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reggie goldenReggie Golden has been added to the Kane County roster and made his season debut last night. The stat line (0 for 3, 2K, 1BB) is almost beside the point. The important part is that Golden is back in action.

The Cubs took Golden in the second round in 2010, but he only appeared in four games that summer. In 2011 he made it into 64 games with the short season Boise team; that remains his high water mark. Thanks to a season-ending injury, he played in only seven games for Peoria last fall. We are coming up on the third anniversary of his being drafted and he just now played his 76th professional game. That’s not a great way to start a career.

Golden is a potential five tool outfielder who could, once he gets some regular experience, shoot up the Cubs prospect rankings in a hurry. In terms of talent he trails only Almora and Soler among outfield prospects in the organization. He has organizational Top 10 potential, even in this organization. If he can stay healthy.

If he can, Kane County fans will get to enjoy the best outfield tandem in the farm system (at least for now). If you did not already have enough reasons to watch this team play, now you have one more.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The Cubs had a chance to take the lead in the 9th, but they couldn’t get it done. They lost 4-3.
Tennessee – Tennessee had a decent game, but Birmingham played a better one. The Smokies lost 6-3.
Daytona – Two Cub pitchers combined on a shutout in this 3-0 win.
Kane County – It took nine innings for the Cougars to get on the board, but it wasn’t enough. They lost 2-1.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] If Nick Struck doesn’t make it as a pitcher, he might want to give hitting a try. He doubled in yesterday’s game and is hitting .250 on the season.
  • [Iowa] Casey Coleman came in to relieve Struck and tossed three hitless innings. He walked two and struck out two.
  • [Tennessee] Arismendy Alcantara had a three hit game that featured his first triple of the season. Over his last ten games he has an OPS of 1.256 with 5 BB and 3 HR. And only 7 K. Hard to argue with numbers like that.
  • [Tennessee] There have been questions about Christian Villanueva‘s bat, but his month of May suggests he might be just fine. After his double on Wednesday he is hitting .298/.356/.500 for the month.
  • [Daytona] Zeke DeVoss and John Andreoli both had two hit at the top of the Daytona lineup. Andreoli’s day included a double.
  • [Daytona] Zach Cates tossed six shut out innings, allowing just five hits while walking one and striking out five. Yao-Lin Wang struck out five more over the final three to complete the shut out.
  • [Kane County] Marco Hernandez singled twice and scored in the ninth. Carlos Escobar also had two hits. That was the offense in this one.
  • [Kane County] Although Gioskar Amaya did walk twice. That’s his second straight multi-walk game.
  • [Kane County] In 5.2 innings Pierce Johnson struck out 7 and allowed a single tally on a solo home run.

Other News

  • Almora and Golden are the best outfield tandem in the farm system, but it may not be by much. A strong case can be made in favor of John Andreoli and Jorge Soler. If Jae-Hoon Ha were healthy, he and Matt Szczur would be in the conversation. The duo of Brett Jackson and Brian Bogusevic are knocked down a peg by Bogusevic’s minor league veteran status, but it is hard to argue with the production out of that pair. The best outfield pair in recent years, though, goes without any argument to the brief appearance of Soler and Almora on the same field in the Arizona Rookie League last fall. That will likely remain the best we see until those two sync up again.
  • BluBlud

    Javier Baez went o-3 last night, with no SO. I wonder if the Cubs brass seen him failing early in the season, but allowed it to continue to knock his ego down a peg. Maybe it humbled him a little and now he knows he has to listen to the coaches in order to get better. Something has had to happen for us to all of a sudden see this drastic of a turn around with his SO numbers.

    • BluBlud

      Since may 15th, Baez is hitting .333/.368/500 with a 10.5% SO rate.

      • ETS

        I’d feel better if that was over a whole month.

        • BluBlud

          Of course. We all will. His SO rate dropped a decent amount starting about a week before the 15th, but it has been down right great since then.

        • Kyle

          I’ll feel better when it’s his whole season. Splitting out arbitrary endpoints is not a great practice. All the games count.

          But Baez does seem to have made some adjustment. He’s looking more like a low-OBP slugger and less like a complete washout.

  • On The Farm

    ” In 5.2 innings Pierce Johnson struck out 7 and allowed a single tally on a solo home run.”

