Cubs Minor League Daily: Back to Baseball

junior lake cubsWe are very slowly putting the draft in the rear view mirror.

Signing season, on the other hand, that is in full swing. Keeping track of the draftees who sign can be a little tougher than keeping track of the draft, though. Often rumors or unconfirmed reports of a signing will leak before the signing itself is registered with the Commissioner’s office. And on top of that, there are the signing bonuses to keep track of. Signing draftees these days has the added intriguing of managing the cap numbers and working under the harsh limitations of the pool allotments. It can get confusing. What we need is a single source that will compile all that information in one spot.

And not only does BleacherNation offer all that, you can even get  t-shirts! Double Win!

If you need more information than Brett can provide (I know, not very likely) or you want to play around with draft cap scenarios yourself, then check out the Baseball America Draft Database. Here you will find the pool amounts for each pick along with updated calculations regarding available pool funds after each player has signed.

There was more happening this weekend than just the draft, though. We have a weekend’s worth of minor league games to catch up on.

Scores From The Weekend

Iowa -
Friday – Iowa had the most hits in this game, but not the most runs. The Cubs lost 3-1.
Saturday – A Saturday doubleheader opened with an 8-5 Cub win. The Cubs went on to win Game Two as well, with a final of 5-4.
Sunday – The Cubs capped off the weekend with yet another win. This time the final was 10-7.

Tennessee -
Friday – Tennessee dropped this road contest 6-1.
Saturday – It took extra innings, but they lost on Saturday as well. The final was 3-2.
Sunday – Winning returned on Sunday, though, with an 11 inning 5-3 triumph.

Daytona -
Friday – The Cubs rallied late but fell just short. They lost 7-6.
Saturday – Rain swept in and kept the game from being played.
Sunday – That set up a doubleheader on Sunday. Game One went to the Cubs, 8-2. Game Two was also a Cubs win, 3-2.

Kane County -
Friday – Kane County kicked off the weekend with a 3-2 win.
Saturday – The Cougars won big on Saturday, strolling away with a 15-1 blowout victory.
Sunday – They lost on Sunday, though, 8-4.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Ian Stewart had a game for the ages on Saturday. His 3 for 3 performance included 3 home runs and accounted for all 8 of the Cubs runs. It doesn’t get much better than that.
  • [Iowa] Brett Jackson hit his 5th home run on Sunday. He stole a few bases over the weekend as well, and is now up to 7 on the year.
  • [Iowa] And then we get to Junior Lake. The long layoff has not appeared to hurt his bat at all. He collected 8 hits over the weekend, and 4 of them were doubles. He also stole 2 bases, walked twice, and did not strike out at all.
  • [Iowa] There was some pretty good pitching in Iowa this weekend as well. Chris Rusin struck out 7 while pitching 8 very good innings on Friday night. His ERA is down to 3.67 this year.
  • [Iowa] Eduardo Sanchez and Michael Bowden both tossed two scoreless innings in relief on Sunday. They fanned seven between them.
  • [Tennessee] Arismendy Alcantara struck out once while walking five times this weekend. He also doubled.
  • [Tennessee] Don’t sleep on Rubi Silva. The outfielder hit his 9th home run on Sunday. His season line now reads .262/.288/.491.
  • [Tennessee] Frank Batista had to pitch 3.2 innings to wrap up the extra inning affair on Sunday night, but it ended with his second win.
  • [Tennessee] Kyle Hendricks had a fairly typical start on Saturday. All he did was scatter 4 hits over 6 innings while striking out 6. This guy is making Double A look easy. We do not see that very often.
  • [Daytona] With 2 walks and 2 steals on Sunday Javier Baez showed he could contribute even without getting an extra base hit.
  • [Daytona] Speaking of steals, John Andreoli collected 3 more this weekend to raise his total to 19. Tim Saunders was also active on the bases and is also sitting on 19 steals for the season.
  • [Daytona] On the mound, P.J. Francescon struck out 7 while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits over 5 innings in Game Two on Sunday. Kyler Burke put up similar numbers in Game One (5 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K).
  • [Kane County] As impressive as the offense was on Saturday, credit the Cougars’ pitching with some nice work as well. Michael Heesch held a good Cedar Rapids team to just 1 run over 6.1 innings. Ian Dickson and Lendy Castillo finished things up in scoreless fashion. Castillo did so by striking out the side to end the game.
  • [Kane County] And that offense was impressive. Gioskar Amaya, Albert Almora, Dan Vogelbach, and Jeimer Candelario all homered for the Coungars on Saturday. Cadelario also homered on Friday.
  • [Kane County] Almora went 1 for 4 on Friday and finished the game with a batting average of .404. After going 6 for 10 over the next two games, he had raised that to .433.

