Where in the World is Juan Carlos Paniagua and Other Bullets

dominican flagI had a great time meeting up with a handful of folks after the game yesterday, even if I barely have a voice today thanks to too much shouting conversation in a loud bar. I can still type, though.

  • The Cubs took the path of least resistance with respect to their Ian Stewart decision yesterday. The Cubs activated him from the disabled list, and optioned him to AAA Iowa. He’ll keep playing there until he shows something, until Luis Valbuena cools off considerably, or until somebody gets hurt. The Cubs may wind up paying Ian Stewart $2 million to be a very expensive minor leaguer.
  • Dale Sveum says Carlos Villanueva’s problem the last two starts has been pitch elevation – in other words, he’s leaving everything up. And, with his mix of slow stuff, you can’t get away with that. Although I’m sure it’s true that the elevated pitches are a problem, I’d also point out that, coming into his last two starts Villanueva had unsustainably ridiculous numbers, like a 100% strand rate and a one-hundred-and-something BABIP. This kind of regression was always coming. Hopefully this is the worst of it, though, because he still very much looks like a guy you’d be happy to have in the rotation.
  • (By the way: I don’t know how those pitchers do it in weather like yesterday. Raining, super cold, and once that chill gets in you, it’s impossible to shake. That’s how I felt, anyway, and wasn’t trying to precisely locate a fastball or snap off a breaking ball without my arm exploding.)
  • If you were anxiously awaiting a Juan Carlos Paniagua update like I was, Ben Badler heeds your call … but it’s not a great update. In short, Paniagua is still waiting on his visa in the Dominican Republic thanks to a very thorough investigation into his identity. There’s still no timeline on his arrival, because, you know, government, but it’s a shame that he’s already lost a lot of development time. At one time, it seemed plausible that he could rocket up the system and reach AA this year. Now that seems very much like a stretch. Paniagua, according to his papers, turned 23 in early April. He was the Cubs’ big international signing last year (in the international signing period, that is), receiving $1.5 million after previously signing with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, but having those contracts nullified because of concerns about his age/identity.
  • The Reds auctioned off Jeff Samardzija’s bloody baseball.
  • Rock Shoulders (1.099 OPS) and Eric Jokisch (1.84 ERA) are your Cubs minor league player and pitcher, respectively, of the month for April. Each is legitimately a prospects, and it is thus nice to see them tearing it up sufficiently to receive the honor. Jokisch is in his second go-around at AA and will turn 24 this Summer, so you’d like to see him moving up to AAA at some point this year (the glut of back-end types like him at AAA is the primary thing holding up his promotion, I’d expect). Shoulders was one of the many, many overslot signings from the 2011 Draft, but he didn’t do too much to get your blood pumping in his 2012 debut. He’s crushing it for Kane County this year, though, and at 21, he’s basically age-appropriate for the league. On a team with Dan Vogelbach, Shoulders has been seeing a lot of time at the corner outfield positions.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

24 responses to “Where in the World is Juan Carlos Paniagua and Other Bullets”

  1. 5412

    Hi Brett,

    Enjoyed saying hello yesterday, nice to finally meet you. Hopefully our paths will cross again.

    What galled me yesterday about the pitchers was this. They were pitching in short sleeves. It was bone chilling cold, you would think they would have worn a nylon shirt or somehting with long sleeves to help keep their arms warm.

    One of the Bear defensive linemen through out the first pitch and he was in short sleeves. Maybe they wanted to took tough like football players. My wife and I joked about the pitchers in short sleeves while the umpires were bundled up like kids on their first winter day at school.

    regards,
    5412

  2. Jason

    I’m sure the Ricketts family is responsible for this somehow.

  3. Kyle

    Still don’t see Jokisch as a real prospect. The stuff isn’t there. But Shoulders might be starting to turn me a little bit.

    1. Myles

      Jokisch didn’t even strike people out in college; however, there is something to be said about a FIP in the 3s each of his past 3 years.

      1. Kyle

        Maybe, but I suspect (with no real evidence) that applying FIP to MiLB is using the tool in a way it wasn’t designed for.

        1. Rebuilding

          Yeah, I think FIP gets a little screwy with minor leaguers. I like to look at BB/K ratio almost exclusively especially below AA. Fangraphs has been working on something called Scout + to try to quantify SP performance in the minors which is heavily reliant on BB/K ratio

          1. Myles

            I actually think FIP is BETTER in the minors because the fielding is so much worse (again, not a ton of evidence either way).

