albert almora explosionThe Cubs have a farm system full of potential middle of the order bats. Baez, Soler, Bryant, and Vogelbach all project nicely anywhere from the three to the six slot in most lineups. Leadoff hitters, on the other hand, are a little less certain.

Matt Szczur is certainly one candidate, but I’m still not certain he isn’t a good fourth outfielder when it is all said and done. Albert Almora would be a frequently mentioned candidate, and while I admit his name belongs in the hat at times I think he looks more like a two or seven guy (depending on how he develops) than a leadoff hitter. Zeke DeVoss and John Andreoli both deserve a mention, but in both cases there are concerns about their ability to hold down full time jobs at the major league level.

The best candidate of them all, I think, is Arismendy Alcantara. The switch-hitting second baseman has faded a little in the later part of the season (not surprising given he blew past his career high in games played three weeks ago), but he still boasts an OBP of .344 and a walk rate in excess of 10%. His strikeout rate is a touch higher than I’d prefer in a leadoff hitter, but that in turn is offset by his 13 home runs and 27 steals.



We will, of course, need to see him repeat numbers similar to those in Triple A next year before we can pencil his name into any major league lineup with anything other than very light pencil. I like his chances, though, and I like the idea of him hitting ahead of the likes of Castro, Baez, and Rizzo for the Cubs in the not so very distant future.

Scores From The Weekend

Iowa
Friday – The Cubs were shut down after scoring in the first and ultimately lost 5-2.
Saturday – Despite seven hits Iowa was shut out 3-0.
Sunday – The Cubs stayed alive for sixteen long innings, but in the end they lost 4-3.

Tennessee
Friday – A ninth inning rally set up this 8-6 win.
Saturday – On Saturday, though, the Smokies lost the finale against Chattanooga 6-4.
Sunday – Another ninth inning rally, this time on the road against a very good Birmingham team, resulted in this 5-2 Smokies win.

Daytona
Friday – An efficient offense led the Cubs to a 5-1 win.
Saturday – The offense went cold in this 10-2 loss.
Sunday – But the Cubs bounced back with a big seventh inning in this 5-3 win.



Kane County
Friday – Three errors and little offense dropped Kane County with a 5-1 loss.
Saturday – The bats found just enough to win this one 7-6.
Sunday – A ninth inning rally did not go far enough as the Cougars lost again, 4-2.

Boise
Friday – Boise overcame a pair of errors to win this one 6-2.
Saturday – This game was just ugly. The Hawks were blown out 11-0.
Sunday – Boise’s pitching stumbled again in this 10-2 loss.

Arizona
Friday – The AZL Cubs shut down the Padres with a 6-0 win.
Saturday – Saturday marked a rare road win for Rookie League team. The final was 9-7.
Sunday – This was a scheduled off day.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Kyle Hendricks pitched quite well in Iowa’s marathon loss. The starter threw 7 innings, allowed 3 runs on 7 hits, and struck out 7.


  • [Iowa] Jae-Hoon Ha is looking comfortable at the plate for Iowa. He started slow, but each month has seen his numbers improve. For August his line reads .323/.371/.508 with 2 home runs, 5 walks, and 8 strikeouts in about 80 trips to the plate.
  • [Tennessee] We might need to start paying closer attention to Tennessee catcher Rafael Lopez. I raised an eyebrow when he was selected to the Southern League mid-season All-Star team, but I have no arguments with his second half performance at all. Through 24 games and 97 PAs he is hitting .329/.433/.488 with 3 home runs, 15 walks, and just 9 strike outs. This left handed hitter could be Castillo’s backup in a season or two.
  • [Daytona] With two outs in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game Dan Vogelbach and Kris Bryant launched back to back homers. It was Vogelbach’s second and Bryant’s third. Let’s hope we see that a few hundred more times in their Cubs’ careers.
  • [Daytona] Corey Black can strike folks out, no doubt about that. He fanned 8 in 5 innings on Friday, but he also gave up 8 hits in the process.
  • [Daytona] Pitching 4 innings in a piggyback arrangement with Scott Baker on Sunday, Pierce Johnson struck out 6 while allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks.
  • [Kane County] Felix Pena and Tayler Scott both put together pretty decent starts this weekend. Both took the loss, but both pitched well enough to win. Neither are among the best pitching prospects in the system, but both are in the mix a tier or two down.
  • [Boise] Carlos Penalver is one of the hottest players in the farm system right now. His numbers over his last ten games are fairly ridiculous (.429/.487/.629), as is his August OPS of 1.015.
  • [Arizona] There was quite a bit of quality pitching in the desert this weekend. Erick Leal struck out 6 more in his 5 innings of work, Trevor Graham threw 3 flawless innings, and Carlos Rodriguez nearly matched him with three scoreless innings of his own.

Other News

  • The super-utility player’s super-utility player was the focus of a nice article on the Smokes Radio Network website. Jonathan Mota can play pretty much anywhere and do so well. He isn’t flashy at the plate, but he is consistent. Already in his mid-20s, this minor league veteran is not going to make any top prospect lists for the Cubs, but he might just be one of the easiest guys to root for in the farm system. One of these days I think he’ll get the call to Chicago on an injury fill in assignment.
  • Since rejoining Daytona for the push to the post-season, Anthony Giansanti is hitting .296/.400/.420 with 13 walks and 14 strikeouts.



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