daytona cubs logoIf you have not visited the South, you have not eaten breakfast. Yesterday my wife dined on a cinnamony, nutty, sugary pancake stack that looked like the product of a delightful accident involving a steamroller and a cinnamon roll factory. If the Cubs farm teams started selling those in their stadiums they’d win every food award in the country.

Equally sweet is the welcome news that that both Dan Vogelbach and Kris Bryant are on their way to Daytona. Bryant, as expected, is vaulting Kane County for the tougher challenge of Florida State League pitching. Vogelbach has been handling his duties as Kane County’s first baseman and DH with ease lately; this promotion should be a welcome challenge for the first baseman.

Once those two arrive and get settled in, the Daytona Cubs are going to find themselves in possession of one of the most potent lineups in the minors. Both Bryant and Vogelbach have the power to pile up the home runs, and both are patient hitters who are not likely to give at bats away. With Zeke DeVoss wrecking havoc atop the order and Dustin Geiger helping to anchor the middle, these High-A Cubs are absolutely stacked. If Jorge Soler does make it back by the end of the year the lineup will be even scarier. This is a very good time to be a Cubs fan in northern Florida.

Scores From Yesterday

While I am on vacation the scores will be presented as a single link. Box scores and recaps just an extra click away from this page. It was a pretty good day in the farm system yesterday, and especially so if you were a third baseman. Bryant got promoted while Josh Vitters, Mike Olt, Javier Baez (not yet a third baseman, but could be one day soon), and Christian Villanueva all homered.

Observations From Tennessee

I was at the Smokies game in person last night, both of them, actually. Here in no particular order are a few observations from last night’s games.

  • The home run Baez hit got out to left field in a hurry, but I was equally happy to see him fly out to right later in the game. His raw power is without question, but it will be his ability to take what the pitcher offers and drive the ball the other way that will allow him to maximize his talents.
  • Baez also showed pretty good range at shortstop, especially when going to his left. His arm will play just fine from short … or anywhere else I suspect … but is nowhere near the unbelievable cannon packed by Junior Lake. If the Cubs do need to move Baez to find him a home in the majors, I saw nothing that makes me believe he could not slide over to second base with ease.
  • Last year Tony Zych showed an odd pitching motion that included a number of short, abrupt motions. This year that is all gone. His delivery is balanced, smooth, and much more conventional. I think this has resulted in some extra life to his fastball, and it almost certainly reduced his chances of arm injury. It also, I think, explains why Zych returned to Double A this year. With his new and improved mechanics I like his odds of opening next season with Iowa and finishing it in Chicago.
  • John Andreoli can hit. The young outfielder made solid contact in several at bats and lined some very hard hit balls to all parts of the outfield. Speed is a big part of his game, but he is not a one trick guy. His power is more of the doubles variety, but if he keeps squaring up the ball like he did last night then he will have a lot of doubles in his time. I’m still not sure if he is a third or fourth outfielder long term, but so far I like what I see.
  • I also liked what I saw from Matt Szczur. I would love to see the Cubs challenge Szczur with a September callup. Since he is already on the 40 man roster that is not an impossible hope, but I am not sure how likely it is.
  • Eric Jokisch was still tossing in the low nineties at the end of his day, and until the very end was still hitting his spots. He ran into one bad spot when he gave up some base runners, but that seemed to correspond with his mechanics falling apart a bit. When he was in rhythm he mowed down the Biscut hitters.
  • Jokisch has added a slight hesitation right after he hits full separation that I do not remember from last season. It is subtle, but I can easily see that momentary delay adding some deception and causing problems with a hitter’s timing. I ¬†wonder if this is the work of the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson.
  • I’ll be back in the stands tonight, wearing my customary black and sitting in my favorite spot on the first base side of the dugout. Maybe tonight I’ll remember to take some pictures.
  • On The Farm

    Not to mention Johnson and Edwards can go off and shut a team down on a given night. And Black and Wells are pretty good to boot. **drools**

    • Gutshot5820

      Daytona could probably beat the MLB Cubs or Astros on any given day,

      • Kyle

        The Astros would sweep Daytona in a 10-game series.

        • X the Cubs Fan

          Kyles right MLB teams will always be able to beat A ball teams no matter who it is.

