Cubs Minor League Daily: Next Man Up?

logan-watkinsShould Brian Bogusevic or one of the other Chicago Cubs land on the disabled list, it is not exactly clear who would be next in line for promotion to the majors. The only outfielder in Iowa who is already on the 40 man roster is Brett Jackson, but he is on the disabled list.

Josh Vitters is also on the 40 man, and also on the disabled list. Junior Lake is rostered and active, but I doubt he would steal many third base at bats from Valbuena. Sitting on the bench would probably be counterproductive for Lake at this stage, particularly since he got off to a late start thanks to an injury in spring training. He is eligible for promotion, but I think he is unlikely right now.

That pretty much leaves Logan Watkins. Watkins has some additional advantages to go with being healthy and on the 40 man, mainly that he can play short, second, and in center field, and is pretty good with the glove at all three spots. His left handed bat is another bonus.

But Watkins is not exactly dominating Triple A. His OBP of .348 is nice (thanks to his 12.1% walk rate, but it comes with a strike out rate of 22.1%; that’s on the high side for a fairly-light hitting infielder. Worse, he has just seven steals in fifteen attempts. That strongly implies there are elements of the Triple A game he has not quite figured out yet. Like Lake, Watkins would probably be better off playing daily in Iowa than watching in Chicago right now.

That essentially exhausts the list of candidates. Szczur and Villanueva are on the 40 man, but I don’t expect either to be vaulted from Double A. If someone does need to come up, I think it might be Watkins by default.

Unless the Cubs make another move, of course. That is something we can never quite count out.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Iowa scored twice in the ninth and four times in the tenth to rally for a 9-5 win.
Tennessee - Some really good pitching carried the Smokies to a 4-1 win.
Daytona - Daytona also enjoyed some good pitching in their 3-1 win.
Kane County - The runs came in bunches in Kane County’s 7-4 win.
Boise - Boise never led despite out-hitting Tri City in this 7-5 loss.
Arizona - It was a nail biter in the desert as the AZL Cubs took the 2-1 win.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] The bullpen turned in a nice performance for Iowa. Eduardo Sanchez allowed a hit and a walk in 2 innings of work, and Casey Coleman picked up the win by striking out two in 2 innings of 2 walk, no hit work.
  • [Iowa] Ty Wright finished this game 3 for 5. Since returning to Iowa from Double A he has an OPS over 1.000.
  • [Iowa] Junior Lake hit his fourth home run and drew a walk.
  • [Tennessee] Eric Jokisch had a very nice game. Over 6 innings he allowed a run on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9. That will generally get the job done.
  • [Tennessee] Tennessee also got some excellent work out of the bullpen. P.J. Francescon struck out 2 in 2 hitless innings, and Tony Zych struck out 2 more in the final frame for his first save.
  • [Tennessee] Third baseman Christian Villanueva paced the offense with a 3 for 4 day that included a double. Matt Szczur hit his fourth triple as part of his 2 for 4 day.
  • [Daytona] Ben Wells did not wrack up the strike outs (just 3 in 7 innings), but he did limit the opportunities to just 2 hits and a walk. No one scored against him.
  • [Daytona] Dustin Geiger doubled and hit his 9th home run for the Cubs. Tim Saunders also homered (his 3rd) as part of a two hit game.
  • [Daytona] In addition to reaching twice on a single and a walk, Javier Baez also stole his 10th base.
  • [Kane County] Dillon Maples allowed two runs in his 3 innings of work, but those scored on a just one walk and just one hit. He also struck out three. Given his issues with locating the strike zone lately this was an encouraging outcome.
  • [Kane County] The 3 for 4 day of Gioskar Amaya included a double and his 4th home run. Dan Vogelbach and Marco Hernandez also had two hits.
  • [Kane County] Recently promoted outfielder Kevin Encarnacion stayed productive with a 1 for 3 game that included 2 walks.
  • [Boise] Second baseman Daniel Lockhart had a 3 for 4 game that raised his season average to .311.
  • [Boise] Yasiel Balaguert continued solid start to the year with a 2 for 5 game.
  • [Arizona] Daury Torrez struck out 3 over 5 innings of 4 hit ball in relief of Zak Hermans (who pitched the first inning). Luis Villalba and David Villegas pitched scoreless innings in relief.
  • [Arizona] Third baseman Jesse Hodges finished 3 for 4 with his first double.

Other News

  • Thanks to his blast yesterday Justin Bour has now homered in back to back games.
  • Despite their ten hits, Boise did not have any hits for extra bases.
  • The game temperature in Arizona yesterday was 103. Keep in mind that all AZL Cub games are played in the evening. I don’t know if that heat serves as an incentive for those players to step up their games so they can get out of there, but I know it would in my case. 103. Ugh.

