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Photo By Scott Jontes

The minor league season is nearly at an end. Before this week is out we will see some of the Cubs’ farm teams playing their final game of 2012. If you had planned to get to the ballpark this summer, I suggest you hurry.

The dates of the season finales for each team are as follows.
Tuesday, Aug 28 – Arizona
Saturday, Sept 1 – Boise
Sunday, Sept 2 – Daytona (weather permitting)
Monday, Sept 3 – Iowa, Tennessee, Peoria

Arizona and Boise will both be in the playoffs. The exact playoff schedule for Arizona has not yet been announced; the Boise Hawks will begin their 2012 postseason at home against Yakima on Monday, Sept 3. That best of three series will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday (if necessary) in Yakima with the winner advancing to the league championship series over the weekend.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa lost a road contest 4-3.
Tennessee – Tennessee rallied back to .500 on their (next to) final home game of the season. The Smokies won this one by a score of 5-3.
Daytona – Brett, I think we need to launch a Bleacher Nation Umbrella franchise in Daytona. The Cubs were… again… rained out. They will attempt the doubleheader today; I’m not optimistic.
Peoria – A four run fourth inning carried Peoria to the 7-3 win.
Boise – The division champion and playoff bound Boise Hawks had Monday off. So far as I know, they managed to travel back home to Idaho without any mechanical incidents. That’s progress!
Arizona – A three run homer was all Arizona needed to win this one 3-1.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Greg Rohan and Dave Sappelt both hit long balls for the Cubs. I still expect to see Sappelt in Chicago just as soon as the Triple A season ends.
  • [Iowa] All three Iowa relievers pitched quite well in this game. Esmailin Caridad, Jaye Chapman, and Marcus Hatley combined to toss three innings of no-hit relief.
  • [Tennessee] Fan favorite Jae-Hoon Ha gave the home crowd something to remember him by. His three run bomb in the first inning put the Smokies ahead for good.
  • [Tennessee] Junior Lake had two more hits, including a double. He is hitting .314/.351/.543 in his last ten games.
  • [Peoria] Starling Peralta pitched another pretty good game. He lasted six innings, struck out eight, and held Wisconsin to two runs on three hits.
  • [Peoria] For the second day in a row Jacob Rogers homered as part of a two hit game.
  • [Arizona] Ryan McNeil opened the game with four innings of hitless baseball. Corbin Hoffner allowed two hits in the next two innings, but he also struck out five in that span.
  • [Arizona] Yasiel Balaguert hit a three run homer in the second inning. It was his second home run in Arizona.

Other Minor League Notes

  • The Smokies pulled off an unusual trifecta in Monday’s game. The outfield trio of Ha, Matthew Szczur, and Rubi Silva each earned an outfield assist, and they each did it at a different base. Ha cut down a runner at second, Silva at third, and Szczur (playing in left for this game) had the assist at home.
  • With one game left to play in the regular season, the Arizona Cubs are in a near virtual tie with the Arizona A’s for the division lead. The Cubs lead by a game in the wins column, but trail by the same margin in losses. Currently the A’s lead the division by mere percentage points. Should the Cubs win today, and should the A’s lose, the Cubs would win the division.
  • Joepoe321

    Personally I’m not very high on lake….I’m kinda hoping he gets traded for some pitching… I also am not to big of a fan on maples I would prefer Pierce Johnson over maples and Gioskar Amaya over lake…

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Smokies actually have 1 final game at home tonight at 7:15.

    After finally getting back to the .500 mark, I am hoping the Smokies can send us out 1 game above .500 with another win. Today will be a sad day….final home game of the season always is. Looking back…this was a season of giveaway games, and lost opportunities as it relates to the final records. Leadoff walks and inconsistant defense probably cost the Smokies 10-15 wins this season alone. Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.

    But, more importantly, we got to see the continued development of (hopefully) some future Cubs.

    Some players and moments who stood out for me this season:

    Brooks Raley and Alberto Cabrera: Each started 2012 in Tennessee….and both made their MLB debuts with the Cubs. NICE.

    Logan Watkins has been a constant positive for the 2012 Smokies. Love the approach and professionalism. An absolute joy to watch this season.

    Justin Bour: Carried this team for much of the season. Great guy. Solid citizen. He got better during the year. May not have a future at 1B….but if you can hit…you can hit. Someone will find a place for this guy.