        • Gutshot5820

          I was kind be a bit overenthusiastic, but there is a possibility that Daytona could steal a game or two in a ten game series with the Astros. I mean Baez hit three home runs in one day in spring training and that’s about the level of talent that the Astros currently field. So it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

    • Patrick G

      Don’t forget Pineyro as well. Threw 6 innings of 1 run ball last night

      • On The Farm

        Tennesee has a chance to have a really, really good team next year.

        • willis

          Daytona’s rotation right now is ridic. And their lineup just got a huge boost. Tennessee and Daytona will be very fun to follow the rest of the way.

          • Cedlandrum

            Their lineup just got a huge boost with Bryant and Vogelbach hitting behind DeVoss and Chen.

          • chirogerg

            You’re ridic…

  • Timothy Scarbrough

    Dang, every single team in the Cubs system one yesterday, and the Smokies won twice.

  • Jp3

    I live in North Carolina and had my 1st maple bacon bar doughnut….heaven. It was a long doughnut with a huge strip of bacon on top… Heaven

    • CubFan Paul

      We need pictures.

      • Jp3

        Scroll down on this link, there is an awesome pic of said doughnuts

        • Gutshot5820

          Wow that looks delicious. I guess I will have to settle for a Bacon and Egg Mcmuffin!

          • Jp3

            It was everything i thought it would be

            • davidalanu

              But is there a syrup nugget??

            • Teddy

              if you live in chicago there is a donut place called glazed and infused that has that exact type. It’s so gooooood

        • RonW

          Thanks for the shout-out on the maple-bacon bar! I was trying to figure out where all the website hits were coming from, voila…


  • JB88

    Luke, your comment about Baez and second was a curious one. Given the comments about arm strength I expected you to discuss 3rd. Was the mention of second your honest belief about his next position or in deference to Olt and/or Bryant?

    If everything went absolutely perfectly for the Cubs and they traded no one, I’d think Bryant would be a candidate for left with Baez at 3rd, Soler in right, and Alcantrera at second. Of course you could play that game with any number of Cubs middle infield/third base prospects at this point. Which dovetails to my next thought which is that this or next offseason I fully expect to see the Cubs trade one of these pieces for starting pitching.

    • Jp3

      I’d like Baez to be at 2nd… Jeff kent jr would be ok by me.

  • terencemann

    “I also liked what I saw from Matt Szczur. I would love to see the Cubs challenge Szczur with a September callup. Since he is already on the 40 man roster that is not an impossible hope, but I am not sure how likely it is.”

    They’re already burning his minor league options so I don’t see why they wouldn’t call him up to get some time with the big league team in September. Even if he just sits the bench most days, it’s not like he’ll be missing anything.

  • Chris

    What is the best place to sit at Smokies games? I will be heading down for the game on the 23rd and would like to sit in the best place possible.

    • Luke

      There are no bad a seats in that stadium. It has rained a lot lately, though, so sitting near the roof might be a good plan.

  • Norm

    Regarding Baez, from Jess Rogers on August 7th, he said it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Baez promoted to AAA.
    It’s unclear if McLeod was talking about Baez or if that was Rogers’ inferring so.
    But if it IS the case that Baez sees a promotion to Iowa, why are the Cubs handling him so differently?
    I’m thinking they want to get him to AAA so when the time comes for a David Price trade, the Cubs can tell the Rays that he’s knocking on the door and he could be up as soon as next year.
    If he’s in AAA, he very well may be the highest rated prospect at that level that could be a center piece in a Price trade.

    Just a hunch….

    • On The Farm

      I think its because he tends to get “full of himself” when he spends too long at a level, and if he doesn’t get challenged he tries to hit a HR in every AB and that’s when you see his K% numbers go up. If they promote him its to challenge him so he can continue to work on his swing. It would be insane if he did get called up to AAA.

      • Luke

        A little backwards here. The very high strikeout rates happen when he first reaches a new level. With both Daytona and Tennessee he eventually started making adjustments and hitting more consistently.

    • Jim

      I am not really seeing the David Price thing. Why would you try so hard to stock your farm system just to sell off some top pieces for a very expensive starting pitcher? I could see if the Cubs thought that they were one starter away from contending, but they aren’t there yet. As I see 2014 we already have Samardzija, Wood, Jackson, and Rusin has been impressive. Villanueva has shown some value here and there + Scott Baker should be back. On top of that you have Arodys Vizca√≠no who should be ready at some point in 2014. Nothing against David Price, any team would love to have him, but is this move really the right time for the Cubs?

