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In terms of prospects, Boise might be the most loaded Cubs’ farm team I have seen in quite some time. I have talked about their impressive infield before. Jeimer Candelario, Marco Hernandez, Gioskar Amaya, and Daniel Vogelbach make a very impressive array around the diamond. But now that Albert Almora has been promoted to Short-Season A, the outfield might be almost as good.

Rock Shoulders has spent some time in left since Vogelbach has been promoted; his bat is not as good as his name, but it isn’t too far behind. Almora will take over in center as one of the best overall prospects in the whole of the Northwest League. That leaves right field, and the Cubs have plenty of candidates to fill the job. Trey Martin has flown under the radar since being drafted a year ago, but he is toolsy center fielder with plenty of potential. Xavier Batista has all kinds of power, although he is still learning to harness it, and Izaac Garsez has a very respectable OPS of .889 in the month of August. There are also a couple of guys on the disabled list who could play some right. Put them all together and you have a good group of outfielders. It is not quite as impressive an assemblage as what the Hawks line up on the infield, but the margin is not a big one.

Next year most of these players should be in Peoria (although a few may skip up to Daytona). If you want to see this highly encouraging collection of talent yourself, make plans to watch the Chiefs play sometime next spring.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa scored seven times in the fifth inning to pull off a 12-7 win.
Tennessee – The Smokies piled on the runs at the end of the game to earn a 8-2 win.
Daytona – The rains seriously have it in for the Daytona Cubs. The Cubs yet again had a game postponed by the weather. They will try to make this one up tomorrow as part of a doubleheader, but I would not get my hopes up.
Peoria – The Chiefs had Tuesday off.
Boise – The Boise pitchers put up another shutout. This time the Hawks won 5-0.
Arizona – The AZL Cubs had the day off.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] The Cubs compiled 16 hits in this game, but only Blake Lalli‘s double went for extra bases.
  • [Iowa] Nate Samson finished the evening 3 for 5 to lead the Cubs. Tony Campana stole his 13th base for Iowa.
  • [Iowa] Scott Maine, Marcus Hatley, and Jairo Asencio kept Tuscon off the board over the final five innings.
  • [Tennessee] Austin Kirk made his Double A debut in this game. He pitched one inning of hitless baseball, striking out one.
  • [Tennesse] Logan Watkins had two hits, including a double, and stole his 26th base. Matthew Szczur also doubled and stole his fourth as a member of the Smokies.
  • [Tennessee] Jae-Hoon Ha is never going to be a slugger, but I did think he would show off more power than what we have seen. His home run yesterday is just his fifth of the season.
  • [Boise] Tayler Scott, Tyler Bremer, and Eduardo Orozco combined to pitch the seven hit shutout. They only struck out four, but they did not walk a batter.
  • [Boise] Gioskar Amaya has two more hits. The young second baseman joined Trey Martin as the only Hawks to have a multiple hits.
  • [Boise] Xavier Batista launched his third home run in his last three games and his fourth of the season.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Thanks to a combination of rain and a day off, the Daytona Cubs have not played a game since August 10. As a result, the Cubs could wind up skipping an entire turn through the rotation. That is a bad thing in that it reduces the number of innings some players will receive, but it could also be a good thing by helping to limit the innings some of these young starters will work this season.
  • Marco Hernandez had quietly put together a hitting streak of 18 games for Boise. That streak ended on Wednesday.
  • 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.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t think anyone’s going to tell you he can be a front half starter. For me, he falls into that large, large group of Cubs’ pitching prospects who look like they could legitimately be a 4/5 starter in the bigs some day, if things go right. His ERA looks nice this year, but the lack of strikeouts are a concern for me – when a pitching isn’t K’ing guys with consistency in A-ball, it suggests he doesn’t have top-notch stuff. Hard to make it to the bigs – let alone succeed there – without the kind of stuff that at least could K a bunch of A-ball hitters.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Kirk’s ceiling is that of a 4/5 guy. His K numbers are not impressive, as Brett mentioned, but I’m not completely convinced that the Front Office has not been instructing pitchers in the minors to prioritize outs over Ks. I strongly suspect the Cubs are teaching a lot of their prospects to pitch in such a way as to get weak contact (and easy outs), and thereby get through innings more quickly and with fewer pitches.

        I could be wrong, and I will continue to monitor the numbers for the next several seasons, but I’ve been suspecting this since May and nothing I have seen since then has lessened that suspicion.

