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Arismendy Alcantara (Scott Jontes/MiLB.com)

Arismendy Alcantara (Scott Jontes/MiLB.com)

It looks like the Ian Stewart experiment is coming to an end. The often injured third baseman appears to be buried on the Iowa bench, and with Junior Lake likely to be assigned to Iowa when he eventually returns, that situation will not clear up any time soon. Scratch one third baseman off the depth chart.

But that does not mean that the Cubs need to panic and burn their first round pick in June on a third baseman. I had listed third base as one of the deeper positions in the farm system before the season started, and Stewart did not factor into that discussion at all. Between Lake, Vitters, Villanueva, Geiger, Bruno, Saunders, Carhart, Baez, and Candelario, the Cubs are not hurting for prospective third baseman at any level of the minors. Not of all of those guys will pan out (most won’t), but that is part of the point of having depth. The more quality prospects they pack into the system, the more major league players the system will produce (on average, anyway).

That’s not to say the Cubs should avoid third basemen in the draft, either. If the Cubs decided to play it a bit safe and take Kris Bryant with their first round pick, I won’t complain (particularly if they get him under slot and raise the average talent level of their draft as a result (even though I see Bryant as an outfielder in the majors more than a third baseman (many scouts would disagree with me on that))). If that is the direction the Cubs take, it will be the result of their belief that, when all the factors (including pitcher injury risk) are added together, Bryant is the best player on the board. The status of Ian Stewart and the bounty of hot corner depth in the farm system will likely never enter their minds.

Odds strongly favor the Cubs snagging one of the collegiate aces (Appel or Gray) over a bat with that second overall pick, but that will not be a reaction to the lack of pitching talent in the farm system either. With the second pick in the draft, any team will take the best player on their board. A lot of factors go into ranking players on that board, but the amount of talent at any given position in the farm system is flatly not one of them.

Once we get out of the first round, though, that calculus starts to change. I expect to see a lot of pitchers on the Cubs draft board between rounds 2 and 10, and that will be in no small part because they need to stock this system with arms. That thinking does not apply to the top of the first round, though. No matter what happens with Stewart, how much Baez struggles, how good Feldman looks, or anything else that may be going on, the Cubs will take the best player on their draft board. The only question is who that will be.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa swapped big innings with Colorado Springs, but it was the Cubs who came out on top 8-6.
Tennessee – Tennessee needed a good rebound game, and I think they got one. They scored three times in the bottom of the ninth to push it to extras, but ultimately lost in fourteen 12-11. As losses go, that’s a quality loss.
Daytona – Daytona kept this one close, but the end result was still a loss. The final was 6-5.
Kane County – Kane County was shut out 4-0.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Blake Parker recorded the final four outs for his fourth save this season. His ERA is just 2.19; that’s not bad at all for the Pacific Coast League.
  • [Iowa] With a homer and a double, it was Brian Bogusevic who led the attack in this one. Alberto Gonzalez contributed four hits (including a double), and Brad Nelson came up with three (two of them doubles).
  • [Iowa] The most surprising stat, though, belongs to Josh Vitters. Vitters has never been accused of being a speedster on the bases, so naturally he had one of Iowa’s two stolen bases.
  • [Tennessee] Kyuji Fujikawa pitched two innings and surrendered a single hit. So far the rehab stint looks to be going well, at least on the field.
  • [Tennessee] Zach Rosscup pitched three innings in relief, gave up two hits, and struck out three. His ERA is down to 1.17.
  • [Tennessee] Rubi Silva and Tim Torres supplied the power for the Smokies, but it was Rafael Lopez (3 hits, 2 walks) who made it on base the most.
  • [Daytona] 3 for 4, two doubles, a home run, and walk. That’s a good day at the plate, and that’s the line Jorge Soler put up for the Cubs. They cannot get him into Double A fast enough to suit me.
  • [Daytona] Eduardo Figueroa had a nice game in relief. Over two innings he gave up nothing while striking out three.
  • [Kane County] Pierce Johnson coughed up all four runs in the fourth, but other than that one inning he actually pitched a fairly nice game. His 5 Ks in 4 innings is certainly the highlight of his game.
  • [Kane County] When Johnson left the game, Justin Amlung and Matt Iannazzo did a very nice job blanking Burlington for the rest of the contest. Combined they gave up a hit and two walks.
  • [Kane County] There were not a lot of good things happening for the Cougars at the plate in this game. Dan Vogelbach doubled for the team’s only extra base hit and Bijan Rademacher went 2 for 2 with a walk. That’s pretty much it.