Other News

  • If you missed Stewart’s historic game this weekend, don’t despair. Thanks to sports photographer extraordinaire Dylan Heuer, you can check out some high quality pictures of Stewart’s incredible day.
  • In addition to hitting the ball well, Junior Lake is playing sound defense all over the diamond. So far he has appeared at third base and in right field, but there is talk of him getting some games in center field as well. Second base could be a possibility, and I am sure he can still handle shortstop.
  • Some good news for Tennessee fans – Justin Bour and Jae-Hoon Ha are both due to begin rehab assignments in Arizona soon. Their return should be a significant boost for the Smokies offense.
  • I mentioned in “This Week In The Minors” on Sunday that Frank Batista had yet to record an at bat in his career. Sure enough, he stepped to the plate on Sunday. That is either one wild coincidence or … I have no idea. That has to be a wild coincidence.
  • Dillon Maples completely melted down on Sunday, but the stat line strongly suggests it was a mechanical problem. Over 2 innings he gave up just the one hit, but he walked 7. We’ll see what comes in the next few days, but I suspect any panic over Maples at this stage would be premature. Walking 7 in 2 innings is a rare occurrence, and it generally has more to do with the pitcher’s mechanics than stuff.
  • In case you missed it in yesterday’s piece, the Tennessee Smokies are holding an online auction of various baseball memorabilia to support the Oklahoma City Red Cross. Check it out here. A San Diego batting helmet signed by the team is up for a $200 bid. Or you could bid $35 on an autographed photo of Bobby Valentine. Fans of the scrapy may want to drop a $100 bid on a signed Tony Campana bat. Or if you’d prefer to own a bat signed by a Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks‘s autographed Louisville Slugger is starting at $275. There are 32 total items available. All of them are interesting and all of them are in support of a great cause. Take a few minutes today and check it out.

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation. He can be found on Twitter as ltblaize.

37 responses to “Cubs Minor League Daily: Back to Baseball”

  1. bryan

    As well as Almora is handeling low A ball, can we realistically expect for him to get bumped to AA? Why not challenge him for the second half of the year and if he struggles the second half then he can go into the offseason knowing what to improve on. Then Start him in AA again next year. I guess my hopes are that he continues to handles business and maybe we can see him next September. I want our FO to challenge our top prospects, that way we have a better idea of what we have

    1. BluBlud

      I agree. Just like Schierholtz, I’ll change my opinion when I am wrong. Almora is currently playing like he’s the top prospect in all of baseball. I don’t know if it’s time to move him now, but I suspect if he hit’s like this for the next 3 weeks to a month, they are going to have to start thinking about promoting him.

    2. ssckelley

      Almora has only had 73 plate appearances, way to small of a sample size to start moving him up. In comparison Byron Buxton, who many consider the best prospect in the Midwest League, has 265 PA with better results. Both players are only 19 years old, there is no reason to rush them through the system.

      1. willis

        I do agree, there is no reason to rush him at his age. But, if the kid continues to dominate, knowing his defense is well ahead of the curve as well, I think you bump him at some point. Maybe not to AA, but at least to Daytona. Then start him at AA next season.

