Cubs Minor League Daily: Ripples

Arismendy Alcantara (Scott Jontes/MiLB.com)

Arismendy Alcantara (Scott Jontes/MiLB.com)

The farm system does not exist in a vacuum. These guys know who they play for, and they pay attention to the major league games. Losses like last night can echo a bit. You better believe the players in Iowa know that there could be some roster slots opening up in Chicago soon if things don’t turn around. And the players in Tennessee know that too, and they wonder if that might not turn into a few promotions to Iowa. And the players in Daytona are eyeing the Tennessee roster. And so on.

These players also know that when the calendar flips over to May we can expect to start to see some roster shuffling throughout the minors. Trouble at the top breeds opportunity in the ranks, and right now there are a number of quality prospects angling to take advantage of that opportunity.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa led the entire game in this 5-2 win.
Tennessee – A big sixth inning carried the Smokies to an 8-3 win at home.
Daytona – The Cubs took control in the first two innings and never looked back. They won it 7-4.
Kane County – The Cougars had ten hits, but it was not enough. They lost 9-6.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Chalk up a double and two more walks for Logan Watkins. Thanks to the previously-existing slump, his average is down to .224, but his OBP is holding strong at .375. Imagine if he was hitting .250.
  • [Iowa] Blake Parker picked up his second save of the season without allowing a hit. We’ll just not talk about those two walks.
  • [Tennessee] Arismendy Alcantara hit his fourth home run in this game as part of a two hit night. He also stole two bases and now has ten for the year.
  • [Tennessee] Brian Schlitter had another 2.2 scoreless frames in relief for the Smokies. His ERA remains at 0.00.
  • [Daytona] Javier Baez had a good day at the plate. His three hits included his fourth double of the season. Dustin Geiger also had three hits.
  • [Daytona] Give the Cubs credit for some solid pitching in this game. Austin Kirk struck out eight in five innings, Zach Cates allowed nothing but a walk in 1.1 frames of work, and and Hunter Cervenka closed it out with 2.2 innings of hitless baseball.
  • [Kane County] Daniel Vogelbach launched his second homerun of the season, and his two hit game raised his average to .323. That’s good, but not as good as Rock Shoulders (who is hitting .410 (and walked three times in this game)).
  • [Kane County] Along with Shoulders, both Pin-Chieh Chen (2H, 1BB) and Jeimer Candelario (1H, 2BB) both reached base three times. Marco Hernandez reached twice on two doubles.

Other News

  • Alcantara is flirting with a breakout season, but remember that there are serious concerns about his ability to stay at shortstop long term. He is absolutely no threat to Castro with the glove. His bat, though, could start to put more pressure on Barney sometime next year.

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation. He can be found on Twitter as ltblaize.

78 responses to “Cubs Minor League Daily: Ripples”

  1. Nate Corbitt

    At this point, I’d like to see Schlitter in the Cubs’ bullpen.

    1. Nate Corbitt

      Think of all the witty puns if he fails!

      1. JulioZuleta

        He’s been up breifly before…2010 maybe? I think he’s a Maine South kid, one of those local high schools anyways.

  2. #1lahairfan

    I’m happy that Alacantara is finally getting some notice and it’s been we’ll warranted for some time.

    1. BluBlud

      I agree. If he could get his K rate down into the high teens, he could be a monster. If watkins is more of a utility IF, the Alcantara may be a threat to barney at 2B next year. He fits the mold of a 2nd baseman very well.

      I’m starting to be intrigued also at the thought of trying Castro in CF. We have a ton of IF talent, and a lack of OF options at this point. I don’t see why Castro couldn’t be an option at some point.

      1. BluBlud

        I should say a ton of middle IF talent.

      2. #1lahairfan

        I want his K rate down to maybe a little bit under 15%. It’s always been in the high teens. I would also like to see that BB% rise.

        But his bat has never been the problem; it’s the defense.

  3. ssckelley

    I got a feeling Vogelbach is going to go on a power surge.

  4. BluBlud

    Dan Vogelbach’s early season has been very odd. His average is holding steady with his career average, but he has only 3 extra base hits. He is walking less, and striking out less, but is not driving the ball like we grew accustomed to him doing last year. Maybe he is jumping on pitches a lot earlier in the count, instead of being as patient as he was last year. I would like to see him be more patient and wait on the pitch he can drive, than this aggressive, get a lot of singles approach.

