vogelbach amayaBecause I live in Columbus, when the Cubs play the Reds, I can’t watch the Cubs broadcast on MLB.tv. Instead, I have to watch local FoxSports, which carries the Reds’ broadcast. Frequently, I find myself frustrated by the extreme homer-ism and anti-Cub-ism on Reds broadcasts. Last night, however, I didn’t notice any of that. In fact, I repeatedly found myself thinking, “wow, they’re being very charitable to the Cubs.” I’m pretty sure it was George Grande and Jeff Brantley in the booth, the former of whom has always been among the most even-handed, non-homer broadcasters I’ve heard. Brantley sometimes bugs me, but I realized that it is usually when he’s broadcasting with Thom Brennaman (who strikes me as hugely homer/anti-Cub). So, now I wonder: does Brantley just go with the flow, and Brennaman is the driving force behind what usually bothers me about Reds’ broadcasts? I should pay closer attention. I don’t want to paint with too broad of a brush in either direction. The sad thing is that I really enjoyed Brennaman in his time calling Cubs games.

  • Kris Bryant isn’t the only big bat headed up to Daytona: Kane County first baseman Dan Vogelbach is also getting the call, in case you didn’t see it in the Minor League Daily. Vogelbach will join the D-Cubs in time to be eligible for the playoffs, which will extend and intensify his season. I think it’s a great move for his development, and comes on the heels of a month that saw him put up a .417 OBP and .500 slugging. That month of July earned him Player of the Month honors, and helped bring his season line at Kane County up to .284/.364/.450. He took a little time to adjust to full season ball, and you’d like to see a first-base-DH-only type put up better numbers than that (especially the ISO), but all of the in-person reports have been good. Vogelbach was also on the young side for the Midwest League (he’s 20, and the median age is 22 – then again, true prospects generally tend to be younger than the median league age), so he’ll be quite young in the Florida State League. You can expect that Daytona is where Vogelbach will start 2014, regardless of how he performs there this month.
  • The Cubs officially announced the signing of Taiwanese pitching prospect Jen-Ho Tseng for $1.625 million, which was originally reported a few weeks ago. The 18-year-old righty will likely head to Mesa to work with the rookie league team there (though he may not appear in any games this year with so little time left). He could pitch in instructional ball this Fall, though. Almost all of the Cubs’ other international signings this year have just turned 16, and cannot play in games (the Dominican Summer League, for starters) until next year.
  • Junior Lake tried to go first to third last night with one out on a bloop single to center field. At the time, I said that was exactly when you should try to go first to third, and it was unsuccessful only because Shin-Soo Choo threw an absolutely perfect ball to third base. I wondered if Lake was going to get some grief, as everyone seems to when they get thrown out on the basepaths. He didn’t really, and Dale Sveum backed him up, too. “Choo threw the most perfect throw you could throw,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “You can’t put a ball there any better than that. I’ve got no problem with that aggressiveness.” Agreed.
  • The Cubs are taking far more walks in the second half than they did in the first half. Personnel changes? Coaching efforts finally getting through? Statistical blip? Whatever the answer, I like what I’m seeing in at bats lately, even if it hasn’t yet translated to a ton of runs. Over time, it will. A big part of the improvement has come from Welington Castillo, who you might recall was allergic to walks in the first half.
  • BP touched on Cubs pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks, he of the great numbers and little scouting hype. The story remains the same: Hendricks, who is at AAA now after dominating AA, throws strikes and throws all of his pitches well. But he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, and his ceiling is likely as a 4th starter in the bigs. Because of his polish and strike-throwing ability, though, he’ll almost certainly get a real chance to “prove it” in MLB at some point.
  • Cubs pitching prospect Eric Jokisch, who threw a no-hitter last week, was named the Southern League’s player of the week. Kris Bryant took the positional honors in the Northwest League for the same week.
  • MIkeL

    I agree with you, Brett. Thom brennaman has been one of the biggest cubs haters since leaving the Cubs. Bashes them every chance he gets. I hated listening to him during the 2003 playoffs.

    • Patrick G

      I used to hate listening to him when he was the announce for Arizona a while back. When they won the WS in ’01 it was the absolute worst, especially me being somewhat of a Yankee fan

    • Joker

      Thom is just an acorn that fell from the oak tree of Cubs hate that is his father, Marty. Marty has always been the epitome of the homer broadcaster and has been quite vocal about his anti-Cub leanings, especially now that Marty is in the twilight of his career. It’s painful and quite obvious to hear in his broadcasts.

