a helluva DH. Campy too as the lead-off nine hitter.
              time for bud selig to get with it.

          • Edwin

            Is there really that much more offense in the AL, and is more offense such a bad thing?

            Last year American League teams averaged 4.46 runs per game. National League teams averaged 4.12 runs per game. The American League also averaged more complete games by pitchers, as wells as the same amount of shut outs, and just 1 less quality start per season.

            The point is, while there will be more offense, it doesn’t turn the league into some kind of run scoring track meet. There will still be great pitching performances, and close low scoring ballgames.

          • Jack Weiland

            Not for or against the DH, but I think it’s crazy the leagues have different rules that greatly affect roster makeup. It’s freaking CRAZY. I don’t care what they do, as long as they make it uniform ML wide.

          • MichCubFan

            Do you really like watching the pitcher hit? I know it adds some more strategy, but i don’t see it as a problem.

    • Jack Weiland

      Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too early to worry about that. If and I stress IF Vogelbach makes it all the way to the upper minors with good success, it’s a good problem to have. Trade one, etc. Not something worth concerning ourselves with right now, though, since it’s years and years away from being a problem.

      • JB88

        And, who the hell knows, if Selig will have force fed the DH on the NL by that point …

    • BD

      I think you could find him in a package for a SP.

  • Cerambam

    theres an opening at the hot dog stand

    • Abe Froman

      Probably not the best guy to trust around the hot dogs, right up there with Joey Chestnut.

  • MightyBear

    Never tire of hearing about Logan Watkins. I hope he becomes a star. Thanks Brett/Luke/Brandon. This info is dynamite. Haven’t been this excited about the Cubs future since 1982. (Even 2003 I was cautiously optimistic but knew the farm was in trouble.)

    • Brandon – AA Correspondent

      Thanks. Happy to report on what’s going on at Smokies Park.

  • donnie kessinger

    Luke, do you think Logan Watkins has moved up the prospect list with his play this year, and when would you project a Wrigley arrival?

    Also, is Blake Dewitt still in Iowa?

    • Luke

      I wouldn’t say that Watson has moved up the prospect list so much as he’s moved into the awareness of the general fan. He’s not anything this year that I did not expect in the preseason. I don’t think he’s going to leap into the Cubs’ Top 10, but he is a quality starting second base / utility prospect. His defense should be as good if not better than Barney’s, and I think he as good shot of becoming a reliable lead off option in the majors.

      He should get a long look in spring training, but unless Barney is traded away I don’t see Watkins reaching Chicago until late 2013 at the absolute earliest. If Barney is dealt, I would give Watkins an outside shot of breaking camp next spring as the starting second baseman, but Adrian Cardenas would be far more likely.

    • http://BeacherNation TobaccopouchinIvy

      Blake DeWitt played 1B yesterday for Iowa.

      • AB


        • Puma0821

          Yeah seriously, shouldn’t someone be called up to man 1B in Iowa soon? Bour?

          • willis

            Yeah, not sure why it’s lame 1B by committee right now when there are a couple options to bring up and give them a run. A revolving door or DeWitt, Lalli and whoever else is meh. Unless they are desperately trying to prove to clubs that DeWitt has any value left.

          • Brandon – AA Correspondent

            I think the AAA answer may be Rebel Ridling. He was sent to High A Daytona from AA Tennessee to get his bat going and get reacclimated with 1B (he had played a lot of LF this season, but was primarily at 1B in 2011). I think Rebel makes the jump from High A to AAA Iowa. I believe that the brass likes Bour right where he is in AA.

    • Brandon – AA Correspondent

      I agree with Luke. Watkins is a good young prospect who is still right on schedule in terms of his development. He is a toolsy player, and has more polish on his game than many in AA. I would not say that he is even ready for AAA because he is still not quite where he wants to be in terms of his batting. He knows he can get better and AA pitching is a good place for him to continue to refine his approach. I think he may even start 2013 in AA before being called to Iowa in June of 2013….then he may get a cup of coffee as a Sept 2013 call up. I believe his best chance to secure a MLB gig is Spring training 2014. But, I believe we are looking at a big leaguer here.