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cj edwards daytona cubsI tend to think concerns over C.J. Edwards’ durability are premature, but those already invested in that aspect of his development will interested to know that he threw 95 pitches in yesterdays’ game. Four of the hits and three of the walks he allowed did come in his last three innings on the mound, something those who believe he should be moved to the bullpen could perhaps point to as evidence that he was rapidly tiring. Given that hitters typically do have better success the second time they see a pitcher in a game and that Edwards gave up just one extra base hit on the night (a double in the first), I don’t really find that argument compelling. For me, Edwards is a starter until he proves he isn’t, and limiting a Double A lineup to a single run on a day when he did not have his best control does not give me any reason to argue that he should head for the bullpen soon.

That’s not to say that I’m not interested in seeing how he holds up as he is asked to pitch deeper into games. That is one of the story lines on Edwards for this season, but I do think it is too early to be concerned by it. It is not uncommon for teams at any level to need to use their bullpens a little more this time of year. It will be a few more weeks before I start to give durability data on Edwards (or Corey Black) careful scrutiny.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - The Cubs had a nice game on both sides of the ball as they won 6-1.
Tennessee - The Smokies took advantage of four Chattanooga errors on their way to a 3-1 home win.
Daytona - Daytona played a doubleheader yesterday, and lost them both. The final of the makeup game was 6-4, and they lost the schedule contest 1-0.
Kane County - Kane County played into extra innings again, but they lost to Fort Wayne 7-4 in ten.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Carlos Pimentel pitched a great game. Over 6 innings (85 pitches) he allowed just one run on a solo homer and struck out 10. Zac Rosscup struck out 4 more in his two innings of relief, and Marcus Hatley finished the game with two more strikeouts in his inning of work.
  • [Iowa] Javier Baez had a two hit night, including a double, and struck out once.
  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters, still batting cleanup, hit his second homer of the season, walked, and struck out once. Brett Jackson had two strikeouts, but he also launched his first home run of the year.
  • [Tennessee] C.J. Edwards had a good, but not great, game. He struck out 5 in 5.2 innings, and allowed just one run on 5 hits, but he also walked 4.
  • [Tennessee] P.J. Francescon and Jeffrey Lorick pitched well in relief, but once again it was Armando Rivero who nailed down the game. He struck out three in 1.1 hitless innings to notch his second save.
  • [Tennessee] Stephen Bruno and Rafael Lopez both had two hits on the day. Lopez, with a double, had the team’s only extra base hit.
  • [Daytona] Felix Pena pitched very effectively in the 1-0 contest for Daytona, allowing just the one run on 5 hits and striking out 5.
  • [Daytona] Albert Almora finished the two games with three hits, all of them singles. Pin-Chieh Chen totaled two hits including a double, and Dan Vogelbach launched his first Vogelbomb of the year.
  • [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann hit his first triple of the season. Given the positive reports of his speed coming from first hand observers (including this from Harry Pavlidis), I suspect we will be seeing quite a few more triples out of Hannemann.
  • [Kane County] Paul Blackburn got the start and allowed 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4 over 5 innings. James Pugliese struck out 2 more in his 2.1 innings of relief.

Other News

  • Rubi Silva earned his first walk of the season in yesterday’s game. That puts him on pace for 23 walks on the year, a figure that would represent a career high. Sample size issues make projecting a pace this early a fairly pointless endeavor, but who doesn’t like to have fun with early season stats?
  • Kane County did not walk at all yesterday, but I like the fact that they struck out just four times. That probably is just one of those statistical flukes, but it is a statistical fluke that makes me smile.
  • Dylan Heuer brings us more excellent photography from the Iowa Cubs game. Ever wanted to know what color of sunglasses is preferred by the Triple A Cubs? Click on over to find out! While you’re there, be sure to check out the picture of Vitters being congratulated on his home run as he rounds the bases. Have you ever seen a guy look so angry after hitting a home run? I haven’t. That’s Baez-swinging-at-a-pitch level of angry on his face, I think. And if Arismendy Alcantara ever releases a jazz album, that picture of him gazing off into the distance is destined to be on the album cover. Be sure to take a look at the full collection. Lots of good stuff there.
  • Head and Heart

    Luke I believe you were saying a couple days ago that Vitters is likely a mid-season call up? Do you think the Cubs will look to push that time table up and open a spot for him if he continues to hit? Or is it all about playing left field for now?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He’s a call up candidate as soon as he shows he is healthy and can handle left, whether that is tomorrow or mid July. At the plate he really has nothing left to prove in Iowa.

