Adam Brimer/News Sentinel

Just last season Ty’relle Harris, a fairly promising reliever for the Tennessee Smokies, was the victim in a hit and run accident that left him with injured legs and his baseball career in question.

Yesterday, that same Ty’relle Harris pitched two innings out of the Iowa bullpen. He allowed one hit, two walks, and struck out three. Remarkable as it seems, this guy has bounced all the way back from his injuries and is once again a bullpen prospect worth watching.

Harris is more of a ground ball pitcher than a strikeout artist. His 2012 minor league average GO/AO is a very nice 1.42. He has walked a few more guys than is ideal (27 in 53.1 innings), but that is largely offset by his solid .193 batting average against. I don’t think he is a closer candidate; I like him more as a guy who can toss reliable innings in the middle of a game.

There is no reason to think that Harris is a candidate for the Cubs’ bullpen this season, but he should warrant a look in spring training. More than likely he will open the 2013 season back in Iowa, but I would not bet against him capping off his recovery with a trip to Wrigley before next season is out.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa scored four times in the last two innings, but they lost anyway by a final of 9-5.
Tennessee – Tennessee lost the suspended game 12-11 in eleven innings, but they bounced back to win the night cap 8-4.
Daytona – Sunday’s contest was rained out and will not be rescheduled.
Peoria – The game stayed close, but Peoria came up just short in a 3-2 loss.
Boise – Boise lost in a blowout, 8-1.
Arizona – The AZL Cubs dropped a home game 6-4.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters hit his 15th home run of the season as part of another two hit game. He has raised his OPS to .858 now; it wasn’t that long ago that he crossed the .800 line.
  • [Iowa] Welington Castillo also went long for his fifth home run. Castillo hit that home run off former Cub prospect Angel Guzman.
  • [Tennessee] Frank Batista pitched two innings without allowing a hit in Game One.
  • [Tennessee] Game Two’s starter Nick Struck won his 11th game by allowing just one run over five innings.
  • [Tennessee] Zach Rosscup had a great game. The lefty came in to relieve Struck and proceeded to pitch three innings of one hit ball while striking out five.
  • [Tennessee] Logan Watkins is making it look way too easy. In the two games combined he finished 5 for 10, scored three times, and drove in two. In the second half of this season he has hit .349/.432/.523.
  • [Tennessee] Other hitters of note from the two Smokies games are Junior Lake (4 for 11, double), Jae-Hoon Ha (4 for 10, SB), Michael Burgess (2 for 4, 2 doubles), and Greg Rohan (2 for 7, 2 doubles, 3 walks).
  • [Peoria] Canadian lefty Sheldon McDonald pitched two more hitless innings as he struck out three.
  • [Peoria] The Chiefs did not have a lot of offense in this game. One bright spot was Pin-Chieh Chen stealing his 25th base of the season.
  • [Boise] Michael Heesch struck out three in two scoreless innings of relief. He has now pitched 12 total professional innings, and his ERA remains at 0.00.
  • [Boise] Eight different Hawks had one hit in this game, but only Xavier Batista managed an extra base hit. The right fielder hit his seventh home run of the season.
  • [Arizona] Lendy Castillo allowed just two hits and struck out five over the first four innings in this game.
  • [Arizona] Shawon Dunston had a three hit game, raising his Arizona batting average to .244.
  • [Arizona] Third baseman Ben Carhart raised his OPS to .887 with a 2 for 4 game that featured his fifth double.
  • [Arizona] And, yes, Jorge Soler did hit his first professional home run as part of his two hit day. I do not have a distance estimate handy, but after seeing the hit (and, more importantly, hearing it) I feel confident that the ball traveled no fewer than 600 miles and quite possibly entered Low Earth Orbit. You can tell his swing still needs some polish, but… good grief.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Chris Volstad‘s struggles continue. The troubled right hander made it through five innings on Sunday, but he gave up six runs (five earned) on nine hits while walking one and striking out three. To be fair, the Albuquerque ballpark is a notorious launching pad for baseballs, but even so Volstad’s numbers are disappointing. He did generate 9 ground outs to just 4 fly outs, a promising trend, but there is still a lot of work for this guy to do.
  • Are the Cubs stretching Lendy Castillo into a starter? The Rule 5 selection has been rehabbing with the AZL Cubs lately, and even though he had been used as a starter there I did not think anything of it. It isn’t uncommon for rehabbing relievers at that level to start games, just like it isn’t uncommon for relievers to start games in spring training. However, Castillo pitched four innings yesterday. That is unusual for a reliever. Also, he has been pitching every fifth game, just like he would as a starter. These are not conclusive bits of evidence, but they are intriguing ones. I wonder if the Cubs have Castillo in mind as a post trade deadline starter in Chicago. Regardless of his role, he will need to come up sometime next month or else the Cubs risk losing him back to the Phillies (unless they want to have to carry him on the big team to start the 2013 season).
  • What are we going to call Soler’s home runs? Moon shot is the common term for a towering bomb, but can a guy named Soler hit moon shots? Sun shot doesn’t have the same ring to it, though. Novas? Comets? Coronal Mass Ejections? I expect this dilemma to be an ongoing problem for the next several years.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 41 – 61.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Third Place: 19.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 13-17
Southern League North Division – Fourth Place : 5.0 Games Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 12-18
Florida State League North Division – Fourth Place : 5.5 Games Behind

Low APeoria Chiefs : 11-18
Midwest League Eastern Division – Fifth Place : 5.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 12 – 25
Northwest League East Division – Third Place : 8.5 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 18 – 7
Arizona Rookie League East – First Place (tie) : 0.0 Games Ahead

  • BD

    I’m not sure about home runs, but his soft base hits can be “Soler Flares.”

