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curtains close endThe minor league regular season is over. Nearly 200 players on six rosters have logged thousands of innings over hundreds of games, and that’s just the U.S. teams. Soon will begin the process of sifting through that mountain of data and learning what it is we learned this year. For the most part that work will wait until the conclusion of the major league season, though. In the meantime we have some playoffs to look forward to, and those postseason games start tonight.

Daytona is at home against first half division winner Dunedin (Blue Jays system) at 7:05 PM ET. An old Cubs farm hand, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, takes the mound for Dunedin, and Corey Black takes the hill for the Cubs. Bibens-Dirkx has pitched well this season, so this could be a pretty good game.

In the Northwest League, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Giants system) visit the badly slumping Boise Hawks at 6:45 PM MT to kick off the Short-Season A playoffs. Paul Blackburn is the starter for the Hawks; Salem-Keizer sends Chase Johnson to the mound. Boise had little trouble scoring on Johnson the last two times they faced him, and those two occassion happen to be Johnson’s last two starts. Blackburn, on the other hand, shut Salem-Keizer down for five innings on Aug 23 before struggling some on the 29th. I think the advantage in this matchup goes to the Hawks, but it depends on Blackburn’s ability to harness his stuff. If his control is on I think the Hawks are in good shape.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa gave up two in the first, but only got one of them back. They end their season with a 2-1 loss.
Tennessee – The Smokies fell behind early, and despite chipping away through the middle innings they still came up short 4-3.
Daytona – Daytona had the day off.
Kane County – Kane County scored in the bottom of the ninth to end their season on a high note. They won 5-4.
Boise – Boise slumps into the postseason as the losers of five in a row after this 10-6 loss at home.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Kyle Hendricks gave up 2 runs in the first inning, but nothing after that. He finished his 6 innings having allowed that pair of runs on 6 hits and 2 walks with just one strikeout.
  • [Iowa] Mike Olt went 0 for 2 with 2 walks. He finished the season on a hot streak, though, hitting .333/.488/.467 with 10 walks and 9 strikeouts over his last ten games.
  • [Tennessee] Eric Jokisch wrapped up his regular season by allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits over 5.2 innings. He walked no one and struck out 7.
  • [Tennessee] The Smokies used an army of relievers in this one, and all of them pitched well. P.J. Francescon was perfect in his inning of work, and A.J. Morris, Armando Rivero, Hunter Cervenka, and Frank Batista all picked up one out each.
  • [Tennessee] Third baseman Christian Villanueva hit his 19th homer in the fourth inning of this one. John Andreoli reached twice on a walk and a single and stole his 17th Double A base.
  • [Kane County] Scott Baker had the start in this game. Through 5 innings he gave up just 2 runs (only one earned) despite allowing 7 hits. He walked one and struck out a pair.
  • [Kane County] Jeimer Candelario finished 3 for 5. Shortstop Giuseppe Papaccio also finished with 3 hits.
  • [Boise] Rony Rodriguez finished strong. His 2 for 3 performance included a double, a pair of walks, and an outfield assist.
  • [Boise] With Jeffrey Baez and Shawon Dunston at the top of lineup, speed should be no problem for the Hawks in the playoffs. Dunston has produced all season, but it remains to be seen how Baez will handle the Northwest League. He tripled and walked in this game, but he also had 3 strikeouts.

Other News

  • The first rounds in both the Florida State League and Northwest League playoffs are best of three. Both Daytona and Boise will have to win at least one game on the road to advance.
  • The Smokies are traveling to Birmingham (White Sox system) to take on the Barons in a best of five series starting Thursday night. This is the only of the three Cubs-involved series on MiLB.TV, but you can listen to all the postseason games for free from the team website at game time.
  • mdavis

    good to see Olt finish strong. I think the winter will be good for him to just hit the reset button. I’m sure he’ll be given every opportunity to be the opening day 3B for the big league club next year.