    3. Cedlandrum

      Holy Crap low A to AA, no way. Maybe a trip to Daytona after 200 or so ab’s.

      1. Blublud

        Yeah, didn’t realize he said AA. Maybe to Daytona.

  2. BluBlud

    Don’t look up, but Baez now has a Higher Average, More Hits, doubles, triples, HR, RBI, total bases, SB, a higher Slugging and a higher OPS then Jorge Soler. He also still has way more SO, and half as many walks. But if Soler is have a good season, Baez is having a slightly better season.

    1. BluBlud

      Soler also has a higher OBP.

      1. bbmoney

        Yeah Baez’s slash line is actually not half bad. .279/.329/.509.

        I just wish his K rate was lower and walk rate was higher. His OBP is a little artificially high because of 8 HBPs. If those 8 HBP were all walks, I’d be a lot happier.

        1. Jp3

          He got plunked twice in one game one time last week. You wonder if he didn’t piss someone off😀. Was last nights by plunking too?

    2. Kyle

      A lot more nights like last night with the BBs and we’ll be on to something.

      Until then, raw performance in A-ball leaves a lot of predictiveness behind. You can succeed in high-A with a bad approach.

      1. BluBlud

        Yeah Kyle, I agree. Thast is why I stated a while ago, I could careless about Baez hitting Homeruns, and putting up 4 and 5 hit games. Yes, those are nice, but good players will have those 4 and 5 hit games occasionally, even when they aren’t playing good. The little things are more important right now. I would like to see what he can do once he gets out of the “Pitcher Friendly” Florida League. atleast now, he is showing a slight ability to make adjustment. Hopefully that continues.

    3. ssckelley

      I think a better comparison is to compare how Baez has done through 56 games at Daytona compared to 57 games last year in Peoria. His numbers are comparable with a slightly lower OPS (.837 vs .979) which is to be expected considering Baez is playing in a pitcher dominated league versus low A Midwest League. But what is really remarkable is how much his numbers have improved over the past several weeks. It seems like only yesterday some here were freaking out because of his high strikeout rate and we were ready to dump Baez in a trade. His SO rate was well over 30% and now it is down to 24%, if he can keep that percentage going down along with taking a few more walks his numbers should look really good by the end of the season.

      It is a very good sign to see a young player make adjustments. There could be some truth to Baez “hollywooding it” when he first left MLB spring training and went to Daytona. If so this was a great lesson for him.

  3. BluBlud

    Everyone dumps on lake, but he was actually pretty solid in his time in Tennessee last year. his slash of .279/.341/.432 wasn’t bad at all and his patience seem to be much better then Castro. He did draw 35 walks in 440 PA’s. Thats good for a 7.7% walk rate. His So rate seem to be the only concern for his game, and if he can get that to dip just by 5%, he will be a very useful piece at the very least. I think we will see him this September.

    1. cubzfan

      His SO rate and his defense were/are concerns. He was never very good at short, and is still learning to harness his abilities at third. He could end up with great range and he has the best arm around. But based on his several errors already at third this season, and the reports of how fluid he looks in the outfield, I’m guessing he’ll make it to the major first as primarily an outfielder. They can keep working on his defense so he can be useful at third and first. Dude may be bigger than Kris Bryant by now…he just kept growing even through AA ball.

      He has always had that faint echo of a Hanley Ramirez vibe about him. If you recall, Ramirez made a lot of errors and would go into slumps in the minors, but was still rated as a top prospect because of his talent. Once he got to the majors, and was playing in front of big crowds, he focused and performed much better than he had in the minors. Lake will never be 75% as good as Hanley at his peak, but seems to have some of the same “big-game” nature to him.

    2. ssckelley

      People “dump” on Lake because of him turning it on and off, everyone says the ability is there but question whether Lake will ever reach his full potential.

    3. Cedlandrum

      The problem with comparing what Lake did at AA to Castro is that it is AA and not the bigs. When Castro was in AA he walked 7.5 % and OPS .990

  4. dash

    It’s great to see the pics of Stewart signing autographs for the kids after the AAA game!

