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dominican flagEven as we are in the midst of the minor league playoff chase (with Boise, Tennessee, and Daytona right in the middle of things), I am starting to ponder my off season writing plans. Last winter I started things off with the Prospects Progress series (like this one, for example) before shifting my focus to the initial edition of the Top 40 Prospects list. That sequence remains a possibility for this season as well.

But before I make any final plans, I would welcome your input. What would you like to see in the way of minor league coverage on Bleacher Nation this winter? I can’t promise I’ll take any particular suggestion, but I would welcome any requests or suggestions. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Two pitchers combined for the shutout in Iowa’s 3-0 win.
Tennessee - The Smokies gave up a run in the ninth and took a 2-1 loss.
Daytona - Daytona was rained out.
Kane County - The Cougars coughed up four runs in the third inning and were dealt a 7-4 loss.
Boise - Boise made a late comeback, but could not quite finish the job. They lost 5-4.
Arizona - The AZL Cubs gave up five in the first and never got them back in this 6-4 loss.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Brooks Raley struck out 6 over 8 scoreless frames. He allowed just 3 hits and walked no one. Brian Schlitter struck out 2 in the ninth for his 18th save.
  • [Iowa] Greg Rohan, after a long time on the disabled list and rehabbing, has surfaced in Iowa. He is still looking for his first hit.
  • [Tennessee] Doubles by Matt Szczur and Arismendy Alcantara were the only extra base hits for the Smokies. As a team they also failed to draw a single walk.
  • [Kane County] Gioskar Amaya led Kane County with a double and a walk as he compiled a 2 for 4 day. Rock Shoulders also finished 2 for 4 with a double, and Giuseppe Papaccio drew a walk en route to a 2 for 3 day.
  • [Kane County] Rob Zastryzny gave up 5 hits in his 3.2 innings of work while walking one, but he only allowed a single run to score. Andrew McKirahan struck out 3 in 2 innings of hitless relief.
  • [Boise] Dillon Maples struggled last night. Through 4 innings he gave up 5 runs on 6 hits while walking 4 and striking out 3. This was his first rough start in quite a few games.
  • [Boise] Corbin Hoffner, on the other hand, had a very good night. He struck out 5 in his 3 innings of relief while allowing just 2 hits. Tyler Bremer struck out a pair in the final in the final inning.
  • [Boise] Kevin Encarnacion hit his fourth home run as a Hawk in this game. Yasiel Balaguert also had a nice game, finishing 2 for 4 with a double.
  • [Arizona] Orbandy Rodriguez struck out three and allowed only a hit and a walk while pitching the final two innings.
  • [Arizona] Arizona did not manage a single extra base hit in this game.

Other News

  • I am planning to take a hard look at the Cubs prospects in the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues this Sunday, but I thought there was one player in the DSL who should be called out a bit early. I’ve written about those leagues a few times this season, but I do not recall ever mentioning Shamil Ubiera. This outfielder got off to a slow start, but lately he has been tearing up the league. His August OPS is at 1.073, his second half OPS sits at .919, and for the season he has overcome his slow start to the tune of an .823. He also has 4 home runs and 13 steals, and at just 6’0″ and 190 pounds he has the promise of more power to come. Ubiera turns 21 at the end of September, and I would not be surprised to see him in Arizona next year.
  • Abe Froman

    My minor suggestion on the top prospects lists is to include how they were acquired and when (e.g. draft year and round or the specific trade, etc).

    • MichiganGoat

      If you click on thier name it takes you to thier B-R page that list transitions.

      • MichiganGoat

        Transactions I mean – now for more minor players it’s not always listed but the major prospects will have all the transactions listed.

  • Good Captain

    I’d agree w/ Abe’s comments above. Beyond that, I really enjoyed last year’s and format.

  • Wester

    Seeing as how I really only started following the minors and actually watching milb.tv this year this is probably a somewhat ignorant post. But I was thinking last night while watching the smokies game about how good of an experience it would be for Hendricks to come back down to AA for the playoffs, just to get some post season action. That also might just be the difference in winning a championship, which I think would be great for everybody on that team. Is that sort of thing completely unheard of for someone who probably isn’t getting a September call up? If it is, why?

    • Wester

      Like they could even make it his choice, and say “look Kyle, you’ve been a flat out stud for us this year, you’ve earned your promotion. We would like you to get the playoff experience you helped the Smokies earn, but if you want to shut it down for the year that’s your choice.”

