tennessee smokiesWhen the Cubs traded for Christian Villanueva last summer, he was immediately billed as a potentially very good glove at third with a bat that may not hold up. His .575 OPS this season certainly credits the questions about his hitting, but what about that glove?

I don’t think we have anything to worry about. Dallas Beeler flirted with a no hitter for Tennessee last night thanks in no small part to a couple of huge assists from Villanueva at third. But don’t take my word for it. BN reader @ballskwok snagged a pretty good video of one of Villanueva’s saves, and he was kind enough to pass it along.

If Villanueva can get his bat into shape, those instincts will serve him well in Wrigley one day.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The Iowa game was snowed out. No need to reach for the calendar, it is in fact May. And that was in fact a snow out. Maybe the weather will have warmed up when this game is played on June 8.
Tennessee – Great pitching + prolific hitting = a fun game to watch.  Tennessee wins it 7-0.
Daytona – Daytona was actually out hit in this game, but they won it anyway by a final of 6-2.
Kane County – Kane County was rained out. That turns today’s game into a double header. Add in the scheduled fireworks and this sounds like the ideal day for Chicagoland fans to head to the minor league ballpark.

Performances of Note

  • [Tennessee] Dallas Beeler did not pull off the no hitter, but he did pitch 6.2 innings of one hit ball. His excellent final line included three walks and five strikeouts.
  • [Tennessee] While Beeler and the bullpen had Mississippi completely shut down, the Smokies offense blew up for 7 runs on 14 hits. Rubi Silva led the way with a triple as part of his 3 for 4 night.
  • [Daytona] Austin Kirk gave up 10 hits in 6 innings, but he somehow escaped with just two runs allowed. Not walking anyone helped his cause, as did striking out four.
  • [Daytona] Stephen Bruno had the only extra base hit for the Cubs, and Jorge Soler had the only walk, but multi-hit games from John Andreoli, Bruno, Dustin Geiger, and Anthony Giansanti plated all the runs the Cubs needed.

Other News

  • Rafael Lopez was drafted out of Florida State as a catcher in 2011 and spent the rest of that year in short season ball. In 2012 he motored up the system to Daytona, never stopping for more than 35 games at any level. This year he finds himself in Tennessee, and so far he’s holding his own. His season line reads .208/.333/.302, but when we look beyond that we see he has 10 BB and just 11 K. That is a lot better than we’d expect from the season line. In fact, if we look at just his last ten games that line jumps to .296/.457/.407 with 8 BB and 6 K. Keep an eye on Lopez. In a system starved for catching talent, Lopez looks like a breakout candidate.
  • And now for something completely different. Did you know that Slugger, the Smokies’ mascot, starred in A League of Their Own? You do now!
  • Die hard

    Haven’t seen any news on Struck?– has he been cut?

  • Cubbie Blues

    Yeah, Madonna didn’t like Evansville very much. She complained that there wasn’t anything to do there. She was also correct.

  • SamuraiJock

    Ronald Torreyes is putting up some fun numbers in AA so far hitting .333/.431/.438

    Most impressive for me though remains his lack of strikeouts. in 62 plate appearances thus far he has struck out ONCE. Considering he is just 20 and on his first trip to AA I find that highly impressive.

    As a prospect he still has a number of significant flaws, but he has to be the best contact hitter we’ve got in the minors.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      One of my favorites, but can that hit tool carry him?

      • Kyle

        Yes, imo. The only question is how far.

        His minor league career K% is 5.8%. Project in the standard increase as he moves up toward the majors, and at worst you’re looking at something like 7.5%. That’s practically a guaranteed .300 OBP, even if he loses some of his line drive ability and his BB rate drops. These days, a middle infielder who can give you that is always going to have a job on your bench.

        That’s his floor. His ceiling is the tricky part. The 62 PAs he’s had this season have been exceptionally impressive and they match some scouting reports we’ve heard from down there. He’s got a 25 LD% and is really showing a knack for making solid contact, and he’s added an 11.3% BB rate. All that while being young for the league, and AA is one of the hardest levels to get settled at. It’s easily my favorite start among any of the minor leagues. He’s just seeing the ball insanely well. He probably can’t keep up numbers that extreme, but if he’s taken any kind of step forward from his already decent BB rate and legendary K rate, that bodes well.

