jorge soler cubsA handful of prospect-related bits to share …

  • As we’ve noted, it’s been a rough, weird start for Javier Baez at AAA Iowa. No one is really losing confidence in the top prospect, especially not after less than a week’s worth of games. He’s got some adjusting to do, but that’s why he’s at AAA in the first place – to see pitchers who can really try to gameplan him, and who can execute that low-and-away breaking stuff. As for his ejection this weekend (and the subsequent jawing that took place in the dugout), Theo Epstein took a moment to address the issue, calling it a development and learning experience ( Epstein also emphasized that it’s a good thing for guys like Baez to struggle in the minors, because then they learn to adjust and overcome. As we’ve seen so many times when drilling into the numbers, guys are going to have terrible results for very long stretches, even if they’re doing everything right. That’s just baseball. So, while, yes, Baez has to adjust his approach in some respects, he’s also just got to know that the results will come if he’s doing everything he can control. Not every cold stretch is the product of being a crappy ballplayer.
  • Jorge Soler is still on the disabled list at AA Tennessee after his hamstring issue flared up on the first at bat of the year. The hamstring bothered Soler in Spring Training, and Epstein told that, although he didn’t technically re-injure the hamstring, “it obviously hasn’t healed all the way.” I’m sure the Cubs are kicking themselves for not just starting him on the DL to begin the season in the first place, but, hopefully, that’s all this is. That is to say, if he didn’t really re-injure the thing, then maybe this is just the acknowledgement that he still needed a little time to get ready for the season. One thing is for sure: Soler can’t afford to miss significant time this year with an injury, and he also can’t afford to play the whole season with a bothersome hamstring. Take a couple weeks, knock it out now, and play healthy the rest of the year. That’s the hope.
  • The CCO reports that Duane Underwood, who was held back in Mesa with some forearm issues, is ready to join Kane County. That means his forearm issues were decidedly unserious, and it’ll be great to have him back in action. Underwood, the Cubs’ second rounder in 2012, has a great arm, but needs lots of refinement. He underwhelmed last year in short season ball, so this year is a big test for the 19-year-old righty.
  • Speaking of the Kane County rotation, it’s already packed with pitching prospects – Paul Blackburn, Jen-Ho Tseng, Daury Torrez, Tyler Skulina, and Juan Paniagua – so they will either have to go to a six-man rotation, or start doing some piggy-backing. I suppose they could also consider testing someone like Skulina at Daytona (his 2013 college draft-mate Rob Zastryzny is already there), but only if he’s ready. An overcrowded Low-A rotation is a good problem to have.
  • Released Cubs pitching prospect Nick Struck has caught on with the Dodgers’ organization.
  • You didn’t miss Luke’s Top 40 Cubs prospect list last week, did you? If so, correct that oversight now.
  • itzscott

    Seems to me that Baez has started out slow at every previous level until he figured it out. Appears that AAA will be no different and likely a slow start when he’s called up as well.

    • Sandberg

      That MLB slow start may require a vacation from the comment sections. 😉

      • itzscott

        You paying, I’m going!

      • Luke

        Yeah, I’m not actually looking forward to that.

  • TWC

    Nick Struck on the Dodgers? Obvi they’ll turn him into a killer SP, just like they did w/ Marmol.

    • mjhurdle

      This is simply the first move in the trade of Kemp and Puig to the Cubs for Castro, Shark, and Baez.
      Cubs Front Office sees trouble in Baez’s strikeout rate, and will move him now before he turns back into pumpkin. getting Puig in return as icing on the cake as he can mentor Soler.

      **typed in my best DieHard impersonation**

      • Wilburthefirst

        You get an A for content, but it’s a little long for DieHard …

  • JulioZuleta

    Lest anyone forget, Baez was horrible for the first 4-5 weeks or so last season, while playing 2 levels lower. He still had an absurdly good season even with 4-5 bad weeks pulling his numbers down. No reason to worry.

