Jorge Soler has been promoted to Peoria. This move is neither terribly surprising nor all that remarkable. Before Soler was a workout wonder in the Dominican Republic and Haiti he was playing professional baseball in Cuba, and Cuban baseball is quality league. He was only in Arizona long enough to get acclimated being an American professional and to playing baseball everyday again.

Now that Soler is in Peoria, he is the best slugging prospect on that team. Dustin Geiger can put up a solid claim to that title, as can Paul Hoilman, but neither of them project the power potential of Soler.

So what about the rest of the farm system? Who is the top slugging prospect at each level?

  • Greg Rohan wins in Iowa, virtually by default. Ty Wright and Blake Lalli are the only other serious candidates.
  • In Tennessee, I’ll take Michael Burgess over Junior Lake and Justin Bour. Lake has the higher overall ceiling and Bour has shown he is capable slugging with the best of them, but I like Burgess by hair.
  • Javier Baez wins in Daytona (with an honorable mention to Rebel Ridling).
  • Soler, as I mentioned, carries the slugging torch for the Chiefs.
  • In Boise there are a couple of good candidates. Jeimer Candelario, Rock Shoulders, and Daniel Vogelbach are probably the top three contenders, and of that group I’ll take Vogelbach. Candelario is probably the best hitter of the three, but Vogelbach may have more effortless power than anyone else in the system.
  • That leaves Arizona where the promotion of Soler means Albert Almora wins it easily.

That is not a bad list. A few months ago I was writing about a lack of true sluggers in the Cubs’ farm system. It is still a thin area, but the team has done a nice job of addressing it.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The Iowa Cubs had Thursday off. On Friday they begin a western road trip with a stop in Las Vegas.
Tennessee – Thanks to more excellent pitching the Smokies won 5-3.
Daytona – There was a doubleheader in Florida on Thursday, and the Cubs carried the first one by a final of 5-4. Daytona could not find their offense in Game Two, though, as they fell 7-1.
Peoria – Peoria scored in the top of the ninth to take away a 5-4 win.
Boise – Boise picked up a win on the road by a score of 3-2.
Arizona – The Arizona Cubs had a day off.

Performances of the Day

  • [Tennessee] Nick Struck gave up a run on two hits while striking out seven over seven innings.
  • [Tennessee] Matthew Szczur hit his first Double A home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning. He also walked twice and stole a base.
  • [Tennessee] Jae-Hoon Ha finished this game 1 for 1 with a double and four walks.
  • [Daytona] In Game Two Kyle Hendricks pitched three innings and struck out three in his first start as a Cub. Kyler Burke and Hunter Cervenka struggled in relief.
  • [Daytona] John Andreoli stole two more bases in Game One and now has 49 for the year. Christian Villanueva and Javier Baez each had a stolen base as well.
  • [Peoria] Knuckleballer Joseph Zeller gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks. Jeffry Antigua and Larry Suarez completed the game in hitless fashion.
  • [Peoria] Zeke DeVoss reached base three times, hit his fifth home run, and stole his 33rd base of the season.
  • [Boise] Tayler Scott gave up eight hits over five innings, but thanks to no walks and six strikeouts he limited the damage to just two runs.
  • [Boise] Daniel Vogelbach hit home runs number five and six in this game.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Lendy Castillo started for Tennessee yesterday, but he only pitched the first inning. I think that answers any lingering questions about his role when he gets back to Chicago. He will be headed back to the bullpen.
  • Matt Szczur has the potential to be the Cubs’ center fielder in 2014 or so, but on the Smokies he now plays right. Jae-Hoon Ha, as I have said before, is the best defensive outfielder in the Cubs’ farm system. Now off the disabled list he was right back at his slot in the middle of the outfield. I suspect the Cubs will rotate those two through all the outfield slots since there is a very good chance they both will wind up as defensive minded fourth outfielders rather than consistent starters for the Cubs, but of the two there is not much doubt that Ha is the better defender.
  • Freshness21

    Anyone have video of Albert Almora’s catch? His Twitter was blowing up about a great catch he made. Would love to see it

  • fortyonenorth

    What’s the ceiling for Vogelbach? The guy seems to hit a ton and, as you pointed out, hits for power. Also, is he strictly a firstbaseman? If that’s the case, it’s hard to see a fit for him in Chicago, where he’ll be blocked by Rizzo. If he was a utility 1B/OF type, that might be a different story.

    • Luke

      He’s strictly a 1B, but he is years away. The Cubs don’t need to worry about what to do with both Vogelbach and Rizzo for quite some time yet.

    • BD

      I think we will be hearing him as a prospect that is part of a trade for a SP in the next couple of years.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Well the TN Smokies found their way back in the win column last night with a nice win over a pesky Huntsville Stars team last night.

    A few observations and thoughts from the game:

    Lendy Castillo started the game with a 1 inning rehab appearance. Nothing too exciting to report. No runs allowed on a couple of hits…He has a very wiry frame for a pitcher, but looked pretty good out there.

    Matt Szczur led off the game by depositing the 1st pitch of the evening into the left field berm. Nice to see this from Matt…because he had been pressing a bit since his call-up to AA.

    The real story of the game was pitcher Nick Struck. He came in to relieve Castillo and pitched 7 strong innings and left the 8th with a 4-1 lead. A very solid effort. I came away very impressed at Nick’s ability to work through jams and get a key strikeout when needed. Nick Struck was nails last night.