Other News

  • Ian Stewart did not play in Iowa’s game.
  • Arismendy Alcantara went 2 for 5 with a double, two walks, and no strike outs in this game. More importantly, he played second base. Elliot Soto, one of the best defensive shortstops in the system, took over on the left side of the infield. We will see if this is a permanent change, but it is not insignificant if it becomes permanent. If the Cubs do move Alcantara to second full time, it could be taken as an indication that they are evaluating him with an eye on Chicago. Generally speaking shortstops have more trade value than second basemen. If the Cubs were primarily interested in maximizing his talent and trade value, I think they would prefer to leave him at short. Should it turn out that Alcantara has been moved to second full time, the front office might have tipped their hand. Darwin Barney probably does not need to pack his bags yet, but with Logan Watkins getting on base nearly ever other plate appearance in Iowa and Alcantara possibly moving to the second in Tennessee, he has every reason to be pricing luggage.
  • cubchymyst

    Luke, if Alcantara gets more reps at 2B what does that mean for Torreyes? I know Torreyes is on the small side but his ability to make contact with the ball and the fact he has more walks then strikeouts makes him interesting. Alcantara probably projects for my power though. 2B is probably the deepest spot in the Cubs minor leagues.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It means one of them is going to Iowa sooner rather than later, I suspect.

  • Die hard

    Take Bryant and package others for proven pitching as if others were ever going to be ready they’d be here by now — see …less than 100 words

    • Dynastyin2017

      Even if all the ‘others’ are 20 years old?

    • Die harder

      You’re good, but I could do it better.

  • i

    [Tennessee] Kyuji Fujikawa pitched two innings and surrendered a single hit. So far the rehab stint looks to be going well, at least on the field.

    What’s the off the field issues. Lack of quality Japanese restaurants in Tennessee? That’s my assumption.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      That’s me being cautious, just in case his arm fell off while he was asleep or something. I know his on field works looks good, but I’m not completely certain that the trainers like what they see in terms of recovery, etc. That side of things should clear up later today.

    • willis

      Hey, at least on the western side of the state, we have plenty of good Japanese restaurants.

  • Tim

    Which prospects does everyone expect to be in the majors after the deadline?

    • Kyle

      Not many. Vitters will probably get another chance to have a bit of MLB playing time. Logan Watkins will probably get a look, especially if Barney is traded. Arodys Vizcaino may or may not, depending on how they think it is best to get him innings after his rehab.

      After that, you might see a guy like Szczur get a week or two on the bench at the end.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        If Soler hits Tennessee soonish, he could be up in September, but only as a “let him get a little experience against big league pitching, and then send him back to the minors next year” type of thing.

        • hansman1982

          Wait, what?!?!?! SOLER IS GOING TO BE THE STARTING LF IN 2014?!?!?!?!?!?!

          SOMGLER

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Probably right fielder, and possibly in the second half of the year.

            • hansman1982

              Way to crush my dreams. I was really banking on him being LF.

              • BluBlud

                I heard he was going to be the starting LF and RF. He’s that good.

                • King Jeff

                  As long as Nick Struck is going to be doing the pitching, Soler can play all three outfield positions and sing the stretch. They both have the prerequisite bellyfire to succeed at the highest levels.

      • On the Farm

        Vitters and Lake will probably get a shot after the deadline. I would say Jackson is going to be arriving once DDJ or Sori gets moved. They aren’t prospects, but once Feldman or Villanueva get traded I would suspect Raley or Rusin will get a couple starts.