  • woody

    The situation with Soler is very frustrating. Had he been healthy last year he could have been in AAA this year and a possible call up. Back to the Olt playing time subject, I think that they really need to see what he can do on an everyday basis. The way Bonafacio is playing we have to have him in the lineup everyday and that takes PT away from Barney and Lake who would probably be playing left or center field if not for Bonafacio. If Olt isn’t a long term solution at third then I think they have to take a look at Baez there. It is becoming more evident each day that Castro isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And I like Bonafacio at second because he isn’t taking AB’s away from Lake who is in the same position as Olt in determining his place in the future. Maybe by the time Baez is ready Bonafacio has cooled off and second base is open for the taking. But I have to believe if Boni keeps this up he will be trade bait in July.

    • Funn Dave

      The longer he’s injured, the better, imo. That gives us more time to trade him without giving him playing time to show how overrated he is.

      -some random troll

    • Edwin

      I think there is plenty of time to see what Olt can do on an every day basis. He’s on pace for over 300 PA this season, and if he plays well and stays healthy, he’ll probably get rewarded with more.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Valbuana may have to stink it up a little before Happy gives reasons to play Olt more.
    However I agree get him in there more often. Right now I want Boni at 2nd and let that OF get straightened out with whats out there. Especially Lake, Kalish, Sweeney
    Obviously there is more right handed pitching so a strict platoon is silly.

  • Funn Dave

    Speaking of Luke’s Top 40, isn’t it time for an updated one? Baez must be down to #9 or #10 by now after his slow start.

    -some random troll

    • Luke

      You troll in jest, but I kid you not that last year I had people requesting an updated Top 40 before the end of April.

      • ssckelley

        Sooooooo not going to happen?

  • BWA

    Does anyone know what happened to Jiminez and Torrez? I’m wondering where they ended up to start the year.

    • ssckelley

      The last time I looked Thecubreporter has them at extended spring training in Mesa.

  • ssckelley

    I knew Struck would sign with someone, but the Dodgers? Not sure how many times that has happened.

  • MightyBear

    Any word on Fujikawa? I would like to see him come back with success and take the closer’s job. He’s my kind of closer. Great command. At least it was before he got hurt.

  • Picklenose

    “Not every cold stretch is the product of being a crappy ballplayer.” – Sorry, are we still talking about Baez, or did we switch to Veras now?

  • SenorGato

    Even if they all suck, I still like this group of pitching prospects way more than just a couple years ago when Archer/McNutt topped the system. I find Zastrzny to be an upgrade from the Raley/Rusin lefties, and generally there seems to be more hard throwers in the SP prospect pool.

    Someone hopefully will emerge from that KC rotation…Don’t care who it is, though I am still holding out hope on Paniagua. Tseng’s youth and the aggressive assignment are interesting, and he was very well regarded in last year’s IFA class. All those guys in the KC rotation are a bit mysterious – just not enough innings in the bunch.

    • MightyBear

      What I’m really fired up about Mr. Cat and can’t wait to see are the guys in Tennessee. They aren’t that far away and they could really help with the pitching in a year or two. Edwards, Johnson, Black, Pineyro, etc could be a solid core for the Major League team for many years.

      • IA_Colin

        The FO has really put a premium on fastball velocity in the past drafts instead of guys that top at 90 but may have a good slider/curve. Drafting ceiling! So instead of Rusin, Raley and Coleman we get Johnson, Underwood and so on.

  • Norm

    Baez BABIP is .000.

    • ssckelley

      Olt is the same, right?

  • IA_Colin

    Nick always struck me as a Twins type of guy. Hope he strikes gold in LA.

  • willis

    Baez BOMB…er, double. But still, hooray!

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I’d keep Baez down majority if not the whole season, not even over reacting to bad start. He’s not ready or a well rounded player…yet. His pitch selection is pretty horrendous because the guy thinks he can hit a pitch in the dirt for a homer (if anyone could it would be him though). Preserve his arbitration clock and force him to not take walks but instead take pitches and wait for pitches he can drive, and also force him to learn how to hit breaking pitches or at least fight them off.

    • blublud

      Keeping Baez down will neither improve or hinder his pitch selection. Baez is ready now, even despite the bad start. It won’t be long before you see him in Wrigley.