        I don’t know about his defense. It’s supposed to be pretty good. The Reds forums used to rave about it before he got traded. But it’s the minor leagues and I don’t trust any minor league defense reports. If it really is above-average, that’d help a lot too.

        I figure his floor is Jeff Keppinger. The ceiling fantasy is that he develops a bit of power as he fills out and becomes 2b Dustin Pedroia.

        • ari gold

          I don’t know about the Pedroia comp as I don’t think he’ll ever be that big. But Jose Altuve for sure. I don’t think any of us would mind that.

          • Kyle

            Comps are hard for a guy like this. Pedroia is a statistical comp but the body isn’t there.

            Altuve’s a good body comp, but he strikes out twice as much as Torreyes.

        • King Jeff

          “It’s easily my favorite start among any of the minor leagues.”
          No love for Rock Shoulders and his monster start?

          • Kyle

            Nope. I think Torreyes is a legit prospect. Not impressed with Shoulders’ potential.

      • BluBlud

        With a strikeout rate so low, the guy can have an average BABIP and still have plenty of success in the league. His career BABIP is .333 and his career strikeout rate is 5.5. If he is able to maintain a BABIP anywhere near .300(I think .290-.300 is league average), with a slightly higher MLB strike of say 7%, that means he’ll be able to hit near .280, and thats before accounting for any HR’s he might hit. With his walk rate, I could his floor might be a solid utility player.

        280/.320/.375 floor
        .300/345/.400 ceiling

        Torreyes is MLB talent either way.

      • Spriggs

        Too me, he’s just got too much going against him. His size is one thing (and there is no way this guy is 5’9″ – or even 5’7″ — he is just not that tall), but to have approximately average fielding skills and average speed with no walks and no power, it’s going to be to tough.

        • Kyle

          He draws a decent amount of walks.

    • terencemann

      Altuve hit more home runs than Torreyes does, too.

  • miggy80

    Well I woke up to 4″ of snow this morning and it’s still snowing, soooooo I think it’s safe to say Iowa will be snowed out again!

  • ari gold

    In Keith Law’s chat yesterday, he said Alcantara has a good chance to be top 100 next year. Not so for Vogelbach though

    • Chad

      I really like Alcantra, though I think his defense is a little rough right now. I could see him being a part of a trade if he is a top 100 kid SS, but if he stays with the cubs probably more of a 2B option.

    • Kyle

      Keith Law had a negative first impression of Vogelbach early and *really* likes to stick to his guns.

      Alcantara has cooled off quite a bit since his hot start. I don’t see how anyone could have him ahead of Vogelbach right now if they’ve been paying attention, unless they had him ahead of Vogelbach before the season.

      • scorecardpaul

        Kyle, I dig that new avatar. keep pounding that logic.

      • BluBlud

        Yeah, Law even admitted that is I’m not mistaken. A power hitter who can hit .300 while maintaining an 10% walk rate and a Sub 15% strikeout rate at any level who is also under age of 20 will be a top 100 prospect on anybody’s list.

        • BluBlud

          and if he had a “position”, he would probably be a top 50 prospect by years end.

  • Bilbo161

    When are minor league players eligible for trading? Is it one year after the draft? What about international signings? Just wondering as I was looking around the Jays and royals org for trade prospects.

  • BluBlud

    Luke, why is it that the Cubs are slow pacing their Trio of pitching prospects they drafted last year.

    Pierce has put up great numbers but he is barely avering over 4 innings an outing, is still in KC when he should have probably started in Daytona. He is a college player, not a high school draftee and will be 22 in a week.

    Underwood and Blackburn are still in the AZL. Blackburn put decent enough number to, IMO, get a few starts at KC, and then maybe move to Boise when the season there starts, if he didn’t perform at KC. Underwood is the only one I can understand.

    Why such the slow pace when, at least the ones I checked, no other organizations start their prospects so slow.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      They aren’t running them abnormally slowly at all. This is a fairly normal pace for pitching prospects. Sometimes you’ll see the very best or most polished ones jump straight to a higher level of the minors, but they are the exceptions. This is the norm.

    • AB

      FYI Pierce Johnson is pretty much on the same development curve as Matt Barnes

  • Spencer

    Any news on Blake Parker’s drag racing exploits in Des Moines? Maybe it’ll turn into a full time gig.

    • elizarudi15

      What happened?

  • elizarudi15

    Iowa game snowed out here again tonight! This is dumb. Maybe I’ll bump into some of the players out on the town tonight haha!