      • Norm

        You gotta get them when they are available.
        Part of the reason of having a strong farm system is so they can do exactly this…trade prospects for proven studs.
        Rusin, Baker, Vizcaino, etc, are NOT reasons to dismiss going after Price.

        2014 may not be the year, but 2015 IS. Having Price for his age 28-35 year old seasons (assuming extension) is about the best you can hope for when trying to acquire an Ace that isn’t home grown.

        I’m not saying I’d do it…I’d really have to take a harder look at Price, But the way they are developing Baez seems a bit faster than they’ve preached and I think it’s because they want him knocking on the door of the majors to position him as the best trade chip TB will see.

        • JB88

          The other reason and what I suspect is probably as much of a reason is that you don’t want all of the Cubs prospects hitting the big leagues at the same time. Realistically, if the Cubs could introduce Baez and Olt (assuming he is a longterm piece) next year, Bryant and Soler the following year, and Almora the year after that. That way, you spread out both the FA dollars in later seasons and aren’t running out a team with a bunch of rookies.

      • RoughRiider

        Scott Baker was signed for one year. He may or may not re-sign with the Cubs.

      • willis

        Scott Baker may never be effective again, and Vizcaino will never be a starter at the major league level. He’s too damn fragile.

        Rusin is Cinderella right now, midnight is coming soon. Villanueva is solid. Arrieta could be a piece, but if you can get someone like Price, you do it. Counting on a couple TJS guys and unproven pitchers as a reason to sit on your hands when it comes to boosting a rotation isn’t smart.

        • willis

          And as far as Baez to Iowa, I don’t see it. I think letting him stay and beat the crap out of TN, along with gaining some playoff experience is better for him. Start him in AAA next season.

          • hansman1982

            I REALLY think the FO is trying to get this kid to fail, hard. So far, he really hasn’t (much to my chagrin) and the fail point may come in the Bigs or it may never come at all.

            • TWC

              The longer he crushes it in AA, the more I think that he should be brought up in September, option clock or no. If he’s going to respond to the push, push him harder. Push him until he breaks. If he doesn’t break, sweet — we’ve got a slugging infielder on the MLB team.

              • hansman1982

                That is tantilizing and would greatly alter the offseason if he looks the part of a big leaguer.

                • Rebuilding

                  It would certainly help some September ticket sales and build some real momentum and hope for 2014

                  • Rebuilding

                    I thought the Marlins were absolutely nuts to have Jose Fernandez start in the major leagues this year and he’s been dominating. Some rare talents can just play and raise their play to the competition

            • willis

              Ok I’ll bite…why the hell would the FO want their best prospect to fail? For humbling reasons or just because they don’t like him and don’t want him?

              And why does it bug you that he’s doing so well, isn’t this a good thing for the future of the cubs?

              • TWC

                Joe had been on record — repeatedly — with his belief that Baez wasn’t going to cut it as he advanced through the system. *Of course* it’s a good thing for the team, and *of course* he’d be thrilled if Baez succeeded. We all would, especially if it meant we could give Hansman a hard time about it, too.

                • Internet Random


                  • hansman1982

                    I’ve had plenty of the Baez Hater-Aid, it still doesn’t taste bad and I am looking forward to the Crow Flavor.

                    • Mr. B. Patient

                      Well, Hansman,, here’s hoping you get that chance.
                      (nothing against you, we just REALLY need a superstar).

              • Rebuilding

                I think that many see Baez’s Achilles Heel being his brash cockiness (and his k-rate) which could lead to prima donna problems. He already basically refused to play 3b in the AFL. He reportedly did nothing but swing for the fences the first few weeks after his homeruns in spring training. Please take this as the analogy it’s meant to be – but even the best race horses have to be broken early on or they are too wild to ever control (or coach)

                • Internet Random

                  “and his k-rate”

                  Umm… it’s spelled “karate”.

                  • TWC


                • gocatsgo2003

                  Doesn’t that seem exactly like what the front office is trying to do to Baez? Hoyer openly said as much in an interview and his promotion to AA is already pretty aggressive for a 20-year old in his second full professional season.

        • Jim

          Rusin is someone that I thought did a very good job when they brought him up last year, and he was arguably one of our best pitchers in Spring Training. He was just the victim of the numbers. So I don’t see his success now as a fluke. I actually have more confidence in him than Samardzija at this point.