    Tony Zych and Brian Schlitter: legitimate bullpen contenders for the Cubs in 2013. These kids can flat out pitch, and I believe can get Big Leaguers out right now.

    Jae-Hoon Ha: Bar none, the best defensive outfielder I have ever seen in person in the minor leagues. I think hit bat will come…… Really like Ha.

    Matt Szczur: This kid has a lot of hype and the potential is there. I am not drinking the kool-aid yet…but I am looking forward to seeing him back in AA in 2013.

    Junior Lake: OVER-RATED. Tools alone don’t get you there.

    Nick Struck/Dallas Beeler and Eric Jokisch: These guys provided solid starting pitching this season. The records ay not show it, but these kids can pitch and get hitters out. At this level…learning how to deal with adversity is the difference between winning and losing. I think each of these three pitchers could/should be in AAA next season.

    Rubi Silva: Legit OF prospect. Big arm and good range. The bat has been pretty good as well in his short stint in TN. If he returns next season with Szczur, I the Smokies will be happy. He is someone to watch for sure.

    Trey McNutt: Disappointing year as a starter. Accepted his move to the bullpen like a pro and has had success. Stuff is there…..just needs to be more consistant.

    Frank Batista: Dominant as a closer most of the year. Appears to be out of gas now….but I believe is someone to wath in 2013.

    Overall, the season has been exciting and at the end of the day, these kids played hard for the fans in East TN. I believe have a few Big leaguers on this team for sure: Watkins, Schlitter, Zych and Ha. Hopefully, we will see more…..

    I will miss these kids….but am rooting for all of them to succeed and move on and up. It has been a pleasure.

    Brandon

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Good catch on the Smokies still being at home tonight. Fixing that now.

    • ssckelley

      Good stuff as always. You think McNutt will be given another chance to start next year or is he projecting to pitch out of the bullpen?

      • Brandon – AA Correspondent

        I don’t think his days of starting are over. I do however think he will begin next season as a bullpen option and he’ll have to work his way ito a starting gig with several stellar relief appearsances first.

        Stuff is there…..he just has to be able to command it for more than 3 innings…..which he was unable to do this season.

        Rooting for him.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          McNutt needs a third pitch, preferably a reliable offspeed one, before he can expect to have lasting success as a starter. I imagine he’ll be working on that quite a bit while starting his major league career in the pen. Like Samardzija, though, I think he’ll eventually work his way back into the rotation. If he can develop that extra pitch.

    • MoneyBoy

      Brandon

      Thank you as always for your wonderful summary of the TN players. We are blessed to have a loyal follower who is able to give first hand accounts of the games and really good assessments of the players.

      For all that Brett and Luke give us (a lot), to have on-site eyes is a wonderful bonus.

      Thanks so much and enjoy your off season!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Ditto.

        • Brandon – AA Correspondent

          Thanks!!

          it is a lot of fun to go to the ballpark every day (that they are home) and to have a place to express some thoughts and observations like Bleacher Nation is an added bonus. Will be happy to do it again next season.

          Hopefully Brett will pay us a visit. I mean hell….if Tom Ricketts can visit and Luke can visit….I’d like to think Brett can visit. :-)

          Brandon

          • http://bleachernation loyal100more

            yikes…id much rather meet brett and luke! does rickets even like baseball? brandon, thanks for the slam dunk! you know i cant be certain, but brett would look like an absolute genius if he said that he envisioned contributions such as yours when he started the site. its guys like you that really provide an otherwise no existent glimps in to the future of the club. as for luke…man never before have i seen a daily round up of my beloved cubs at the lower levels…tremendous! thanks for a great regular season!
            LOYAL100MORE

    • stillmisskennyhubbs

      Thanks, Brandon. I am with you on the Logan Watkins train. I like Jae-Hoon Ha a lot too, and admire how he came back to success after that shocking wall collision in Jacksonville July 26.
      However, I hope that Junior Lake moves on to AAA so a correspondent with fresh eyes sees him on a regular basis. He has been in your evaluative doghouse all year, for reasons I didn’t see when watching him play.

