tennessee smokiesAll Stars for the Midwest League (Kane County) and the Florida State League (Daytona) have already been announced, and indeed those All-Star Games have already been played.

Now the focus shifts to the upper levels of the minors. The All-Stars for Double A and Triple A are in, and in one of those leagues the Cubs are very well represented.

The the other league is the Triple A Pacific Coast League. Iowa sends only Chris Rusin to the Triple A All-Star Game (except Rusin is now in the majors (or he was as of last night, anyway)). Rusin, a lefty of the crafty variety, is effective when he hits his spots, and apparently he has been hitting them more often than not with Iowa this season. He doesn’t overpower anyone, but his WHIP of 1.100 is good for 13th in the league, 3rd among those with 10 or more starts, and 5th overall in the Cubs organization.

Meanwhile the Tennessee Smokies have once again stocked the Southern League All-Star Team with Cub prospects. Six total Smokies made the cut, including four hitters and two pitchers.

Arismendy Alcantara (SS/2B) is the biggest name on the list, and his selection comes as absolutely no surprise. This is just another accolade on an already great year for the switch hitter in the midst of a breakout season.

Joining Alcantara on the infield will be Christian Villanueva (3B). Villanueva did not get off the greatest start, but he rebounded with a strong May (OPS of .857) and followed that up by hitting 5 of his 9 home runs in June. He is best known for his defense, though, and I have no doubt that played a role in his selection.

Rafael Lopez (C) may be a bit of a surprise choice for some, but the left handed hitting catcher has quietly put up some respectable numbers this year. His line of .249/.348/.412 comes with a walk rate of 12.7% and compiles into a wOBA of .349. That was enough to earn the respect of the league and spot on the All-Star roster.

The final hitter from the Smokies is Matt Szczur (OF), and this one is no surprise, either. Szczur is hitting .300/.369/.400 with three triples and 17 steals, and he also has been playing some very underrated defense in the process. I’m not sure how much longer he will be in Tennessee, but when he heads to Iowa it will be with another honor on his resume.

Kyle Hendricks (RHP) is probably right behind Alcantara in terms of being a completely obvious selection for this team. If you want, you can complain about his K/9 (just 7.00), but there is not much else to argue with from Hendricks this season. He has been the best pitcher on the Smokies all year.

The final Tennessee All-Star, Alberto Cabrera (RHP) has done a nice job of pitching himself. The starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter still has a bit of an elevated walk rate (3.31 BB/9), but the rest of his numbers are solid. This selection comes not long after one of the best starts of his career – an 8 inning, 13 strikeout thing of beauty against Jacksonville on June 24.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa scored early, scored late, and came away the 6-2 winners.
Tennessee – It took 13 long innings, but the Smokies overcame two errors to come up with a 4-3 win.
Daytona – Daytona had the day off. This was a scheduled day off, not another rain out.
Kane County – The Cougars picked up 2 in the first but still lost 5-3 to Wisconsin.
Boise – The Hawks are red hot right now. They win again, this time by beating up Salem-Kinzer 10-5.
Arizona – The AZL Cubs were out hit, but not our scored. They won 6-4.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Junior Lake double once and tripled twice to lead the Cubs offense. He’s been in a bit of a slump lately, so this out burst was very good to see.
  • [Iowa] Ty Wright had two more hits, including another double. Logan Watkins contributed his seventh triple of the season.
  • [Iowa] Iowa once again got some very good work out of the bullpen. Casey Coleman fanned two in 1.2 hitless innings, and Marcus Hatley struck out two more in one inning to finish the game.
  • [Tennessee] Christian Villanueva hit his 9th home run in this one. He also doubled in the 13th to drive home the winning run.
  • [Tennessee] All-Star Rafael Lopez celebrated his selection with a 2 for 5 day that included his 5th home run.
  • [Tennessee] Kyle Hendricks exited after 5 innings having allowed no runs on 6 hits and striking out 5.
  • [Tennessee] Lefty Jeffry Antigua was stretched to 2.2 innings of work. He struck out four in that span, but also gave up a pair of runs on a pair of hits and a pair of walks.
  • [Kane County] Tayler Scott walked more than he needed to (4 in 6.1 innings), but he only gave up 5 hits while striking out two. Ultimately, though, he allowed 5 runs (3 earned) and took the loss.
  • [Kane County] Third baseman Jeimer Candelario hit his 4th home run of the season, and also stole his first base.
  • [Boise] Third baseman Daniel Lockhart doubled as part of a two hit game.
  • [Boise] Jacob Rogers hit his second homer of the season, a three run bomb in the ninth.
  • [Boise] Tyler Skulina tossed a scoreless frame in his inning of work. Orbandy Rodriguez struck out two in his two scoreless innings.
  • [Arizona] Rehabbing Marcos Mateo struck out the side in his inning of work. Starling Peralta and Michael Wagner also had scoreless outings.
  • [Arizona] Infielder Giuseppe Papaccio finished 2 for 4 with a double. He is now hitting .313 for the short season.
  • [Arizona] Catcher Erick Castillo is also playing well. He doubled as part of a 2 for 3 game, his third multi-hit game in four chances.

