Because 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.