      • terencemann

        I get the feeling that it will take an injury to a right handed hitter or a severe failing on the part of Junior Lake over the next couple months to give Vitters an opportunity for a promotion? I guess Ryan Kalish could play himself out of a job but platoons…

        • Head and Heart

          Vitters in 452 PAs in 2012 in AAA put up an OPS of 869. That kind of production from left field at the big league level would be top 5 in the majors. I am not saying he can put up those numbers at this level but I would love to see him stay healthy and get a chance to hit at the big league level and see what happens. He still has a chance to be an every day player with that bat. And I would love to see him get some success after grinding it out in the minors since 2007.

        • CubsFaninMS

          I predict Sweeney is the odd man out over the next couple of months and we won’t be getting much back for him. I liked Sweeney’s upside when we acquired him. It’s much too early in the season to throw him to the wolves, but I believe his upside is less than Kalish, Lake, Schierholtz, or Ruggiano. I know several have mixed feelings about Schierholtz in here but, platoon or not, Schierholtz had a very solid season last year. Give him some credit. He deserves some good playing time, but I expect him to be sent packing soon as well if Vitters keeps hitting. Then it’s Lake, Kalish, Ruggiano, and Vitters. That’s a low-floor, high-ceiling outfield if I’ve ever seen one. It should be interesting to watch.

          • ssckelley

            Sweeney has a guaranteed contract for this season and next and is owed 3.5 million so I doubt he will be the odd man out. If anybody is the odd man out it would be Ruggiano.

  • dumbledoresacubsfan

    In response to Edwards: he pitched well the first inning, but was getting hit HARD. They just happened to be catchable balls in the outfield. He did have one K that inning, though. The first innings of the game flew by and both pitchers were pitching well, even if they were really just pitching to contact.

    I did notice Edwards was getting a bit squeezed and couldn’t get the call on the inside corner at all–but hey, adjustments. His curve was looking nice, though, and I think attributed to two of his strikeouts.

    He wouldn’t have given up a run if it hadn’t been for a Kris Bryant error (I think that’s the inning that came) and a poorly turned double play.

    Also, Kris Bryant didn’t go yard, but he hits the ball really, really hard. Sadly, he just hit into some nicely-fielded plays.

    • Edwin

      How did he look towards the end of the game, stuff wise?

      • dumbledoresacubsfan

        Sorry for the delayed response–was walking to class.

        Like Blackhawk said down below–I’m fairly certain they had him working on hitting the inside corner. He just wasn’t getting the call at all.

        They also made him get out of some jams, so I know they were having him work on situational pitching. He did well, getting out of a couple spots.

        But he still had great stuff going when they took him out. His curve was breaking a ton, and the balls he was K’ing batters up on were in the dirt and blocked by the catcher. His stuff was moving quite a bit–they had a couple passed balls, which was my only knock against his performance.

        He also blew a few fastballs by the hitters big time, even towards the end of the game.

      • dumbledoresacubsfan

        Also, I still don’t understand how that massively long lace on his glove doesn’t bother him.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Always have to be careful analyzing minor league pitching contests. It can very well be the case that the Cubs are having Edwards work on specific things right now. The objective isn’t always to win a minor league game at all costs. Rather it can be for your frontline talent, especially pitchers, to concentrate on specific elements. Like throwing a heavier dose than normal of changeups or another pitch in order to work on that pitch. Etc.

      This obsession with Edward’s stamina on the mound is also silly in this context. And the Cubs are going to very, very micro manage how many pitches and innings key prospects throw.

  • Edwin

    Not too shabby by Edwards. The walks aren’t great, but at least they’re letting him get his pitch count up.

  • JasonP

    I’m getting excited about Vitters all over again. Olt, Rizzo and him are all essentially the same age. Each seems to have had a real hard time with the first bit of ML exposure, but I think because Olt got exposed in Texas and Rizzo in San Diego there’s just so much less fatigue associated with waiting for them to come through.

    I’d give equal odds to Vitters or Olt being able to sustain acceptable production in the bigs this year.

    • CubsFaninMS

      You present a good comparison. I bet Olt and Rizzo have had lots to talk about. Very similar stories. Former top prospects that floundered in a small MLB sample size, both with previous medical issues (although Rizzo’s being far worse). It would be an awesome storyline to have those two tattooing some baseballs in the heart of the order until Baez and Bryant can hopefully establish themselves as middle-of-the-order sluggers.