            Rebuilding, BB/K is an inferior statistic. If you want to compare K and BB, use (K-BB)/PA; that way, you are actually measuring a pitchers ability to strikeout pitchers out and not walk them, as opposed to what percentage of their outs come via the strikeout (which is what K/9 does, for instance).

            1. Kyle

              My concern is that you are using a stat designed to project value at a static league level for players for whom we have no interest in their ability to perform at their current level.

              FIP tells us what MLB pitchers are likely to do in the immediate future in MLB.

              I don’t care what AA pitchers are likely to do in the immediate future in AA, I want to know what they’ll do two levels up.

  4. Die hard

    TV will kill baseball because if this money source was not there then seasons would be shorter and stands packed with fans enjoying warm weather games … instead of wasting money on Jumbotron Ricketts should eliminate bleachers and replace with restaurants

  5. jt

    I think a blind guy sitting in the next room from an old B&W portable TV could sense Villanueva was leaving everything up. OK, I’m one step down from the blind guy but even I noticed it.
    The shadows in the stats indicate Jokisch is getting someone out. It is, though, a long walk from Tenn to Wrigley.

  6. Jay

    TV hasn’t killed baseball yet and it’s been around for 70 years. Meanwhile, I doubt Ian Stewart cares where he plays as long as he’s getting his 2 mil. Food isn’t as good at AAA and the Annie’s aren’t as plentiful, but the money’s the same.

    1. Melrosepad

      If he is going to be staying a long time he should see if they can roll out Red Beck’s old RV so he can BBQ with fans at the stadium. Would have to dig the snow out to do so however. Stupid snow.

  7. @cubsfantroy

    I want Shoulders to make it, just because of his name. Rock Shoulders, is one of the best baseball names ever. EVER!

    1. Dustin S

      I know a gal whose real first name is Teeny. That would make a great married name, Teeny Shoulders.

  8. 5412

    Hi,

    I disagree that TV has killed baseball. Mr. Wrigley wanted all the Cub games on TV to create fans for the game and he did. He also had “ladies day’ where women got in free.

    You have to get addicts hooked to something before you can sell it to them. The Cubs need to establish a winning tradition and the stands will be filled.

    regards,
    5412

    1. Die hard

      – fans should be treated like television audiences and just allowed in free to fill seats

  9. 5412

    Hi,

    How cool would it be if Rock was from the island of Gibraltar???

    5412

  10. Andrew

    I really like the stats Rock has put up, is it likely that he can stick in a corner position? I’ve never seen the guy but with his name I imagine him to be built like Vogelbach.

    1. Kyle

      He’s taller and more athletic than Vogelbach, but that’s about the most extreme example of damnation by faint praise that you’ll ever see.

    2. Ron Swanson

      Andrew, I saw him play at Fort Wayne a couple weeks ago and he’s a big dude. Vogelbach gets all of the attention because of his girth but Shoulders definitely has a big boy body. The framework is all there to turn into a big league power hitter.

  11. Saving Grace

    Bader’s article is good and really puts everything into perspective.
    The good news is MArtinez is making his major league debut for St.Louis so there’s hope for Paniagua

  12. 5412

    Hi,

    Vogelbach went to Bishop verot High School where my youngst went a few years back. He was described by a experienced scout as a HUGE kid, not very athletic who can swing the bat. The scout was astounded the Cubs took him as high as they did in the draft (Hendry). He has actually lost weight as he was up to something like 280#. I saw him play 4-5 games in Mesa and he is slow down the line, and does not cover much ground at 1B. I suppose some day he could be a DH somewhere, maybe with the Cubs should they change the rules.

    He has quite a challenge ahead of him because no one is going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Most DH’s are proven major league hitters that gravitate into the DH role as oppsoed to coming up through the minor leagues.

    Honestly my biggest fear is the day someone gives him a big contract. I don’t know the lad’s personality; however it would not take much for him to balloon up another 25# which would be a real problem.

    I have not seen Rock Shoulders play. From the description on this site, he sounds like he is big and athletic. Most MLB players are indeed just that.

    regards,
    5412

  13. Marc.N

    Paniagua seems like he can be a real wild card in the system. The farm could use a shot in the arm with some power stuff from a SP prospect.

    While the pitching talent in the system is way better than last year there is clearly tons of room to move up. Drafting Appel, Paniagua living up to what ABTY said on PSD, another arm heavy draft, and continued progress from at least a couple of the 2010-2012 guys would go a long way yet again.

    The slow start is annoying but this farm system has a ton of upside the rest of 2013.

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