    • Edwin

      I guess I’d wonder if “post season action” is really that valuable. Is playing in the post season a separate skill from playing in the regular season? I’m sure Hendricks has pitched in plenty of tournaments/playoffs/championships growing up, so it’s not like he has never been in a “pressure” situation before. Plus, I don’t think AA playoffs could ever be compared to MLB playoffs in terms of atmosphere.

      At this point I think it’s more valuable for Hendricks to get experience pitching against some more experianced competition.

      • Wester

        Right, I absolutely agree with that. But once Iowas season is over, and its either shut him down or give him the highest level playoff experience he’s faced personally for a couple games I don’t see the harm.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Post season action is valuable. There is no substitute for the pressure of playing in must win games, for the stadium atmosphere that comes with the playoffs, and so forth. It does not completely prepare a prospect for the insanity that can be the major league playoffs, but it isn’t a bad start.

        Worth moving Hendricks back down for? Maybe not. But I’m not against the idea.

  • Edwin

    I think an interesting thing the Cubs could do with Kane county is to schedule a couple Kane county games at Wrigley each year when the Cubs are out of town. I live in Milwaukee, and the Brewers have done that with one of their minor league affiliates (Timber rattlers), and it’s a lot of fun. That way the fans would get to see some nice minor league talent, and it would probably be a cool experiance for the prospects as well.

    • beerhelps

      I think it was last year when they were still affiliated with Peoria the Chiefs played a game at Wrigley vs Kane County. But I agree, that would be a cool thing to do more often. Even those same 2 teams since Peoria is now with the Cardinals.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I think the Cubs did this when they had an affiliate in Rockville as well.

  • Noah

    Isn’t a 20 year old a really old player in the DSL? I’d presume the Cubs had Ubiera repeat the DSL in 2013, despite a solid 2012, for a reason, most likely that they don’t view him as much of a prospect. The top talent he’s competing against as far as ceiling is concerned are 17 and 18 years old.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      His first season was at 19. That plays into things.

      And so do things like visas and other non-baseball paperwork. We can’t just assume that he is in the DSL at 20 because he isn’t much of a prospect. There are too many other factors in play for that.

      All we can do at this stage is keep an eye on him. Regardless of age, I still strongly suspect he’ll be in the US next year. After he gets a month or two of games in the US we can start to figure out what his prospect status might be.

  • On The Farm

    I will be very interested to see Raley and Schlitter in September. I think Schlitter can be a very useful asset in the pen and hopefully he and Parker can really establish themselves along with Strop and Russell to give us a solid pen. As for Raley, I have always been bullish on him and Rusin, and I really hope Raley can be another LH guy in the pen.

    • cms0101

      I don’t know if you can assume that Schlitter will be added to the 40-man roster to come up. Raley will probably be up just because he’s already on the 40-man. Boscan too, for that 3rd catcher spot. Cabrera, Grimm, Sappelt, and maybe Vitters are good possibilities too. But without room on the 40-man, Schlitter may be going home in September. I believe they only have one open slot, and that’s reserved for Sweeney to come off the 60-day DL.

      • On The Farm

        Ah I thought that since he was up back in 2010 that maybe he was already on it (re: Schlitter on the 40). As for Raley won’t be up “just because he is already on the 40 man”, I think he is a bit more valuable then that. I think he is a guy who will be fighting for a bullpen spot next season so if they can see how he looks in a RP capacity they can know what they are working with going forward.

        • C. Steadman

          if they carried takahashi as a 2nd lefty in the bullpen(for very brief period) i certainly hope they’ll give raley a chance

        • cms0101

          Schlitter hasn’t been on the 40-man since 2010. They waived him and cleared him off back then. Raley will be in the mix for a bullpen job, but don’t be shocked if he and Rusin make up 2 5ths of the Iowa rotation again in 2014. The Cubs have accumulated plenty of hard throwing arms for the pen, and already have the obligatory lefty in Russell out there. Looking to next season, Strop, Russell, and Parker look to be locks. If Fujikawa is healthy, he’ll be a lock as well. If Villanueva isn’t in the rotation, he’s a lock. That leaves 1-2 spots for Eduardo Sanchez, Raley, Rusin if he isn’t in the rotation, Justin Grimm, Dolis, Cabrera, Bowden. Those are all guys on the 40-man, but not even considering any free agent signings.