  • nate1m

    How many at bats are enough to start believing in the trends? Obviously, more than 22 but at what point would you like to see Baez settle in. I expected to see a high K% to start, just like at every level. If he’s going to get a call in late June he’d have around 75 games (looking at the schedule) and give or take 250 to 300 at bats. After 100 or so should I expect to see that K% dropping and the HR sailing all over the place?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’ll start taking a hard look at those numbers when players get very close to the 100 PA mark.

      • nate1m

        Thanks Luke I look forward to it.

  • Tyler_31

    I would love to see Vitters take over the job of Justin Ruggiano

    • Blackhawks1963

      Vitters, once again, has a golden opportunity before him to seize. He’s failed to capitalize in the past. So lets see what happens this time. There really can be no more excuses for Vitters. The Cubs have a lousy outfield mix, so its not exactly a case of him being blocked by anybody at the major league level.

      • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

        Uh, that’s because Dale Sveum didn’t play him everyday and he’s always struggled early when starting a new level (OF CONFIDENCE!!!! AND POWERRRRRR!!!!).

    • jp3

      Agreed, I think it’s funny how young Vitters is buT since he’s been a pro so long he gets completely written off. He had quite the history with moving up a level and struggling then the following year hit really well for that level. That trend kept going until he got his cup of coffee last year…he should be an all star this year;)

    • ssckelley

      Yes, I am with you on that. I would rather see Vitters struggling (but learning) than a 32 year old veteran who is not part of the future.

    • terencemann

      I seriously doubt Vitters, who is a left fielder in name only, is going to take a job away from a player who can cover all 3 outfield positions. I think Ruggiano is going to have to really struggle and Lake is going to have to show signs of sustainable production for the Cubs to jettison Ruggiano for Vitters.

      • mjhurdle

        I think the fact that basically every OF they have can play all the OF positions means that Ruggiano’s versatility is not going to save him, especially if he continues struggling at the plate.
        A big bat and bad defense in LF > bad bat and average defense at every OF position.

        • terencemann

          I just don’t think the Cubs are going to want to have to fall back on Junior Lake as an everyday player anytime soon. If Lake and Ruggiano are struggling in 2 months, I think Lake is the one going down.

      • Tyler_31

        I do like that Ruggiano can play all thre spots but Vitters has way more potential with his bat than Ruggiano does, and I can also see the cubs trading away Rugguano early in the season like what they did with Scott Hairston last year.

      • jp3

        Ruggiano is fine but at some point if Vitters is hitting well this year you have to see what you have in him. He’s got to be nearing the end of his contract right? Also our season won’t be made or broken if we have or don’t have Ruggiano in the lineup… We have plenty of 4th and 5th OFs to cover his spot

        • terencemann

          Vitters doesn’t have a major league contract (just like most players with very little major league service time) and still has 1 minor league option remaining for next year and he’s on the 40 man roster so he cannot be pulled away from the team unless it’s through an intentional move until 2016 when they will be forced to waive him in order to demote him (if they have to).

          • jp3

            Ah, yeah the way the original contracts work sometimes escapes me but my point is definitely in a punt year it’s time to see what your fringe guys have when figuring what you need on your future rosters in the coming years. Ruggiano’s better days are behind him, while serviceable he is I just don’t think he’s a mystery like Vitters. I’m not normally “try all the young guys to see what you have” guy but Vitters is one of the exceptions, Brett Jackson is different because he can’t get his K rate down at AAA so I think we’d all be able to guess what his major league prospects look like.

  • blars82

    I really think that the solution to all of these issues will be to trade Schierholtz and Barney. And that won’t happen until July, so for now I’ll just enjoy games like yesterday. I also would like to see some more playing time for John Baker! Let’s see the catching platoon! #troll

    • Blackhawks1963

      Why rip John Baker? The primacy of a backup catcher is to be excellent in working with pitchers and behind the plate defensively. That describes Baker completely. Any hitting that you get out of a backup catcher is a bonus. Baker is an asset on this club, and is getting raves for his leadership qualities.

