Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Welcome To The Cubs

I never expect very much out of a player appearing in his first game for a new team. The stress of travel, the extra pressure to perform in a new situation, the change of established routines, and all those other mental and physical factors that are just part of the process of changing teams come into play and often make the stats from that first game fairly meaningless.

Christian Villanueva, the Cubs newest infield prospect and Daytona’s new third baseman, wants no part of that theory. He began his Cubs career not with one bang, but with two. Batting third in the High-A Cubs’ line up, the right handed hitter finished the game 2 for 3 with two home runs and a walk. He now has a Cubs’ farm system OPS of 3.417.

Do not be fooled by this start. He is not a significant power threat, although he could develop average power before it is all said and done. His game is likely to rely on hitting for average and playing good defense. Long term, thanks in no small part to guys like Baez and Candelario, I think Villanueva will be playing second base for the Cubs, but we can expect to see him continue to earn plenty of starts at third as we he works his way up the system.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa’s record slumped still further with a 7-4 loss at home.
Tennessee – The Smokies’ offense was completely shut down in this 6-1 loss.
Daytona – Daytona was just dominant in this 8-2 win.
Peoria – Peoria had more hits, but not more runs. They lost 6-4.
Boise – This is a game Boise needs to forget about in a hurry. Nothing went right for the Hawks as they lost 15-1.
Arizona – The Cubs held off a late surge by the Angels and walked away with a 6-5 win.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Give Marcus Hatley credit for two hitless innings of relief. He also struck out three.
  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters and Dave Sappelt, the two best candidates to be promoted to Chicago, both finished this game with three hits. Vitters added his fifth steal.
  • [Iowa] Brett Jackson, who is also a candidate for promotion, reached twice on a single and a walk. He also stole his 26th base.
  • [Tennessee] Jacob Brigham made his Cubs’ system debut in this game. He lasted three innings, allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out two. It will take a few games before we have an accurate read on just what the Cubs now have in Bringham.
  • [Tennessee] Zach Rosscup pitched five innings of relief and he did pretty well. He allowed one run on two hits while striking out five.
  • [Tennessee] Both of the Smokies’ hits came from Logan Watkins. That includes his fifth home run that provided Tennessee with their only run.
  • [Daytona] Robert Whitenack had a good, if slightly brief, start in this game. He pitched 3.2 innings, gave up a run on two hits while walking four and striking out three. Since he is still reestablishing his feel for pitching as he recovers from elbow surgery, I am not worried about the walks. I am, however, encouraged by his 9:1 GO/AO ratio.
  • [Daytona] Ronald Torreyes hit his sixth home run as part of a 2 for 3 game. This was the second baseman’s sixth consecutive multi-hit game.
  • [Daytona] Once again, the Daytona Base Thieves were up to their usual tricks. Timothy Saunders stole his fourth, Eliser Bonne his 22nd, and catcher Robinson Lopez swiped his first.
  • [Peoria] The power surge continued as again Dustin Geiger led the Chiefs at the plate. He finished 3 for 4 with a double and his 14th home run.
  • [Peoria] Outfielders Pin-Chieh Chen and Bijan Radamacher each had two hits. Chen is now hitting .389 in his last ten games.
  • [Boise] Daniel Vogelbach drove home Marco Hernandez in the first inning for the team’s only run. Both players finished the game with two hits; those were the only four hits Boise had.
  • [Arizona] With a double apiece Jorge Soler and Albert Almora provided all the extra base hits for the Cubs.
  • [Arizona] Anthony Prieto started the game, pitched two innings, and allowed nothing but two walks.
  • [Arizona] Shawon Dunston and Jacob Rogers each had two hits for the Cubs. Dunston has largely shaken off his slow start and now has an OPS of .813 in his last ten games. Rogers has been hitting since the Cubs drafted him in June.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Tennessee remains four games back in their division. To make the playoffs, they need to win the division out right or finish second to Jackson. Currently Chattanooga is on top.
  • Why do Daytona’s catchers keep stealing bases? I don’t remember any team that runs their catchers as much as these Cubs do. Combined, Daytona’s backstops have stolen 7 bases in 10 attempts. That is an impressively high success rate for the position typically played by some of the slowest players in the game.
  • Arizona and Boise both remain in first place in their respective divisions.

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

58 responses to “Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Welcome To The Cubs”

  1. JP cubed

    Good to see Almora not having any lingering issues to whatever he was pulled from the game earlier in the week. Someone mentioned groin pull and then I almost fainted seeing that can linger for a while. Also glad to see Soler not pulling a Concepcion on is and being a failure in his first bit of action. It would be nice to see he and Almora move up around the same pace though Soler is projected a little before him.