  • cjdubbya

    Good Lord. That sounded like a shotgun blast.

  • When the Music’s Over

    Soler Landing

    • bob

      Sent into Soler Orbit?

  • Dougy D

    Hopefully they quickly decide to send Soler to Boise for slightly stiffer competition so that I can catch him early next week while out in Idaho!

    • tim815

      Just so he gets to Peoria by August 1st.

  • http://Bleachernation Jay

    I met Ty’relle in Montgomery, AL, last month. Two words…..CLASS ACT (even if he is a TN Volunteer). He came over to my family (6-yo girl & 3-yo boy) & showed us who each of the players were. He actually called some of the players over to meet us. We talked about his injury (ran over by a car) and by chance a line drive glanced off the same leg the next night. I asked him if he was injured as he was coming off the field (he closed the game out that night) and he took the time to respond directly to me. Smokies have a good group this year. Thanks Brett for all the insight > been viewing silently for some time.

    • Luke

      Ty’Relle Harris is one of the easiest guys to root for in the Cubs’ system. I think Chicago fans are going to love him when he makes it that far.

      • dabynsky

        He is also one of a bajillion guys that are close that are rule 5 eligible next season. The Cubs FO has a lot of interesting choices to make on who to protect this offseason.

  • Steve

    Is this Logan Watkins a legit prospect?

    • tim815

      In a Darwin Barney sort of way, certainly.

      • Cedlandrum

        Not even close to the same player, but I guess I catch your drift. Watkins has something that Barney does not- patience. Logan also has a bit more speed to his game.

      • Steve

        Ok…I’ll take that. Looks like we drafted him in the 21st round out of HS. He is still a kid and doing well in AA.
        You say a DB comp, which again I’ll gladly take…is anyone saying that’s his ceiling???

    • Cedlandrum

      I think he is. He isn’t a star prospect, but he is a very good one. He is versatile. He can play CF, 2nd, SS, and 3rd in a pinch. He has adequate speed for selectively stealing a base. He is a decent defender. He is selective at the plate and he has hot streaks that at times he is unstoppable. He is a very good player. He is similar to Barney, except he has the patience to make himself a bit more worthwhile. Barney is the superior defender though.

      • Drew7

        “Barney is the superior defender though”

        – I seem to recall Luke discussing this a couple weeks ago. He said that, while Barney is the superior defender now, Watkins could very well end up better.

        • Cedlandrum

          Could be True if the cubs leave him alone at 2nd.

          • Luke

            If you forced me to pick between them, I’d say Watkins has the higher ceiling defensively at second. I also think he has the better tools offensively.

            In terms of actually major league roster value, though, I think it will be close between them. Watkins has a better chance to hit lead off, though, and in part for that reason I give the nod to him.

  • TC

    Huge fan of “Coronal Mass Ejections”

  • ShootTheGoat

    umm…Obvious choice is “Solar Shot.” I can hear it now!! *Best radio voice* “Just another Solar Shot from Soler!!!” Yeh, thats what I’d go with…. that I repeat it in my head, sound kinda cheesy… But it’d work!

  • Cubs Dude

    Great news about Ty’relle. Also, Soler’s bat does look quick thru the zone. I would love to see some better and closer video of his swing. But that will work! Thanks for sharing.

    • tim815

      He’ll be in Boise or Peoria soon.

  • RoughRiider

    Sun Stroke

    • Danny B

      I second this one- made me chuckle.

  • cubchymyst

    Lendy Castillo doesn’t have a lot of pitching experience. I know he needs more time in the majors to meet the minimum for a rule 5 pick but I feel like putting him in as a starter will not end well.

  • cubchymyst

    Soler Homerun Call: Soler Eclipse

  • When the Music’s Over

    Is Logan Watkins good enough to supplant Barney if he makes it to the show? How’s his fielding?

  • Fastball

    When will somebody in the Cubs organization wake up and realize that Volstadt is not a Starting Pitcher. He could be a very good relief pitcher if someone just would wake up. Yet he is the proverbial square peg in the round hole. How many times does the kid have to get shelled in big innings before a change is made. It’s like this organization is bound and determined he is a starter. What the hell is going on? It’s not mental he doesn’t have the stuff to go past 3 or 4 innings. It’s quite simple. He would be great out of the pen.