      • terencemann

        Baker cannot hit at all. His career numbers are buyoed by two really good seasons when he broke into the league in his 27 and 28 year old seasons but he has a .215/.297/.254 line in 121 games since 2010 and it gets worse almost every year. I’m guessing he got this job since Renteria coached him in San Diego.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Baker is a leader and a solid catcher. That’s why he is on this club, and that is the primacy of what you look for in a backup catcher more than any offense they may provide. People used to ridiculously rip Koyie Hill too, but it’s guys like Baker and Hill that always find employment in the big leagues for a reason.

  • nate1m

    After looking at those pictures, Jackson’s beard should get the call up. That’s major league for sure

    • terencemann

      I’m a little worried about Jackson if he washes out. He seems like he’s been on edge for a while now from what fans have said about seeing him in games over the last season or so.

      • ced landrum

        i think him being on edge last year was more to do with frustration from having a foot injury that plagued him most of the year and a shoulder problem at the beginning of the year. Now it is make or break time. Ultimately if being a ballplayer doesn’t work out I’m sure Brett will be just fine.

  • jp3

    Also I’m pretty sure 2 of almora’a hits yesterday were doubles

  • Norm

    I’m the opposite on Edwards. He’s a RP until he proves he’s a SP. The burden of proof is on him, because, how many SP’s are successful these days at 170 lbs?

  • itzscott

    Luke -

    I’m getting the early impression that Albert Almora is cruising thru the FSL and is ready for his next level of challenge.

    What’s you opinion of when he’ll be promoted to Tennessee?

    Maybe Vitters gets another shot with the Cubs, Giansanti moves up to Iowa and Almora to TN?

    • ced landrum

      He won’t move until June at the earliest, but it most likely will be around the FSL all star break.

    • ari gold

      Yeah I don’t think Almora will be there long. But he needs to keep improving his approach and take a few walks. He’s going to move pretty fast I think.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He’ll like stay in Daytona for 150 PA or so. We’ll how he looks after that.

  • JulioZuleta

    Anyone have any velocity figures for any of our minor league pitchers? Mostly, I’m curious about Edwards and Blackburn.

  • CubsFaninMS

    I’m not high on Rubi Silva. I watched him play last season is he’s got the swing-and-miss that Baez has (to a larger degree) without the Baez power. He’s very much a hacker, very ltitle plate discipline. As a Cubs fan, of course I hope all of our minor leaguers turn into MLB stars, but I expect Silva to be a pinch hitter in the majors at best.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Some people may be missing the point with the platoon situation. Brett nailed it whenever he mentioned the issue the other day. Our front office from Day 1 mentioned that they wanted to system to be stocked with talent and that talent would be competing to make each other better. The best players become better, push themselves harder. Creating a competetive environment. You can see that taking shape in our MLB team this season. It’s the first time they’ve tried to strong platoon approach to the start of the season (or much more pronounced that I recall in recent years). We have multiple players with a relatively high upside as several of our position. The first month or two.. let them play it out. If Lake wants more playing time, let him earn it. If Olt wants more playing time, make him earn it. If they earn it, give it to them and use the other one as a good backup or trade piece. I believe it’s a great idea. This team as a whole is a low floor/relatively high ceiling team. Creating that competetive environment may be just what some of our players need to reach their ceiling and make this a decent ballteam in 2014.

  • college_of_coaches

    Those pictures of the I-Cubs were great Dylan. And Luke, thanks for posting the link.

  • Segal27

    I was at the Cougars game yesterday and I have some thoughts.

    Blackburn looked decent, he was getting hit hard but right at guys it seemed like. I expected a better outing from him but it wasn’t too bad.

    Dunstin Jr. looked like he was pressing all game, he was trying to kill everything he swung at even though he doesn’t have the power to do that yet. He had a nicely timed single in the 6th that drove in 2 and gave the Cougars the lead, but other than that, I wasn’t impressed at all.

    Hannemann looked really, really good. His first at bat to start the game he drilled a liner that almost when out for a homer. He is super fast too, he got to third easily. Everyone of his at bats, even the one where he struck out, he looked comfortable and locked in. I went with my school to the game and I was the only one who knew even one of these players going in and by the end Jake was everyone’s favorite. I certainly saw how an Ellsbury comp is easy to make. He shouldn’t be in Kane County for long.

    Funny story time: I was sitting 3 rows behind the Tin Cap’s dugout and so I had a very good view of their jerseys. I told my friend that the font on them looked terrible then the guy on deck, Jose Carlos Urena, turned around and gave me a complete death stare. When he got up he then hit a bomb as if to tell me “don’t hate on the jerseys, man”.

    • Segal27

      *Dunston

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