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kyle hendricks iowa cubsIt is early yet, but, after yesterday’s start, Kyle Hendricks is posting his best K/9 figure since Short Season A ball in 2011. Hendricks had never been much of a strikeout artist at any level, but through three starts this season he’s holding fairly steady around 9 K/9.

Could this be the effect of the improved cutter he spoke of a few weeks ago? It might be a little early to say that for sure. If this trends hold through another few starts, though, we might have consider upping his ceiling a bit. Currently I have him pegged as more of a back of the rotation guy, but if he has added a real strikeout weapon to his already good ground ball stuff and great control he starts to push into solid No 3 territory. We will be keeping a very close eye on Hendricks as the season progresses.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Iowa rallied in the seventh and took their record over .500 with this 7-6 win.
Tennessee - After this 7-2 win, the Smokies are back to .500.
Daytona - Daytona struck first, but they did not strike again. They lost 5-1.
Kane County - Kane County erupted for five runs in the top of the ninth and walked away with a 6-2 win.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Kyle Hendricks allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and struck out 9 through 7 innings. He only allowed one walk. Even more on Hendricks in a bit.
  • [Iowa] All aboard the Josh Vitters bandwagon! The Cubs left fielder hit two more doubles in this one, raising his OPS to a comfortable .892.
  • [Iowa] Arismendy Alcantara put together his best Triple A game, finishing 3 for 5 and a home run short of the cycle.
  • [Tennessee] Jake Arrieta was very effective in this one. Over 5.2 innings and 82 pitches he allowed just one run on 3 hits and struck out 2.
  • [Tennessee] After two more innings on Tuesday, P.J. Francescon is up to 7.1 innings on the season without an earned run allowed. He has struck 10 in that span, and walked just two.
  • [Tennessee] As soon as he has enough plate appearances to be meaningful we are going to have to talk about Kris Bryant‘s walk rates. He went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk in this game and now has 8 walks in 43 trips to the plate. That’s good for a crazy high walk rate over 18%.
  • [Daytona] Daytona’s offense has been somewhat lackluster so far this spring, and that in turn has somewhat masked a good start to the year by Marco Hernandez. After going 2 for 3 with a walk in this one, he is hitting .308/.372/.308 on the young season.
  • [Daytona] Dan Vogelbach might be starting to warm up. After yesterday’s 1 for 3 with a walk performance he has now reached base twice in three of his last five games. That may not sound like much, but remember that patience and plate approach are big parts of his game. That he is getting on base more regularly now implies he is starting to see the ball well. If that is the case, then the hits will start to come soon.
  • [Kane County] All nine hitters in the Cougars line up got exactly one hit in this game. Jacob Hannemann and Trey Martin doubled. All the rest were singles.
  • [Kane County] Hannemann (with one) and Carlos Penalver (with two) accounted for all three of Kane County’s walks. Hannemann also stole two bases giving him 7 for the season (more on that in a minute). Penalver also swiped a bag and now has 5 this year.
  • [Kane County] Tyler Skulina (5 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K) had a very nice start, but he was somewhat upstaged by his bullpen. Gerardo Concepcion went 2.1 innings in hitless fashion, striking out one. Tyler Bremer recorded the final 5 outs allowing a walk, a hit, and striking out a pair.

Other News

  • One more tidbit on Hendricks – his 2014 GO/AO is now 2.89. That is ridiculously good for a pitcher in Triple A. To put that into context, if Hendricks were to pitch a complete game at that ratio, and he retired every hitter on a ball in play, only seven of those outs would come on fly balls. I can imagine a guy like Hendricks frustrating a lot of opposing hitters on days when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley.
  • The first bag stolen by Jacob Hannemann yesterday was home. I’m fairly certain that is the first steal of home we’ve had in organization this year, and only the 2,007 in attendance got to see it because the Bowling Green stadium is not wired for video. Judging from the recap and the Kane County twitter account, it was more of a reaction to Carlos Penalver stealing second or a delayed break double steal than a straight steal of home. Regardless, the steal of home is one of the most exciting plays in baseball and I really, really wish we had video of it. Oh well. Maybe next time.
  • roz

    Has there been any news on Almora? Not sure what to make of him missing games after being taken out because of an uncontrollable nosebleed.

    • ced landrum

      Saw someone on twitter post yesterday that he would be back today.

      • jp3

        I think he just needs some cranberry juice is all

        • DarthHater

          [img]http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ly9z6gqfTq1qj00lio1_500.gif[/img]

          • Darth Ivy

            This is the best reply I’ve ever seen in my entire life

    • ssckelley

      Hopefully the doctors are finding out what is causing these nose bleeds, it is a concern. I get nose bleeds as well, but usually during the winter when it is extremely dry and I forget to turn on the humidifier.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        The four most common causes of nosebleeds are:

        1. Colds
        2. Dryness
        3. Allergies
        4. Picking

        …hope he isn’t a picker

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          He’s totally a picker and flicker

        • Jon

          I’ll take all of those over another possible nosebleed cause…..

