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Yoanner Negrin (also sometimes “Yoannis”) was signed by the Cubs out of Cuba last August and had spent much of this season pitching in the Mexican League, a league that considered roughly equivalent to Triple A (where he is now pitching for the Cubs). He pitched pretty well primarily as a starter for Tabasco (3.32 ERA, .261 Opp AVG, 1.93 GO/AO) although he did walk a few too many for my taste (51BB / 104 IP).

Since he was pitching in Mexico we do not have very many good scouting reports on this guy yet. Based largely on rumor and past reports, I believe he pitches in the low nineties, commands an array of both fastballs and breaking pitches, tends to work down in the zone, and relies on his control to get outs rather than his raw stuff, but I would consider all of that information subject to change pending verification.

He is a relatively polished pitcher, and is already 28; do not be surprised if you hear a lot about him in spring training. I could imagine a role for him as a starter or in the bullpen, particularly if he can cut back on the walks somewhat. For the time being I think we can list him as a potential 7/8th inning reliever or a potential 3/4 starter, depending on his ability to continue to force ground balls in the majors.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Beating the Cardinals is always a good thing. Iowa scored six times in the first two innings and sailed to Sunday’s 6-3 triumph.
Tennessee – Tennessee won the first of five against Chattanooga by a final of 6-5.
Daytona – Lawns in Florida must be very well watered. Sunday’s scheduled doubleheader (which included a makeup for Saturday’s rain out) was itself rained out after a single inning in game one.
Peoria – It stayed close, but Peoria pulled out the 4-3 win.
Boise – Boise lost the first of three in Yakima by the score 4-3.
Arizona – The Arizona Cubs were off on Sunday.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Yoanner Negrin made his first Triple A start in this game. He limited Memphis to just one run on six hits and two walks while striking out three over four innings.
  • [Iowa] Ryan Searle pitched four good innings in relief. He allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out three. I don’t think Searle will be a serious candidate for a job out of spring training in 2013, but he could be in another year.
  • [Iowa] Greg Rohan just keeps on hitting. He finished this game 2 for 3 with a double and his third home run.
  • [Tennessee] Remarkably, the Cubs managed to win this game despite having only one extra base hit. That hit was a pinch hit double off the bat of Michael Burgess.
  • [Tennessee] Justin Bour and Matt Cerda both had two hits for the Cubs.
  • [Peoria] Yao-Lin Wang pitched into the seventh inning and struck out seven. He allowed just two runs to score on five hits and two walks. Opponents are only hitting .195 off him as a starter.
  • [Peoria] Pin-Chieh Chen singled twice and stole his 30th base. Timothy Saunders reached twice on a single and a walk and stole his eighth bag of the year.
  • [Peoria] Dustin Geiger added another to his home run tally. He has now hit 16 long balls for the Chiefs in roughly a half a season.
  • [Boise] The big bats for the Hawks were largely silent in this game. Jeimer Candelario, Daniel Vogelbach, Albert Almora, and Gioskar Amaya were a combined 0 for 15. Candelario did reach base twice on a walk and a hit by pitch.
  • [Boise] Trey Martin was the only Chief to put together a multi-hit game. He finished with two singles.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Greg Rohan is another name to remember when spring training roles around. After vaulting from Daytona to Iowa in short order, he has been cranking out the hits. Should he continue to hit, particularly if he can produce off the bench as a pinch hitter, his right handed power and his ability to play any of the corner positions could make him a serious contender to land on the roster out of Mesa. A bench that features the flexible talents of both Rohan and Steve Clevenger would definitely be an asset for Dale Sveum, if both of those players are able to hit consistently.
  • The Daytona Cubs and the Tampa Yankees will meet on Monday to decide whether to try to reschedule Sunday’s games, or just to cancel them out right. The two teams are scheduled to meet again before season ends, but available days for makeup games are rapidly becoming scarce.
  • Has anyone been following the Little League World Series? If you were paying attention a decade or so ago, you may have seen a current Cubs’ farm hand play a prominent role in one of the more memorable LLWS of all time. ESPN did a very nice story a few years back on the Cubs’ Matt Cerda and his place in Little League History. You have probably seen it before, but it is well worth reading again.
  • If you would like to see Jorge Soler play, now is your chance. The Peoria Chiefs are in Wisconsin through Tuesday, and that means they can be seen on MiLB.TV. If you have that service or you feel dropping a few bucks on it, I would recommend you check out the Peoria games while you have the chance.
  • donnie kessinger

    Is Rohan a solid glove man? I haven’t heard a scouting report on him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He can handle the positions, but you won’t mistake him for a Gold Glover. He’s had the most work at first and third..

  • Ben (BG2383)

    I didn’t know the Mexican league was comparable to AAA. I have always been interested in comparing international leagues. Luke would you say the Mexican league is stronger or weaker than Korea? I read somewhere that Cuban ball was similar to advanced A ball and that surprised me a bit as you think of Cuba being pretty strong.
    Thanks

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Part of the reason Cuban ball is described as being High A caliber (and yet the country does well on the international stage) is because there is an extremely wide range in talent (and age) in the highest level there. There are some superstars who are awesome, but a whole lot of weakness, too.