        • Cedlandrum

          I have not heard a peep about Lake’s rehab or Vizcaino’s. I have a hard time seeing either in the bigs this year unless they start right now.

      • EQ76

        I’d assume that many bullpen arms will be called up throughout the year..

    • ssckelley

      Other than the players Kyle mentioned I think Sappelt will be back up and Junior Lake could get a look depending on how well he performs at Iowa. For pitching we should see Rusin and Raley in Chicago after the rosters expand.

      Call me crazy but I think there is an outside chance we see Soler after the rosters expand.

      • On the Farm

        “Call me crazy but I think there is an outside chance we see Soler after the rosters expand.”

        That is not that crazy considering he is already on the 40 man and he is ripping up A+ ball so most suspect him to get called up to AA soon. Spending 3 months at AA would be plenty of ABs to give him a cup of coffee in September.

        • ssckelley

          I was thinking the same thing, plus he is already signed to a big league contract so I do not think there are any arbitration years they have to worry about.

      • Jp3

        I think if he hits AA pitching like this he’ll be up at the end of the year. That’s exciting because I’d suspect they’d start him in AAA next year, in the PCL he’ll be knocking fences down making the Cubs decision to call him up a hard one.

  • Idaho Razorback

    My name is Idaho Razorback not i. What happened?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      User error? :)

  • Idaho Razorback

    Ok, now it’s correct but my 1st post still says i.

  • http://Noclue Marc N.

    Soler getting the early nod for top prospect in the system. Got to love how he’s hit in High A. He’s got 5 XBHs in his last ten PAs, IIRC.

    Alcantara being at 2B isn’t TOO surprising. I thought that was his best ML position last year due to him being a little thick in the legs already for a SS, though obviously he can handle SS to some extent. I’m still on the wagon for Baez at 2B if he can figure out a decnt approach to hitting, but Alcantara’s actually got an interesting ceiling (unlike say Watson or even Torreyes for me).

    So everyone’s noticed Baez’s horrific, perhaps damning K numbers right?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, Baez’s K issues were discussed at great length the last couple days in the Daily/comments. We’re all very scared.

      • http://Noclue Marc N.

        I missed it?!?!?!? Damn!

        • Jp3

          Wait a few minutes then Baez’s K issues will be discussed at length soon enough I’m sure. I’m with Luke on time to get Soler moving (not to the other team’s dugout though). Seems he has moved past it and is concentrating again on the task at hand, ripping the ball every at bat and not K-ing Baez style.

          • http://Noclue Marc N.

            Yeah Soler has the earmarks of a guy who will move fast. Low K rate, solid BBs, and then obviously a strong batting line. I was arguing him for top prospect in the offseason because I suspected this to be the case and am glad to see he’s living up to it.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Don’t worry, it’ll probably come back.

        • Jp3

          Mark N. this write up is filled with Baez whiffing goodness… Or badness I guess

          http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/05/07/cubs-minor-league-daily-smoke-and-numbers/

          • http://Noclue Marc N.

            Why spell my name wrong sir? It’s right there lol. Thanks for the link.

            • Jp3

              My bad Marc😃. Ironically my auto correct did me in… I even took the time to make sure I got the last name initial right and flubbed up the 1st name

  • THEOlogical

    Hey Luke, if the Cubs take a pitcher in rounds 2-10, how will they find time for them all on the mound? Surely they could throw plenty of side sessions, but what about live pitching? My guess is there would be plenty of fillers shown the exit.

    • On the Farm

      I would guess if they are college pitchers they end up in Kane County if they are HS they end up in Bosie. If they all keep progressing then I guess we will just have a glut of pitching talent and have to move some of it for MLB stars.

    • ssckelley

      I doubt the Cubs will have any trouble finding them places for them to pitch. Keep in mind there is the short season Arizona League and Boise that will need pitchers that start playing after the draft. While the farm system is improving there are still a lot of non prospects “filler” type players occupying roster spots.

  • Smitty

    What position does Rademacher play? He seems to be tearing up A-Ball.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      OF

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        And pitcher!