  • Edwin

    That’s absolutely fantastic about Hendricks. With his stuff and prior lack of strikeouts, I’ve typically pegged him as a back end starter at best. But if he can actually had some swing and miss to his game, and carry it over to the big league level, he could actually turn into a solid MLB starter. That would be huge.

    If he keeps this up, I hope to see him sooner rather than later.

  • Dustin S

    Hendricks looked great most starts in the 2nd half with the Smokies last year too. I think he could be a solid ~3rd starter before long. Not a TOR guy, but solid consistent starter and innings eater.

  • PejaO42

    Hendricks seems like he has the celing of a rich man’s Bronson Arroyo, and the floor of Bronson Arroyo; effective but not flashy innings eater. Hell, Arroyo is in his 15th year. I would take that any day

    • Blackhawks1963

      Yep. Bronson Arroyo has been a 10 year plus bull starting pitcher. If Hendricks could approach that, then the Cubs hit the jackpot, especially in light of getting him (and Christian Villenueva) for a two month rental of Dempster.

  • David

    Thanks for the update. It was quite refreshing to say the least after yesterday’s embarrassment in New York.

  • JCubs79

    Didn’t realize Hendricks was working on a cutter. Hopefully the increased K’s trend continues. I still think he’s a back end guy but I really like Kyle Hendricks.

    • MightyBear

      Hendricks has had a cutter since AA ball. He said he made some changes to it in the spring per Bosio. He said he seemed to be getting more movement but not as much control. He’ll harness it in, he’s a smart cookie.

  • ssckelley

    Hopefully somebody can start hitting in the middle of Daytona’s lineup. It is disappointing to see that core group that struggled to win at Kane County last year now struggling to win at Daytona, for different reasons.

  • CubsFaninMS

    I must say that it’s alot of fun watching the Cubs prospects and seeing some of these assets we’ve traded for begin to make strides. Many naysayers in here say “Hey, anybody can tank seasons for good prospects.” That is true and I completely agree, but they’ve made some trades that, initially, have the potential to be great. The Wood/Marshall trade was definitely a net positive. The Rizzo/Cashner trade will take awhile to pan out but both players look to have some upside but a relatively low floor. The Garza, Maholm, and Feldman trades are looking very promising. All of this being said, we won’t know for several years how to gauge the effectiveness of each trade. It will also be several years before we know how “smart” our draft and international draft picks were. I understand the rebuilding plan and understand that they want to carefully invest in players until our window of contention, but it is very difficult to watch the Chicago Cubs’ anemic offense so far this season. Yes, Bonifacio, Rizzo, and Castro are having some good seasons, but when your run production is this lowsy… and I don’t care how smart your rebuilding plan is… it is difficult to watch. Even us Cubs fans who completely saturate ourselves with Cubs news (i.e. most of us in here) every day, in the end, it’s still not fun to watch. If they don’t make a pretty big leap forward next year, I fear they’ll really begin to see a disinterested fan base. Heck I’m one of the biggest fans and agree with their plan and days like yesterday make me want to turn the TV off and forget about them for awhile. I understand and respect the process, but it is difficult to watch at the moment.

    • Don Eaddy

      I understand your frustration with the major league product, but I think you need to change your focus while watching them. I know you want to see a win, but to be honest I have found this season to be very exciting. Castro and Rizzo are hitting well. Samardzija has been great. Some of the guys in the pen have been good. I actually look forward to our mid-season trades at this point and I’m going to miss them a little bit (Not too much)

      Its all about adjusting your expectations

  • ruby2626

    I’m on record already with 2 of my friends, midseason we trade Edwin Jackson while obviously eating a large portion of his salary and make room for Hendricks in the rotation.

  • J. L.

    Amaya hasn’t played in a while. Anybody know what’s up with him?

    • ced landrum

      Literally nothing has been said since he came out of the game on the 10th. It doesn’t look like they have DL’d him either.

  • Darth Ivy

    So, bryant’s new theme song?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZX6Q-Bj_xg

  • Rebuilding

    Bryant will probably continue to have walk rates north of 10% because people will simply refuse to pitch to his big time power. Much like Sosa later in his career – giving up first base instead of a home run ball is preferable

    • AA Correspondant

      I agree about the walk rate. Pitchers are too smart and are simply not going to allow Kris Bryant to be the guy that beats them. He certainly is the focus in the pre game pitchers meeting. Bryant has shown to be an unselfish hitter and willing to take a walk. You make a mistake, and he’ll burn you. You dont throw strikes, and he’ll gladly take a walk. As long as Dustin Geiger hits behind him, and swings a powerful bat, Bryant may still get some pitches to hit.

  • CubChymyst

    Bryant is having a ridiculous start to the year. A promotion to AAA by mid-season is a possibility.

    • Jon

      Not saying they should necessarily call him up…but he could start today on the big league roster today and be fine. He’s just a professional hitter in all aspects.

      • JCubs79

        I actually agree with this. I don’t think he would put up monster numbers, but I think he would be able to hold his own.