  2. atfinch

    First?

    Best part about last night: Dempster’s box score and subsequent 1/2 run + jump in ERA.

    1. Chris S

      At least now he has a team that will/can back him up with run support. He doesn’t need a low 2 ERA to win with Texas like he did with the Cubs.

  3. baldtaxguy

    Nice debut for Villanueva.

  4. BleedingCubbieBlue

    Brett

    Did I read somewhere that Christian Villanueva could be a Top 100 prospect in baseball?

    1. Drew7

      I believe BA had him at #100 before the season.

      1. Brett

        Correct.

  5. cjdubbya

    Just to make matters even worse for Boise – their team bus broke down three hours from home. As of 8:25am ET (5:25 PT!!!!!) they were still sitting on the side of the road, so who knows when they actually get home. Talk about a memorable night, for all the wrong reasons…

  6. farmerjon

    Taking the kids to watch Peoria v. Quad Cities tonight. They are 2 and 3 n this is their first pro ballgame. I’ll let you know what I see tomorrow folks

    1. JoeyCollins

      Im jealous. My entire family is going to the game, i think they got a box which i hear are pretty nice. Wish i was back in the QC for tonight.

    2. K-Mister

      We were at the game last night. My recap won’t wow anyone, but here goes.

      Zeke DeVoss played a nice defensive game at 2nd.
      Pin-Chieh Chen unfortunately K’d to end the game with the tying run on base. Showed a good stick. How can anyone not like the name.
      Dustin Geiger was about as impressive as Vitters defensively. Thus, he needs to work on his defense. His bat has good pop.
      Starling Peralta was wild at the beginning of the game, but settled down.
      I was surprised to see Justin Berg pitching for Peoria. Yes, that Justin Berg

      1. Brett

        Thanks for that, K-M.

  7. ibcnu2222 (John)

    Luke, what is the ceiling, power wise, for Villanueva? 20-25 HR’s? That would be pretty good for a second baseman.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Why project him as a 2nd baseman? The summaries I read suggest that Villanueva is a very good fielding 3rd baseman.

      1. Ari Gold

        From what I’ve read, he has very quick feet and could probably make the move to 2nd. We have so many potential 3rd basemen in our system also. His bat will play up more at 2nd base.

      2. Brent

        Two Words: Javier Baez!

    2. AB

      I think its more likely Vitters will be traded and Villanueva take over at 3b as Cubs top prospect than Villanueva will be converted to second, especially with Torreyes on his torrid, or should I say “Torreyed” pace.

    3. Scotti

      John, I’m not Luke but I don’t see him averaging anywhere near 20-25 HR? I see, if he works it all out, a doubles guy with an average in the 10-15 range.

      1. Scotti

        I think a good comp would be Terry Pendleton but from the right side only with a smaller ass (that thing was big). Rangy 3B with good defense, average power, decent BA. Could put together a couple really good years but really unlikely to sustain really high production.

        As much as I like defense I think Vitters is more likely to stick (and he does have 20-25 HR potential). Also possible that Vitters gets moved, after establishing himself, thus opening up room in the inn for a season of Villanueva before Baez comes to town (if, if and if).

  8. Brandon - AA Correspondent

    A quick note from yesterday’s Smokies game….

    Logan Watkins homerun was of the MAMMOTH variety…..his HR was completely out of the ballpark in RF…..over the fence, over the grass berm and over the secondary black wall into the trees. This was BY FAR his most impressive home run of the season. That was all the offense that TN could manage…..but that shot alone was worth the price of admission. Logan is a very good hitter who got himself into a good hitters count and then let-r-rip. Great AB from this promissing youngster.

    Jake Brigham (acquired in the G. Soto deal from TX) was not bad…not great…but not bad. Simply stated….he was anxious and it showed. He had a very quick delivery to the plate and was a bit up in the zone to start the night. He did show decent command of a breaking pitch and off speed pitch; so I am taking that as a positive. I can’t underestimate the Billy Hamilton effect. He walked to lead of the game. Stole 2nd. Then Stole 3rd and scored 1 batter later. In fact, every time Hamilton got on base last night ..he scored. I’d say that can mess with a pitcher’s head a bit. Regardless…..I think Jake will be fine, and I look forward to his next start. Hopefully, a few days on the road to get to know his new teammates will help him feel more at home with the Smokies.