          • cub4life

            unless Rusin and/or Raley (probably just 1 of them but we will have to wait and see) are in the MLB rotation

            • cms0101

              Rusin has the only legitimate shot of the two to be in the rotation. That will depend on what he does the rest of the season. I think he’s positioned himself to be on the major league team. The FO seems to view Raley as a depth guy. I wouldn’t be shocked if they tried to move him off the 40-man in the offseason to create space for free agency. I don’t anticipate that Gregg will be back. The curtain hiding his true “ability” seems to be gone now. He’s certainly the one trade-deadline regret. Sveum should have held him out of the ESPN game just before the All-Star break.

              • cub4life

                I agree with you on the Rusin front and depth for Raley (but he could “figure it out” over the offseason and surprise us in the spring) but I don’t think they will try to remove him from the 40 man (with out trading him) because I can almost guarantee that he wouldn’t make it through wavers.

                • cms0101

                  If push comes to shove on the 40-man space, he’s absolutely a candidate for removal. He’s been average or below average in Iowa all season. He’s not the only one that could get removed, but he’s on the list. Others are McNutt, Rondon, Bowden from the pitching staff. I don’t think Dolis or Cabrera will be moved, but you never know. Going to the positional roster, Boscan will be gone, Navarro will be a free agent, Murphy could be gone, but he’s helping his case, Ransom, Gillespie, McDonald, Sappelt, and Sweeney is a free agent. Guys on the 60-day DL, Baker, Putnam, Guerrier, Neal all gone. Dolis, Fujikawa, Vizcaino, stay. They’ll definitely have to protect Arismendy Alcantara, and possibly Jae-Hoon Ha. Possibly Panigua too. After that, the roster shuffle will be interesting to watch.

                  • C. Steadman

                    yeah starting sept 1 for callups and into this offseason will be fun to watch what happens to the 40-man

                  • cub4life

                    I agree with you on most of those being either gone or possibly off the 40, but Navarro and maybe Sweeney should be back (if we can sign them).

      • cub4life

        Don’t forget about Baker (if he makes it back) will need a spot on the 40 man. and BTW since I haven’t heard yet what’s up with Dolis and Putnam? Are they done for the season or are they coming back?

        • cms0101

          I don’t think either are going to come back this season. They’ll probably be sent to Arizona to rehab, given the time left. Baker has been pretty terrible in the minors on his rehab starts. I hope they just cut bait on the guy and chalk it up to a bad signing. They did very well this offseason, so one bad move doesn’t need to be scrutinized. I just hope they don’t try to “fix” the mistake by signing him again next year. It’s unnecessary. There are plenty of other arms to choose from. Unless he took a split minor/major league deal where they don’t pay him anywhere near the $5mil they already have given him, I don’t see a reason to roll the dice again.

          • willis

            The fact that he’s still only at 3ish innings per start should spell that other than maybe a start or two, we’re not going to see him pitch for the cubs this year. Bad signing. That happens.

            I would entertain holding onto him on a very team friendly deal, if they feel he can restablish his durability and actually give the cubs starts next year. But after a whole year of nothing, I’m fine letting him walk as well.

          • cub4life

            Thanks and I agree with you about Baker except one thing, there are ideots out there that will scrutinize the front office for the signing and say see they don’t know what they are doing, no matter how good they did other then that. As for me I think they did mostly a good job since coming in and yeah there have been some back moves and some really good ones. Then there were in my opinion they great non moves (Pujols and Hamilton). So yeah a good job.

            • willis

              There have been so many moves we can’t sit here and talk about them all, but mostly things have worked out. The Stewart trade was a necessary evil and backfired, re-signing him was a huge mistake. The Baker move was a bad one also. But those are in hindsight, the rest of the moves have seemed to be ok or are still playing out.

              If Edwards continues to grow and becomes a starter down the line, the Garza trade will look pretty good. But that one has a lot of playing out left to do.

              • cub4life

                Yes it has alot of playing out, but if like you said Edwards does his thing and then there is even a pulse from Grimm and Olt then wow great move.

              • Cubbie Blues

                Edwards has a 3.64 K/BB this year and 12.13 K/9.

