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In a very surprising move, Oneri Fleita is no longer with the Cubs. Speculation about the ultimate reasons for that move will likely be an ongoing story for the next few days, but those speculations are largely pointless. The biggest question of them all, the question that could define the Cubs’ farm system for the next five years, has to do with the effect of this change, not the cause. To put it simply, what will change?

After a night of pondering, scanning some records, and reading tea leaves, I can confidently say that I do not know how this move will change the Cubs’ player development culture. But I do have some inclinations.

Primarily, I think the Cubs will become more selectively aggressive in their player development decisions. Under Fleita, the Cubs were quite predictable in terms of where they assigned players, when they promoted them, and under what circumstances. That pattern has broken down in the past few weeks. The promotion of Albert Almora and Pierce Johnson to Boise did not quite fit the habits of the Cubs of recent years. The promotion of Baez to Daytona was not a bad move, but it was not a typical Cub move either. The promotion of Rohan to Triple A was definitely not the sort of move I had come to expect from Fleita. Now I suspect that those moves were an indication of someone new making those decisions, and that Fleita was on his way out.

If that was in fact the case, then I think we will see more promotions geared towards challenging players and taking advantage of temporary opportunities in the future. The Cubs will not rush anyone. Only bad farms systems or desperate teams rush their prospects, and the Cubs fit neither category. What the Cubs will do, I think, is react more quickly to challenge players who are having an easy time with their current league. They won’t be reactionary, but they won’t drag their feet either. We will see more opportunistic promotions (like Baez to Daytona), and less of players be allowed to dominate the competition for a prolonged period.

Ultimately, I think that will be a good thing. The Cubs need to stay patient with the farm, but I am a firm believer that most players will benefit in the long run from being challenged. It will be interesting to see how the Cubs strike that balance between patience and challenging prospects as they shape the philosophy of the farm system for the future.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa shut out Tucson for the 4-0 win.
Tennessee – The Smokies needed this win, but they let it slip away. They lost on the road 4-2.
Daytona – Daytona was finally able to play some baseball. They won first of the doubleheader 3-2, but lost the nightcap 1-0.
Peoria – Peoria committed four errors on their way to this 5-1 loss.
Boise – The Hawks led for a time, but a shakey bullpen led to a 13-5 loss.
Arizona – The Cubs were held to just two hits in this 3-1 loss.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Chris Rusin deserves a chance to start for the Cubs. He pitched 6 shutout innings in last night’s start and finished with four strikeouts, four hits, and three walks.
  • [Iowa] Blake Parker (2 IP, 3K) and Esmailin Caridad (1 IP, 1 K) did not allow hit a hit as they completed the shut out.
  • [Iowa] Rusin got it done at the plate as well. He finished 2 for 3 with a run scored. For the season he is now hitting .273.
  • [Tennessee] Nick Struck enjoyed another good start for Tennessee. He lasted six innings, gave up five hits and a walk, and struck out six.
  • [Tennessee] Matthew Szczur, Jae-Hoon Ha, Michael Burgess, and Chad Noble all doubled in this game.
  • [Daytona] Hunter Cervenka and A.J. Morris pitched four shutout innings in relief of P.J. Francescon (who did not pitch badly himself) in Game One. In Game Two, Frank Del Valle was dominant in allowing a single hit through six scoreless innings. Eduaro Figueroa also allowed just one hit in 2.2 innings of relief, but that hit was a game winning solo home run.
  • [Daytona] Ronald Torreyes doubled and had two hits and Nelson Perez also doubled to lead the Cubs offense in Game One. No Cub had any extra base hits or a multi-hit game in Game Two.
  • [Daytona] John Andreoli did reach base three times in Game Two on a hit and two walks. He did not, however, add to his pile of stolen bases.
  • [Peoria] Starter Jeffry Antigua pitched 3.1 innings and allowed a walk and three hits (including a home run) while striking out four. All five runs scored against him were unearned.
  • [Peoria] Bryce Shafer struck out five in two innings of scoreless relief.
  • [Peoria] Zeke DeVoss hit his sixth triple in this game. Pin-Chieh Chen contributed his 28th stolen base while Bijan Radamacher showed some signs of heating up at the plate with a double and a walk.
  • [Boise] Albert Almora finished 2 for 5 with a home run in his Boise debut. Gioskar Amaya also had two hits.
  • [Boise] Rock Shoulders hit his eighth home run in this game, a three run shot that briefly gave Boise a lead.
  • [Arizona] The pitching staff did not pitch badly last night. Starter Duane Underwood allowed two runs on two hits and a walk over two innings while striking out two. Rafael Dolis (rehab assignment) and Ethan Elias combined to put up zeros for the next four innings. Brian Smith gave up a final run on a walk and a hit over the final two innings.
  • [Arizona] Shawon Dunston and Garrett Schlect had the only two hits for the Cubs.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Tony Campana left yesterday’s game in the third inning, but it wan’t because of an injury or a call up. He, along with Diory Hernandez and manager Dave Bialas, was ejected. Apparently the umpire thought Campana did not beat the throw to first on a bunt attempt, and the Cubs rather strongly disagreed.
  • P.J. Francescon only pitched three innings on Wednesday, but there is nothing to worry about. The other day, one of Francescon’s family members dropped a line to Bleacher Nation and let us know that the young right hander is healthy, but that the Cubs have him on a firm pitch count. As the season winds down they will continue to allow him shorter stints. This is not unusual for the Cubs (or for any team, really), particularly with young starting pitchers in their first full year as a professional.
  • OlderStyle