    1. ETS

      74 ABs

    2. BluBlud

      Yea, I know it’s a small sample size, but we are getting close to the 100 at-bat threshold, when stats start to normalize, if that’s the right word. I’m a huge Vogelbach fan, so I not criticizing him, but I also realize that the majority of his value is in his ability to drive the ball.

      A bunch of singles tell me his stats this year have a lot to do with luck, similar to Rizzo’s lack of singles.

      1. Scotti

        A good hitter will let the game come to him. Cold weather? Look for your pitch but don’t try to elevate the ball. Sinker ball pitcher? Again, work the count but look to go the other way. Knuckleball pitcher? Tell the manager you pulled a muscle and can’t start.

    3. Brett

      Eh. It’s also early, cold, and they’ve had some rainouts. His power is the last thing I’d worry about with Vogs. As long as his contact and walks stay up, he’ll be fine.

      1. ssckelley

        This might be the first time Vogs has ever played baseball in cold weather as he is from Florida and was drafted right out of high school. Last season he started in Arizona before being promoted to Boise, playing baseball in those places is much different than playing in the midwest during April.

      2. Featherstone

        How old is Vogelbach? 19? How old is Rock Shoulders?

        1. Brian

          Shoulders is 21.

        2. King Jeff

          Vogelbach is 19, Shoulders is 20, but they are pretty much equal as far as experience.

          1. King Jeff

            that’s supposed to be Vogelbach is 20, Shoulders is 21

            1. Featherstone

              For some reason I thought Rock was much older, not sure why.

              1. Scotti

                Shoulders is only 15 months older but he isn’t in the same class as Volgelbach as a hitter (very few are).

  5. Cubbie Blues

    “Trouble at the top breeds opportunity in the ranks”
    There must be a whole mess of opportunities then.

    1. Jason Powers

      Funny. And true.

  6. Mat B.

    I’d really like to see more about Matt Szczur. With improving power numbers and an OBP of .358, I would think there would be more chatter around him.

    1. JulioZuleta

      He’s pretty old for his level, and it’s his second go around in AA. Early season has been encouraging, but nothing too special.

      1. Cubbie Blues

        He needs to show something real soon or be released. He has taken up a 40-man slot for too long while learning to play baseball in the Minors. I used to be high on him but, I think that was more out of ignorance and just seeing that he was signed with a 40-man slot and assumed he was good at baseball. Unfortunately, I was wrong and he is just a good athlete.

        1. hansman1982

          I have a feeling he will get a good look late this summer in Wrigley.

          It’s entirely possible he will stick as a 5th OF type and someone you won’t hurl obscenities at if he has to play for 2 weeks (Lillibridge) but ya, there are quite a few guys like this on the 40-man.

      2. Mrp

        True he is old for AA, however, he played football and baseball in college so it might not be as relevant as you would think.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          But, his 40-man roster spot is very relevant. That is the reason he has to get good at baseball faster than might be prudent. Heck, we could still have Campana for Jay if he wasn’t on the 40.

          1. Mrp

            Because the 40 man is loaded with talent that is just busting at the seems to make it to the show? I get your point and is a very valid one, but there are several names you could drop before him. Don’t get me wrong though, I still don’t think he will amount to much more than a 4th OF. I’d like to see him get a shot rather than storing umpteen waiver wire adds.

        2. jdblades

          Look at Shark, it took him a while to figure things out, I’d give him another year before dismissing him from the 40. He could be the leadoff hitter we need when DeJesus is gone.

  7. Jason Powers

    Alcantara: I’d like to see him stay there until late July. He’s got 1360 PA in the minors. Another 250PA in the minors could round him out, I think. Without knowing a lot (yep, here comes the smart asses), his stats pretty much say: Speed++, ok patience and eye, and little pop, aside from his breakout. Let’s see if it is real power, and improvement, or just a streak.

    If these guys could walk and get a bit lucky on the BABIP, and keep the current power stats, the offense would not be really horrid. That’s Miami. (That OBP really is killing the Cubs; along with the BP issues.)

    1. Jason Powers

      Alcantara’s minor league fielding is atrocious at 2B, SS, 3B. God, he’s Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch rolled into one by FA.

      1. Cedlandrum

        Alcantara needs to play the whole year in AA. He is 21 and hasn’t played at this high of a level. He has plenty to do to polish up his game. Defensively, he is a lot like Castro from what I gather, smooth but needs to slow the game down, which is common for young shortstops.