  5. Marc

    how come Kyle Hendricks isn’t getting a lot of love from the organization? he kinda reminds me of a Travis Wood type pitcher (without the bat of course) but while he doesn’t have over powering stuff he just goes out and preforms

    1. BluBlud

      Guys without “great stuff” never get any love. Wood, and Randy Wells were the same way. Hendicks shouldn’t worry about the love. If he just keeps pitching the way he is currently pitching, theyll be force to eventually give him a chance, basicly like Travis Wood.

      1. Marc

        yeah good point

    2. ssckelley

      What kind of love should Hendricks be getting from the organization? He is performing really well at AA right now, as long as that continues he should get a call up to Iowa before the end of the season.

      1. Marc

        i just think he should be in AAA by now. he had 1 “bad” start this year and i think the cubs should challenge him with the promotion

        1. ssckelley

          But then that would create a hole in Tennessee’s rotation along with bumping someone out of Iowa. Remember last season Nick Struck put up some decent numbers in Tennessee but is currently struggling at Iowa. But I think after a lot of these picks get signed and get minor league assignments you may see the Cubs shuffle the minor league rosters a little bit. But I see no reason to rush him.

  6. Jim

    I would like to see Lake brought up this year. If he can play 3B, SS, and outfield that versatility could be very valuable. Plus he bats Right handed and we could use another Right handed bat in that outfield mix. I expect him to be playing LF when Soriano is gone.

    1. ssckelley

      I am fairly confident you are going to get your wish. Lake is already on the 40 man roster, a September call up seems to be a no brainer.

  7. Norm

    I was going to say “cue the calls for Junior Lake’s call up” but I see I am already too late.

    1. BluBlud

      Lake was already on pace to be called up this year, before the injury. I don’t think people saying call him up in September is far fetched.

    2. Dynastyin2017

      No kidding. The guy hasn’t even unpacked yet. Same for Almora. Everyone loves great starts, but it’s been less than 20 games…

  8. Zachary

    Lake defense has not been sound. 5 errors already is quite a bit

    1. MikeW

      Yeah I thought that too. No idea what he’s talking about with the “sound” defense comment. Otherwise, nice writeup.

      1. DaveY

        Agreed, 5 errors in 4 games isn’t very sound. All his infield play has been at 3b, not exactly “all over the diamond” as well.

  9. North Side Irish

    Professor Parks included Almora in his Monday Morning Ten Pack today and said he had been worried about the wrist injury affecting Almora at the plate. Safe to say that concern has been alleviated.

    He also added “Almora is not only the top prospect in the Cubs organization but a top 20 talent in the entire minors. This is a baseball player, one who shows five-tool potential to go along with instincts for the game. He’s a rare package, and if he can stay on the field and avoid injury, the 19-year-old is a likely candidate for an aggressive developmental plan.”

    1. Cubbie Blues

      Wow, high remarks.

    2. another JP

      If AA is hitting anywhere close to what he’s been doing by July when he has 150 ABs he has to go to Daytona. That should be about the time that several other OF like Soler are also due for promotions.

  10. Idaho Razorback

    When did the Cubs get rid of Anthony Rizzo? I just clicked the link to the Tennessee Smokies auction that benefits the Oklahoma City Red Cross and this was the write-up on the autographed Anthony Rizzo bat.

    Description: An autographed bat by former Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. It is a Marucci bat, handcrafted for Rizzo and is signed in blue Sharpie.

  11. nkniacc13

    I was at the kane county vs CR kernals on sat and it was a really nice offensive approach the cougars used they walked 8 times and only struck out 5 but more importantly outside of Voglebach all other Cougars basically took the ball where it was pitched and really didn’t try and pull the ball. Almora almost had a grand slam in that game as well.

    Heesch worked with a fastball 88-91 and I think only used a slider a couple times all game it was fastball and change.

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