albert almora explosionAlmora is coming. That was the big story of yesterday, and it is likely to remain the story until he takes the field in a Kane County uniform someday quite soon. For the first time in 2013 the Cubs three best prospects are finally going to be playing in games that matter. That will leave Arodys Vizcaino and Junior Lake as the last two of the Cubs’ best still rehabbing in Arizona.

If, like me, you live too far away to see Almora play in person, then circle Saturday June 29th on your calendar. That is the date of the Cougars’ next trip to Wisconsin, and that means that will be the first time we are likely to get to see Almora on MiLB.TV. Make your plans now.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – A rainout yesterday means a doubleheader today.
Tennessee – Tennessee split a doubleheader yesterday. The Smokies won Game One 9-2, but the bats dried up in the 1-0 nightcap loss.
Daytona – The Cubs wasted a solid start from a familiar pitcher and lost this one 4-1.
Kane County – The Cougars scored three times in two separate innings, but it was not enough. They lost this one 8-7.

Performances of Note

  • [Tennessee] Arismendy Alcantara had three hits for the Smokies in Game One, and Rafael Lopez and Rubi Silva had two apiece.
  • [Tennessee] And to think we were worried about his power. Three days after doubling twice in a game, Christian Villanueva launched his third home run of the season. It was his second home run in a week and comes in the midst of a 10 game stretch in which he is slugging .714.
  • [Tennessee] Alberto Cabrera picked up the complete game (seven inning variety) and the win in Game One. He struck out six while giving up two runs on five hits and two walks.
  • [Tennessee] Eric Jokisch was brilliant through six innings in Game Two, giving up just three hits and striking out five. Unfortunately, Marcus Hately could not hang onto it.
  • [Daytona] The 2 for 4 day of Javier Baez featured two doubles and just one strike out. The 1 for 4 day of Jorge Soler featured a single and three strikeouts.
  • [Daytona] Kyler Burke, the former outfielder who tore up the Midwest League as a pitcher last season before being promoted to Daytona, made his season debut for the Cubs. He struck out five over five innings as the starter.
  • [Kane County] After doubling twice and walking once in this one, Gioskar Amaya has raised his May OPS to .790.
  • [Kane County] Also hot is Jeimer Candelario. The switching hitting third baseman finished 4 for 5; it was his fourth multi-hit game in his last five.

Other News

  • As of Midnight Eastern time Almora’s assignment to Kane County had not appeared on the league transaction list. That should come through at any time, though, and probably not long before the game in which he makes his debut.
  • The Oklahoma City Triple A team is due to visit Iowa this weekend. If those guys don’t get a very warm welcome after yesterday’s horrible events in the Sooner State, then I don’t know Cub fans.
  • Major credit to anyone who gets the title reference without the help of a search engine.
  • On The Farm

    Kyler Burke, isn’t he the piece the Cubs got for Michael Barrett in the San Diego trade? If so man he has been in the system a looooooooong time. Micheal Barrett seems like a lifetime ago (I started thinking about this because I think Brett tweeted it was the infamous anniversary of Barrett punching AJ in the face)

    • ssckelley

      Yeah, he was flaming out as a outfielder so he is trying to pitch his way through the system now. Even though he has been in the system forever he is still only 25 years old, lefties are notorious for developing late perhaps he can turn into a serviceable left handed reliever.

      • mak

        Correct. While an OF prospect, he was known as having the best (defensive) arm in the system. I remember reading reports during his conversion that he could touch upper 90’s, but I guess that isn’t the case anymore. Nevertheless, I always find former position prospects converted to pitchers intriguing.

  • Die hard

    Used to be that track to majors was from AA not AAA as latter was for those on the way down and out or fill ins never to make it? Wonder if still true?

    • Rich H

      I think it matters the team and the player. Some teams want their kids to get at least a half season at AAA to be use to guys that can command the strike zone. Our FO has seemed to want everyone to get a full season at every level so I think that the days of just retreads being at that level are probably over unless a prospect just blows up and really shows that Iowa is not the right spot for them.

  • BluBlud

    Another day, another great game by Baez. He has a 7 game hit streak, has hits in 9 of his last 10 games, 4 multi hit games over that stretch. I know it sounds crazy, but the thing I like the most, he has 0 homeruns over that stretch. Is it me or when he homers in a game, it seems like it’s usually a 1-5 with 3 SO and a HR game? When he doesn’t, it a 2-4 with a double type game with 1 or no SO. I know his power will come, but I could careless if he hits another homerun all season, as long as he stays hitting the ball and making contact at a high rate..