        1. Jason Powers

          yep, that’s sound. If he can’t improve the glove, he’ll never have the goods.

          1. Scotti

            Virtually ALL young SS have high error rates. The rare outlier is the guy with a low error rate. As a 19-y/o Jeter had 56 errors and a .889 fielding %.

            1. BluBlud

              Jeter did this in my home town playing for the Greensboro Hornets and as a boy, I probably watched him commit 15-20 of those errors in person.

  8. Die hard

    What’s the plan? Rizzo and Castro should be picking slivers out of their butts over next 5 games just to try something different– bat pitcher 7th next 10 games– if DeJesus wants to power the ball move him to batting 3rd— play Hairston 10 straight games and if no improvement axe him— Try Barney at lead off as he won’t be thinking hitting meaningless solo home runs —- make every starter go 8 innings to teach them how to pitch thru lineup 3 times —-try it all as nothing to lose and much to gain

    1. Mat B.

      I think Dale should have let Wood get out of the little jam he was in. How do you know what your pitcher is made of, if you don’t let him face some adversity?

      1. Rcleven

        Dale has been keeping his starters at no more than ninety pitches so far. That is where Wood was.
        The bright spot of this early season has been the starting rotation. Let’s keep them healthy so we don’t go thru what we saw at the end of last season.

    2. Jason Powers

      i like the idea on the pitching if they can stay below 110 tosses, or really, high-stress situations (runners on & close scores). But flipping around batters is not bad – bat left-right-left through the order, you got the lefties to do it.

    3. Cubbie Blues

      Why don’t we put Clevenger in CF and Soriano to Pitch while we’re at it. You’ve said some silly stuff in the past, but this one might take the cake.

      1. Mat B.

        I think some of that was tongue in cheek, but I don’t have a problem with putting a player who keeps making mistakes on the bench for a couple days. Make him chart pitches or something. That should make the player focus on each pitch.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          No, it really wasn’t. Rizzo and Castro are two players that you should never bench besides rest. They are both having good year. Would I like to see Castro’s OBP higher? Sure, but that isn’t him and sadly probably never will be. Rizzo’s BABIP is excruciatingly bad and will normalize. All of his other numbers have been good.

          1. Mat B.

            I wasn’t talking about the BA or OBP. I was talking about the lack of focus, and that goes for the pitchers, too. I mean, for crying out loud, they should all be able to throw to first base. When something like that comes up, skip him in the rotation once, and make him take grounders every day.

            1. Cubbie Blues

              So, all errors are due to mental lapses? Castro will always have a higher than normal error rate. He gets to more balls than most other players. Also, there were many players taken in the draft last year who are older than he is. Everybody knows that Rizzo has GG capability at 1B and his errors will normalize as the season progresses. Is it frustrating to watch them lose is this fashion? Yes, but we are who we are and won’t get better with Castro and Rizzo on the bench.

              1. Kyle

                Castro does have decent (though not exceptional) range, but that’s not why he has so many errors. He makes a lot of errors because he’s inconsistent defensively.

                1. JulioZuleta

                  His rngR last season was 6th in the MLB among SS, and within tiny fractions of every player except Barmes. His range is definitely solid. He’s at 7.7, next 4 above him arre Andrus and Crawford at 7.8 and then Ryan and Peralta at 7.9.

          2. jt

            Rizzo’s BA for fly balls + line drives is 0.393. He is not “unlucky” there.
            His BA for ground balls + K’s is 0.050.
            There is nothing to normalize.
            He has to K less and stop rolling over on outside pitches that turn into weak ground balls to the right side.
            He seems to have stopped taking knee high pitches for strike three but last night whiffed on a couple of letter high fastballs that he could not catch up to.
            I’m guessing that there is still a learning process going on.

            1. Cubbie Blues

              His extra base hits show that he is making good contact. It’s his singles rate that he is being bitten by (as well as a slightly increase K rate (his walk rate is also slightly elevated though)). His ISO is .294. That is not someone that is making weak contact.

        2. Edwin

          Are the errors really a result of a lack of concentration, though?

    4. BluBlud

      Have you ever really seen a meaningless solo homer? I’m just curious. If a batter can hit himself home, isn’t that better then a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2 out single, or something like that? Last time I checked, a homer was a sure to produce a run, a single to lead of the inning is not.