    Pierce continues his hot streak. How much longer until they decide he is ready for Daytona? I know it is only one stat, but he has lowered his ERA below 3 last night and over his last 3-4 starts his K/9 is well over 1. I am thinking I have about one more shot at catching him while he is in the MWL (June 8/9th @ CR whichever day he ends up pitching, haven’t checked the schedule.)

    • BluBlud

      Damn, we were thinking alike.

    • Cubbie Blues

      K/9 of 1 really isn’t that good. :P

      • hansman1982

        He did say well over…

        • Cubbie Blues

          Don’t you have some house work to do? :P

          • hansman1982

            Wrapping it up today…hopefully…if I get off this damn site.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Check out the Calendar. Someone is doing a stellar job filling in.

  • BluBlud

    Also, Luke, when do you think we might see a bump for Johnson. I wasn’t as high on the guy, but he has pitching very well, and in 10 games in low A, doesn’t seem to be challenged much. How many games does it take to see this guy needs to move to Daytona.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      There is absolutely no hurry. I would not expect anything until min-June, but nor would I be surprised if he stayed in Kane County all season.

      • David

        He’s a 22 year old dominating in low-A after being a first round pick, he’s not spending the whole year there. At the latest he’ll get moved up by early July, but possibly as soon as the next few weeks. I’d guess late June though.

        • Kyle

          Out of all the clamoring for quick promotions Cubs fans are doing, this is probably the most logical one. Daytona is a very logical spot for Johnson.

          Although I really don’t mind him staying down. It’s nice to have a starting pitching prospect actually dominating for once.

          • Cedlandrum

            I agree with you Kyle.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            Yeah, he needs to move up. Dominating at KC for a college guy isn’t that remarkable to me.

            • Dynastyin2017

              Yes. And the word ‘dominating’ may be a bit generous. His WHIP isn’t that great and his hits/inning is still over 1. His he a highlight so far? Yes. His he the greatest pitching prospect ever? No.

              • Kyle

                Well, thank you for debunking everyone who said that he was the greatest pitching prospect ever.

                Hits don’t really matter for pitchers. If he’s getting strikeouts, avoiding walks and avoiding HRs, all of which he is doing, then he can’t be held responsible for every ground ball dribbler than an A-ball defense can’t handle.

                • http://Noclue SenorGato

                  With the A ball defense comes the A ball hitter. They don’t get easier as he moves up.

                  • Kyle

                    Good thing he’s dominating in all the stats that matter for a pitcher, then.

                    • http://Noclue SenorGato

                      Sure, in the majors. For a 22 year old first round pick in A ball? Dominance should be even more total. Dominant shouldn’t need special conditions or specific numbers – again especially for a 22 year old college trained first round pick.

                      You sure there’s not a little boost for being one of maybe 2-3 starting pitching prospects making good starts consistently?

                    • Kyle

                      Dominant doesn’t need special conditions. It only needs someone not willfully looking at bad statistics to try to justify the opinion they want to have in this case.

              • Spriggs

                I was thinking he is only the 2nd greatest pitching prospect of all-time.

            • Rcleven

              He is 22 years old. He is also the fourth youngest pitcher on the KC staff.

              • Kyle

                That’s mostly because the KC staff is an unimpressive bunch of roster fill.

                • Cedlandrum

                  I wouldn’t call Dillon Maples, Jose Rosario or Felix Pena roster filler. They actually have a very intriguing rotation. Now most will flame out but they certainly are not filler.

                  • Cedlandrum

                    I forgot Jose Arias as well who is on the DL.

      • JulioZuleta

        There’s no reason for Johnson to make another start at KC; I think he should have started at Daytona. His next start will be in June, I think two months was a long enough KC stint for him. He pitched in college for three years and was very successful.

        In other news, nice to see that Cates is (at least half the time) throwing well.

  • Cubbie Blues

    “He has organizational Top 10 potential, even in this organization.” I still haven’t gotten used to the new connotation this brings now that we have a good farm.

    • Alex

      Haha I thought the same thing. The sentence didn’t make sense at first for me.

  • CubFan Paul

    I haven’t seen a positive report on Soler’s outfield defense yet (haven’t been looking either but all reports I’ve seen are: he’s raw w/ tons of athleticism and needs to develop out there).

    • Spriggs

      There have been very positive reviews on Soler’s fielding that I’ve seen. His fielding will not be his problem. And as a fan and observer in his AZ Rookie league games, I saw a guy with a very nice arm who could cover ground and handled himself just fine. He looked like a good outfielder to me.

