We’ve talked about it before, and I have no doubt that we’ll talk about it again as the season wears on, but the idea that the Cubs lack pitching prospects is just not accurate. They lack a clearly premier arm (although C.J. Edwards might fit that category, pending his durability questions) and they have a general scarcity of high caliber arms in Triple A, but those are about the only caveats that apply.
That point has been driven home emphatically the past few days. Corey Black threw five no-hit innings over the weekend, Felix Pena was dominant through eight innings Monday, and yesterday the Kane County Cougars put on one of the finest displays of Low A pitching we are likely to see this year. Pena isn’t listed among the Cubs pitching prospects right now, but Black and the starters for Kane County on Tuesday are candidates for that list.
To be fair, the Cubs don’t have the quality depth of pitching prospects that is enjoyed by teams like the Pirates or Astros, but they do have pitching prospects. Yesterday was strong reminder of that.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa - Iowa fell behind early and never quite recovered as they lost 8-4.
Tennessee - Rough weather postponed the Smokies game.
Daytona - The Cubs found a few runs late, but despite matching Dunedin in hits they lost this one 10-3.
Kane County - Kane County began their day with a 2-0 win over Bowling Green. In Game Two the completed the doubleheader shutout with a 1-0 win.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Carlos Pimentel struggled through 5 innings in this one. He finished up with a line that included 6 hits, 5 walks, 7 runs, and 5 strikeouts. Yoanner Negrin gave up 5 more hits in in 3.1 innings of work, and Marcus Hatley earned the final two outs with strikeouts.
- [Iowa] The best hitter on the Cubs right now is Chris Valaika. The first baseman (who can also play all over the diamond) doubled and finished with two hits.
- [Daytona] Jose Rosario and Steve Perakslis did not have the best of days, but Starlin Peralta pitched 2.2 innings of no-hit ball in relief, striking out 3.
- [Daytona] Rock Shoulders hit his first home run of the season, and also his second double as he finished the day 2 for 4. Bijan Rademacher also doubled.
- [Daytona] Tim Saunders doubled twice and finished 3 for 4 with a pair of stolen bases. He now has 5 steals on the season.
- [Kane County] Jen-Ho Tseng pitched the first 5.1 innings of the first game for the Cougars, giving up 6 hits (5 of them singles), no walks, and striking out 6. Zack Godley struck out 4 of the final 5 batters to pick up the save.
- [Kane County] The Cougars managed just two hits in the opener, including a double by Ben Carhart, but still managed to produce two runs. The first run was earned by Yasiel Balaguert who singled, went to second on a Jacob Rogers walk, took third on a wild pitch, and scored when a pick off throw went astray. The second run came when Daniel Lockhart reached on a fielders choice, took second on a wild pitch, reached third on a passed ball, and then scored on a sac fly by Balaguert.
- [Kane County] In Game Two Paul Blackburn struck out 6 and allowed just one hit and one walk in 6 splendid innings. Jose Arias struck out 4 in his one inning of work for the save.
- [Kane County] That wasn’t a typo. Arias really struck out 4 in one inning. He struck out the first man, Goetzman, swinging, and then issued a walk to Harris. Harris promptly steals second with Blair at the plate. Then, in a play I wish I had video of, Blair strikes out swinging on what is officially recorded as a wild pitch by Arias. Harris goes to third, and Blair takes first. Arias then strikes out Araujo and Simon, both swinging, to complete the inning with four strikeouts.
- [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann singled, stole his fifth base, and scored Kane County’s only run in the second game. Carlos Penalver, with a double, had the team’s only extra base hit.
- Daytona had an unlikely base thief in yesterday’s game. In the fourth inning catcher Willson Contreras reached on a single with one out. With Shoulders at the plate, he stole second. That steal may have been on a busted hit-and-run as Shoulders apparently struck out on the same pitch (judging from the recap linked from the box score). It goes in the score book as a successful steal, though. And then, perhaps pushing his luck a bit, Contreras tried to steal third with Rademacher at the plate. That one did not work out, and his caught stealing ended the inning.
- If you haven’t visited a minor league page at Baseball Reference lately (tip: clicking any of the blue name links in the Minor League Dailys will take you to the Baseball Reference page for that player), you may not have noticed a new feature on that site. Now in addition to showing you the age of a player, they also show you the difference in age between that player and the weighted average for the league. So, if you pull up the page for Kris Bryant, you can immediately see that he is playing against some talents that are, on average, 2.5 years older than him. Josh Vitters comes in 2.8 years under the average for Triple A. Average age in this context should not be considered the same thing as target age – Vitters is now about the right age for a prospect in Triple A, for example, even though he is younger than average – but it is a good, at-a-glance-style guideline.
Photo via Kane County Cougars Facebook page.