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stephen bruno daytonaIf you were watching on MiLB.TV or listening to the Tennessee Smokies game on Sunday you were witness to a couple very unusual baseball events. First, Tennessee batters hit the Birmingham pitcher with batted balls twice. On consecutive batters. The first one clipped his foot and redirected away from the second baseman for a single, and the second bounced off his upper thigh for an infield single. I’ve seen the pitcher hit by a ball before, but never by consecutive hitters.

A little later in the game the third base umpire in a great position on a ball down the line signaled foul, watched a second longer, changed his mind and called it fair. Needless to say Birmingham wasn’t too happy about that, but Stephen Bruno never stopped running and got his extra bases.

You may have also seen the hot dog come from behind to pass what I think was the Italian sausage at the finish line in the ballpark food race, but that sort of thing happens in the minors all the time. For the record, I was cheering for the taco. If it hadn’t been for a terrible turn in the right field corner he would totally have had that one.  Next time, taco.  Next time.

Scores From The Weekend

Iowa -
Friday – Iowa once again got some good pitching, but they still lost 1-0.
Saturday – A blowout, but in a bad way. Iowa lost 12-2.
Sunday – Three errors did not help as Iowa lost their third straight 6-0.

Tennessee -
Friday – The Smokies scored first, but ultimately lost 5-2.
Saturday – This game was close all the way, but it ended with a 5-4 Smokies loss.
Sunday – A big fifth inning propelled the Cubs to an 8-3 win.

Daytona -
Friday – Bad weather postponed this game…
Saturday – … and setup the doubleheader on Saturday. Daytona dropped the first one 10-4, but finally broke through in Game Two for a 9-1 win.
Sunday – Sunday was a scheduled day off.

Kane County -
Friday – Kane County was shut out on Friday, 9-0.
Saturday – This game was lost in the bottom of the ninth, 3-2.
Sunday – The Cougars had Sunday off.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Tsuyoshi Wada gave up a run on 3 hits while striking out 5 on Friday. The one run he allowed came on a solo homer.
  • [Iowa] Not a lot else went right on the mound for Iowa this weekend. Alberto Cabrera and Neil Ramirez both struck out 2 in effective relief on Sunday, but that’s about it.
  • [Iowa] There wasn’t much excitement at the plate, either. Arismendy Alcantara stole two more bases on Sunday and now has 5 for the year. Christian Villanueva doubled twice on Saturday. Other than that, there weren’t a lot of highlights.
  • [Tennessee] C.J. Edwards pitched 6 strong innings on Sunday, allowing just 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. He threw 91 pitches.
  • [Tennessee] Kris Bryant had a 2 for 4 game on Sunday, but that was only part of his weekend. On Friday he went 2 for 4 with his 4th home run of the season, and on Saturday he doubled as part of a 1 for 5 effort.
  • [Tennessee] On Friday Ivan Pineyro struck out 8 over 6.2 innings of 2 hit ball. Unfortunately Ryan Searle could not hold on to the lead, but Pineyro’s start was fantastic nonetheless.
  • [Daytona] Felix Pena struck out 8 over 6 innings and allowed just the one run despite 3 hits and 4 walks in Daytona’s win. Michael Jensen finished off that game.
  • [Daytona] Jeimer Candelario picked up his first double of the season in the loss.
  • [Daytona] Albert Almora singled twice and raised his early season average to .291 in Game Two. Bijan Rademacher (who is off to an awesome start) hit his first home run as part of his two hit game.
  • [Daytona] Dan Vogelbach reached twice on a walk and his first double of the season in Game Two.
  • [Kane County] The big story out of Kane County this spring continues to be the pitching. On Saturday Duane Underwood (5 IP) and Zack Godley (2.1 IP) both turned in very strong outings.
  • [Kane County] Daniel Lockhart was not much discussed coming into the season, but he is starting to change that. He has piled up 10 hits in his past 4 games now. Praise of Lockhart centers on that bat and his speed, something we have not seen as much of in the early going.
  • [Kane County] A two hit game on Saturday extended Trey Martin‘s hitting streak to 5 games. He has also hit safely in 9 of his last 10 as well.