      As for Mexican ball, there’s just a whole lot of polished players.

      • Ben (BG2383)

        Thanks, I figured there was dropoff because it is government sanctioned ball. That makes total sense. I wonder if Soler will play in the AFL. I hope he chooses that league rather than Dom, Venezuela or Mexico. I might be wrong, but it seems it would further his assimilation into American culture.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Brett nailed it.

        As for the Korean leagues, I usually think of them as roughly Double A, or perhaps a tad lower.

        • Ben (BG2383)

          Thanks, you guys are very helpful. I love the Minor League coverage you provide, Luke.

  • Edwin

    I hate the little league world series. I have no reason to care about it. At all.

  • Edwin

    Luke,

    What kind of strikeout numbers does Yoanner have?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Decent so far, but he hasn’t pitched too much yet. I’d rather wait until hitters have an idea what to look for when they go to the plate before I start focusing on his K%.

  • Frank

    I first became aware of Negrin’s existence last week when I saw his name come up in the box score as the starting pitcher for the AA Smokies, and thinking Yoannis Negrin’s had a pretty solid start. Now who the hell is Yoannis Negrin. Reading your report somewhat intrigues me, especially listing him as a potential 3/4 starter. However, the fact that he’s 28 and just now pitching above A ball deters any enthusiasm I may carry toward him, especially considering that by the time he hits his stride, he could be over 30, by which time Theo would have sent the sand men toward him (another Logan’s Run reference, since you missed the last one :))

  • Jeff1969

    I looked up the numbers on Rohan…he plays 3B, 1B, and LF. His numbers are best at 1B. His numbers would suggest an inexperienced OF, and kind of a struggler at 3B as his lifetime fielding % is .905, which is not so hot. Still, if he can hit off the bench, he might get a shot. If you’re looking to comapre…he might be a better hitter than Joe Mather, but can’t play as many positions & as well as Mather. imo.

  • Mysterious4th

    Its def wet here on the panhandle. There’s a stalled front. So if daytona has games scheduled for today or tomorrow you can bet daytonas games will be called off because of the rain.

  • PJ

    Just read the piece on Cerda and the infamous Danny Almonte. Great article! Thanks for the link Luke. I’m now a huge Cerda fan. BTW – did Almonte ever get drafted or sign as a free agent with any team?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m pretty sure he played for some independent teams, and converted to a position player. There was a prospect in, I think, the A’s system by the same name, which through some folks for a loop.

    • Cubbie Blues

      The last I can find on Danny Almonte is in 2010 he was an assistant coach at Jame Monroe High School in NY.

  • CubFan Paul

    Why would the Cubs let Negrin pitch in Mexico & not the States? I vaguely remember the news about signing/pursuing Negrin, but he went into witness protection and everyone acts like him showing up and pitching now is normal ..weird

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I honestly don’t know, but I do know the Cubs have a relationship with at least one of the Mexican League teams (not sure if it’s formal or informal). Maybe they felt his transition would be better there for a half year?

      • Cedlandrum

        I don’t think he Is much of a prospect. If he were, in a year where we have a crapload of bad /mediocre pitchers getting a shot he would have been in the states playing against better talent. He really is org. Filler most likely. At his age he really needs to be n the majors by now and would be taking the start that Rusin is going to get if he were a legit guy.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          On his age, keep in mind that he only defected last year. I think it is a little premature to be dismissing him as roster filler.

          • ColoCubFan

            Any reason he only pitched 4 innings?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              This time of year, that happens with a lot of pitchers. It’s possible the Cubs want to take it easy on him the rest of the way. Or maybe they wanted to make sure Searle saw plenty of action.

  • CubFan

    Brett, you wrote about Negrin last year, he was not signed by the Cubs this year, he was signed in August 2011, he played with AZL Cubs as a rookie, he went up to the Peoria Chiefs and ended up 2011 playing with Daytona Cubs. He played winter ball in Panama, and he was with the smokies for spring training back in march, but he was loaned to the team in Mexico and played 4 months there. His ERA in Mexico was 3.12
    You can find him as Yoannis Negrin

    • TWC

      he was not signed by the Cubs this year, he was signed in August 2011 . . . You can find him as Yoannis Negrin

      Did you just summarize the first line of this article?

      • CubFan

        Sorry about my bad English interpretation, I just realized that by saying “last August” he was talking about 2011. It was not my intention to summarize anything. And I corrected his ERA with Tabasco of 3.12 instead of 3.32

  • Eric

    It’s amazing the things I’ve learned about our farm following Luke here. Never even heard of this guy, yet he seems like he could actually be a decent starter for us as early as next year. And I had thought we had absolutely no capable starters anywhere near MLB in our minors. I look forward to seeing more of this guy.

  • rycott

    The Cubs need to work a deal with Toronto to get their hands on short season A baller Derrick Chung. Then, convert him from SS to catcher and then put him in Boise. We would have the most awesome battery in baseball!