    Essentially….that was it. Smokies took 4 of 5 from the Blue Wahoos and now head out for a 5 game set against the Jackson Generals (who are ahead of us in the standings). Gotta win 3 of 5 to keep the playoff hopes alive.

    Have a good weekend.
    Brandon

    1. MoneyBoy

      Brandon … as always, thank you for your first hand reports. Always informative and well written. A most valued and valuable contributor. Well done sir!

    2. MightyBear

      Thanks Brandon. Between Luke and yourself, I am a big Logan Watkins fan. I hope he does well. Thanks again.

      1. stillmisskennyhubbs

        I’m on the Logan Watkins bandwagon too.

  9. oswego chris

    I think with the committment to defense that Theo and jed show it may be unlikely to see Vitters at third…just a guess here, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in left if they can waiver deal soriano….

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Theo & Jed are not committed to fielding in that sense: they emphasize that fielding can be improved with coaching, work, etc. What they ultimately are about is run differential. That’s key because a poor fielding 3Bman Vitters will contribute more to run-differential than an average fielding LF Vitters. That’s because Vitters could be an above-average hitting 3Bman: but he will not be an above-average (or at least anywhere near as far above-average) hitting LFer. That is the DH spot in the NL, after all.

  10. Sandman

    With the contract ending this year and no new stadium plans. Are the Cubs going to end their Boise venture? If so, were do you see the Team heading too??

  11. Jack Weiland

    I saw elsewhere that Duane Underwood will make his AZL debut Sunday … excitement.

  12. Jeff1969

    I’m sorry but seeing the title, “Dempster Gives Up 8 Runs in Rangers Debut” just made me smile.

    1. aCubsFan

      Can’t agree with you more. It was nice to see Dempster got rocked.

  13. Jason "Thundermug"

    I wish Dempster the very best in Texas. For those of you who still hold a mighty grudge against him well I think Mitch Williams said it best on Chicago Tribune Live
    “It’s not your Life and it’s none of your business”

    Ultimately he decided to go somewhere else besides the Cheap A$$ Dodgers and we got a couple prospects for him that was better than anything the Cheapy Dodgers would give

    1. MightyBear

      That’s pure bullshit and Mitch Williams is an idiot.

    2. TonyP

      Jason- Everyone is entitled to have an opinion on the subject, as fans of the Chicago Cubs. It is our business to be happy, sad, mad, pissed, elated, depressed etc when a decision is made that effects our team. People will get over it in time and move on, but everyone is allowed an opinion. If you don’t agree with someone’s opinion, debate them or ignore them. We are all (most) here for the same reason and that is to gather information about our team and be communicate with other Cub fans.

      1. TonyP

        to*

    3. yoga master

      What is up with Mitch Williams? He blinks, blinks, blinks, and has crazy head movements. That Chicago Tribune Live video is a great example.

    4. stillmisskennyhubbs

      Jason, ignore the name-callers. I agree with you that the Dempster saga is well over, bon voyage, bon chance, or good riddance to him as you please.
      But some reactionary people prefer to sit on a tack over it for days, and then jump on anyone who looks at anything positive today.

  14. Jeff Buth

    Really excited about Ronald Torreyes. He’s been really hot lately, hitting .400/.450/.650 in his last 10 games with 5 extra-base hits. Since the start of June, he’s hit .342/.399/.515, and on the season he’s walked more (25) than he’s struck out (23). All this from a player who’s only 19 years old at A+. For perspective, Torreyes is older than Javier Baez, Dan Vogelbach, Marco Hernandez, and Gioskar Amaya.

    As a smaller player (listed at 5’9″ and 140 lbs) with excellent contact skills, the comp to Jose Altuve quickly comes to mind, though Altuve is listed at 4 inches shorter than Torreyes. How concerned are you about Torreyes size limiting him as he progresses through higher levels and hopefully to the majors? For those who’ve seen him in person, does he look 140 lbs skinny? At only 19, he certainly has some opportunity to bulk up a bit.

    1. Scotti

      Think Pedroia (5′ 8″, 165#). While Pedroia came out of college, he also has plus contact skills and a small size. At a similer age Pedroia wasn’t hitting HR and wasn’t going as deep in the count. So, no, Torreyes’ size is not as issue. The issue is will he progress on defense. His fielding % is excellent for a 19-y/o but we know little of his foot work, range, etc.

      I WOULD like to see him work out this off-season to see if he can add 10-20 pounds, or so, to his frame but some guys are just metabolic twigs…

  15. Josh

    As far as the long term option at 2B, do you think it belongs to Barney, Torreyes, or Villanueva? Basically who do you think is the starting 2B in about 3-4 years?