Other News

  • Javier Baez returned to the lineup on Sunday, batting third as the DH, but he went hitless in 4 at bats and struck out 3 times. For the season he now has 13 strikeouts in 32 plate appearances. That’s about a 40% rate, if you’re concerned. But you really shouldn’t be. He’s played just nine games so far, and he has a history of starting slow at a new level. There is no need to panic about his strikeout rate yet, but there is also absolutely no plausible argument for rushing him to the majors either. Triple A is exactly where he needs to be.
  • I do not think that Vogelbach and Candelario are going to continue to struggle, and I would not be surprised to see them break out soon. When they do, Daytona suddenly has the makings of a potent offense. Rademacher is already providing some muscle in the middle of the order; adding productive bats from Vogelbach and Candelario will be a big help. Add to that the top of the order speed from Tim Saunders and Marco Hernandez and some all around hit-ness from Almora and Gioskar Amaya (when he returns from a shoulder injury) and the Cubs could be in business. If Rock Shoulders gets his bat going as well, things look even better.
  • There are a number of prospects in the lower levels of the system we were hoping to see significant strides from this season, and shortstop Carlos Penalver‘s name was on that list. He’s over 60 plate appearances now, and is hitting .281 with an OBP of .359. He hasn’t shown a great deal of power yet, but that doesn’t concern me right now. A high OBP along with 6 steals through 15 games is a pretty good start to the season.
  • E

    Alright, who’s going to be the first to find a video of this poor pitcher?

  • baldtaxguy

    Pineyro!!

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    Considering I have never paid attention to what Logan Watkins looks like and have never seen Baez in person, I somehow confused him at SS for Javier Baez.

    Watkins had a couple bad throws at SS and Baez had a TERRIBLE strikeout in his 2nd PA.

    WAAAAAAY too aggressive up at the plate.

    • E

      I get the feeling that Baez is a hammer who sees every pitch as a nail. I’d love to see someone manage to calm him and his swing down just a skooch.

    • Spriggs

      I confused the two from a distance a couple times also (not at the plate though!). They are similar in size and have similar facial features. The key difference is the tree trunks on Baez.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        I looked at Watkins and thought, “Huh, Baez doesn’t look that beastly in person.” The sunglasses also threw me off and I didn’t think to check Baez’s number at the plate.

        There were some plays in the field where I was thinking: “Man, that ankle looks like it’s feeling pretty good!”

    • ruby2626

      Bad strikeouts from our shortstops seems to have been the theme of yesterday. Starlin looked absolutely horrible in all but one of his at bats yesterday. Whether it was swinging on 3 and 2 pitches inside and in the dirt or popping up on a pitch that would have bounced before the plate zero plate recognition. Right now the Cubs seem like they have maybe 3 guys who are willing to take a walk.

  • Spoda17

    It seem Bryant is taking this “dominate your level” thing seriously. If he keeps this up, he has to be in AAA sooner rather than later. Problem is, where to put him…

    • Jon

      Third base. Easily

      • Spoda17

        I don’t think putting him at 3rd at Iowa is easy… Villanueva was selected as the best defensive 3rd baseman last year, and is very solid offensively. I can’t see them sidetracking his development. So does Bryant play 3rd, DH and OF..? Seems like the best course, but will be interesting.

        • Jon

          Villanueva currently has a .292 wOBP , in the pacific coast league. He’s a nice prospect but Kris Bryant is the golden goose, and I’m not changing his position(especially if he can hold 3rd Base down) because of a Christian Villenueva

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          With Villanueva being a solid fielder, you could easily slide him to the OF/1B since he doesn’t need to work on the glove. Rotate him and Bryant into the DH role and everyone gets some work in the field and at the plate.

          I’m guessing that Kalish has about 3 weeks to turn it around before he is dropped for Valakia (if he continues with his .900 OPS). Vitters probably won’t get the call until mid-June (extra year of control) but they might not want to wait that long with Bryant to move him up to AAA.

          • ssckelley

            Is Valaika the next Donnie Murphy? I can see the Cubs giving him a shot but where would you put him? He is not an outfielder so replacing Kalish with him does not make a lot of sense and the infield is crowded. If he replaces anyone on the Cubs without a trade I would think it would be for Olt.

            I think Kalish might be keeping the outfield spot warm for Vitters, which is too bad as he was an exciting player to watch during spring training. I would prefer to see the Cubs play Kalish more in place of Sweeney and replace Ruggiano with Vitters.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              The Cubs get an extra year of control somewhere around June 13 on Vitters. If they like what they are seeing with him, and since they didn’t get the positive variance they needed to start the year, I doubt they call him up before then.

              IIRC, Sweeney and Ruggiano have had a bit more MLB success than Kalish. If so, odds are they still have a decent shot at turning it around.

              If Valaika gets hot for a few months, maybe he can be traded with some IFA cap space for a decent prospect.

              • jh03

                Is Vitters someone who is worth watching service time with? I’m honestly asking. Wouldn’t you think he’d be cheap enough that bringing him up now (into this awful, awful outfield (assuming he can hit)) could be valuable enough to outweigh what the Cubs would have to pay for that extra year?

                • ssckelley

                  I was originally thinking the same thing but keep in mind that Vitters is still only 24 years old, so there is still some value in being able to lock him down until he is 30. He has already 60 days of service time so Hans June 13th estimate sounds about right.