    • Ivy Walls

      hopeful aren’t you, I am not so sure. If we get something from Ramirez and Edwards from that trade it will be a fair trade.

      • mdavis

        didn’t say he’d win the job. i just think they will give him every chance to win it out of ST

      • cub2014

        Come on Ivy,
        We gave up 3 months of Garza?

        • cub2014

          For Garza we are more than likely going to have for 2014:
          2 AAA starters
          1 AA starter
          starting 3B for Cubs
          (dont know if any are going to be any good but for
          3 months of Garza?)

          • C. Steadman

            it was totally worth it..i agree…the only reason it wouldnt be worth it if we could’ve signed Garza for a team friendly deal…which probably wasnt goin to happen or he’d still be on the cubs or if all these prospects completely bust

  • Die hard

    If Dunstons progress continues you’re looking at Cubs CF and lead off man 2015

    • mdavis

      yea…the Daytona Cubs.

      • King Jeff

        Nice.

    • brickhouse

      he will be lucky to be the AA CF & leadoff man in 2015

    • cub2014

      I like Dungston but his numbers arent as good as Almora’s
      and he is a couple of years behind him. If he bats lefty? then
      might be interesting for 2016 or 2017

      • Ivy Walls

        Hmm, that post seemed to be publicist hired by the family. He is consistent with a .3575 OBA in rookie and A- ball, but he is all about singles where out of 84 professional hits, 18 doubles (with his speed?), 6 triples, (1 this year), 4 HR’s (again 1 this year),

        a .354 Slugging is much like Campana or other speed/judy hitters. sounds like a good athlete playing baseball

      • terenceman

        Let’s not go head-over-heels for Dunston who needed to get sent down in order to make the corrections that lead to his success this season. It’s great to see him doing well, though. He’s one player I love following on twitter because he’s so enthusiastic about baseball.

  • Aaron

    Even if Dunston is promoted to high A next year, I don’t think he will make the majors in a years time, or even a September call up in 2015.

  • cub2014

    Dungston does bat lefty, but Almora has career
    .326 avg .380 obp and 10% k rate so far. Those
    are the best numbers in our system. Except maybe
    Bryants short season.

    • Ivy Walls

      One of the consequences of the Epstein regime in the sabermetric era is that Cub fans will be challenged not to banter names repeated in the media as hopefuls.

      Bryant as it stands now is the real deal. Almora has the tools and must advance healthy, this fall is important for him. Baez is real interesting but must learn to be a situational hitter.

      We need pitching….

      • Feeney

        I will take 75 extra base hits in 130 games and an OPS of .920 in ANY situation.

        • Rich H

          Remember when talking about AA guys the standard deviation is 5 to 7 % per level. So we are talking a best case scenario of .838 OPS. Put in that context he has to better at situational hitting.

          • Feeney

            .838 would put him in a tie with Evan Longoria for 29th in the majors in OPS. Currently Jhonny Peralta has the highest OPS of any shortstop at .822. If JB has an OPS of .838 in his major league career I would be very happy and I wouldn’t ever worry about if he hit behind a runner.

            Also, Baez is young for AA and improved his OPS when moving up to AA. So I would say he’s anything other than standard.

            • Rich H

              You and I seem to think situational hitting are too entirely different things. I am talking about Baez selling out to hit homeruns even when the his bat speed does the work for him. You are talking about turning him into another version of Brett Butler.
              Baez will get better at going with the pitch when the situation calls for it. I just do not think he is totally there yet. Now after the Fall league we may see a much more poised and less K happy Baez.
              The guys that actually improve their numbers as they rise through the system are rare. Puig did it this year but you can say that was because of sample size. I do think you are right though on Baez having a chance to be that type because of his age and how fast he adjusts to a level.