    1. Scotti

      Torreyes provided he can play good, solid defense. He’ll never hit for plus power but his bat is special.

      1. Josh

        I think they all have a good shot. Also forgot to factor in Lake. They each have the potential to play there, but 2 of them will most likely fan out. I just love how we keep adding depth to various positions of need to protect us when some of the top prospects inevitably fade away. Excited to see where our farm ranks as a whole once they factor in the new acquisitions earlier in the year.

        1. Jackalope

          Yeah, that’s the glory of having multiple talented prospects. Most will end up busting, so if you have several talented players at a position, there’s a much better chance one will pan out. I don’t think there’s a lot of worth in debating who will start at a given position 3-4 years down the road. Prospect’s performance, or lack thereof, will make things clear when the time comes. Still fun to dream, though.

    2. BluBlud

      The future second baseman is Barney, at least until somebody takes it from him. If his defense stays where it is, or even improves, it will be hard to replace him.

  16. Josh

    Villanueva comes in at #6 according to MLB.com in the Cubs farm, Hendricks at 17. Also this list doesn’t include new players from international free agency or the draft. Still nice to see us add 3 new quality prospects.

  17. florida Al

    heading to dunedin tonight to watch this kid…..should be fun..anyone else going?

    1. stillmisskennyhubbs

      Not Dunedin, but hope to see them in Daytona soon.

      1. Josh

        I can only see guys who play for Peoria when they come up and play Kane County. Even then I don’t usually go because it’s cheaper and easier for me to go to Wrigley these days so I just go there instead to watch baseball. Love how the farm system has grown since Epstein and Co. have come in. Wonder where we’ll be a year from now?

  18. Josh

    Hey Brett when is Austin Kirk and Matt Loosen getting called up to AA.

  19. BleedingCubbieBlue

    What is our top prospect list going to look like with our draft, international signings and trades? I know some other people have asked about this as well?

    I have seen the list on MiLB.com but what about Almora, Underwood and Johnson from the draft and Soler and Juan Carlos Paniagua from the international signings?

    Brett can you give us your top 20?
    How many will we have in the 2013 top 100 prospects in baseball list?

    1. willis

      Going to be interesting to see different people’s takes. I have read a lot about Vizcaino bumping someone from the top 3, but had for me to buy that when he’s on the shelf with TJ. Maybe top ten for now or top 15. Until he shows us all he is healthy and effective I have a hard time ranking him too high.

    2. Brent

      Just posted the same comment without reading your post. I think there is a high demand Brett, let see who you feel are the top 20 prospects in the Cubs System. My top 10 would be 1. Baez 2. Solor 3. Almora 4. Vizcaino 5. Vitters 6. Jackson 7. Villanueva 8. Szczur 9. Johnson 10. Maples The top 4 are easy to rank (with Vizcaino potentially being even higher if healthy) but it gets a lot tougher from there. Guys like Candelario, Amaya, Vogelbach, Lake, Underwood, Torreyes, Alcantara would all get consideration and be somewhere in my top 20. I am extremely high on Torreyes and Vogelbach, not so much on Lake. A guy like Paniagua could be really, really good but I don’t know enough about him. Same goes for the raw 16 year old De La Rosa. A guy I like, and someone I know personally, is Eric Jokisch. He does not WOW anyone, but he gets the job done. Go Cubs Go!

  20. Doug Dascenzo

    Is B.Jackson going to be another Tyler Colvin? A toolsy guy with a big hole in his swing?

    1. ETS

      was colvin that “toolsy”?

      1. Doug Dascenzo

        No, but I just found another candidate for that.

  21. Brent

    Brett,

    What are the chances that we can get an updated, “Post Trade Deadline” Top 20 Prospect list from you guys? Maybe an article strictly devoted to the top 20 prospects. I have my own opinions, and I have read a lot of other lists, but I am curious what your Top 15 to 20 guys would be in the Cubs System. I love your work and respect your insight. Thanks. Go Cubs Go!!

    1. Brett

      I’ll have to leave that one to Luke’s discretion. He’s the prospecting stud around here.

      1. Internet Random

        To all appearances, Luke is a walking encyclopedia of pre-MLB talent.

      2. Brent

        Awesome, I can’t wait to see what he has to say about the Cubs’ system after all of the recent changes.

        Luke, let’s see what you have to say. I’ve posted my top 10 list, now let’s hear yours.

        Thanks guys! You do a great job. I love reading all of your stuff. I come to this site more than any other one.

    2. Internet Random

      Incidentally, I’d be interested in reading that article too.