                • Head and Heart

                  Vitters is 24 so gaining an extra year of control basically assures the Cubs would get Vitters prime years for a reasonable price before he reaches free agency. Assuming he finds a way to hit at the MLB level that could be a key. His AAA OPS is 871 over 609 PAs which suggests he COULD be an above average MLB hitter. As a reference point, and I am not suggesting Vitters can or will do this just pointing it out, only 20 MLB outfielders were able to OPS 800 or above last season. (of those with enough PAs to qualify)

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  I’m with you jh, I just don’t think that the front office will be worrying about service time with Vitters. Even if he does hit, long term, he’s probably just a Jeff Baker type, not really a guy you worry about that extra year with.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  I doubt they sent him to Iowa to start the year for service time, but now that he is hitting well, the big league club didn’t get the start they needed and we are 50 days away from it, might as well.

                  Unless Lake and Olt go on a two week tear, Vitters isn’t going to move the playoff needle enough by himself to just toss that extra year aside.

                  Plus, he has a history similar to Baez, struggle a bit at the new level and then turn it on.

                  • jh03

                    Yeah, that’s fair.. and I can totally understand that. I just didn’t know if his situation might be different considering how cheap that extra year of control could be in the future.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                The Cubs already got the extra year of control, the only issue would be super two, which I highly doubt the Cubs care about with Vitters.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Never mind, forgot he has service time already, ignore me, it’s Monday

              • ssckelley

                “IIRC, Sweeney and Ruggiano have had a bit more MLB success than Kalish. If so, odds are they still have a decent shot at turning it around.”

                I was agreeing with you on Kalish, like I said “I would prefer”. Cubs might be trying to build trade value like you are suggesting. But I am tired of trading for prospects, I see Kalish as someone who could potentially help the team long term. But, again, I think you are right and unless Kalish gets hot he will be the one to go down when they are ready to promote Vitters.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  ” But I am tired of trading for prospects…”

                  True dat.

                  Btw, the sky is robin egg blue, not Pontiac Silver Blue.

          • ruby2626

            an extra year of control for vitters is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on this board.

            • benjamin

              Nah it’s really not.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              Thinking about an extra year of control for a 24-year old who is mashing the crap out of the ball in AAA is dumb?

              • Orval Overall

                It’s generally not worth being overly concerned about that issue for any player that you project as a likely back-up/4th outfielder, which is the way many see Vitters.

                Personally, I would give significantly greater odds that management considers non-tendering him before his 2nd or 3rd arb season due to the cost being greater than his value, than I do of the scenario that management wants to keep him around but is unable to because he’s too expensive.

                Still, “one of the dumbest” things on the board was certainly an overstatement. Reasonable minds can differ on the issue.

            • ssckelley

              ruby, explain why you think this is dumb?

              • terencemann

                I don’t think he’s in AAA because of control. I think he’s in AAA so he can prove he can stay healthy and be productive and because he’s a huge step down defensively from anybody they have in the lineup right now.

                • ssckelley

                  I think that is why he started the year in AAA. But now that he is already in Iowa they might as well wait until June to bring him up for that extra year of control. I would rather see him playing every day in Iowa than get stuck in a platoon situation with the mess of outfielders the Cubs have now.

              • ssckelley

                oops, not meant to be a question

              • DarthHater

                Ruby didn’t say it was dumb, only that it was “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on this board.” That’s could just be a compliment to the very high intelligence of comments on the board in general. :-P

                • ssckelley

                  We do set the bar quite high don’t we? It is possible ruby was not around during some of blubluds famous moments (ie Barney to Almora comparisons).

        • LWeb23

          I wouldn’t be surprised if for a short period of time, they shuffle bryant around from DH, OF, and 3B, and then ultimately including Villanueva in a trade for a stud SP prospect with the like of Schierholtz, Barney, or some other Major League piece. Not saying just those two straight-up for a pitcher, but I could see a deal starting there.

    • CubChymyst

      Likely a rotation between 3rd, Outfield and DH. They can find the at bats, and a call up probably likely won’t happen for another month. I wouldn’t be surprised if the move happened with other rosters shifts as well.

    • Chad

      LF easily (just to mock Jon’s 3B easily). I think he is a better option out there as I think either Olt, Baez, or Villanueva could be at 3B with Alcantara or Baez at 2B long term. Spread the wealth out. I’m just not sold on Bryant as a long term (numerous seasons) ML 3B.

      • Jon

        There has not been a single poor report on Bryant’s D so far. Scott Rolen was a gold glove defender at the position and roughly the same height

        • Chad

          I am not concerned about his defense, but his ability to stay healthy. That is the biggest concern about how a guy his size can stay healthy with as much bending over etc. as 3B do. I’m sure he’d be a decent 3B. I hope the cubs can figure out a way to get their best combination of players on the field no matter which position it is.