        • scorecardpaul

          Norm, I got it, pretty funny stuff right there.

  • Chad

    Alcantra to 2B if permanent signals a changing of the guards at 2B. YES!!!!

    I have been hoping for this. I think if Barney can hit at all he’s gone by July and Watkins is up. If he can handle it in Chicago he sticks or at least can be a place holder. As we know there are a lot of 2B prospects in the system. I’m happy to hear this.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Soler has had a hot week, but he’s still only hitting .270…I think we need to cool the jets on a promotion to TN. I do not expect to see him in Chicago until the end of 2014 at the earliest.

    • Cubbie Blues

      With a ISO .267 and wRC+ 159 in 103 PA he is killing it in A+. Average is only a piece of the puzzle.

      • Jp3

        Not to mention his avg isn’t .270

        • Cubbie Blues

          Hah, I didn’t even think to check him on that. His average is at .289.

          • Jp3

            Yeah that’s significant as well as OBP is .379 which is damn good for a slugger. Maybe its from watching Baez’s stat line after every game but I’m pleasantly surprised with how little Soler Ks?

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Actually, lots of sluggers post high OBPs: there is a strong correlation between isolated slugging and both BB’s and K’s, which is what you expect if guys maximize their slugging by looking for particular pitches and then trying to drive the pitch.

              But at any rate, Soler’s BA is the last thing about which I’d worry. His BB, K and slugging rates are all good. If his BA is low while doing that, then it must to be a low singles rate, and that’s just the BABiP goddess not dishing out any love.

              • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                His BABIP isn’t that low at .304.
                I’m the last guy that puts all that much stock in AVG, but we’re talking Low A here. I just have a hard time saying a guy is “killing it” when his average is 270 (yesterday, 290 now, which shows how little of a sample we’re talking with that big a jump in one day).

                Miguel Sano is KILLING it.
                Robert Refsnyder, who I never heard of, is killing it.

                Semantics I guess…

                • Cubbie Blues

                  Just for clarification it isn’t low A he is in A+.

                  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                    grr, yes, my bad. Lots of mistakes this morning.

                    • Jp3

                      Haha. You just need that cup of coffee this morning😃

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Sorry. That was before his 3/4 night.

          • Jp3

            3-4 night will go a long way early in the season, fwiw he was hitting over .400 before the suspension. After the suspension, which I suspect threw off his timing a bit he was terrible up until about the past week. He’ll kill it for another week or 2 and probably get bumped.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              This. He was red hot, went cold after the suspension, and is now warming up again. When put into that context (even the best players in history had cold spells), that BA is absolutely nothing to worry about.

              • Jp3

                Yeah, hell had he kept that up for a couple more weeks I think he’d already be In Tenn. had the incident not happened but who knows I guess.

    • hansman1982

      He also has a .934 OPS which is .024 points higher than what he did in Peoria.

      His walk rate is looking good and his K rate is below average. I could see a June 1 promotion.

      • ari gold

        I’ve heard that if a prospect is destroying a league, they usually get about 200 PA’s before moving up. Soler is at 102, so June 1 sounds about right.

      • JoeyCollins

        June 1 has been my guess for a while now. Hope to see it come true.

  • Kevin

    Good lord….if even thirty five percent of our current prospects turn out, we are going to rip up the NL Central in 2014 or 2015

    • Spriggs

      2014 is a bit soon even in best case.

    • Kyle

      Other teams in the NL Central have some pretty good farm systems, too.

    • Justin

      Kevin, you must not be familiar with the Card farm system. Look them up when you get a chance. They are absolutely stacked… Almost to an annoying level stacked.

      • Justin

        *Cardinals

        • pete

          As a St. Louis based Cub fan, it is my great hope that Luhnow’s departure has a significantly negative affect on their future drafting. Starting this year.

  • Jp3

    Actually norm he’s hitting .289 with OBP of .379. That’s pretty dang good seeing coming off that suspension he was ice cold for about a week and a half

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Understood. But there is still a guy hitting .400 in that league.
      Another slugging over .750.
      It’s still quite early.