    • hogie

      His problem has been pitching ot of the stretch, which is what relievers almost exclusvely do. If all he did was start innings fresh then it might work but that is limiting his role quite a bit. At his point, and at his age, it is probably still worth the gamble to see if he can find a way to work through it, but I am not going to hold my breath.

  • MightyBear

    Logan Watkins in the write up again. I think he wants his own permanent space in the minor league write up.

    How about Soler Radiation Blast?

    Thanks Luke.

  • hogie

    It’s a Sunbeam from Soler and this one is going into orbit!

  • Mick

    Meteors because they typically come in showers. Also, look out Saturn, here comes another crater-maker from Soler!

  • Norm

    If his name was pronounced “Solar” I think you’d all be on to something…

  • willis

    Was looking at the TN box score and noticed not only 5 innings for Struck, but he had only thrown 64 (I think) pitches through those innings. Wonder why he was pulled? Seemed to have his ok stuff so just strikes me as odd that he would be lifted after only 60+ pitches. He’s putting together a pretty good year.

    The Soler shot was awesome.

    Volstad and Coleman-back to back games where they get shelled. And joy, they are two candidates to fill the big league rotation when everyone gets traded. Whoops.

  • Fastball

    I never gave thought that his troubles started when pitching out of the stretch. I would think that somebody could work with him on his stretch mechanics. He obviously needs a makeover with his stretch approach. My observations of him have been that he doesn’t have the secondary pitches to get him past two turns through opposing lineups before they catch up to the movement on his sinker ball. He has a lot of movement on his pitches but when professional hitters see it a few times they learn to follow it in a couple of at bats. If he was going to be a starter he would have to be yanked after 4 innings because that 5th inning is where he gets shelled. Maybe his future is in long relief where he can start innings for the most part.

  • Patrick G

    Luke I read on the comments of the video of Soler you posted. Guys were saying Almora is making his debut tonigt. Is this true or rumors?

  • MightyBear

    Soler Powered Rocket!

  • Spencer

    The person filming that video was apparently one of seven fans to have witnessed it in person.

    • Leroy K.

      yeah, why so few people? Nobody in Boise goes to MILB?

  • Rob

    Isn’t today Almora’s first game, too? Hopefully we’ll see some magic between Soler and him.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Well, we made the trip to Chattanooga this weekend to cheer on the Smokies. Saturday’s game was crazy…Smokies jumped out to a big lead and then the rains came. In a classic minor league rain delay moment, the players had some fun with a slip and slide on the tarp. This video was taken from the radio booth of the Smokies (we crashed in there while it was raining). Check it out.

    The game resumed on Sunday and the Smokies had 2 leads late as we watched the bullpen give them away…again. It was hot and humid….what do you expect in TN in July….but I must admit, starting the roadtrip 0-3 was a terrible feeling. The boys bounced back in the final game and finished the series 1-3. It most definately should have been a split. Logan Watkins, Justin Bour and Jae Hoon Ha continued to do the heavy lifting on offense. Bullpen let us down.

    Been reading some of the earlier posts…and let me give you the skinny on Watkins: Total professional. Works his tail off and does things the right way. When he makes a mental mistake, Buddy Bailey is in his ear….and the reason fo rthat is because Bailey understands this kid has a very bright future and little mistakes (though rare for Logan) can cost you a game. His defense is fine….not spectacular, but give me the guy who can make the routine plays every time. That’s Logan Wakins. His bat, base running and speed are very good. Even has some pop…but knows his role is to get on base and let the big guys drive him in. Can’t say enough good things about what I have seen this season in person from Logan Watkins.

    These are the dog days, game # 100 was this weekend, and the boys look tired. And off day in Florida (for some beach time) may be exactly what they need. Happy to see Ty’Relle Harris get promoted to AAA. I mentioned last week that was likely. Class act. best of luck.

    Justin Bour continues to do everything you could ask for on offense. His average is nearing .300 and he already has over 75 RBI. I can’t tell you how impressive that accomplishment is, given how he started the year. His hits are meaningful, and he plays every single day. Really starting to like this kid, and even though his path is blocked……I am now in the camp that believes a month in AAA to end the season is a well deserved reward for just how well he has played this season.

    Finally, besides the awesome tarp slide on Saturday night…..I saw something Sunday afternoon that I have not seen all year. A pissed off Manager Buddy Bailey. He held court with the position players in the outfield during pre-game warm-ups, and then all of a sudden….as a team, they began warm up drills and stretching led by the conditioning coach. The players usually police themselves, and do what they believe it takes to get ready…but this was a coordinated effort and manager Buddy Bailey and Hitting Coach Mariano Duncan were there making sure no one was slacking. I believe this shows you the frustration that the manager has seen over the past couple of weeks, and if these guys don’t want to act like pros, then they won’t be treated like pros. I liked it….and it worked… bad our pitchers didn’t participate.

    Smokies are 1-4 on the road trip and the chances of a playoff berth are quickly becomming a pipe dream.