Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Running Forward

The Cubs’ farm system is in the middle of a profound change, a change that likely began when Theo Epstein signed on the dotted over the winter. We can see aspects of that change in a number of places, but none of them are more readily apparent the transformation that has occurred on the base paths. The era of the Chicago Cubs being a station-to-station offense is nearly over. The minor league Cubs run. They run regularly, they often run unsuccessfully, but they do run consistently. Whether we are talking about expected speedsters like Logan Watkins, breakout players like John Andreoli, catchers like Micah Gibbs, or highly paid elite talent like Javier Baez and Jorge Soler, the Cubs’ prospects are nearly all running.

Of course, this being the minor leagues, they often run themselves into outs instead of extra bases. That is simply part of the learning process and is something that should not distress us. The better these players become in the minors, the better they will be in the majors. And that is important, because I do not think the running Cubs are going to be a purely minor league phenomenon. I think we are seeing an organizational change that will manifest itself at the major league level just as soon as the Cubs’ have the players capable of doing so. Personally, I think it is definitely a change for the better.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa won Saturday’s suspended game 10-8. The Cubs were not fortunate in Game Two; they lost the nightcap 3-2.
Tennessee – Another day, another shutout. Tennessee again blanked the opposition and earned a 4-0 win.
Daytona – Mother Nature had no mercy on the Cubs. Sunday’s doubleheader was cancelled due to unplayable field conditions; the games will not be made up.
Peoria – Peoria fell behind in the first and could not recover the lead as they lost 6-5.
Boise – Boise jumped out to an early lead, but it was not to last. The Hawks lost 10-9.
Arizona – Like Boise, Arizona also jumped out to an early lead before falling in the end. The final tally in the desert showed a 10-8 Cubs loss.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Jairo Ascencio was the only Cub pitcher in Game One who pitched particularly well. He earned the save by recording the last four outs without giving up a hit. Casey Coleman, the starter before the rain delay on Saturday, left the game early with shoulder pain.
  • [Iowa] Blake Lalli hit his seventh home run in Game One, and Greg Rohan added three hits of his own. Dave Sappelt also had three hits, including his third triple.
  • [Iowa] Frankie De La Cruz struck out seven over five innings in Game Two.
  • [Tennessee] Four Smokey pitchers, Yoannis Negrin, Zach Rosscup, Casey Weathers, and Frank Batista, combined to pitch the shutout on Sunday. For Batista, the game marked his 21st Double A save this season.
  • [Tennessee] Logan Watkins reached four times on a single and three walks. He also stole two more bases, leaving him with 25 on the year.
  • [Tennessee] Junior Lake doubled and stole his 18th base as part of a two hit night. He was the only Smokey to put together a multi-hit game.
  • [Peoria] Starling Peralta only allowed five hits in his six inning start, but he also gave up five walks.
  • [Peoria] Zeke DeVoss stole his 34th base for the Chiefs. Pin-Chieh Chen, who stole his 27th base, is not too far behind.
  • [Boise] Willson Contreras homered once and Xavier Batista homered twice. The two each finished the game with three home runs.
  • [Arizona] Albert Almora finished this game 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Carlos Penalver and Alberto Mineo also had two hits.
  • [Arizona] Shawon Dunston, Trevor Gretzky, and Daniel Lockhart all had a stolen base in this game.

Other Minor League Notes

  • This is just a reminder that my wife and I will be in the stands for the Tennessee Smokies home games on August 23 and 24. I’d be happy to meet any BN’ers who live in the area or are able to travel in for the contests. The Smokies remain on the fringe of the playoff hunt, just five games out, and there are some solid prospects worth watching on that team. I am really looking forward to making the trip and finally seeing this team in person.

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

82 responses to “Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Running Forward”

  1. Steve

    Should we be excited about this Logan Watkins kid???

    1. fortyonenorth

      How do you project to be better than Barney (defensively) at 2B? The guy’s committed one 2b error this season. I think Ryno committed 4 errors in his best year. I don’t doubt that Watkins is a solid player – maybe he projects as a better all-around player than Barney – but to say he will be a better defender seems a stretch.

      I’m not trying to defend DB – everyone has to earn their keep – but based on the Cubs performance this year, replacing him has to be way, way, way down on the list. Then again, everyone has their price. If a team will surrender a top arm or two for Barney (or Rizzo or Castro or ???) it’s something we have to consider. No sense in churning the system just for the sake of giving someone else a shot. We have to build on the pieces we have in place – and I think Barney’s one of them. Once we have nine studs on the field, then we can look at incremental improvements. But boy, that seems like a few years off.

      1. Cedlandrum

        Errors aren’t the only determining factor in determining just how good a defensive player is and I don’t say that to take anything away from Barney or Sandberg. Alomar was one of the best defensive second baseman that I have seen and he had years where he was in double digit errors.

  2. ssckelley

    Not good to see Coleman out with shoulder pain.

  3. 100 Years of Tears

    I’m sure I’ll get crucified for this but, is there any chance we’d see Watkins at 2B, Barney at SS and Castro moved to 3B or LF? I know Barney need to improve his offense, but if Watkins is as good as I’m hearing, that would be a pretty studly middle infield.

