One of the (potentially) best pitching prospects in the Cubs organization has finally arrived in the United States. Juan Carlos Paniagua made his stateside debut with the Arizona Cubs last night. He allowed two hits over three innings while striking out four.
According to many reports Paniagua can hit 100 MPH and features a pretty good changeup. His breaking pitches are said to need work, but then he has had lots of time in the Dominican lately to work on them. I’m not sure how accurate the older reports on his stuff are going to be. I’m also not sure what kind of movement his fastball has; pure velocity is good, but velocity with movement is what makes a true plus pitch. Some already suggest his future lies in the bullpen, but I doubt the Cubs are going to decide that yet. They’ll try him as a starter first and only move him into relief when it becomes necessary (if it ever does).
His ceiling is very high, but it is hard to say exactly how high given the limited data we have on him. He definitely is one of the best pitching prospects in the Cubs organization, but he is also one of the riskiest, at least for now. His starts will probably be some of the most watched events in the Cubs minor leagues for the remainder of this season.
I doubt he stays in Arizona for the rest of the summer, but I have no idea where he will go. Kane County is badly in need of pitching right now and would make a certain amount of sense. If the Cubs preferred to challenge him, though, Daytona could be in the mix. I wouldn’t rule out a bullpen assignment to Daytona or Tennessee in August to help with a push into the postseason, either. Playoff experience is valuable for any player at any level, and it never hurts to start soaking up that experience early.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – The Cubs had their chances but managed just a single run in this 4-1 loss.
Tennessee – The Smokies were in control this entire game. They won it 4-1.
Daytona – The Cubs picked up a tally in both the second and seventh to defeat Lakeland 2-1.
Kane County – The season has not gotten better for the Cougars. They went down in this one 6-1.
Boise – Boise allowed one big inning and were shut out themselves. The final was 4-0.
Arizona – The Cubs overcame two errors in this 6-2 win.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] The Iowa bullpen was once again solid. Jeffry Antigua, Marcus Hately, Eduardo Sanchez, and Brian Schlitter combined to allow just a single hit in 4.2 innings of relief.
- [Iowa] Who predicted that Anthony Giansanti would have an eight game hitting streak in Triple A this year? That’s what the Gian-insaniti is up to now.
- [Tennessee] He only allowed 3 hits over 7 innings, and it was good enough for Alberto Cabrera‘s 9th win.
- [Tennessee] Arismendy Alcantara finished 3 for 4 with a walk and his 22nd stolen base.
- [Daytona] Taiwan Easterling finished 2 for 4 with a double. Taylor Davis also had two hits.
- [Daytona] Pierce Johnson lowered his High A ERA to 2.86 by allowing just one run on 5 hits over 6 innings while striking out 4.
- [Daytona] Austin Reed also pitched well in this one. He allowed just 2 hits while striking out 3 over the final 3 frames.
- [Kane County] Gioskar Amaya returned to the leadoff slot and reached base twice on a single and a walk.
- [Kane County] Albert Almora hit another double (13) as part of his 2 for 5 day. Jeimer Candelario also had 2 hits.
- [Kane County] Lendy Castillo and Nathan Dorris were both effective in relief.
- [Boise] Rob Zastryzny pitched one hitless inning and struck out one.
- [Boise] Corbin Hoffner is continuing to make noise in the Northwest. He struck out 3 more in 2 innings of one hit relief for the Hawks. Hoffner, who turns 20 at the end of this month, has 15 K and 6 BB in 15.2 innings of relief this year.
- [Boise] Despite the shutout, both Cael Brockmeyer and Trevor Gretzky finished 2 for 3, and Gretzky added a double. Rony Rodriguez also doubled for the Hawks.
- [Arizona] After Paniagua left the game, Zak Hermans came in and pitched 2 innings of hitless, 3 strikeout ball.
- [Arizona] Yasiel Balaguert is feasting on Rookie League pitching in his short time away from Boise. He was 2 for 5 with two more doubles in this one.
- Minor league veterans do not get enough respect. These are guys who are unlikely to spend more than a few games in the majors, if that, but they fill a valuable role stabilizing rosters in the farm system. For example, take a look at Jonathan Mota. This guy has been playing on full season league teams for the Cubs since 2006, often on two or more teams in a year. He doesn’t put up great numbers, but he doesn’t embarrass himself at Double A or Triple A either. The really impressive thing, though, is his versatility. Mota has literally played every position on the diamond. No exaggeration. He has played seven positions just this season for the Smokies. No matter who gets injured, who needs a day off, who gets called up suddenly, who comes down with the flu, it just doesn’t matter as much if Mota is on the roster. Guys like Mota are not going to be on the field when the Cubs finally win it all, but they are definitely a small part of the process that will build this organization to that goal. Every once in awhile Mota and all his fellow minor league veterans deserve some credit for the unsung but important role they play.
- So far, Javier Baez has exactly two hits in his Double A career. This is nothing to worry about. Adjusting to tougher leagues generally takes some time, and nothing I am seeing out of Baez so far in his brief time with the Smokies causes me any worry. Just the opposite, actually. That he only has 6 strikeouts in 23 trips to the plate I find a little encouraging.
- We have a Josh Vitters sighting. The third baseman had two at bats in a rehab start in Arizona.
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