    Is it really that surprising? Theo is known for having very specific ideas about running a club. I’m certain that a big part of the reason he left Boston was to get out from under Lucchino’s thumb and do things the way he believes he should.
    They’ve already gotten the old group together in Hoyer, McLeod, etc., with more former employees from San Diego or Boston being picked up regularly. (come to think of it, it’s like Theo is “on a mission from God” the way he’s putting the old band back together. “how much for the women?”)
    Fleita was a Hendry guy. I think we can safely assume Theo does not do things the way Hendry did. When you’re trying to incorporate massive organizational culture change (“Cubs Way”) you need your own guys or complete buy-in from top management. Philosophical differences, good luck Fleita.

  • BlueHorizons

    Yowzers! It sounds like it’s time that Rusin gets a promotion to the BIG Cubs with the way he has been pitching. Heck, let’s bring him up for his bat! He’s currently hitting .273… that’d make him the second best hitter on the Cubs!

  • Mike

    I went to the Chiefs game last night to see Soler. It was all over the local news that he would make his debut in Peoria. Well, he didn’t. Any word why?

    • Andy

      According to the Chiefs coach he is under the weather, day to day.

  • MoneyBoy

    Luke … One of the concerns last winter when Detroit came calling was if Fleita left, he would take his network of scouts, both here and Central America, with him.

    Any thoughts about that part of the impact of his firing? With the money committed to rebuilding the complex in the D.R. (not to mention all the fans dressed as empty seats) I have to think TR must have ordered several more cases of antacid when EH&Co. spoke with him about Fleita.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I don’t think the Cubs would have let Fleita go if doing so would significantly hurt their Caribbean scouting operation. I don’t have any concrete info to back that up, though.

  • Leroy

    Way to have some fire Campana!

  • Idaho Razorback

    Luke, the link to the Boise box score gives me the Peoria box score.

  • BluBlud

    I think Baez is the perfect example of why letting a player dominate a league for to long is a bad idea. I actually like the fact that he is in Daytona struggling right now. Now he can see what he needs to work on. Once he figures it out, move him again so his next weakness can be exposed. i dont know who calling the shot now, probably Theo himself, or Jed, but I like it.

    Good luck Oneri, may you have plenty of success where ever you land, even if it’s Houston, unless its Milwaukee, St. Louis, Pittsburg or Cincy.

    • BluBlud

      Damn Brett, where’s that Edit button.

    • Jeremy

      Fully agree BluBlud, while you never really want to see a top prospect struggle (it has only been 7 games) this is where the development really gets revved up.

  • koyiehillsucks

    Anyone know why Timothy Saunders hasn’t played?

  • mark

    A couple of comments re prospects who have perhaps slipped somewhat from view with all the (merited) attention on Almora, Soler and Vogelbach:

    Javier Baez: I see that tonight they’ve dropped him from the 3 hole and he’s responded with an RBI double. Promoting Baez to Daytona and sticking him in the 3 hole was undoubtedly a bit of pressure. I think Brett/Luke were right that it’s good for him to learn to struggle a bit and adjust, rather than get too used to dominating, as he was doing at Peoria.

    Matt Szczur: While he’s been struggling to adjust to better pitching at AA, he seems to be coming around. One interesting thing, to me, is that while his BA and OBP are still lower so far than at Daytona, his SLG at .419 is slightly higher. One criticism of him has been his lower SLG, so that’s a positive. Even more positive, however, is his line for the last 10 games: .293 .383 .585 .968. You couldn’t really ask for more from a player who profiles as a CF – Leadoff hitter.

    Brett Jackson: I was one of those who was very critical of him earlier in the year. While his SOs are predictably horrendous at the MLB level, I have to say I’m impressed by his attitude so far, and so cautiously optimistic that he’ll be able to make the adjustments he needs to make to be a productive Cub.

  • Tommy

    Soler is not in the lineup for the Chiefs again tonight. What’s up with that?

  • MikeL

    Tommy,

    He has been sick and he is out of the lineup based on a manager’s decision. It is not thought to be serious, he should be in within a couple of days.

    • Tommy

      Thanks MikeL!

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