          The price tag on David Price is going to be extremely high. Higher than what we paid for Garza and that we steep! If the Cubs did make the move I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to trade Castro instead of Baez. I would guess that it would take one or the other + +

          • ssckelley

            Yes, Rusin had such a strong spring that he damn near made the team. Like Willis I keep waiting for it to strike midnight and see Rusin turn into a pumpkin but so far it hasn’t happened. Perhaps he can be the Cubs left handed 5th starter next season.

        • Noah

          I think Rusin could be a solid 5 since he doesn’t walk many hitters, but that’s ceiling for him.

          • Rebuilding

            Rusin pitched very well in the PCL this year. At the time of his promotion Fangraphs had him ranked as a Top 10 pitcher in terms of productivity in the entire minor leagues. Is he this good? No, but it looks like he’s a serviceable MLB starter

            • On The Farm

              Yet people only remember what they want to remember, whether it be Rusin’s spot starts last season, or only looking at this season when evaluating Castro. People like to remember the negative

      • Nate

        This is exactly why you work to have a stacked farm system. You hope a couple guys make it and you make some trades to bring in talent. You may have a point about the timing but guys like Price don’t become available often so if you have a chance then take it. You can’t give up everything but there is a lot to work with right now.

  • Cubbie in NC

    Luke when I was there I thought that if you did not sell pancakes you were not allowed to have a restaurant in that area…

  • Gutshot5820

    Agreed. What has more Value? David Price minus 25-30M annually, minus two of our top four, minus two of our top 20, minus $$ it will take to replace the production and fill the positions that our prospects would have provided.

    OR just keep our prospects and the expected cheap production they will provide plus the 25-30M we can spend on the best free agents we can buy.

    Seems like a pretty easy choice to me. I highly doubt the FO office will make a trade for Price considering the costs.

    • JB88

      They might not trade for Price, necessarily, but they will be trading for a frontline pitcher at some point, if they can’t develop a TOR starter. There is already a ton of prospect duplication in the minors (which is what you want) and this FO has shown repeatedly with their prior teams that they will use their minor league system to acquire talent for the ML team. Don’t expect a completely homegrown team. It just won’t happen.

    • TheDondino

      The problem there is, pitching like David Price doesn’t hit the free agent market anymore. Teams are locking them up for extensions or, for the small market teams, trading them to big markets who sign them to extensions. Fewer and fewer ace level pitchers are going to be available in the FA market and we don’t have any of those types down on the farm. If 2015 is the start of our next run for a title we will have to trade to get a frontline ace. Maybe that’s not something we need, maybe Shark can be that guy. But if the FO does want an ace and they don’t feel Shark is that guy, they’re going to have to trade for one.

      • On The Farm

        True not many top SP (or any FA for that matter) are hitting the market on the right side of 30 these days. I am not advocating trading for Price, but I do agree you can only acquire talent when it becomes available.

      • JB88

        A rotation that features a healthy, and talented, David Price, Shark, Wood, and Jackson, is a pretty nice looking rotation. It also gives you flexibility on your 5th starter if one of Hendricks, Johnson, Edwards, Pinero, Maples, etc. emerges. It also allows you to slot Vizcaino into a bullpen role where his size may play better and keep him healthier longer. Landing a TOR pitcher (if you can do so without sacrificing too much minor league pitching depth) really makes the Cubs look a lot better as a team going forward.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    Hey Luke, do they slide Rock Shoulders down to 1b with Volgelbach moved out of KC?

    • On The Farm

      I thought I saw on Twitter that Gretsky was called up to Kane County. He plays LF/DH/1B

    • cms0101

      Rock has been playing 1B on and off with Vogelbach DHing. It seems likely he’ll be playing more at 1B. Gretzky will probably get some time there too if he was called up, but I believe he’ll have to be an OF mainly.

  • Melrosepad

    Luke/Brett, saw an article yesterday that Johermyn Chavez has been converted to a pitcher and is down in the Arizona League. Article was from a Seattle site. Hadn’t seen anything on this yet from any Cubs source.

    • cms0101

      That’s interesting. Maybe we’ll see him as a late blooming reliever in 3 years.

  • On The Farm

    Vogelbach is starting at DH tonight for game 1 of the double header. I am assuming Bryant will be there in time to play game 2.