              • Feeney

                Well my understanding of the phrase situational hitting is the generally accepted understanding of the phrase. I don’t care if Baez strikes out 150 times a season if he is OPSing .850 or higher. And if his OPS is .950 he can sell out on every swing. A SS with a .950 OPS would be a perennial MVP candidate. I don’t know if JB ever gets to that level. But if he does? He can swing for the fences every single AB and I will be okay.

                • Rich H

                  Think of it this way. We are talking about the difference between Joey Votto without the walk rate or the good Dan Uggla. So a .300 hitter whose OPS is in the .850 to 950 range or a .250 to .270 hitter whose OPS in in the .775 to .850 range. The only difference is trying hit what is thrown and not Cavemaning every swing.

                  • bbmoney

                    That might be what you’re talking about. But that’s not what the phrase situational hitting generally implies.

                    It’s typically used for things like hitting a sac fly, or hitting to the right side of the infield with no outs and a runner on second. In other words giving up an out to advance a runner.

                    Joey Votto most certainly doesn’t do that.

          • bbmoney

            I think you’ve misused the phrase “best case scenario”. Perhaps it’s a reasonably expected scenario. But average declines in OPS don’t really speak to an individual’s best case scenario.

            • bbmoney

              And don’t get me wrong and .840ish OPS is great. Especially for a SS.

            • Rich H

              You are right. I should have worded it as the best in the norm because there are exceptions.

              I also would be more than happy with any up the middle spot giving us that kind of production because then we can have someone like Lake grow into a corner spot and it not kill the line up.

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

        Yeah that 20 yr old SS who hit 37 HRs 20 SB and a 983OPS in AA needs to work on moving runners over.

        • ETS

          ^^^^ This

  • cub2014

    If Baez was a 20%k and 10% walk guy based on
    (instead of 28% and 8%) his current numbers. It
    would look something like this:
    AVG .305 OBP .395 HR 45

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  • willis

    Looking forward to the minor league playoffs.

    Nice to see Olt finish with a little flurry. And Kyle Hendricks…man what a great year that kid had.

  • AA Correspondent

    Any chance Kyle Hendricks joins Tennessee for the playoffs, or is his season truly over?

  • terencemann

    I don’t think there’s any reason to put any more strain on his arm than they need to. Minor league playoffs are fun for the fans but the major league team doesn’t really put any stock into the W-L record of its minor league teams.

  • AA Correspondent

    By the way, spent the weekend in Chattanooga rooting on the Smokies and have a few observations.

    This team is excited about the playoffs and all seem to be focussed on 1 thing: WINNING A SOUTHERN LEAGUE TITLE

    Javy Baez continued his onslaught against AA pitching. He is having fun and playing a solid SS. Even took the time to sign several autographs (which some prospects conveniently avoid). Well done.

    Brett Jackson had a nice game on Sunday. He hit the ball hard all 5 times (no strikeouts) and delivered the winning RBI. He seems to be having fun, and that is nice to see.

    Christian Villanueva is as solid as they come defensively at 3B. He is calm and seems to make every play. The infield of Bour, Alcantara, Baez and Vilanueva may go down as one of the best in Smokies history (offensively). It really is a murderers row. Defensively, they are solid as well.

    Our pitching has been very good of late, and I am pleasantly surprised that some of our bullpen guys have really stepped up (Hunter Cervenka, Rivero, P.J. Francescan). I am a little worried that Frank Batista and Tony Zych are getting tired. We can’t win this without them….but they have been a little shaky over the past 7-10 days.

    Our bench is deep with versatile veteran guys who simply play winning baseball (Mota, Samson). We are lucky to have them.

    Overall, this team has a swaggar, and confidence about them that has me very hopeful. We can score runs in bunches which has taken some of the pressure off our starters. I like our chances of advancing (past Birmingham) and was very happy to hear that Jacksonville was edged out of the playoffs by the Mississippi Braves.

    One final note: The Chad Noble mustache is taking over the Smokies, as many players are growing their playoff staches. Matt Loosen, Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur are leading the way….with others certain to follow.

    GO SMOKIES!!

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