Other News

  • The trade of Ronald Torreyes to Houston for IFA pool capacity likely clears the way for Alcantara to remain at second base for the remainder of the season. Alcantara had been splitting time between second and short this season and already had 17 appearance at second under his belt. It is possible that this will also open the door to Javier Baez being move up to Tennessee, but in the short term I suspect the Cubs will give some extra opportunities to Elliot Soto. Soto’s lack of a strong bat keeps him from drawing much attention in prospect circles, but he is a wonderful defensive shortstop.
  • If the late night rumors that the Cubs have indeed signed IFA Eloy Jimenez are true [Brett: more on that momentarily], this is probably the best IFA signing class I can remember for the Cubs, and among the best I can remember for any team in recent years. These are all high risk signings, but it is pretty clear the Cubs went hard after potential future impact players. I lean more towards the school of thought that says teams are better off spreading the money out over a lot of signings instead banking heavily on a few, but I can’t argue with how the Cubs executed their plan.
  • Mvandy524

    Do you think Watkins has a chance at a call up depending in what we do at the deadline or will we have to wait till September to see him?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If Barney is moved, I’d say there’s a chance.

      • Danny Ballgame

        Does Lake have a chance of seeing some time in the bigs later this year?

        • BluBlud

          I would say there is a pretty good chance that Watkins and Lake sees some time in September when the roster expands. They are both on the 40 and are both burning options I believe, so there is no reason to not call them up in September.

  • EricR

    Alcantara seems like he should be put on a more aggressive promotion path, or is it just me?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I would have to disagree. I don’t see any benefit in rushing him to Triple A. If it was necessary he could probably jump into the majors from Tennessee, and he still has some work to do (especially on defense) at that level.

      I would send him to the AFL this fall and to Iowa in the spring, though.

  • Chad

    Alcantra is just 21 years old and spent most of last year out with a broken foot. Also his future in the organization is 2B, which he hasn’t played much at. Why rush him? He’s already in AA and is blocked by Barney and Watkins. I really like him, but Barney will be moved eventually and I suspect he is better than Watkins, but Watkins will get his chance. There is no need to rush him right now. You may see a Sept (2014) call up next year.

    • cubzfan

      Also, Alcantara is a switch-hitter, but he is awful as a RH batter. At this stage in his development, he’s as much of a platoon candidate as Watkins–and they’re on the same side of the platoon. Another year plus in the minors, and some maturing of his body, and maybe he can become a reasonable batter against lefties.

      • Chad

        I have never understood why someone remains a switch hitter when they can only hit from one side. Just work on hitting both pitchers from your better side. That would be the most beneficial to player and team.

  • http://Bleachernation Jay

    Funny that you speak on Soto’s glove > a freak occurrence > he let one go thru his legs with 2 outs in the 9th & a run scored tying the game > Villanueva came thru strong in the 13th though.

  • Chad

    I am a Villanueva supporter. Everyone, including myself, has penciled Baez into 3B. I don’t know where Baez ends up, but Villanueva could turn into a pretty good 3B prospect.

    • willis


  • Chad

    Edit, he already is a good 3B prospect, could turn into a good ML 3B

  • TheDondino

    Missing from the stat line from Junior Lake’s awesome night was two fantastic picks at third. Both hits would have given most MLB 3B fits. His second triple missed being a HR by only a few feet in dead center. Very impressive showing, looked like a major league 3B last night.

    • Chad

      I have liked Lake for a while. At the beginning of the year I was on the trade him if you can bandwagon. But it seems like he is starting to figure it out. I would love to see him get a shot in Chicago this September, whether at 3B, OF, or super utility. I would just like to see him get his shot. I think eventually he can stick at one position though.

  • Chad

    I am ready to see Barney moved. He needs to be on a better team. He can add value on defense and his offense should improve if he isn’t on the cubs. Plus I think he would add good value to a Garza type deal.

  • TonyP

    Lack of a strong bat? Soto has no bat and will be cut as soon as promotions start happening….

  • Eternal Pessimist

    “I lean more towards the school of thought that says teams are better off spreading the money out over a lot of signings instead banking heavily on a few, but I can’t argue with how the Cubs executed their plan.”

    Won’t they still have a pool of money to buy up a bunch of $10,000 prospects to fill out the roster? I would hope so, despite the big money signings they made.

  • kubphan82

    Lake can sniff the opportunity now… Slump bust your way into a hot streak all the way up to the ML team man!!! I’ve been in your corner rooting for you THE WHOLE TIME… NEVER ONCE WAIVERED… All I ask is realized potential…

    Ok, fanaticism done… (for now)