american flagA year ago I wrote a Memorial Day introduction for the Daily. I wrote on the importance of baseball as a symbol that persists through American history, both the good and the bad. I wrote on the episodes in which baseball defined our culture and gently led us through the dark days and out the other side. I wrote about the deep connection between baseball and Memorial Day and all that is represented by this proudest of holidays. It was one of my first long editorials in my new capacity as the Minor League Editor for the best Cubs’ blog on the Internet. One year later, I am not sure I can top it.

So I’m not going to try. I’ll simply link back to the full piece and leave you with a quote from the midst of it.

When America plunged into the Great Depression, Lou Gehrig taught the nation about endurance. In the face of Nazism and rampant Antisemitism, baseball offered Hank Greenberg. When the time came for America to join World War Two, many of the game’s best stars joined the ranks and served on nearly every front. As the rest of the nation rallied to support those soldiers with the means of war, some of the game’s unlikeliest heroes embodied the spirit of everyone forced by the march of destiny into filling their changing roles as best they could. At the dawn of the civil rights movement, baseball’s own Jackie Robinson led the way. When many feared that war, corruption, and protests had placed the nation on the brink of anarchy, Rick Monday saved the flag. And in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, baseball once again provided the nation with a symbol, a release.

James Earl Jones said it best in his finest monologue. “This field, this game … It reminds us of all that once was good, and could be again.”

And it still does. Baseball will always be there to hold up a mirror and show this nation a picture of itself.

Be sure to hug a veteran today.

And now the baseball.

Scores From The Weekend

Friday – Iowa got the weekend off to a good start with a 5-4 win.
Saturday – On Saturday they won again, this time by the final of 7-3.
Sunday – Sunday brought a doubleheader, and the Cubs swept it. Game One ended with a 2-1 Iowa win, and Game Two found the Cubs the 4-3 victors.

Friday – Tennessee played the cleaner game on Friday, but they still lost 6-2.
Saturday – Saturday was little different as the Smokies lost 7-2.
Sunday – They broke through on Sunday, though, with a solid 5-2 win.

Friday – One big inning sunk the Cubs in this 7-3 loss.
Saturday – They bounced back on Saturday with a big inning of their own in this 5-4 win.
Sunday – And then went down again on Sunday in a 5-3 loss.

Kane County
Friday – The Cougars salvaged one game from their series in Peoria with this 8-1 win.
Saturday – And then they kicked off a home series with a doubleheader sweep. The final in Game One was 4-3, and in Game Two they won 7-4.
Sunday – The short winning streak game to an end with this 6-5 loss.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] There was no one hero for Iowa this weekend. The entire offense looks like it is starting to heat up at the same time as the bullpen is turning out a steady steam of consistently good innings.
  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters led the hitting Friday with a solo home run and two walks. Unfortunately he missed the rest of the weekend with soreness in his right side.
  • [Iowa] Although his overall production remains depressed, Logan Watkins enjoyed some bright moments this weekend. A home run and three walks can put a smile on anyone’s weekend.
  • [Iowa] Brian Bogusevic is continuing to hit everything that moves. He posted six more hits this weekend, all singles, and watched his OPS rise to 1.032. He is actually coming back to earth this month, though. His May OPS (.995) is a fair bit lower than his April figure (1.068).
  • [Iowa] The bullpen has been good lately. Casey Coleman tossed 2.2 innings of hitless relief on Saturday for his first save. Blake Parker pitched the seventh (allowing nothing) in Game One on Sunday for his his seventh save. Game Two’s win was credited to reliever Marcus Hatley with Zach Putnam notching his fourth save.
  • [Tennessee] When the Smokies need a win, Eric Jokisch went out and found one. It wasn’t his prettiest performance (5.2 IP, 2R, 7H, 6K) but it got the job done.
  • [Tennessee] Thanks in large part to some great work by the bullpen. Trey McNutt struck out three in an inning of work, Zach Rosscup pitched like… well, like Zach Rosscup, and Frank Batista nailed it down for his sixth save.
  • [Tennessee] Arismendy Alcantara doubled and homered (his seventh) over the weekend while splitting his time between short and second.
  • [Daytona] With three hits (including a double) and two steals, John Andreoli had a huge game on Friday.
  • [Daytona] Jorge Soler hammered another one on Sunday and is up to 7 home runs on the season. He has hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games and has an OPS of .896 over that stretch.
  • [Daytona] Javier Baez has also hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games and has an OPS of .934 over that period. He also has three walks to go with just five strikeouts. His High-A K% is down to a tolerable 25% and falling rapidly.
  • [Daytona] Kyler Burke pitched five scoreless innings on Saturday. He allowed just a single hit to go with two walks and two strikeouts.
  • [Kane County] The highlight of the weekend was Pierce Johnson. The young right hander struck out 8 over 6.2 innings while allowing a single run on 6 hits and 2 walks.
  • [Kane County] And then we have Albert Almora. He only had two extra base hits on the weekend (two doubles, both on Saturday), but that’s all the criticism I can muster. His line through 6 games is a ridiculous .538/.586/.731 with two walks and two strikeouts.
  • [Kane County] Gioskar Amaya hit his first home run of the season on Sunday. After a getting off to a slow start, this guy has really started to hit well lately. His May OPS is up to .798; that is a .230 raise over his April figure. Not bad.