  • Robbo

    Is Logan Watkins projecting as a utility player rather than potential full time 2nd baseman due to his struggles with left handed pitching? Is he showing any improvement against lefties?

    • http://Noclue Marc N.

      My guess is that the Cubs will suck enough that he will get a chance to be an everyday 2B IF they trade Barney. I’m not too big in trading Barney to make room for Watkins but in the right deal….

      Personally I see him as a utility guy, but his speed/OBP package give him a shot.

  • Rizzofanclub

    For what its worth I do know that the cubs are seriously watching Eric Jagelo from Notre Dame who was selected by the cubs back in 2010. I was a L’ville vs ND game and talked to 2 different scouts for the cubs. They also were watching a kid named Nick Burdi who can hit triple digits with his fastball. I could seriously see the cubs taking Jagelo with the 2nd round pick and Burdi with a later pick b/c the scouts were both very impressed with their skills. Again this was just a conversation they had with me during innings.

    • Believe in 2015

      Nick Burdi? Wow. I went to high school with him at Downers Grove South

    • Marc N

      Burdi is a 2014 guy IIRC. Maybe not.

  • Dustin S

    Interesting about Alcantara. His spark has impressed me when I’ve seen him. I love Barney’s A+ effort every day, and as soon as I think about trade value for him he seems to make a highlight reel diving play. But having seen a few other players who could have been traded at higher-value and weren’t, and then their value went way down (Marmol, Garza come to mind), once Barney gets hot it may be time to move him. He won’t return a huge haul alone but with his Gold Glove his value is about as high as it will get. He’s probably an ideal package add-on candidate in a trade. 2B and LF (at least with RISP) stand out when you look at this lineup and where there is potential for more offense.

  • Chief

    FWIW, USD Student here who thinks Bryant can stick!

    • Chief

      At third. I think he can stick at third.

  • Dynastyin2017

    So we are all going gaga over Alcantara, and are ready to send Baez to the ‘Pie-heap’.
    Can’t we see their slash lines are very similar? SSS. let’s see where they are in the middle of June. (yes, Baez’s k-rate is troublesome, but I’m guessing there have been some ML all-stars and maybe even some HOFers that had a bad month in the minors).

    • hansman1982

      It’s not just a bad month, it’s a bad minor league career.

      Over 225 A+ PA, he has a 28% K rate coupled with a 4.4% BB rate. I’ll challenge you to find more than 5 major leaguers that did more than a couple WAR with that.

      • Dynastyin2017

        I’m not ready to put him in the HOF, but 225 PA’s does not make a bad minor league career. YET.

      • Justin

        Yeah I’d be shocked if Baez isn’t traded by the end of next offseason. He is not the type of guy the Front Office wants at all. They already have Castro, who hates walking. But at least he doesn’t K like a psycho.. The problem is, other teams are going to have serious doubts about Baez too. So who knows how much trade value he can have in a deal for someone like Headley. The K’s just don’t go away when players move up, they typically get a lot worse.

    • Kyle

      I’m not particularly gaga over Alcantara either.

  • Bleed Cubbie Blue

    If they elect to choose a third baseman with the 2nd overall pick, doesn’t that make you wonder about Starlin’s future in Chicago? Maybe they think Baez is going to be a better shortstop, or the possibility that they know exactly which top prospects they will be targeting if/when Garza comes back healthy and productive. Just speculating but i think its got to be a starting pitcher in the end. However with Theo/Hoyer now being in control for a second year i am interested to see how they will analyze the performance and overall importance to the organization of players like Starlin, Rizzo, Samardzija, Garza, Barney, as well as the top echelon prospects. From that I think they will have a pretty distinct plan as to how to draft positionally, while maintaining the necessary components for future success in Chicago, as well as the ability to potentially acquire a David Price for example.

    • Kyle

      It does not make me wonder in the slightest. Their selection at the No. 2 pick will have absolutely nothing to do with anyone on the major league roster.

  • ssckelley

    Anybody know how Reggie Golden rehad is coming along? I assume he is in Arizona at extended spring training?

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