      • Rebuilding

        One thing I think baseball has gotten right over the last few decades is the division structures. I have always loathed the Cardinals, but now I have a healthy dislike of the Reds. Can’t stand the Brewers. I’m actually rooting for the Pirates this year, but if they stay good I’m sure I’ll grow to dislike them too

      • TWC

        “Marty has always been the epitome of the homer broadcaster”

        Hawk Harrelson and I shared a laugh at that. (Right before I told him to get lost.)

        • Joker

          TWC, I would laugh with you if not for a technicality – what Hawk does is not broadcasting, Since he is not fit to be called a broadcaster, he is not in the running.

          • TWC

            It’s all semantics with you, kid, isn’t it? Sheesh…

        • miggy80

          You Can put it on the Booooooard…….YES!

          • TWC

            ::glares at Miggy:: (not for the first time)

            • miggy80


              • TWC

                Pretty much

  • Joycedaddy

    So ideally what level would we expect to see Tseng start at next season?

    • cms0101

      At age 19, he’ll probably start in Arizona or Boise. It’s hard to believe he’d go all the way to Kane County in year one. I know he’s advanced for his age, but I’d rather see him dominate his way up the chain than struggle in an advanced league.

  • cms0101

    I wonder if there’s a corresponding move to send Geiger to Tennessee. I love that the Daytona team appears to be stacked, but the Smokies are in the playoffs too. They could use a bat after losing a good chunk of their starting pitching depth.

  • Craig

    I realize I’m getting ahead of myself, but it sounds as if Vogelbach is strictly a 1B/DH type, and Rizzo is locked in at 1B for the time being. How do you foresee the front office handling this if Vogelbach does indeed make it to the majors soon and DH hasn’t been implemented in the NL yet?

    Can Vogelbach handle a corner OF spot? Does Rizzo and his golden glove potential move to the OF?

    Again, I understand I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s something to think about… possibly sooner than later. Not a bad problem to have.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Way too early to think about. It may be something to worry about in 2015.

    • RizzoCastro

      Vogelbach could be someone that helps the Cubs get Price from the Rays. 1B/DH that has power and high OBP. Just what the Rays need. Vogelbach and 2 other top 10 guys may just get you Price.

      • CubFan Paul

        Yeah Vogelbach is trade bait, but I could see his question becoming more relevant next year if Vogelbach dominates early in Daytona and then mashes in Tennessee to finish the year.

      • Noah

        Vogelbach might not honestly be Top 10 in the Cubs’ system right now. Which more says great things about the system than negative things about Vogelbach. But I’d say the top 8 prospects right now are pretty clear: You have the top 4, who in no particular order would be Baez, Bryant, Almora, and Soler. Then I’d say Alcantara is number 5. Despite Olt’s struggles since coming over, he’s still in the 6-8 group with Pierce Johnson and CJ Edwards. Then there are just a bunch of guys who you could argue should be 9 and 10: Vogelbach, Amaya, Hendricks, Blackburn, Villanueva, etc. etc. etc. Depends entirely how much you value ceiling, floor, age, level, positional scarcity and defensive ability.

        • Scotti

          I’ve been a fan of Alcantara since his early DSL performance (he put up goofy numbers in the first half then slumped). However, I would not rank him ahead of Johnson (and maybe even Edwards). AA has some things in his game to iron out.

    • On The Farm

      Vogelbach will start 2014 in Daytona, may(hopefully) gets promoted to AA by midseason, probably August if he continues on his current progression. That means he starts 2015 in AA (he will be 22 now) and will spend half seasons in AA and AAA. So at best Vogelbach will see MLB by late 2015, and he could even start 2016 (age 23 season) in AAA. I think that’s a long way off consider him trade bait already. If he is a power bat, you cross your fingers that the NL adopts the DH by 2015 or 2016.

      • Jay

        That’s the only way Vogelbach makes the big leagues in a Cubs uniform. Rizzo isn’t going anywhere, he most certainly isn’t changing positions, and Vogelbach’s only position is 1B (and barely that). He’s a pure DH.

        • On The Farm

          If the FO could project Vogelbach as a 30 HR MLB guy, and Rizzo continues his progression as an MLB player, the FO would be stupid to not consider trying to find Rizzo a spot in the OF and get Vogelbach in the lineup. You can never have enough pitching, but that doesn’t mean you can never have enough power bats in the lineup either. I am just saying that 2-3 years from now we have no clue where these two players will be in their careers and to completely discount the possiblity of Rizzo moving positions, or to view Vogelbach as a DH with limited 1B value is short sighted.