Other News

  • If you are not convinced yet of the importance of the OBP and SLG emphasis of the Cubs front office, look no further than Logan Watkins. While mired in the midst of a slump that has plunged his batting average down to .229, Watkins has kept his OPS a respectable .785. Over his last ten games he is hitting just .206 while compiling an OPS of .800. Imagine when the entire system is full players who have the skill set and mentality that result in this kind of productivity even while slumping. Watkins projects best as a utility player on the biggest stage, but he is also a harbinger of things to come.
  • How good has Alcantara been this year? Prior to this season his career total in HR was 12. He already has 7, equaling his career high from last summer. And it is only May. Last year he stole 25 bases. This year he already has 14. He’s on pace to eclipse his career high by the All-Star break.
  • Ready for another example of the small sample size effect? Albert Almora has a BABIP of .632, a wOBA of .642, and a wRC+ of 299. For real. His SLG of .810 alone makes for a good OPS. These numbers will come back to earth as he gets more games under his belt, but I have to admit that it is fun to look up a prospect and see video game numbers.
  • Jp3

    Almora is a stud. I knew he was a stud but even they sometimes come out of hight school and have to adapt to better pitching competition or wooden bats. Apparently these things have no effect on him😝. Can’t wait to see his progress over the next couple of years.

  • Die hard

    Does Almora upside lend support for taking college players who should be ready by age 24-25 or High School players who can be ready at age 21-22? Which gives more bang for buck?

    • Jp3

      I think something has to be said for the college kids having a proven track record against better pitching than high school kids. That doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions to the rule like AA has been his 1st week and Trout who started playing minor league ball when he was 17 years old. I think college kids are less likely to be busts but not necessarily super stars such as the term around here, high floor players but not necessarily high ceiling. Being a UNC fan living in North Carolina I immediately think of Dustin Ackley of the Mariners for example, he doesn’t have much for a ceiling but there was almost 0% chance he didn’t make
      It to the show.

      • Dynastyin2017

        Don’t forget most high ceiling high school players don’t make it to college. For the most part, HS players who go to college have things in their game that need working on.

    • JoeyCollins

      I think it still depends on position. A really young (barely 17) HS bat, yes please, but i can pass on that hot name HS pitcher (except for the Strasburg type exceptions). It also depends on bonus money and where you draft them. If you’re talking high 1st round I think that HS kid has to be pretty special to pass on a proven college arm the likes of Appel or Gray.

  • Dynastyin2017

    Is anyone else concerned Almora’s average has dropped over 200 points since his first game?

  • jt

    Almost 32% of Watkins’ PA’s end in either a K or BB with a decent % of those in the walk column. About 44% of Watkins’ hits are XBhits.
    I don’t care to much for the luck dribble. But….
    Stat heads have a lot of value in looking at this type of situation.
    Are the BB and XBhits going to continue in the Show?
    Is this part of his development and will the singles follow as he matures as a hitter or is he just an Adam Dunn wann-a-be?

  • jt

    Oh yeah, The Memorial day prose… well worth the read. Real nice job!

  • Mike S

    Got to see the Cougars for the first time yesterday. The hype is legit for Almora, he will be in the majors I’m sure. Vogelbach was very disappointing. He hit some hard balls, and is a very good hitter. But he does not have a position yet. Watching him at 1b he made 2 errors, both because he stretches off the bag with his left foot. He forgot to go out and be the cutoff on a ball hit to right and the throw went home. I can’t help but wonder if he is 250 bc he’s just lazy…if he makes it to the MLB, I doubt it will be with the Cubs…

    • Jp3

      Someone yesterday compared Vogs to Kruk as a hitter which I think looks like a pretty good comp to this point. He’s def I liability at 1st but as far as a hitter goes he’s been consistently at .290/.350 slash line all year which is rock solid. His power will come soon but yes it will be hard to hide him on the diamond, he’s going to have to be a DH almost certainly

      • Blublud

        I disagree. Vogs can play in the field. He is no where near as big as Prince, and just as athletic. Watched him play in high school. The kid can move, his size is not a liability. He may just be a bad defender. I don’t think his size is the reason.if he was 185 lbs, he would probably be just as bad. He just needs to learn and grow like most 19-20 yr olds in the minors.

        • Jp3

          I never said he was big as Prince, I said basically what you did. He’s probably just a bad fielder… That makes him a liability, I don’t care about his size but he won’t get more agile with age.

          • Mike S

            Nevertheless, he won’t be playing with the Cubs. 1st base is the only position he “could” play, and thats locked up for the next 7 years.

            Here’s a question, does his trade value drop since teams know he doesn’t have a position with the Cubs?

            • Luke

              Not really. Teams know that he isn’t going to make the majors for quite some time, and that a lot can happen in that time. To a great extent the market sets the price, and the selling team is rarely considered a critical part of the market.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Luke, I just reread last years write-up on Memorial Day. I can’t believe there were only 7 comments made by BN’ers.

    • #1lahairfan

      I remember those days. I had just started commenting after reading this site for a year or so.

  • Jason

    Almora just misplayed a line drive in center. looked real bad coming in on a ball over his head.

  • Jason

    looks like he tweaked something and is out of the game

  • North Side Irish

    Bruce Miles ‏@BruceMiles2112 1m
    More bad stuff RT @WayneRandazzo: Albert Almora leaves @KCCougars game after injuring left leg. Noticeable limp. #Cubs

    • Spriggs

      I hope we don’t come to find out now that Albert Almora is made out of glass.

  • Bsteady

    Do we still have Michael Burgess? The power hitter we got from the Nats in the Gorzelanny deal.

    • Brett

      No. Lost him to the Astros in the minor league Rule 5 last year. Not doing anything remarkable at AA for them.

  • Spriggs

    no. lost him in the rule 5 draft I think

  • Bsteady