    • rycott

      Oops. I meant Peoria, not Boise.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Sorry for the late note on last niight’s Smokies game. Work got in the way this morning :-)

    The Smokies opened up their pivitol 10 game homestand against 1st place Chattanooga and squeaked out a 6-5 win to pull to within 6 games of the lead. The Smokies have 4 more games against the Lookouts this week, and a sweep is really necessary to keep playoff hopes alive.

    Some observations from last night’s game:

    Dallas Beeler was a hard luck pitcher. Gave up a 2 run HR in the 1st inning and solo shot in the 2nd inning before bearing down. Too bad the Smokies did not decide to score until after he was pulled in the 5th. Run support has been an issue for Dallas all year. So have the HR balls. Still like this kid’s future though….record notwithstanding.

    Tony Zych relieved Beeler and was impressive again. Know the name Tony Zych….kid is a flame thrower. Mid-high 90’s and the ball is very difficult to pick up. Looks like he is throwing darts out there. Herky jerky motion that has the hitters baffled. Impressive.

    Smokies did a lot of little things well last night. Moving runners, executing bunts and running the bases with authority. It was a game that was won because of this type of execution.

    Mike Burgess came off the bench and delivered an opposite field double to the left centerfield gap that I swore was a homerun…but apparently not. Anyway….outstanding at bat by Burgess. Logan Watkins knocked him in with a professional at bat as well. A solid opposite field single. Both these guys have been solid for the Smokies this season and are 2 of my favorites.

    Lookouts pitcher McGill was very good last night for 4 innings. He had incredible stuff. Best looking Chattanooga start I have seen thus far in 2012 in person. He fell apart after some shotty defense in the 5th and 6th inning.

    Speaking of shotty defense….Junior Lake was at it again. 2 errors on the night. He is batting further down in the lineup now….which is a good thing. Still can’t hit a curveball. He literally give me ulcers. You never know what you are going to get from this kid night in and night out.

    Matt Cerda played a HELL of a game. Solid hitting and of particular note has been his great defense at 3B since his return to TN.

    Rubi Sulva made his Smokies park debut. Did not do much with the bat, but did execute a bunt which was excellent, and made even better when the pitcher bobbled it and kept the rally alive. Good arm in the outfield. He is has a wirey frame.

    Justin Bour just keeps on hitting. In my opinion….he is the Southern League MVP. Definately the Smokies MVP.

    Nice game by Catcher Chad Noble. He is a solid defender and threw out a couple of would be base stealers. A nice surprise yesterday were 2 meaningful hits. He had shown virtually nothing with the bat (was hitting .116 going into the game) but a couple very important hits last night.

    Kevin Rhoderick is struggling. He has been pitching in the 7th inning and walks are starting to hurt him. I think his confidence has been affected. I also believe that he is disappointed about not getting a look in Iowa this season. There have been several pitchers sent to Iowa, and for some reason he has not been one of them.

    Frank Batista continues to get the job done as closer. He had a bit of a struggle last night….but he seems to perform better in the pinch of a few runners on base. Like this guys toughness and grit. Side note……dude seriously needs a haricut.

    Smokies back at it tonight for game 2 in another must win contest. I’ll be there!

    • Spriggs

      Brandon,
      I see you like Burgess… I do too. Recall watching him in AFL when he was still with the Nationals. When he came to Cubs camp last year, he looked much heavier and was clearly not in good shape. What’s he looking like these days?

      • Brandon – AA Correspondent

        Burgess is very bulky. He is big and solid; but does not appear out of shape. Think Tony Gwynn…..but shorter. Tony Gwynn got a bad wrap for being out of shape….but he was an excellent defender and pretty decent baserunner in his day. Mike Burgess glides effortlessly in the outfield and has a solid arm. He is a decent baserunner too. I’d have to say that Mike Burgess’ season has been somewhat of a disappointment from a power standpoint. He does have 10 homeruns and 40+ RBI. Decent…but not great numbers. I thought for sure we were looking at a 20 HR/80 RBI guy this season…..and I think he has that capability for sure. For one reason or another, it just did not happen for him this year. I believe that he has never really been on the same page with the manager as well (just a guess). He seems to be in a rotation where he is not getting as many at bats as I am sure he’d like. He is streaky too. I have noticed that his batting eye has improved (taking more walks) but he is also swinging and missing a bit more. Sounds contradictory….but he is swinging at strikes at least (unlike Mr. Lake). I really think Mike Burgess is a very good player. The jump to AA is a big one. But on this team, with Jae-Hoon Ha and Matt Szczur in the outfield, Mike is in a platoon with the 4th outfielder for AB’s. If I had to guess….Mike returns to AA next season and leads the team in HR’s.

        • Spriggs

          Thanks, man. I definitely haven’t given up on him. I look for him in the box score everyday. Like you, I was hoping for a bit more power this year. He seemed like he had so much going for him a couple years ago. I wonder if the Cubs are considering him for another stint in the AFL. Probaby more like Ha and Szczur I would guess.

  • Njriv

    Is Negrin anyone to get excited about?

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