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

73 responses to “Cubs Minor League Daily: Next Man Up?”

  1. baldtaxguy

    I’d personally like to see Lake brought up and being offered all the 3b playing time up until DeJesus is back, just to give him a brief amount of experience. Move Valbuena to 2B during this time and spell Barney’s bat.

    1. willis

      And Lake can play OF too. He’s more flexible position wise than Watkins, but unless he’s getting regular ABs, I don’t know if I want him up. I’d love to see it, but he needs to be playing nearly every day.

      1. Scotti

        Right now Lake can play zero positions anywhere near an acceptable level. Nowhere close. His best position is 2B and he fails to reach the level of Soriano at 2B. All of that means he isn’t flexible defensively.

  2. G2Ellis

    Ok random thought here why don’t the Cubs trade Soriano to the Rays eat 3/4 of his contract and get Alex Colome and Enny Romero maybe we throw in some low level prospEcts to sweeten the deal

    1. baldtaxguy

      I think Soriano would compliment any of the AL East lineups as a DH for this and next season, maybe generating a slight bidding war, but the return would work in hand with the amount of cash the Cub eats and if a prospect goes with.

    2. Nate

      That seems like quite a return. Two top 10 prospects. I’d be thrilled with a deal like this but I can’t believe it will happen.

  3. abe

    Luke,

    Would you consider Szczur season to be a break out season? He is really doing well and at this point I would consider him a better prospect than Brett Jackson. Do you agree?

  4. Jp3

    I think Vogs doesn’t have anything left for KC… Do think its time to move it on to Daytona, unless you’re worried about the rainouts…

    1. BluBlud

      I would be concerned about the rainout. I thought about this before when i suggested Vogs should get the bump, but i have changed my mind. I would promote Baez and Soler(if he wasn’t on the DL) out of Daytona, and keep Almora and Vogs down at KC until the end of the year. I would start them at Daytona next year with a plan to fast pace them out of there by July 2014. Hopefully this time next year, Baez and Soler will be ready for AAA at the least and Almora and Vogs will be headed to Tennessee at the least.

      BTW, I’m moving to Tennessee on the 18th. Just over 2 hours from where the smokies are. Looking foward to a couple of weekend trips. Luke, when did you say you were headed to Tennessee?

      1. Rich H

        I have been looking at the Gatlinburg area myself. Probably next spring Blublood. We might have to make a Smokies trip in the future.

    2. Kyle

      An .804 OPS doesn’t strike me as “has learned everything he could possibly learn” from a level, especially for a bat-only prospect.

  5. Austin8466

    I thought Lake could play outfield. Why does he make less sense than Watkins, who is average-at-best at AAA?

    1. baldtaxguy

      He can but it is not necessary for him to fill in the OF during this brief time before Dejesus returns. Sappelt is back up and Hairston is still available (who has not had a PA since 6/23!!!), so Lake does not need to be an OF replacement, but could in a pinch.

  6. BluBlud

    I think Lake should be called up if Bugosevic goes on the DL. I like barney, but I have become a huge Valbeuna fan. He has come a long way from what I thought he was. I agree with baldtaxguy. Move Valbeuna to 2B and let Lake start at third. We can then use Barney to get Castro a couple more days off before the tade deadline. I don’t think putting Barney on the bench will deminish his trade value as teams already know what they’ll be getting in him. Plus, if he is traded to a contender, he’ll probably become a platoon player or bench player anyway. My vote is for Lake, if for no other reason, he has the most upside out of all the players on the list.

    1. On The Farm

      Personally I would prefer having a gold glove second baseman playing over a guy who has proven to be an enigma over the last two years. Why don’t we let Lake prove that he has “figured it out” for an extended period of time at Iowa, rather than call him up to displace Barney. We have lost our positional leaded David DeJesus I really think Barney’s presense on the field is valuable in the respect that Castro feels more comfortable with Barney there, and I am sure pitchers like knowing he is behind them too.

      1. baldtaxguy

        A handful to 10 games vs. “displacing” a player.

        1. On The Farm

          That’s why its my opinion. I would prefer to leave our two best defenders statistically at their positions they have been playing all year, rather than sit one of them (even if it is for 10 games).

          1. Turn Two

            Obviously have to agree with on the farm here. Barney is a stabilizing presence on a team that is sorely lacking stability from many positions. Tax guy, you say you aren’t displacing him, but you’re benching him for an erratic minor league potential outfielder. Barney would read the writing on the wall. If they honestly think its in the best team interest to bench a gold glove second baseman on a team that leads the league in errors and is grooming a young first baseman and a short stop simply to put a “high ceiling guy”out there for his shot that he hasn’t earned yet. i would lose alot of respect for this regimes opinions.