      • CubFan Paul

        Got a current-ish link?

        • Spriggs

          Can’t find it, but Brett posted something here within the last week… where a scout was very critical of Soler on just about everything but his fielding which as I recall he complimented in high fashion

          • Dynastyin2017

            I think it was a post on CCO, about a week ago. I think the term the scout used to describe Soler was lazy. FWIW, Keith Law isn’t impressed with Soler’s defense and arm, but that’s the first I’ve seen that written.

  • Cubbie Blues

    How long until Arismendy Alcantara moves up to AAA? Is there a possibility of this year so that he can challenge Barney out of ST next year?

    • CubFan Paul

      Leave Alcantara at AA. He’s probably our biggest trade chip this offseason (to buy a pitcher). If he’s rushed to AAA, his value might drop.

      • BluBlud

        I disagree. Alcantara is really not doing anything all that suprising this year. In fact, a lot of his numbers are down this year. He has a track record. The only difference this season is his power is developing, and he’s stealing bases. If he moves up to AAA, he’ll continue to perform. But i doubt he moves before another month or so. He needs 100 more PA’s at AA.

        • Cubbie Blues

          What are you talking about? His K’s are up and his AVG is down, but everything else is either virtually the same or better and he went from A+ to AA. His wRC+ is a full 10 points higher in a tougher level. His AVG can also be explained by his BABIP being down about the same amount as his AVG (31 vs 32 points down). I definitely could see another 100 ABs though.

          • Blublud

            I’m disagreeing with Cubfanpaul saying leave him in AA. He was saying if Alcantara moves up, he may not perform. I’m saying Alcantara is a good player and will perform where ever he plays at. I was agreeing with you. By saying he is doing nothing surprising was my way of saying he has been a good player, so holding him back to keeps his stats up is not needed.

            • Cubbie Blues

              My apologies. I misinterpreted what you were saying. I promise it won’t be the last time though.

            • Cedlandrum

              I think it was the part where you said many of his numbers are down that was misleading because they are in fact not down.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He’s still pretty young for AA, even.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Even so, if he is still killing it in another month a promotion wouldn’t be out of the question would it? If we can get another bat up the middle it sure would take a lot of pressure off of some of the other guys. Although, I did just see that he has moved up one full league each of the last four years. Maybe it would be rushing him at second look. (I should have deleted this post since I kind of changed my mind a bit, in the middle.)

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Keep in mind he’s also playing second this year. He needs time to get used to that position as well as to get comfortable with whatever changes led him to become a homer factory this year.

          • Cubbie Blues

            I was assuming that 100 so AB in AA and his 500 AB in AAA would be sufficient to get acclimated at 2nd. But, yes, the HR factory could eventually cause problems for him if he starts to try and hit them instead of letting them come naturally.

            • BluBlud

              The one full level a year was with limited at-batas throughout the season. He is playing everyday now and is accumulating at-bats at a faster rate this season. I think he’ll get his bump, and get enough at-bats at AA, and AAA between hear and now to be able to make his debut mid to late season next year. That doesn’t mean he will make his debuted next season, just that if he is needed, he’ll could be ready.

      • Blublud

        I don’t think that’s a good reason not to promote someone. Performance trumps age in every direction.

        • Cubbie Blues

          There is credence to age as well though. It’s not a non-factor. There does need to be a bit more caution when dealing with the younger kids.

        • Cedlandrum

          If Alcantara can continue to play well in AA, it in my opinion would be better for him then going to AAA. I think he is someone who needs to move one step at a time, especially considering the problems he is having on defense. He has averaged an error every other game at SS in his career. Also he really has only played the equivalent of just over 2 minor league seasons.

          I know he is exciting, but the Cubs need to let him develop or they are going to be facing the same problems with him that they have with Castro.

          • BluBlud

            I agree and disagree with this. I think it’s better to promote guys from AA to the majors. So him staying at AA is no big deal for me. I feel AA has more legit prospects and more star power the AAA, and it’s also more competitive. However, knowing the way this FO works, he going to have to see some time in AAA before he is considered ready. Pretty Dump idea, IMO. If a guy is ready, I would move him. If a guy can reach the league early, why not get him there. Plus when you are forced to resign him or pay him a big money contract, if it reaches that level, you’ll be doing it at 28-29 instead 30-31.