        If that is the case, then we may not need to be worried about lower K numbers in general. That said, Kirk just isn’t a strikeout artist. That’s not where his stuff lies.

        • Webb

          Luke,

          I read you write-up on Almora versus Sczcur. I was curious about projecting ceilings of players drafted out of high school. How can even that “tools ceiling” be accurate? If teams knew Anthony Rizzo’s or Mike Trout’s ceilings they would have
          Been drafted much, much earlier. I know the “ceiling” projection is based in everything going right, but how often do more things go right than even scouts projected? Is that as much of a crap shoot as the rest of prospecting?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I’m not Luke, but if you’re asking whether the “ceiling” placed on a kid at 18 is an educated guess by scouts, the answer is a resounding yes. I’m not sure whether scouts are more or less likely to be wrong about a kid’s ceiling, floor, most-likely-outcome, but they can be wrong about all of them.

            To your Trout/Rizzo point, I’m not sure I agree. I can’t speak to those two players specifically, but it’s entirely possible that teams pass on kids with higher ceilings all the time, preferring instead to go for kids with slightly lower ceilings, but who are more likely to REACH their ceiling (or who have a higher floor).

            To wit: would you rather have a kid with a 10% chance of being Ryan Braun and a 90% chance of being nothing, or a kid with an 80% chance of being Corey Hart and a 20% chance of being a bench guy?

            • Hee Seop Chode

              I think the answer to that question depends on what your system has and what it needs. I can’t claim to follow many other minor league organizations, but it seems like the Cubs are loaded with 4/5 ceiling starting pitchers and more or less devoid of 1/2 guys.

              Given where the Cubs are, I’d go with the prior (at least for SP).

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Scouting is an art, not a science. It relies on educated guesses, but that is not a reason to dismiss scouting. It is far more educated than guess.

              Brett hits the nail on the head when he breaks down ceiling versus floor and risk. Almora almost certainly did not have the highest ceiling of the players on the board when the Cubs drafted, but of those players with very high ceilings, he did have a low risk profile and a fairly high floor. All those factors come into play.

              As for the specific tool ratings, the scouts tend to know what they are doing. Again, though, just because a player has great tools does not mean he will ever learn to use them. That is where the mental part of the game comes into play, and increasingly that is an area scouts are focusing on as well.

  • ssckelley

    I noticed Amaya has 6 home runs already with 10 triples, is there power potential there?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Some. He is also a good hitter playing in a hitter’s league, so I wouldn’t get too excited yet.

      I really do like seeing all those triples, though.

      • Drew7

        LB-

        Amaya or Candelario?

        Go!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Both.

          Candelario is not a second baseman.

          • Drew7

            Really? All day and you give me THAT (I kid)? I know he’s not a 2nd baseman. Probably should have asked – who would you rank higher?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              That’s tougher. Probably Candelario because I think he is a better pure hitter, but I’m not certain of that yet. Both will easily be candidates for the Top 20, and likely closer to 10 than 20, when I do my off season rankings, and it will be close.

              I have another tough call at second base between Torreyes and Amaya. Everything in the prospect ranking book says I should stick Torreyes over Amaya, and yet… I don’t know. I’ll save that call for the winter as well.

              • Flashfire

                Do you think Amaya could stick in the leadoff spot?

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  He could. I suspect he’ll be more of a two or a seven though.

                  • Flashfire

                    Alright, follow up: outside of Szczur, do you see a legit leadoff man (who could realistically be a major leaguer) in our system?

                    That seems like a real weakness to me at this point — and given that they’re counting on Almora and we have a shortstop, we would seem to need a leadoff guy at second or left field.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Logan Watkins, Marco Hernandez, Zeke DeVoss, Szczur, maybe John Andreoli, Shawon Dunston, Trey Martin, and Pin-Chieh Chen all have potential, as do Almora and Amaya (even though I suspect Amaya (and some of these other guys) are more 2s or 7s than 1s (Szczur, for instance, I see as more of a 7 or 8 than a 1)).

                      Most of those guys are deep in the minors and are tough to project with much accuracy yet, but there is potential there.

                      Watkins is doing well in Double A. I would have no objections to him hitting leadoff in Chicago one day. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit eighth either.

                    • Flashfire

                      Okay, that’s good to hear. Particularly about Watkins — I like him a lot, but I figured he was 2, 7, or 8 in the big leagues.