    1. hansman1982

      no, Barney does not have the bat to justify a roster spot once he hits arbitration. My money would be on him getting traded this offseason or at the deadline next year when he will be at the peak of his value.

    2. Nathan

      Heres the thing, out of all of the infield guys they have in their system like Vitters, Baez, Candelario, Amaya, Villanueva, etc. I find it hard to believe that, that will be the infield of the future.

  4. Fastball

    Is Watkins at 100 games plus without and error? Barney is one of the top defensive 2B in baseball right now and he is getting better and better defensively as he has only been at that position for not quite 2 years. If Watkins is anywhere near as good as Barney that would be awesome. But to say he is better than Barney at AA is a bit of a reach. He’s not playing against Major League teams. I’m glad he is doing well but I take that with a grain of salt. If he turns out to be a world beater at the next level and then finds his way to the majors he has a tuff customer to over throw before he lands a starting job in the bigs. Barney has quickly become a leader on this team. He doesn’t make mistakes and leads by example. You don’t have to be a superstar to be a leader. Something this team desperately needs.

    1. 100 Years of Tears

      Get ready for the “you field a team of Barney’s and I’ll field a team of Aramis’s, and we’ll beat your butts 99 times out of 100″ argument… and the “hustle” and “scrappy” jokes.

      BTW, I’m a huge Barney fan. I wouldn’t want 9 of them on the field, but one is pretty valuable.

      1. dabynsky

        What is more important talent or leadership?

        1. 100 Years of Tears

          I think they both play a part in successful programs. And Barney has talent. Maybe we’d like to see his OBP a little higher, but I think his defense speaks for itself.

          1. dabynsky

            But do you think a lack of leadership is the real reason this team isn’t a contender?

            1. 100 Years of Tears

              No. We do need talent. But Barney isn’t the problem. Look at 3B, RF, C, and most importantly P. Those positions lack both talent and leadership.

              1. dabynsky

                Who has said Barney is the problem? The question is what is the biggest reason why this team is terrible right now, and the simple answer is that the Cubs have less talent on the roster than at least 25 teams in baseball right now if not more. leadership is not unimportant, but all the leadership in the world wouldn’t solve that problem.

              2. hansman1982

                Here is the thing, once you have to start discussing a player’s non-talent related things (scrappy, leadership, winning, hustle) that pretty much means he is below average on talent.

                Look at Mike Trout – plays his ass off (hustles) and does the little things right, but do you ever talk about that? No…because he has oodles of noodles of talent.

                1. Steve

                  Hansman,…for a second that made me a little hungry for some chicken noddle soup.

    2. Cedlandrum

      Comparing Watkins and Barney’s defense right now is silly. Barney is 26 years old and Watkins is 22. Heck even comparing last years defense from Barney to this years is silly. Barney has gotten a ton better. So will Watkins. I don’t see Watkins being a much better defensive player then Barney, he doesn’t need to be. He will be nearly as good if not the same, but will bring a way better all around game then DBarney.

  5. Fastball

    I don’t understand why everybody wants to run Castro off shortstop. he makes a few blunders over the course of a season. If they happened in games where we were in the pennant race I might get concerned. Fact is he plays on the 2nd or 3rd worst team in Baseball and when your getting your ass handed to you everyday for the most part it’s very hard to keep your crap in one sock. Once the gaffs start they become contagious. A lot of the time they start with the pitching. When a pitcher can’t get the ball over the plate players fall asleep behind them. Then the errors happen in rapid succession. It all carries over to the next thing, base running or missed cut offs etc. Aside from the kid being barely old enough to drink a beer in a bar I don’t care if he has a few miscues along the way. Too many people expect him to be perfectly flawless. You can’t put him on a perch like that. He is going to fall off everytime. If you got hammered for making a mistake in your job every single time it would make you insane within a week. I am sure his mistakes are learning experience for him. He files it away and I don’t see him making the exact same mistake over and over again. At least he finds a new one to make each time.

    1. 100 Years of Tears

      If Watkins turns out to be as good as advertised, what’s wrong with moving Castro a few feet to his right at 3B? You still have his bat and maybe he doesn’t have quite as many balls hit at him. I’m not saying move him just to move him, but if a better defensive option arrives, move him.

      1. Scotti

        Because Castro is a MUCH better SS than Barney (just as Dunston was better than Bowa). You keep your best SS at SS. Castro, right now, is one of the best SS in the game (and while Barney is a good 2B, he gets tons of PO from Castro’s range at SS).

      2. Jim L

        One word: Javier Baez.

        1. Flashfire

          That’s two words.

          1. Jim L

            Say it fast.

    2. RoughRiider

      If you OR anyone else keeps crap in a sock you have some huge issues.

  6. Fastball

    Both are important. If your saying Barney doesn’t have any talent then your mistaken. You don’t rise to the top at your position in less than 2 years without talent. His leadership and talent has made him a 2 time college world series champion and he climbed right through our system and has been very reliable since he has been with the Cubs. If people want a .300 Avg and 70 RBI’s a year then maybe they are just a little outside the box when it comes to expectations vs. reality. Only about 2 or 3 in the Bigs doing that. Cano and Phillips. Barney is probably going to steal the gold glove in the NL from Phillips and you can’t do that without talent.