      • mak

        I’d also think that Watkins, who is more polished at the plate and in the field is the “next guy up” at 2nd. Between Watkins, Alcantara and then Torreyes and Amaya, I’m ready to trade Barney for a decent return.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He hasn’t even had half a season in Double A yet. It is way too early to be talking about promoting him.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Yeah, I changed my view a bit. See my response to Ace.

      • BluBlud

        Alcantara has not had more then 369 at any level in his career. I don’t think he needs a whole season at AA. I think he will get near his usual 300+ at-bats or PAs and then will get bump, if he is still performing.

      • hansman1982

        Yes, no prospect has ever been destroyed by spending too much time in AA…

    • http://Noclue SenorGato

      Chalk me up for keeping him in AA the whole year.

  • Scott

    Are there any reports on Pierce Johnson’s stuff this year? I love the results, but want to know what scouts are seeing.

    • Bill

      I watched Johnson last night and he looked great. Much better than Maples. His fastball might be a touch under Maples but his breaking ball is wicked. He gave up 1 BB last night and that was on a 3-2 curve ball in the 1st inning that was a knee buckler. Should have been strike 3 to end the inning. The ump knew he blew the call and told the catcher to go out and tell him he blew the call.

      Johnson threw strikes all night long. He made one bad pitch to the leadoff hitter in the 6th inning. Got a fastball over the heart of the plate and he hit is way out. Most of the night he was painting the corners and keeping the ball down. I was very impressed with how he pitched. He pretty much dominated the River Bandits.

      They must have him on a strict pitch count. They pulled him with 2 outs (none on) in the 6th, with the lefty, Jonathon Singleton, due up. Since they brought in another righty it tells me they had Johnson on a strict pitch count. Singleton is a very big boy. He was playing in his first two games (he was suspended 50 games for steroids) and had 4 hits, 2 HR’s. Both of them were no doubter. He was one of the players traded in the Hunter Pence trade. The word is he’ll move to AAA in a week or so, he played AA ball last year.

  • rbreeze

    Luke:
    Thanks for the great coverage with the minor leagues. Are there any hitters that might contribute to the 2014 major league roster. I know we need a lot of most things but we need another hitter or two in the line up. Outside of free agency or a trade does anyone from the minors have a shot next year with the big league club?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, and Junior Lake head that list.

      Jorge Soler could show up in the second half. Matt Szczur and Jae-Hoon Ha factor in there as well.

      Brian Bogusevic is a minor league veteran, but he’s putting the numbers to earn a shot.

      Christian Villanueva, Roni Torreyes, and Arismendy Alcantara could all be late season call up candidates next year.

      • Kyle

        If Brett Jackson doesn’t do significantly better in the rest of the season, I think you have to think about dump-trading him to get him off the 40-man this offseason.

  • Spriggs

    “The best outfield pair in recent years, though, goes without any argument to the brief appearance of Soler and Almora on the same field in the Arizona Rookie League last fall. That will likely remain the best we see until those two sync up again.”

    Yes, plus they had Dunston Jr. in LF which made it even more interesting. I can only hope to ever see such a talented group again for the Cubs in the Arizona Rookie League at one time!

  • DReese

    What is Christian Villanueva’s BABIP? Is there any reason to think that his new found bat is luck or is it legit?

    • Kyle

      For the season, it’s .316. It was .258 in April and .366 in May.

      He’s had a higher LD% in May, so there’s some evidence that he is hitting better, but I would still be very cautious about pulling out a hot streak and saying “a-ha! That’s the real prospect, not the guy who struggled earlier.” It’s way too tempting and easy.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      .316 this year, which is pretty much his career average.

      I have to keep reminding myself that he’s just 21, and only going to turn 22 in a few weeks. He’s young for AA.

      • Cedlandrum

        true good point and thanks for the reminder

      • DReese

        True, he is young. What would be a good line for him since he is a very good defender? 280/350/400?

        • BluBlud

          That would be damn good for a good defender. Now if he could only crank 25 HR with those numbers, you might be looking at a middle of the order, all-star caliber guy at the hot corner.

          • DReese

            I kinda doubt it but, I think 15 HR would be very passible.

      • http://Noclue SenorGato

        Yeah, I’m a little disappointed so far but he is still young for the level. I’m less interested than last year, but not yet finished with Villanueva as a non-superstar starter.

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