  • SoCal Cubs Fan

    Candelario seems to have cooled off after a very hot start Boise. Have the pitchers found a flaw or has he just settled back to a normal level?

    • ssckelley

      I have noticed the same thing, people rave on his power yet he only has 5 home runs and is only slugging .410 in a hitters league. Another alarming stat is 17 errors in 148 chances at 3rd base. He is only 18 years old so he has a long ways to go.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yeah, I’m definitely not worried about him yet – going to Boise this year was a REALLY aggressive promotion for him. Still a very exciting prospect.

      • Drew7

        What makes the NW League a *hitter’s league*? It’s OPS is the 3rd lowest of ALL MiLB leagues.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I had not checked numbers this year, but that surprises me. I would not put it in the same class of pitchers leagues as the Midwest and Florida State. Then again, I wouldn’t list as a hitters league alongside the Pacific Coast either.

          I’ll have to dig into those numbers some over the winter.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      He was a favorite of mine last year due to the BB/K ratio. Even with a step back, he’s still looking solid.

      Peoria is going to be stacked next year.
      CF: Almora
      RF: Soler (or Golden, if Soler is in Daytona)
      1B: Vogelbach
      2B: Amaya
      3B: Candelario
      SS: Hernandez

  • donnie kessinger

    Luke, I noticed Rubi Silva got the call to Double A… do you think he is a legitimate major league prospect? Also, what is your take on Austin Kirk? Thanks!

    • MikeW

      I’m not luke, but Rubi Silva has been my favorite under the radar prospect in this organization for a couple years. Defensive versatility is a big mark in his favor. I believe if the bat continues, he’ll stick in the bigs as a reserve.

      • ssckelley

        I agree, I think if he continues to hit he could make a decent 4th outfielder. It would be nice to see him take more walks, but that seems to be a never ending story on a number of players we have in the minors.

        • Cedlandrum

          Silva’s ceiling is utility guy. He doesn’t take any walks and his base stealing is awful.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Silva absolutely as a legitimate chance to make the majors. I don’t think he has much star potential, but he should have a chance to be a quality player either in a utility role or as a second tier starter at second or in center.

  • donnie kessinger

    Oh, sorry, just saw the info on Kirk above.

  • RoughRiider

    It sure would be nice to see the Cubs come up with a bunch of good players like the Dodgers did in the early 70s. They had Garvey, Russell, Buckner,Cey & Valentine all come up about the same time.

  • beerhelps

    Brett or Luke, got a concern brought up in another thread. How are things between the Cubs and Peoria Chiefs? From what I understood they had a good relationship but then other posters questioned whether they would still be an affiliate next year. Living in the Peoria area, I certainly hope the Chiefs stay with the Cubs, if only just for completely selfish reasons. Especially considering the possible lineup next season. Thanks.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I think the Cubs will be back in Peoria next season. That’s just my opinion, but I see no reason to worry.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    Hey Brett or Luke have you heard about Kevin Encarncion he hasn’t played in a game for a while for Cubs DSL 2 ?

    Also wondering if there are any minor league pitchers in our system that can #1 or #2 starter in the future ?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think it’s fair to say that Maples and Johnson have #2 upside. There are other very young guys – Blackburn, Underwood, for example – who probably do as well. Not sure how high Paniagua is thought to be.

      It’s a weak spot, though. Big time.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Vizcaino should be on that list. I don’t think we need to write him off as a pure bullpen arm yet.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yeah, that was definitely inadvertent.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    Thank you Brett, I am positive that Theo/Jed/Jason etc will do more to address this issue in the next 2-3 drafts and so on. I’m sure they will look at trades too but like anything you can only control what you can do and not what other teams are willing to trade.

  • Steve

    It seems as though we have a lot of 4th-5th outfielders, reserve infielders, and 4-5 starters. When are WE going to draft a Mike Trout or a Justin Verlander?
    Yeah, I know we have a new scouting department….
    Yeah, I know Ricketts just bought the team…
    Yeah, I know Laura Ricketts is a lesbian….

    I want a super star prospect and I want one NOW DAMNIT!!!!!!!

    I feel like Beavis having one of his Cornholio fits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tim

    Albert Almora

  • Pat P

    Your wish may come true with a top 3 pick next year…of course our last top 3 pick was Vitters. I hope one of Baez, Almora, and Soler become a superstar

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