          • Patrick

            One thing that would cause hesitation with that move is that Rizzo has a very good glove at 1st while Vogelbach is, well, not quite as good. Putting Rizzo in OF and Vog at 1st would hurt the defense. Plus, Where would you put rizzo? You can’t really put him in Right because of Soler and center field is out of the question for obvious reasons so left is really the only spot you could put him.

        • Scotti

          The only way? Rizzo could get injured, traded or see his performance decline. All three of those are far more likely than moving Rizzo (who is literally slower than Vogelbach) moving to the OF. Vogelbach, BTW, is just a hair slower than Bryant. The reason Vogelbach is never going to play the OF is his weak arm.

      • TheDondino

        That time frame, which is the most plausible I can see, also gives the FO another two years to see if Rizzo is what they think/hope he is. By then, if he hasn’t progressed as much as we’d hoped, but not completely fallen off the rocks, he could be the one on the trading block and still net good value.

    • ssckelley

      The Cubs are at least 2 years away from having to worry about this. He should be ready about the time the Cubs are competing so hopefully Vogelbach can make himself into a nice trade chip by then.

      • Voice of Reason

        Trade chip? Hell, he could be our first baseman of the future!
        It’s not like Rizzo is tearing it up. Let Vogelbach develop… we might all be presently surprised!

        • On The Farm

          Ignoring the fact that Rizzo has more MLB HRs than Vogelbach has MiLB HRs this season, but hey you are right Rizzo isn’t tearing it up, but Vogelbach sure is!

        • Jon

          Vogelbach is going to eat himself out of first base.

    • cms0101

      I’ve heard Hoyer speculate that the National League will have to eventually adopt the DH to eliminate the offensive advantage AL teams have during interleague games. With constant interleague play, it seems to make some sense. I like the old school stuff the same as anyone else, but I agree that it doesn’t make sense, long term, for the NL to go without a DH. Who knows. Maybe Vogelbach will reach the majors at exactly the right time.

  • college_of_coaches

    Brett and Luke, did you see that one of this year’s IFA bonus babies made his debut last night with the DSL Cubs? Jefferson Mejia threw 2 innings, for 2 hits and 2 runs (both earned), with a strikeout. (He also hit a guy.)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I did not – thanks for the heads up. Because he’s older, he was eligible to start right away (I believe he and Tseng are the only ones).

  • terencemann

    It helps to remember that Choo has a right-field arm in center but, everybody’s right, that was a crazy throw and not something you’d expect to see most of the time.

  • JB88

    Expect a report from Fan Graphs on Hendricks in the near future. I asked a question about him in Marc Hulet’s chat last week and he indicated that he was going to be viewing Hendricks for a Fan Graphh’s piece this week.

  • 1060Ivy

    Did the article on second half increase in Cub walks have to come after the Cubs being shutout for the 3rd home game in a row? Is that the right time to being discussing patience?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett


  • Noah

    I wonder if Brennaman’s issues with the Cubs go back to him not being really seriously considered for the play by play role after Harry died. Or if they date back further, since I don’t think Brennaman had been with the Cubs since about 1994 based on his Wikipedia entry. I remember Brennaman being the 4th through 6th inning guy on TV in my early days of Cubs fandom while Harry went and did radio for a few innings.

    • Rebuilding

      Even when he was here you could tell Brenneman was a Reds fan – constantly referencing them and their games and damn near actively rooting for them in Cubs/Reds games. I get that he grew up there and his Dad was their long time announcer, but he crossed the professionalism line imo. Not sure if he has an overall beef with the Cubs though

      • Noah

        I was a kid when he was broadcasting, so I can’t particularly trust my memories of that era on that front. It wouldn’t be a surprise, though.

    • Dustin S

      Bob Brenly’s been an even worse Cub hater since he left. Surprised he wasn’t mentioned. Not sure if he left on worse terms behind the scenes, sour grapes over being passed over for the coaching position after Quade, if he’s upset that the Cubs released his son, or all of the above. But he’s been bashing the Cubs every chance he gets.

      • Crockett

        Personally, I don’t think Brenly has been that bad. I think he’s just overcorrecting in the “I don’t want to seem biased for my old team” kind of way.

        • hansman1982

          To be fair, he did plenty of Cubs bashing when he was here.

      • Voice of Reason

        How about the Cubs have been a terrible organization for years? Does it bother you to hear the truth or someones opinion about it?

  • On The Farm

    Can’t believe you didn’t mention that the Great One’s son is being called up to Kane County. Time for Trevor Gretzky to sink or swim. (Although his .343 wOBA, and his 98 wRC+, with a 9.1% BB isn’t the worse thing in the world.)

    • MoneyBoy

      2011 7th rounder who’s just about to turn 21?? Sink or swim?? Really???