  • THEOlogical

    Hey Luke, I’m sure your aware of hurricane Isaac down here. If not, that’s the reason for the latest weather issues. Also we have had some fronts just stand still and not move away, causing it to be overcast and wet all for most of the day. My area has flood warnings this coming weekend, not sure of Daytona though. They are about an hour south of me.
    I did try to go to a game earlier this yr and, of course, it was rained out. Although it never rained, nor did I get the feeling it was gonna come a “cat and dog” affair. I think they tend to be a little overdramatic.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Isaac is causing the latest round of rain outs, but there were some batches of them earlier this season as well. This has just been a weird year for the Daytona Cubs.

      • stillmisskennyhubbs

        The weather radar shows a large rainy cell coming over NE Florida this afternoon and early evening. That includes Daytona. Hope they can play soon so I can see them.

  • Beer Baron

    Are there any tough decisions coming regarding the Cubs needing to put someone on the 40 man to protect them from the Rule 5 draft? From what I could tell, the only thing even close to a prospect who is elligible for the draft is Kyler Burke and Jay Jackson, and neither of those would be considered a big loss. But I may be missing someone – I’m not sure if Logan Watkins is elligble – he was drafted 4 years ago but I think was 18 when he signed so would have 1 more year. I guess that is one good thing from the poor Hendry drafts — we won’t have to lose any good prospects

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’ll dig into Rule 5 issues more after the season, but my sense of it is that the Cubs do in fact have some very tough decisions. I’m not sure they’ll lose anyone quite as well thought of as Ryan Flaherty was last year, but I think they will take some losses.

      It usually isn’t stars that get taken in the Rule 5, but potential relievers and bench guys. The Cubs, like any deep farm system, have a bunch of those guys.

      • Brandon – AA Correspondent

        Losing Flaherty STILL stings. I don’t think he is going to AAA next season. I think the Orioles really like him, and he has a chance to stick in the Bigs.

        Cubs blew it on that one for sure.

  • willis

    The Daytona thing really is too bad. I had the impact it is having on Baez’ transition.

  • Njriv

    ESPN.com’s Keith Law previews the 2013 amateur draft class, suggesting it projects as one of the weakest in years. Mark Appel, the Pirates’ first round selection in 2012, projects as a top talent for 2013 along with college right-hander Ryne Stanek.

    That was quoted from MLBTR, I thought next years draft was supposed to be stacked?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Law has always been one guy who said it was not.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    Cubs DFA Alex Hinshaw thank god and good ridens! This couldnt pitch if his life depended on it.. 3hrs to the Brewers and couldnt record an out!

  • Chase S.

    Maybe my memory deceives me but was there at one point talk of a possible position change for Junior Lake to the mound? I could be mistaken but I swear I read that somewhere a while ago on this site.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      You remember correctly. It was more of a topic when he struggling more at the plate than he is now, but there is no doubt he has the arm for it. I think his bat has come around enough to push a possible move to the mound well onto the back burner, though.

      Watching Lake play is an experience in itself. You’ll see constant flashes of what could be, but you’ll see an equal amount of things that make you cringe and weep with frustration. And sometimes, you see it all on the same play.

      • Njriv

        What makes you say that Luke? Do you think he’s better off in the OF?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          He could do well at third or in the outfield, if he can polish his profound tools. This guy may have the highest ceiling in the farm system, but in terms of execution, he’s just a mess.

          • Flashfire

            Any thoughts on how likely he is to harness his tools?

          • The Show

            How is he a mess? I’m sorry but I just don’t know that much about Lake, all I know is that he broke out last season, he can hit for power, steal bases and has a cannon arm. I know he plays SS but is moving to 3rd, and that he makes a lot of errors. But what kind of errors does he make? Does he just have a wild arm? Does he just aimlessly throws the ball (low baseball IQ)? Bad getting a glove on the ball? Does he do things lackadaisically and doesn’t pay attention to the base-runners?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              He gets sloppy on plays that should be easy.
              He will back off on defense when he thinks someone else is going to make the play before the play is actually made, and that often leaves him out of position to make the play himself.
              He has great bat speed, but he wastes a chunk of it by partially wrapping the bat around behind his head before he swings. That forces him to swing earlier than he otherwise would have to, and that in turn probably helps leave him exposed to breaking pitches low and away.
              His footwork on defense can be sloppy, but his arm is just so good it often doesn’t matter.
              Etc.

              There is no reason he can’t clean all of that up. If he decided to concentrate on being the best he could possibly be, he’d likely be a special player. He’s just not to that place yet.

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