    • David

      TOTALLY AGREE. Would love to have Baez, Rizzo, Soler to all have 45 doubles/ year when they get to Chicago.

  • eternal pessimist

    Too much talent at Kane County to keep putting off my first Cougars game of the year!

    • Rcleven

      You won’t regret it. Stay for the fireworks after the game. They put on a pretty good show. Also look for a meet the player date. Players line up on the field to give autographs. Your 3 feet from the player and see the actual size. Was really surprised at how young these kids really are.

      • ssckelley

        Stand next to Vogs and verify he really is 6 foot. 😀

        • Rcleven

          Biggest thrill I got was talking to Johnston. Told him I was a fan and the kid just ate it up like he never heard it before. Seemed to make his day. All were happy to pose in front of the camera too.

  • BluBlud

    Villanueva glove is not a question, and his bat will only be so good. I know he is hoping the Stewart thing sorts itself out and Vitters gets promoted soon, cause this guy needs to be in Iowa soon. He only has 170 PA’s. The guy is never going to be a .300 hitter so his offense is probably about where it’s going to be. I could see him in Chicago at some point as a super utility guy. He could become one of the best. Jeff Baker maybe.

    Alcantara may be in the same boat as Villanueva, but he may get slow paced moreso then Villanueva because of his offensive potential. Come Roster expansion time next year, the Cubs will have some decision/trade possibilities to make. Watkins, Villanueva, Vitters, Alcantara and Lake will all be fighting for roster spots between now and then.

    • Cedlandrum

      Villanueva needs to play in AA all year. What is the point in rushing? He is still young enough to work on his bat. This is only his age 22 season. Also he hasn’t played great in the field this year. He has the tools but needs to refine them.

      • Luke

        AGreed. Villanueva is not one that needs to be pushed to Iowa any time soon. Definitely not ahead of the guys who were in Tennessee for most or all of last year.

  • Alex

    Haha I might be off but is that Zelda or something else your referring to?

  • dob2812

    Yeah, it’s Zelda right? The picture even looks a little computer gamey.

    • Luke


      • Rcleven

        Give him the bronze.

  • preacherman86

    Don’t look know any paranoid folk but Baez has dropped his strikeout rate below 30%. Still not great but trending well towards respectable for a power hitter with a good average!!

  • Sober LaRussa


  • another JP

    This is an exciting time to be a Cub fan; improvement is being seen across all the levels of the organization and with the draft several weeks away promotions will be coming soon. What’s really encouraging is that the young stars like Soler, Villanueva, and Candelario are holding their own against better competition and some of the lesser known prospects like Shoulders, Geiger, and Hendricks are showing vast improvement. If guys like BJax, Vitters, and Watkins play to their potential we’ll have loads of talent to move up the ladder this summer.

    • another JP

      Oh yeah- Rosscup can’t get to Iowa soon enough IMO. Would like to see him pitching in the Cub bullpen next season.

  • cubbiesOHcubbies

    Luke, I work with a guy that, when the Cubs drafted Almora, mentioned there was a Heavy metal or rock band or something named Almora. Back then I looked it up and they had an album titled the gates of time. As soon as I saw that heading, coupled with Brett’s article about his return, it all came rushing back to me. How’s that for pulling it out of the vault?

  • King Jeff

    Nice update. Good job once again Luke, love being able to come to one spot and get all of my Cubs prospect news.

    Didn’t we get a confirmation a week or so ago that Vizcaino is in Tennesee rehabbing? I know it’s nitpicking, but wouldn’t there be a preference to rehab at the rehab facility rather than in Tennesee?

    • Brett

      He may or may not have been with Tennessee for a while (someone did say they saw him there), but then he came to Chicago for a check-up and a workout, and then I believe headed back to Mesa before going out on assignment somewhere. We’re in that nebulous spot right now – he could be assigned out any day, or he could start playing in some Extended Spring Training games. No one seems to know.

      • King Jeff

        So now we just wait for the grainy, bigfoot like photos to start showing up on the internet.

        • Brett


  • DocPeterWimsey

    This is slightly tangential, but change the team name, and the discussion might feel familiar: