Cubs Minor League Daily: We’re Talking Playoffs

Jim-Mora-playoffsAugust means two very different things for the major and minor leagues. For the majors, it means an end to easy, straightforward trades and the beginning of the revocable waiver trade season. If you need a primer on waiver wire trades, Brett has you covered.

For the minors, though, August is the stretch run. This is pretty much the final month of the season. While half the playoff slots in most leagues have already been claimed by the first half winners, every team would love to roll into the playoffs fresh off a second half division title. Plus, unlike the end of the first half, the playoffs are right around the corner. For the players and the local fans, these minor league championships are a fairly big deal.

And the Cubs are in a very good position to compete for some of those titles. Iowa is slumping badly on their Western swing, but they are still just four and a half games back with a bunch of home games coming up in August. The Triple A Cubs could make a run and sneak into the postseason.

Tennessee is in command of their own destiny. They lead Birmingham by a game and a half and happen to have one of the most potent rosters in the league. These Smokies are good enough to win the Southern League; they currently have the best second half record in the league.

Daytona is even better shape. The High A Cubs lead the Yankees by four games, are in possession of the best road record in the league, and are tied for the league lead in second half wins. Even though Soler and Baez are no longer with Daytona, there is enough talent on this roster to win another Florida State League title.

And then we have the Hawks. Boise is lurking just a game out of their division. This is a very streaky team, though. If the Hawks get hot at the right time against division competition they could run away with this thing. If they slump at the wrong time, though, they could find themselves underwater in a hurry.  Boise has the talent to push into the postseason yet again, but I doubt Hawks fans will be able to breathe easy until the end of the month.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Iowa has got to be looking forward to a home game. They dropped another on their tough road trip, 9-3.
Tennessee - The Smokies won a close one 2-1.
Daytona - Daytona was rained out.
Kane County - Thanks to this 6-2 win, the formerly hapless Cougars have won three straight.
Boise - Boise could not get the offense going in this 5-1 loss.
Arizona - Arizona tied it up in the seventh, but still lost 3-2.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Jae-Hoon Ha kept his hot streak alive with a double, his 7th for Iowa.
  • [Iowa] Barret Loux struggled, and Alberto Cabrera has been better, but Marcus Hatley pitched quite well to finish off the game.
  • [Tennessee] Kyle Hendricks was once again effective. Although he gave up 7 hits over 6 innings while striking out just 4, he was able to limit the damage to a single run by giving up only one walk.
  • [Tennessee] Justin Bour tied up the game with his 15th home run in the seventh inning.
  • [Tennessee] Javier Baez finished this game 1 for 4 with no walks and, most importantly, no strikeouts.  He also picked up his second steal as a Smokey in the ninth inning. He later scored the winning run on a grounder to the pitcher.
  • [Kane County] Tayler Scott gave up 7 hits, but managed to allow just 2 runs to score in his 5 innings. Andrew McKirahan (3 K, 2 IP) and Armando Rivera (4K, 2 IP) pitched very well in relief.
  • [Kane County] Albert Almora and Rock Shoulders each finished 2 for 4.
  • [Boise] James Pugliese has been pitching pretty well this year, but he struggled some last night for the Hawks (9 hits over 5 innings). Eddie Orozco looked pretty good, though, striking out 4 in 2 innings of relief.
  • [Boise] Daniel Lockhart collected 2 hits and 2 steals in this one. His line now reads .309/.358/.340.
  • [Arizona] Rashad Crawford, Francisco Sanchez, and Mark Malave all had a pair of singles in this game.
  • [Arizona] Ryan Searle gave up 3 hits over 2 innings in his rehab start. Trey Lang struck out 2 over 1.1 innings to end the game.

Other News

  • The first round of Mascot Mania is over, and unfortunately none of the Cub teams are represented in the Championship Round. Making the cut, however, are Ballapeno (San Antonio Missions), Gigante (San Jose Giants), Ferrous (Aberdeen IronBirds), and the mascot I suspect is destined to win this thing, Barley (Hillsboro Hops), among others. Given the groundswell of independent breweries popping up all over the place, how can dancing beer flavoring with an identity crisis not walk away with the title? I’m rooting for the upset, though. I’m casting my vote for Orbit (Great Falls Voyagers).
  • Eloy Jiminez has officially signed. He has the potential to be a high-impact player that we could be talking about for quite some time, but we won’t start talking about him too much just yet. For now he will not be appearing on the Bleacher Nation Top 40 Prospects List at all. Until he plays in the United States he is not eligible for ranking, but I would not be surprised to see him arrive in the U.S. as soon as next fall. He is likely to spend a season in the Dominican or Venezuelan Summer Leagues next summer, but if he plays well there he could be in the Instructional League in Mesa next fall.

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

68 responses to “Cubs Minor League Daily: We’re Talking Playoffs”

  1. On The Farm

    Even though Daytona has a loaded roster, adding Almora and Vogelbach for the playoff push wouldn’t be a bad thing. Kane County is about as far as you can get from playoff land. (I know, I know rain outs)

    1. Josh

      Yesterday is a great example…..daytona cancelled (lost game, lost ABs)…….Almora and Vogelbach each got 4 plate appearances at KC.

      1. On The Farm

        It was good enough for Javier Baez last season………………He seems to be doing alright at AA………………

        1. cub4life

          I didn’t realize that Almora and Baez were the same guy…..oh wait they are 2 completely differant people (i mean Castro was up at 20 and so was Bryce Harper so I guess everyone should be)….o and Almora is also 2 years younger then Baez so there is even less experiance for him……

          1. On The Farm

            Because a 6.5% BB, 11.1% K, .143 ISO, .381 wOBA, and 134 wRC+ is showing signs of struggling with A ball. He is clearly ready for the next level, don’t act like me comparing him is that outlandish. Both were high high school picks, both dominated A ball, its not the crazy to think they could be on a similar development path.

            1. cub4life

              no its not outlandish and I can agree that they could have simular paths, what i was saying is that they are 2 differant people so you have to treat them differant even if there paths are very simular. Personally I would love for them to move both to the majors now, but sometimes you have to make sure that they move up correctally and make sure that when they do move up they will get the PA’s that they need up there…..I mean how many of the Daytona games get rained out this year??? If i’m not mistaken (and I very well could be) but there are WAY more this year then last and that has to be taken into acount as well (and this is probably one reason Baez is no longer in Daytona).

              1. ari gold

                There were actually more rainouts last year at Daytona, and it wasn’t actually that close.

                1. ssckelley

                  But we are only 2 days into August, the month they have the most rain.

                  1. Scotti

                    Daytona isn’t likely to be rained out the equivalent of 3, 5, 7 games the rest of the way which is what he could pick up in playoff games. Even though the playoff games aren’t included in a player’s league totals, they are even more valuable (the player is playing high-stress games and learning to handle that in the minors instead of the majors AND he’s playing against the best overall talent that league has to offer). If you think that a top prospect has something to offer/learn at that higher level then you move him for the playoffs. Sucks for the lessor prospects but it’s the right thing to do.

        2. ssckelley

          I think they made a mistake rushing Baez to Daytona last season. After they promoted him he only got 86 plate appearances the rest of the way. The inconsistent at bats, I feel, contributed to some of his struggles.

          1. cub4life

            Good point

          2. On The Farm

            How do you know those plate apperances weren’t instrumental to his success this year in Daytona?

            1. ssckelley

              I think it is widely known that you need consistent plate appearances to work out issues or to get through slumps. Sitting on the bench and watching the rain fall does not help. Florida is in their rainy season right now, check the box scores they get rained out almost every other day. Which do you think helps him more, sitting last night watching the rain fall in Daytona or getting 4 at bats in Kane County last night?

              1. On The Farm

                I think it’s a pretty clear fact that this FO likes their top prospects to get a taste of the next league so they know what they need to work on in the offseason. Hoyer did it with Rizzo in San Diego, they did it with Baez last year, why not do it with Almora? I think the Front Office likes their guys to know what they need to do to get better.

                1. ssckelley

                  ok then why are the Cubs waiting to promote Almora?

                  1. On The Farm

                    If I had to guess, a little bit of what Hansman said below, they needed to be more aggressive with Baez based on his over-confidence. The other part I see is all/most of these guys are going to playing together in Daytona next year so why not leave them together to keep developing a team unity. So the absense of the need to aggressively promote Almora based on his “Cubs way” approach, and the fact that they may want to keep these guys together is my un-educated guess. But based on them promoting Soler and Baez to Daytona last season I can’t see how rain would dictate FO stragegy.

            2. King Jeff

              I think it was just that. He still had holes this year, but he looked like a much improved fielder and he showed a lot more patience at the plate the second time around. Not sure he makes that adjustment if he hadn’t been promoted early.

  2. abe

    Why aren’t they promoting Almora? What are they waiting for?

    1. On The Farm

      Right now Almora has played more MWL games than Baez did last season (AA: 58 G 261 PAs, JB: 57 G 235 PAs). Last season Baez got 23 games and 86 PAs in Daytona to finish out the year. I would think Almora would take a similar path even if he had that injury to start the season.

    2. ssckelley

      This gets asked every day. Almora needs to play every day, not sit and watch the rain in Daytona. He might get promoted later this month for the playoff run. Otherwise I have no problem with him staying in KC the rest of the season playing everyday.

      1. Nate

        People talk about the rain every day as well and I just don’t buy it. Almora has equivalent numbers to Baez (if that’s the example we want to use). With a good BA and good OBP and the kicker being his K rate around 11 or 12% he may be ready. The fact that he’s 19 would put him as one of the youngest players in the league. I think they just don’t want to rush him or don’t think he’s ready yet. Also, he could go up any day (who knows). If they were that worried about the rain why ever promote someone mid season to Daytona. It wasn’t a problem with Soler going into July (FL rainiest month on avg.).

        1. ssckelley

          Another one shooting me down. Everyone is so quick to prove me wrong but have no other answers as to why the Cubs are keeping Almora in Kane County and not promoting him to Daytona.

          I gave you my idea now you tell me yours.

          1. King Jeff

            I think it’s because they were fast tracking Baez hoping he would make adjustments because he wasn’t being challenged enough at Daytona enough to have to be patient. Or, they knew his power would play well in Tennessee and make headlines, which would build up his trade value for a coming deal this winter, so they pushed him early. Either way, I think Baez is the exception, and most others will follow a slower promotion schedule.

        2. On The Farm

          Being a Cedar Rapids guy I only have a Kernels calander in front of me (it was free) and I count they have 29 games left. I would think if they were going to send him to A+ they would do it by next week. That would give him about 20 regular season games and some playoff games (which he wont get in Kane County) so if you promote him now he has a chance to come into the league play some games and try and get locked in for a playoff run.

          1. Cubswin

            I’m also a Cedar Rapids guy. How fun was Buxton to watch this year? I had a blast

            1. On The Farm

              Cedar Rapids was very blessed to be able to see Buxton and Trout. I went to the Kane County game in June and it was pretty awesome display of CFs with Buxton and Almora out there.

            2. ssckelley

              Every Kernels game I went to this year had me drooling all over Buxton, he is going to be something special to watch. I think the Astros made a huge mistake passing on him for Correa in last years draft.

              Even without Buxton that Cedar Rapids team is as loaded as I have seen it in a long time.

              1. On The Farm

                Adam Brett Walker, DJ Williams, their pitching staff, all really great things to watch. I hope the Twins can continue to field a good team, because the City loves the Twins.

                1. ssckelley

                  Right now the Twins are not missing on very many draft picks, they are loaded from top to bottom. I think 2015 they will be back in the playoff hunt.

                  But yeah Twin fans seem to be coming out every where with them taking over the CR team.

                  1. On The Farm

                    It will be interesting to see if the fans fill the stands as much as they have been. Granted like you said (and I agree) they are fielding a compeitive a team and that’s a big factor in selling tickets to minor league games. But with how close we are to Minnesota, I feel like more fans are showing up to the ball park because they are hoping to see kids that in a few years they will be able to watch on TV and have already developed a bond with.

                    That was a major problem for the Angels I think. It was always cool to see an ex-Kernel in the Majors, but it wasn’t your team so you didn’t have that bond like people have now. I am excited since my buddy is a huge Twins fans and we go to Twins games, now we don’t have to travel as far to watch “the Twins”.

              2. X the Cubs Fan

                Astros got a top 50 prospect (Mike Foltynewicz) because they went underslot on Correa (a top 20 prospect). I think it was a smart choice.

                1. Rebuilding

                  If Buxton turns out to be everything people are projecting him to be then it will be a bad decision. A mix of Willie Mays and a young Barry Bonds. If not, then you are right

                2. On The Farm

                  They love comparing Trout and Buxton so here is a little something:

                  Trout in A ball: 12.5% BB, 14.1% K, .163 ISO, .445 wOBA, 173 wRC+
                  Buxton A ball: 13.7% BB, 17.4% K, .219 ISO, .443 wOBA, 174 wRC+

                  Trout A+: 11.6% BB, 14.2%K, .122 ISO, .368 wOBA, 116 wRC+
                  Buxton: 8.1% BB, 24.3% K, .194 ISO, .367 wOBA, 129 wRC+

                  Pretty similar numbers, in A ball and Buxton is doing a pretty good job in A+. Time will tell if it was the right move.

                3. ssckelley

                  You sure you got the right player? Foltynewicz was drafted in 2010 while Correa and Buxton were taken in last years draft. Perhaps you were thinking of Lance McCullers who is considered a top 50 prospect by BA. The Astros are known to go underslot with the top pick while going overslot later. Not a bad strategy but the opportunity to grab a Trout or a Buxton is rare. The Astros first choice was Appel but they could not agree to a price so they drafted Correa instead.

                  Correa may turn out to be one heck of a player, his numbers at Quad City have been solid. Just that Buxton looks like a super star in the making.

  3. TonyS

    Thanks for all your posts Luke. I dont post much these days but BN is always my first web page each day to see what Brett and you have for us. Cheers.

  4. cub4life

    Brett, i know this wasn’t the post for this question but how many of the international signings are official? and will they all go to the Dominican or Venezuelan Summer League next year to start?

  5. KidCubbie

    Over/Under HR for Rizzo this year at 24.

    1. Feeney

      I was just looking at Rizzo and comparing him with Adrian Gonzalez. Other than batting average Rizzo compares quite well even though his BABIP is a lot lower than Gonzalez. This recent power surge has been great but I think Rizzo has been better this year than he gets credit for.

      1. KidCubbie

        Yeah i was looking up where he stacked against former Cub first basement. Grace had a good first full year but nowhere near the power of Rizzo. Same for Phil Cavaretta but Phil was a lot younger and a lot less power too. Honestly this is one of if not the best season for a rookie Cub 1B. Even last year which is really Rizzo’s first year but only half a season.

        1. Feeney

          If he has a couple of hot streaks down the stretch he could get to 30HR and 100RBI. I prefer the more advanced stats but as a kid in the 80s a 30 and 100 season was a big deal.

          Also, I am not up on the advanced stats for D as much as I am for offense. Is Rizzo a GG candidate?

          1. KidCubbie

            Yeah that was my other thought. Rizzo seems like Gold Glove material to me. Not sure what he sambermetrics say about his defense but he’s look as good as anyone out there.

            1. Nate

              I thought they mentioned he was at the top of the league during one of the AZ games this past week but I’m not sure.

              1. cub4life

                just looked it up and the only one that has a better Feilding % is Howard and the only one that has a better Range Factor is Goldschimdt. The second most Assists (Votto really bad F%), the second most DP (Gonzalez mediocer F%) and the second most PO (Goldschmidt) so I would say he has a real good chance

                1. KidCubbie

                  Awesome sauce. Thanks.

                  1. cub4life

                    no prob Kid

        2. KidCubbie

          *basemen. I’m not sure if the Cubs have a first basement.

          1. cub4life

            o come on I think that’s where they store all the stuff they pull out of the Ivy (maybe even Dawson)

    2. cub4life

      hhhmmmm….this is close. I am going to go over and say 25.

    3. Cubswin

      I’m gonna go over just barely. Hopefully 25-26. That would be a nice year for first full season. Plus with Sori gone he’s one of the few (if only) power bat in the lineup. Hopefully Lake can build off the 2 homerun game last night too

  6. KidCubbie

    I think if he stays hot he’s got a good shot at a .250-.260 average with 25 HR and 85-90 RBI. Thats pretty darn good.

    1. mdavis

      first full year in the bigs, absolutely. i’d be very pleased with that. i think eventually he’s going to be a .270-.280 guy, 25-30 hr, 90-100 rbi a year. sure he’ll k 120 times, but he’s going to get his bb also. all in all, i’ve been pleased with rizzo this year. he’s struggled some, made adjustments, readjustments, etc.

      1. KidCubbie

        I agree and making adjustment is what keeps players productive. Hopefully Rizzo has a long and prosperous Cubs career.

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