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.