      1. Cubbie Blues

        Oh, Jay. Everyone knows that solo HRs are inning killers. There is nobody on base for the next batter.

        1. BluBlud

          :)

      2. Coach K

        As is evident by the Cubs average with RISP this season.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          When the team average is only .230, what do you expect?

          1. Coach K

            Certainly not a lot of singles that turn in to runs ha. I’m with you, though. A home run is runs on the scoreboard regardless of how many people are on. It’s not like playing in the local slow pitch league where you only allowed a few home runs a game.

  9. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I can’t wait for Shoulders to come up, we’ll have a lot of power in the 3-4-5-6 slots.. 1B Rizzo, RF Soler, LF Shoulders, C Castillo…

    I think with Taiwan Easterling struggling in Daytona, we may see a Shoulders promotion soon. John Andreoli would have to move to CF.

  10. ari gold

    It’s really too bad Alcantra might not be able to stick at SS. Because he’d be flying up the prospect charts with even a league average glove.

    1. Rudy

      Not to split hairs here but I think his glove is ok… It’s his lack of throwing accuracy (rushing throws/not setting feet) that’s killing him. Hopefully that can be corrected.

  11. Chad

    I’m very high on Alcantra as a 2B. He’s got some pop and obviously can hit. Hope he gets the glove figured out.

  12. Zachary

    Is bjax hurt

    1. Cubbie Blues

      Yes. He has a toe owie.

  13. ruby2626

    According to baseball ref Alcantra is like 5’10″ and 160 lbs, lot of power for a guy that size. 10 of 10 steals is sweet, kid must be able to fly. Yet another potential threat to Barney and his punch and Judy bat.

    Glad to see Brian Schlitter doing well. Yes Maine South is correct, got him in the Scott Eyre trade to Philadelphia if memory serves me right. I know his Dad very well, good guy. It’s funny that his Dad plays on the same 16″ over 50 softball team as Luke Gregerson’s Dad. Schlitter has an upper 90′s fastball, hopefully the movement on it has improved and hopefully his breaking ball has improved. He’s 27, getting close to now or never.

  14. MightyBear

    Can Alcantara play third? Valbuena’s home run not withstanding, that’s where we need the most help.

  15. AA Correspondent

    I have seen Arismendy Alcantara for several games here in AA so far this season, and I must say…..of all the positional players that have taken the field this season for the Smokies, he is a guy that I can picture actually becoming a major leaguer. That does not mean there won’t be more….but from my observation, he has tools and skills that I believe make him a legit prospect. i said the same thing last year about Logan Watkins. They each have that extra “something” that is causing them to stand out from the crowd. He has a lot of fun when he plays, but has shown so many attributes that make me believe he is someone to watch moving forward.

    That said, i LOVE the Smokies defense this season. Torreyes and Alcantara up the middle and an OF of Ha, Szczur, Silva is NICE. Bour is a stud (hopefully he’ll be back from DL soon). Still waiting to see something from Villanueva at 3rd. He had a costly error last night that led to 2 unearned runs and has shown very little at the plate.

    Starting pitching was once again very very good last night (Jokisch). Schlitter’s night was not quite as good as the stats suggested…but I do think he’ll be the 1st bullpen arm heading to AAA from TN. He appears fully recovered from TJ surgery and is old for the league.

    GO SMOKIES!

    1. Brett

      Torreyes still doesn’t have a strikeout in 40 plate appearances. Five walks, too.

  16. Patrick G

    How come Jokisch is getting no love?

    1. MightyBear

      He was mentioned the other day in the minor league report. He’s getting love. Hopefully, he’ll be getting love in Wrigley in the future.

  17. Kyle

    Baez’s BABIP luck seems to have evened out. He’s up to a very reasonable .283 BABIP despite a rather low 10.7 LD% (caveats about low-minors batted ball data apply).

    So what does non-BABIPed Javy Baez look like this year? 234/253/455 for a .708 OPS. The K and BB rates are extremely bad, and this is all just a carryover from last year’s Daytona stint and the AFL.

    The power, defense and raw potential are exciting as heck, but I think it’s time to dial back the enthusiasm quite a bit. If I’m making a prospect list in three months, he’s clearly behind Soler and our No. 2 pick. You could probably make a case that Almora and Vogelbach are right there with him. In three months, I’d expect “Baez is our No. 5 prospect” to possibly be a defensible position.

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