    Justin Bour delivered 2 more RBI and is in a dead heat for Southern League MVP with Huntsville’s Hunter Morris. As I mentioned before, it is hard for me to imagine an MVP award going to a guy on a last place team….so if the Smokies can string together a few more wins in the final 23 games, we could be looking at an MVP candidate. Justin has 98 RBI/15 HR/.305 avg/.486 slugging %/.858 OPS in 420 at bats. Hunter Morris has 93 RBI/22 HR/.306 avg/.567 slugging percentage/.927 OPS in 434 at bats.

    Catcher Chad Noble was 0-4 with 4 strikeouts last night. He looks overmatched, and struck out each time on high heat. But, he is a solid defender, who sealed the game when he threw out a runner with 2 outs in the 9th.

    Frank Batista struggled in the 9th (giving up 2 runs) and Brian Schlitter came in to record the final out. Brian has looked very good since being recalled from Daytona. Not worried about Batista….he has been solid the entire year.

    Got a chance to talk to Dallas Beeler last night. He was charting pitches in the stands. Dallas has had a hard luck year. Poor record. Poor run support and he has simply been victimized by the dreaded “bad inning” in seemingly every start. I’m not making excuses here….but I was impressed by his demeanor last night after another “clunker” of a start. He has a good attitude and is eager to get after it next time.

    Logan Watkins continues to battle hard in every situation. He was HBP twice last night. Singled and stole a base. I can’t stress this enough….the stats don’t tell the whole story here…this kid is a grinder and does just about anything and everything needed to help you win a ballgame. Also plays very solid defense at 2B. Future is bright for Logan Watkins, and I believe he is 2nd behind Justin Bour for team MVP this season.

    Finally, need to give a shout out to Justin Bour and Nate Samson. I am on the Board of Directors of our local senior citizens center, and these guys each made player appearances at the center last month and made the day of 50+ senior citizens by sitting, talking, taking pictures and signing autographs for several dedicated Smokies Fans in the Silver Smokies Club (a club for Senior age 50+). Our biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up next week and unfortunately the Smokies will be on the road. Both Justin and Nate donated a game used (not broken) bat and autographed it for use at our auction to help raise money to provide mobile meals for homebound seniors. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with these two guys. These stories aren’t often told at the minor league level, so I thought I would share. Both Justin Bour and Nate Samson are class acts.

    That’s all for now. Smokies go after game 3 tonight at Smokies Park….I’ll be there.

    • Fishin Phil

      Thanks for the in-depth report Brandon!

    • Luke

      Great stuff as always.

      Were you able to get a radar reading on Castillo?

      • Brandon – AA Correspondent

        Unfortunately no…..the radar gun was working fine….but I simply did not pay attention to the gun in the 1st inning….but I was not expecting that he’d only pitch 1 inning either….my bad.

    • stillmisskennyhubbs

      Thanks for the detailed on- and off-the field reports, Brandon. Having seen Watkins in action, I agree with your take on him. He’s a gamer. If he had a little more power (which may develop) he’d be another Reed Johnson, albeit with infield skills too. Maybe a future Ben Zobrist-type?

      Curious on your opinion of the above “power rankings” for the Smokies. My fan’s eye leads me to take Bour over Burgess based on their respective swings; Lake has the most raw power though.

      • Brandon – AA Correspondent

        The power ranking for the Smokies are really pretty tough to argue….although I could make a case for all three (Burgess, Lake and Bour).

        I was very high on Burgess throughout the season. The kid can mash…but is is pretty inconsistant. I would agree, that Lake has more raw power……just not sure I would every call him the best power hitter on the team. Bour can flat out hit. I think he has a lot of power, but realizes that he his team relies upon him in a lot of other ways. Lost on this list is Logan Watkins….I think he does possess the type of power that is going to make him a Ben Zobryst type player. I dont think he’ll hit 25 HR’s…..but I could see him developing 15-20 HR power and a .280 average in the big leagues. Really like his potential.

        • stillmisskennyhubbs

          Wouldn’t that be fabulous, for the Cubs to have a young Ben Zobrist on the field. I’m glad to hear that you think Watkins will get more pop. It’s about the only thing I see him lacking — along with, of course, experience.

  • NLIADad

    Fairly remedial website for most here but some good background on different leagues, avg age for each leagues and tools explanations:

  • AB

    Castillo’s already 23 and has highest number of innings he’s thrown is 65. I don’t think stretching him out as a SP is the best idea in the world.

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  • Coldneck

    Rebel Ridling is a 26 year old who was recently sent down to A ball (and is struggling there). Luke, you’re going to have to explain your love for this guy?

    • Luke

      Don’t read any more there than what I’m saying. Ridling has more raw power than anyone on the Daytona roster save Baez. You can read that as a condemnation of the power hitting in Daytona if you like (in no small part that’s exactly what it is), but it remains true.

      Now, as for the rest of Ridling’s game and his struggles this season in particular, that would be a topic for a different day.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    Breaking News !!! On March. 4 2012 1:43 PM Mesa Time Dale Sveum looked in the freezer and his Mint Klondike Bar was missing. He was furious when he was walking in the dugout he noticed a Mint Chocalty Mustache on Josh Vitters. This is the reason he is in Dale Sveum’s Doghouse

  • JB88

    Of all the prospects in the Cubs system, I may be the most intrigued by Vogelbach. He has no position and can absolutely rake. I am almost praying the NL goes DH by 2015 so this kid has a place on the Cubs …