      • On The Farm

        I thought some posters on here said on here that he has been struggling in Bosie, also Luke doesn’t list him on his top 40 prospects, so yeah in a sense he will need to impress in Kane County if he wants to make it as a prospect. I also complimented him on his walk%, his wOBA, and his wRC+ is just a touch below average so it’s not like I completely slammed the guy. Thanks for playing.

        • terencemann

          To paraphrase (horribly) I believe Keith Law said in a chat that Gretzky doesn’t appear to have the tools to make it. They may be promoting him just because they need a guy or to work with a different coach.

          • Cedlandrum

            Trevor Gretzky is an interesting player. He is tall and has the frame to hit with some pop from the left side. He had shoulder surgery right before or after he was drafted, so didn’t play his draft year until instructs. He has played a total of 62 games since he was drafted. He is still really Raw so I would discredit some of Law’s comment. He is still learning.

            He hasn’t played 1st base at all this year. Mostly LF. Trevor hasn’t shown any pop yet which I think could be because of the shoulder and the come back from that. He should play an avg. outfield because he is a good athlete- good hs qb. Much of what is to be determined about Gretzky is still a year or two off, and some of this promotion is probably because he is the least of the prospects in the outfield of Boise, but that isn’t saying much with Encarnacion, Dunston, and Hanneman all there. My guess is the last two will start playing again very soon.

            • Cedlandrum

              forgot about Balaguert

            • Scotti

              It’s always right to discredit the KLaw…

            • Aaron

              The Great Gretzky was a frequent spectator at Fitch ever since rookie ball. The few of us there left him entirely alone and several times I walked in from the parking lot or back too it–never once asked him for an autograph. Sis and mom showed up several times. Gretzky is earning his keep and has a few multiple hit games. He was very slight and injured upon arrival his rookie season. No opinion on future but if he does not get invite to instructs–might be clue.

            • Voice of Reason

              Who cares about the boy… google his sister and check out pictures of her! Paulina Gretzky!

              If they want to improve attendance at Kane County games they need to get her there one night!


        • Cedlandrum

          He has been hitting better lately.

  • David

    Who from the top 10 or 12 prospects will be invited to play in Spring Training 2014? How/ when is that decided???

  • jeff1969

    I think there are many Cubs fans (and baseball fans in general) that are very used to the “all my eggs in one basket” type perspective when thinking about their team & the minor league players they have. So many times in the past, especially being a Cubs fan growing up, that we fans sat waiting for that player we heard about that was going to be the answer at 3B or the savior to solve all our worries in CF. Karl Pagel was one that was going to slug the Cubs to the top in the late 70’s. Gary Scott, Kevin Orie, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, and the list goes on & on. Rarely have the Cubs ever had the issues they are going to have (hopefully) of having multiple really good possibilities at multiple positions. Looking at 1B & 3B only you can see how stacked they are hopefully going to be in the near future and how they are going to have quite a few “extra” guys to trade for areas of need, probably pitching & at catcher. Gambling on 5 instead of 1 to pan out at a position is a lot more fun.

    • Rebuilding

      Good points and you are correct that penciling anyone below AA into any future is a fool’s game. However, and not just responding to you but the Pie/Patterson/etc. line of thinking, prospect evaluation, like the rest of baseball analysis, has come a long way. 10-15 years ago you didn’t hear a lot about age/level, K%, plate discipline and the other more advanced analysis. Reading Baseball America back then it was all about “tools”. I honestly think that if Felix Pie was in our system right now he would be fringy Top 10 if that. Also, I think we have a FO now that does this same analysis and will move a guy that is overrated before he’s completely exposed

    • terencemann

      That’s why I feel like the Cubs really do need to have one of the best systems in baseball if they want to build around some internally developed players in the short run – because a lot of those guys aren’t going to be as good as we hope. We don’t know if Almora or Soler will be the better player so better to have both of them than just one for right now….

  • MoistassAlou

    I saw Vogelbach play in Peoria a couple of weeks ago and his first AB hit a hard shot out of right field. Other than his bat, honestly though he looked slow in play and not very athletic. Just my thoughts…

    • Ben Peoria Cub’s Fan

      I was at the same game and agree with your take on Vogelbach. I really cannot recall seeing a less athletic body in baseball. He did seem adept at digging balls out of the dirt. Left that game thinking Rock Shoulders appeared the better prospect.

  • Bilbo161

    I remember Brennaman. Liked him with the Cubs. I think he felt jilted when he wasn’t hired just like that other guy (name escapes me at the moment) who ended up havin a decent run at Houston. He never forgave Harry for being pushed aside.