            1. baldtaxguy

              I see the point of Barney being the defensive stablizing presence and that Lake needs more reps. At the risk of crushing Barney’s psyche, I just see it as a controlled, short window of opportunity to allow Lake an advanced look at ML pitching, nothing more than that. I’m marginal on it, and agree just as good a choice is letting Lake stay for those 5-10 games. Only an opportunistic move, nothing more.

              1. baldtaxguy

                ….stay “at Iowa…”

    2. Sacko

      I agree, Barney or Castro aren’t hitting, let’s see something new to bitch about for a change.
      Not sarcasm, Castro is really getting hammered lately. Let’s see what this kid can do.

      1. Turn Two

        I understand what your saying and tax guy and blublud but short sited thinking like this is for fans not quality organizations. Your saying Castro is making me mad so lets punish him by ruining another guys career whose not ready.

  7. Chad

    I have become a fan of Lake as a cub’s player rather than a trade piece, which is how I felt last year. I would like to see him get some time with the cubs this season, but I’m in no hurry to rush him up. He just got to AAA this year and is doing well, especially after coming back from an injury. He has limited at bats there and I would like to see him get a few more before he heads to Chicago, maybe in September, at that point he should see some more ABs. Also that may clear up a few spots from trades where he will be able to see more regular at bats. I’m not a huge fan of Watkins at 2B and I think he is just going to play place holder until Alcantra is ready, so I don’t have an issue bringing him and seeing if there is anything there. The Valbuena to 2B is a good idea, but I think you need to see if Barney can get traded before that happens.

  8. Die hard

    Malaise has consumed the cub fan– will be spit out as chewing tobacco … wish there was somebody in minors like a Puig to spark interest in the balance of the season …

    1. baldtaxguy

      But there is not.

  9. On The Farm

    What are we going to do with Maples? Given his upside it sure would be nice if he could get his pitches under control.

  10. Die hard

    One way to spark interest ? Sign Bryant and let him start 15 games at MLB level…

    1. baldtaxguy

      No.

      1. Die hard

        Ok— bring up ZZ for a few starts

        1. baldtaxguy

          No.

  11. Dustin S

    You could probably also include Donnie Murphy and the recently signed Edgar Gonzalez as next options too. Murphy’s stats are just about the same as Watkins’. Murphy or Gonzalez would be more conservative choices in that they both have previous time in the majors (which Sveum also seems to have a preference for), although neither would likely tear it up with the bat. Watkins or Lake would seem more like a ‘let’s see what they can do’ option.

    The appeal with Lake for me is that unless Vitters or Jackson have a miracle recovery/resurgence this season or more AAA prospects are added in trades, he’s probably the last real offensive hope for help from the minors this season (‘Lake, you’re our only hope’). The FO said before that they won’t do a Castro and promote from AA to the majors directly again, and the rest of the significant offensive prospects are all at AA and lower right now. The downside with Lake is that defensively he’s not at all ready for playing the major league infield. They would have to consider him just an OF call-up right now I think, or at most an emergency infielder. So my guess is that it would be one of the other 3 names above next until Lake gets his fielding issues worked out.

  12. Rich H

    We need to remember in this conversation we are just talking about a 10 games shuttle. I do not think it will kill the development of any of them to be that shuttle guy. I would really like to see it being Watkins if they do make that move because he is probably going to be a platoon guy back up infielder in the majors anyway. Lakes versatility would be helpful but he really needs to keep getting the rust off from his early injury. Is Jackson even off the DL right now? He has been hurt so much this year I do not even think he is an option at this point.

  13. ssckelley

    How about bringing up Ty Wright to fill in for a few games?

  14. North Side Irish

    Includes Ben Wells…

    Ten first-half climbers: Florida State League
    http://milbprospective.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/ten-first-half-climbers-florida-state-league/

  15. Mat B

    I’m not trying to anoint Szczur the next great center fielder. I’m just saying that he has earned a shot at AAA, and if he goes to Iowa and puts up a .370 OBP after 150-200 plate appearances that he should get a late season look in Chicago. Will anyone concede that point?

    1. Crockett

      I’ll concede the point. But he’s still not very good.

  16. Michael

    If I’m Jed, I trade Barney and call up Lake. Move Valbuena to 2nd, put Lake at 3rd. He’s 6’3 215lbs. He has a 3rd baseman’s size, and the best infield arm in the Cubs’ system. Barney would have some trade value, coming off a gold glove season.

    It won’t happen though, it makes too much sense.

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