    1. dabynsky

      Barney has value, and he does have talent as well. His defense is special and that is the reason his level of offense is even close to acceptable. Barney is the type of player that can be part of a good team, but there needs to be players to make up for that lack of offense in the rest of the lineup.

  7. Jeff1969

    To say something extremely cliched let’s not count our chickens before they hatch people. Barney is our 2B for at least one more year, and that should be fine. Not great, except in the field, but good enough. Let’s just hope Watkins & Torreyes, and maybe one or two other guys continue to develop so we can use them or Barney to trade for other need areas. I’m thinking Torreyes might be the future, but he has to pay well at AA, then AAA, it’s a process. Thinking Watkins could just come up next year & provide the value Barney does is just immature thinking.

    1. Cedlandrum

      It would be immature to think that he would provide the value that Barney does this year as a rookie The question is can he provide more value over the course of the next few years is the real question.

    2. Scotti

      Count the chickens! That’s what this daily thread is for. If we had the Yankees’ history, Luke would be posting “Guess what this HOF Cub did this day in history” posts. Count the damn chickens.

  8. steve

    Barney is a potential gold glover although he has Brandon Phillips ahead of him. He is good enough for now but I still like the idea of Torreyes or Villanueva being moved to second base. What do you guys think of the prospect of Szczur being pulled up next year if he cuts lose some more in AA. He has the speed athleticism, hustle gamer mantality, he seems the prototype the Cubs are trying to develop.

    1. Steve

      Hey “steve”…I was here first…

  9. fortyonenorth

    Can anyone tell me why is Barney hitting over .300 at Wrigley and .240 (or whatever) on the road? Is it the preponderance of day games? Interesting stat.

    1. Scotti

      H/A stats over a single season are driven by the fact that you are home for a couple weeks then away, etc. Even a marginal MLB player, say Neifi Perez, can get crazy hot over a two to three week period and bat like, say, Albert Pujols. And even a future HOF like Pujols can look like Neifi Perez over the same span. So, if you are hot/cold while you are on the road (or at home) for even just a couple series, your stats will be greatly skewed over a one-year span. Barney’s three-year splits are pretty even…

      This type of effect doesn’t occur with L/R splits because you see lefties and righties on a regular basis (when you are both hot and cold).

  10. college_of_coaches

    Luke, what can you tell us about Yoannis Negrin? (If you’ll allow me to steer the discussion away from Watkins vs. Barney.) I seem to remember that his signing last summer was a bit mysterious, and then he spent the better part of this season pitching in the Mexican League (with success).

    1. Cedlandrum

      eww good question. staring waiting for the answer. I had forgot about him till he popped up.

  11. steve

    Yoannis Negrin is 1-0 in Tennessee pitched 1 game 5 innings 1 walk 0 runs 4 k’s. Lets see some more of him has pitched well so far.

  12. Mush

    I have a question for Brett or Luke. I see other organizations bring up their top prospects and they are major league ready. Our guys can’t throw strikes or can’t hit. Do you think our player development is lacking or is it a lack of talent?

    1. Brett

      Well, assuming your premise is accurate (and I’m not sure it is – you may think all prospects who come up for other teams are “major league ready” because the ones you hear most about are the ones who are having success), it’s certainly both a talent deficit and a development deficit. Has been for years.

    2. fortyonenorth

      ESPN was highlighting Machato this morning and did a montage of “immediate impact” players, including Trout, Harper and the other usual suspects. I felt a little snubbed that Rizzo wasn’t included among them. There’s a serious (national media) bias against the Cubbies.

      1. Flashfire

        To this point — and that could change tomorrow — Harper strikes me as far more sizzle than steak. The early comparisons to Trout only make him look worse.

      2. Cubbie Blues

        What did you expect? Your first error was turning on ESPN.

  13. Mush

    It just frustrates me even more when I see Sale, Reed, Jones, Quintana, being a south side Cub fan.

    1. fortyonenorth

      Not to take anything away from these guys, but the Sox have bats. If you put their run production behind the Cubs starting rotation (pre-trade deadline) the Cubs would be in a different place.

      But, yes, it’s frustrating.

    2. Jim L

      They are also young guys in pretty much their first full season – could be catching lightning in a bottle.

  14. Mush

    Thanks for answer.

  15. Mush

    The Cubs signed a guy recently that got denied twice from coming into pro ball. Does anyone know if his paperwork was legit this time?

    1. scorecardpaul

      Brett answered this a few days ago. He is in Arizona The assumption is that all is good on the paperwork

  16. Zach

    Brett what is Austin Kirk’s ceiling. I have seen him pitch and he has innings where he has swing and miss stuff and then innings where he looks very hittable. I personally think the stuff is there on most days. Then some days he gets just crushed. Last year for the early part of the year he looked like he was one of their best pitchings prospects we had and the second part of year he had a Jeff Samardja month that made his season look bad.