    As far as Vogelbach. It’s ok to think about the possibility but trading him but now is not the time to make the move. He will be a more valuable trade piece when he is at a higher level. So, patience is the word. Plenty of time to let him develop and let the players make the decisions by their play on the field.

    • TWC

      Milo Hamilton? He *haaaated* Harry, to the day he died.

      • Bilbo161

        That’s the one. Thanks!

  • Stogie

    I think Vogel Bach is someone you try to package in a deal for David Price at some point.

    • Stogie

      Vogelbach is one word, I know. My smartass phone changed it.

    • On The Farm

      He would only be a compliementary piece, they would want him + a big four + Johnson + another fringe guy probably.

  • JM

    Brett, you don’t even live in Chicago? I feel a little duped. How can a guy a couple hundred miles away have such good connections and insight?

    I even thought I saw you on telly at Wrigley last night.

  • Rebuilding

    On the same day Bryant is moving up to A+ Appel got lot up in Low A. While I do think Appel will be an average to slightly above average MLB starter I think we’ll all look back at this draft and thank heaven the Astros went with Appel

    • On The Farm

      Bryant grew slowly on me, but now is firmly planted in one of my favortie bats in all of minor league baseball. Appel has pitched in the Midwest League and actually faced my hometown Kernels last week and he shut them down. I am not sure what I think Appel will be, but as of now I am not as sad we missed on Appel (and was never on the Gray band wagon). Bryant’s bat could carry him very quickly to the pros and the thought of him, Baez, and Alacantra all arriving around each other is something the Cubs have been lacking for years.

    • JB88

      Not sure I can agree with that. Looking at some of the numbers Appel was putting up on the gun the other night, he seems like he was really throwing heat (and maintaining it). Assuming there is any life on his fastball, he certainly seems like he has TOR stuff.

      And while power is certainly a rarer commodity in the MLB these days, TOR stuff is and has always been a more premium commodity.

  • Lyle Ernst

    How can Thom Brennaman not be a jerk. His dad is the biggest anti-Cub broadcaster of all, and a real pain-in-the-ass.

  • Ghost Dawg

    I just read that Scouting report by Jason Cole on Kyle Hendricks and besides the beginning part where they talk about the success he has had lately, I think the report is from last year and a bit off. In other words, not accurate.

    Here is why…

    1. The scouting report says that Hendricks throws a Curve and a Slider. Wrong.

    Both his Curve & Slider were fringe average major league offerings at best. This off season he worked with pitching coach Jeff Fassero to combine them into a “Slurve”. That pitch has been dominant and is now his “out” pitch. A Plus offering. Any scouting report that doesn’t talk about this fact is missing a key reason why he continues to have success and a big part of his repertoire.

    2. From BP: “He keeps hitters off balance by varying his fastball velocity, often throwing it anywhere between 86-94 mph and sitting around 88-90. His stuff doesn’t have plus movement, but the command and deception––particularly with his slow mid-70s changeup––give him a chance for success.”

    First of all I disagree, I think that Kyle does have Plus movement on his two-seamer, and above average movement on his four-seamer and cutter.

    The velocity they claim while “technically” right is not nearly as slow as they make it sound.

    Hendricks throws:

    4-Seam FB : 90-92 mph (can hit 94) but he really doesn’t throw it very often, so when he does he can reach back for some extra.

    2-Seam FB : Bread & Butter, 89-91 mph, Plus movement

    Cutter/ Cut FB : 86-88 mph, tails away from right handed hitters – developed this pitch LAST offseason as a “contact” pitch. In other words, because of the tailing movement of the pitch he goes right after hitters with it, and they end up hitting it weakly into the infield as they can’t square it up.

    Slurve – Developed this offseason. Plus offering. “Out” pitch that creates swings and misses.

    Changeup – average movement, but because of the HUGE change in speeds from 90 mph to 77-79 between his FB’s and the change he gets TONS of strikeouts.

    Anyway, that’s my humble take on Kyle Hendricks who in my opinion has a much higher “ceiling” than a 4-5 starter as Cole says. How can you justify saying that when he is in AAA and still doing it? It’s not like he is some fly ball pitcher that’s been getting lucky on deception and smoke n’ mirrors. He is a 23 year old, 6’3″ – 200Lbs, strikeout pitcher, who has added to his arsenal and improved with each level.

    Those still scouting the kid drafted by the Rangers in the 8th round of the 2011 draft are scouting a player who doesn’t exist anymore.

    • On The Farm

      Thanks for this, that was a nice assessment on your part.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Very interesting take. Thanks for that.

  • Rudy


  • On the Farm

    Hello Daytona in style!