    • AA Correspondant

      You may be right….but I think it’ll take a trade of Villanueva or something to happen on the Big club to force it. Being honest here, Bryant’s bat is very special. He is a dominant hitter who has already shown that mistakes will be crushed. He is striking out quite a bit, but so did Javy Baez. But, I do think his defense is not where it needs to be if he is to be a legit MLB player. I think he is working hard on it, and it will improve. But I believe he could be in AA all year because of the superior defense being played by Villanueva and the autonimy that playign in AA affords him to continue to work on his game. There is no rush, and I think he’ll be much better off for it. Selfishly….I’d love to keep him in AA all year……but I suspect we’ll be lucky to keep him until July 1st.

      • CubChymyst

        I think Bryant ends up in the outfield, so I’m not worried about his defense at 3rd. The progression of the bat is the most important part. If he brings is K% down and shows that AA pitching isn’t challenging him by mid-season he will be in AAA. With the DH I think all of the prospects in AAA will still be able to get their at bats.

        • Jon

          I really want him to prove he can’t play 3B. Not saying he wouldn’t be valuable as a outfielder, but think of his value as a third baseman. The position is in the dark ages right now. There is so much lack of talent at the position league wide.

          • bbmoney

            I agree with that assessment 100%. If his bat is as good as analysts think it might be, it’ll carry him anywhere. But at 3b the value is just so much higher.

          • CubChymyst

            I think he gets shifted the outfield to make space for a better defender. You figure after Olt, Villanueva might get a shot at 3rd, or maybe Baez if he isn’t at 2B. The outfield is also where the Cubs need the most help at the MLB level currently.

      • JCubs79

        I feel like there is always going to be swing and miss in Bryant’s game. i’ll take it though if he’s hitting 30-40 HR’s annually.

        • Darth Ivy

          I think those HR numbers are about right

          Oh wait, you mean home AND away games? Double that!

  • MightyBear

    Hanneman was my breakout player this year and he seems to be doing well so far in the short season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in Daytona this year.

    • Rebuilding

      At his age (and yes I understand his special circumstances) Hanneman should rip through A ball. He’s doing ok now, but is 1.5 years older (per baseball reference) than the average player in that league

  • cubzfan

    Alcantara is continuing his splits from last year: over .800 OPS against righties, closer to .600 against lefties. While that would still make him a useful player, at least on the long end of a platoon, I continue to think he just needs to see more lefties with breaking balls, because he didn’t have those splits in the lower levels (below AA). In other words, I don’t think he’d embarrass himself if called up as a two-week injury replacement right now, but a full year in AAA could help him be a more well-rounded batter and future everyday starter.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    According to Cubs Den Almora got hit on the elbow by a ball and that’s why he hasn’t been playing. http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2014/04/daily-cubs-minors-recap-arrieta-nears-return-alcantara-gets-3-hits-hernandez-off-toan-encouraging-start-baez-out-5-7-more-days/ I don’t know why this nose bleed theory persists. Also Baez said that at first he thought he had broken the ankle, so it was much more than a mild sprain.

  • Assman22

    Stroman looked good last night…two Cubs scouts in attendance…5.1IP, 5H, 0ER, 0BB, 9K…0ER in last 13.1IP…

    • Darth Ivy

      sweet. I got some shit from a buddy for picking him up on my Not Active list for fantasy. If he comes through in the bigs, oh man. My buddy will mistakenly think I’m so smart.

  • Diego Javier

    In reference to the guy talking about how the trades of starting pitchers (Demp/Garza/Feldman/Maholm) is starting to look good…

    What should we expect for Shark, if he keeps the pace?

    • BWA

      Hammel will return something similar to Feldman if he keeps pitching well and Shark will return something comparable to Garza.

      • Edwin

        Shark would return something better than Garza, I would think. Similar performance, but Shark is cheaper, and the team would still have him for the following season.

  • diamonddon

    Cubs will sign Shark to a long-term deal if he accepts the non-inclusion of a no-trade clause. He will anchor the pitching staff when the ream is ready to win. Power pitchers like him are hard to find.

    • jp3

      I say we word it like that in his contract too, he’ll never be able to tell if he has a no trade clause or not with how you just worded it.

  • JulioZuleta

    “Under the term of this agreement, Chicago Cubs and Jeff Samardzija don’t not agree on the following provision: the parties haven’t not agreed to not include a non-inclusory no trade clause.”

    • JulioZuleta

      *Reply to jp3

    • jp3

      Ha, that’s perfect but I feel he’ll be thinking, “IT’S A TRAP!!!”

    • candyland07

      For some people that can be important , For some it can be just a ploy. I tend to think better the player the more options he can demand or ask. If the Cubs do not want to give a No trade Claus and they feel they can move a player then so be it. I think this front office do not believe in giving player NO trade clause and That is fine. I can understand The front Office in this matter. I can also understand Shark attitude if its sincere. I doubt the Cubs will back off and they should not.

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