                • willis

                  I have a chub for what Edwards has done and is doing. It’s whether he’s durable enough with his frame that worries me as he moves up the ladder. I have zero faith in Grimm other than as maybe a stop gap reliever here and there, and Olt is so far past terrible he isn’t worth discussing.

                  The PTBNL could be intriguing, but at this point that deal is all about Edwards.

                  • C. Steadman

                    yeah, I hope its Neil Ramirez…it’d be nice to have another AA pitching prospect..he’ll probably be AAA next year

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    Hansman has seen some studies that frame isn’t what everyone has always thought it was cracked up to be when it comes to durability.

  • Caleb

    Luke- you know what I’ve always wanted a look at? The entire cubs minor league organization. How many players are signed to the cubs system overall? What’s the total money cubs have invested outside of the big team? How many minor leagues and teams do we actually have? Where does ours stack up? Quick- name every cubs prospect (including international) at catcher! I always feel like I have a vague idea, but really I don’t know all the details of the minors. Just a thought–nice work as always!

  • JonnyRed

    Anybody know when Almora is coming off the DL? I expected to see him back by now…

    • On The Farm

      I thought it was a hammy injury? Sometimes those can be the annoying lingering injuries

      • C. Steadman

        ask vitters how annoyin they are

        • On The Farm

          Or Bogie, that’s what kept him out the last few weeks.

      • cms0101

        It is some kind of muscle pull or something. He’s been with the team at home games on the bench, but inactive. There’s only 11 days left in their season, so he may be done. Maybe they move him to Daytona once he’s activated for the playoffs.

        • On The Farm

          I thought there were roster restrictions for how long you had to be on the roster to play in the playoffs (they are like a week anyway)? If not its possible he could move on to Daytona, but I bet he just finished in KC if he even comes back and then starts in Daytona next year.

          • C. Steadman

            beat me to the punch…id like to see almora up but yeah… roster restrictions?

            • cms0101

              Good question. They just called up Vogelbach and Bryant within the last 7-8 days. I know last year in Boise they called up a few guys from Arizona the week before the playoffs started. But that’s a different level.

              • C. Steadman

                i tried to find some rules on restrictions…and failed…maybe with september being the expanded MLB rosters that with all movement up the ladder there arent any restrictions just limits(25 men only)

        • C. Steadman

          are there playoff roster rules for the minors? anyone research this? i wonder if almora would even qualify

        • Scotti

          “Johnson said there still is no timetable for star center fielder Albert Almora to receive an MRI needed to assess his groin injury, as well as ‘everything following it.’

          “With little more than two weeks left in the season, that means it’s possible Almora’s days playing for the Cougars are over.

          ” ‘You’ve got to look at the big picture with him, and there are 17 days left,’ Johnson said. ‘It’s something you want to be careful with. It’s not like a minor injury. It’s not a major injury by any means, but it’s something you’ve got to really look out for him and his best interests.

          ‘Whatever it is has got to calm down, and when it calms down we’ll take another picture and see what’s doing.’

          “Almora’s injury has been described as a bruised bone in his groin. The Cubs’ top draft pick from 2012 has been on the disabled list since Aug. 6. He is batting .329 with 17 doubles in 61 games after joining the team in May in the aftermath of breaking a bone in his hand during spring training.”

          http://www.kcchronicle.com/2013/08/17/cougars-claim-wild-one-almoras-season-could-be-over/aftarqg/?page=2

          • cms0101

            There you have it. Done for the year. AFL bound…

            • On The Farm

              Unless they want Bryant in the AFL instead

              • MichiganGoat

                Well Bryant’s gf tweeted yesterday that Bryant is going to the AFL

  • cub4life

    Luke, you probably do this already but the only thing I can think of right now for the offseason is keeping up with our prospects in the Fall league and any other leagues that are going on and if there are any trades a work-up on the minor league players involved, like the info you and Brett provide during the trade deadline as well as where that/those players might rank in our system ie. 10-15 range (not exact until you are ready to put out your next top___ rankings).

    But as always great job on the minor leagues post.

  • Stu

    Being off topic for a second, remember the posts making fun of the Dodgers for “signing all the players” as completely insane?

    Anyone check the standings?

    • Cubbie Blues

      How about the Angels?

      • C. Steadman

        Jays?

    • http://www.hookersorcake.com Hookers or Cake

      Wow, I guess a 225 million dollar payroll can buy you something.

    • Jon

      I’m still waiting for Yasiel Puig to be “exposed”

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