        • Spriggs

          Well I can tell one thing for sure. He is nowhere near Rolen in defensive skills and he never will be. He doesn’t have good range and it is difficult for him to come in quickly and field slow rollers. It is difficult for him to stay down on ground balls which is not unusual for a guy of his height. His arm is good though and his hands are ok. From what I have seen, I would say he looks just good enough to stay there for now.

        • ssckelley

          But I have not heard anyone say Bryant has gold glove potential at third base. What I have read is most say he could stick at 3rd, meaning he plays the position well enough that he could play 3rd at the MLB level. IMO Bryant may come up as a 3rd baseman but ultimately I think he ends up in the outfield in order to extend his career.

          IMO, the ideal situation for the Cubs is for Olt or Villanueva to lock down 3rd base. Even if Bryant ends up at 3rd you create on heck of an asset to trade with a number of MLB teams needing a good 3rd baseman.

          • Chad

            Exactly. The more players that succeed at a position the more value they have in return. If Olt can become an average 3B with his power the Cubs have something good there. Even if Villanueva is a super utility guy at best that is not a bad thing either. Baez can play 3B or 2B and Alcantara 2B or maybe even CF. Either way I hope they all get time to come up and succeed at the ML level. Even if the cubs have to trade a successful player, that is worth way more than trading prospects.

          • Jon

            With a bat like that he doesn’t need to be a gold glover. Just adequate. My personal fantasy has the Cubs acquiring Heward or Stanton in the next couple of year, so maybe my judgement is clouded.

            • Chad

              But if you can have a gold glover at 3B with a decent bat and stick his bat in the OF why the heck not?

              Even if the cubs get Heyward or Stanton that is only 1 OF position out of 2 that Bryant could play and I’m not convinced Soler will make it in the near future to Chicago. Even then Soler could be a good trade candidate.

              • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                With a 3-4-5 of Rizzo, Bryant, Stanton/Heyward and if Castro is back to being good, that is 4 lineup spots that would be well above league average.

                The runs above average lost from moving Bryant into RF would be, at least, equal to the runs above average gained with Villanueva’s glove at 3B (and he might be below average offensively at 3B).

            • Chad

              You get the best combo of players on the field no matter if you have to move a guy or two. I really hope the consider moving Alcantara to CF if he doesn’t end up at 2B. If Bryant at 3B makes the cubs the best then so be it, but if Bryant in LF with Olt/Baez/Villanueva at 3B is the best that is what I want the cubs to do.

            • ssckelley

              You are right but with his bat he can play just about anywhere. If the Cubs do have a plus defender in Olt or CV, that *can* hit, at third then Bryant would fill a *huge* hole in the outfield.

    • JCubs79

      You play him at 3B until he proves he can’t play the position. That hasn’t happened yet. Keep him at 3B as long as possible. I

  • itzscott

    Any early indications on how Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres have started out?

    • KHRSS

      Not sure this is against the rules here, but this site does a nice job of covering extended spring training so you can check the box score to see how Jimenez and Torres are doing: http://www.thecubreporter.com/

      They have mentioned Soler looks healthy when taking at bats but has yet to take the field or do running drills. So it seems he is at least a week or two from coming back.

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  • ChiCub23

    I was at the game in Dayton. Trey Martin looked awesome, Geraldo Concepcion looked terrible, and the ump blew the call on a would-be go ahead sacrifice fly in the 8th.

  • LWeb23

    With Cubs games getting harder and harder to watch, I’m highly considering investing in MiLB.tv. I see that the I-Cubs and Tennessee participate in it, but do they show all of their road games as well? Or just some of them?

    • CubsFaninMS

      Not all games are shown. I have MiLB.tv (for the reasons you have mentioned). From my experiences, at least two of the Cubs games are on MiLB.tv per game day. I watched the Smokies game last night until they apparently thought I was accessing it with another device somewhere else (which I was not). And if you work an 8-5 job like I do, always keep in mind that those day games will be elusive to watch obviously.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      All Triple A and Double A games are shown.

      No games from the FSL are shown (so no Daytona), and the Midwest League is hit and miss (mostly miss). You’ll get a handful of KC games.

      • roz

        Are there any blackout restrictions?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Nope. Not for Cub games, anyway. I think Scranton has a few, but that’s about it.

          • KHRSS

            I didn’t purchase this when I bought MLB.Tv so didn’t get the $20/year offer. I tried to get it afterward but they told me they have no way of selling it to me at that price even though they want to. I thought that was strange, has anyone had the same problem?

  • CubsFaninMS

    No one seems to notice but Kris Bryant has 9 stolen bases so far this season, including three yesterday. Although it should not be expected, he may turn into a 30/30 type in the Major Leagues.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      BRef only has Bryant for 4 stolen bases this year

    • bigCEE

      he got 3 RBI yesterday — giving him 9 on the year…you’re prob looking @ the wrong stat.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        RBI aren’t completely meaningless: they tell us that the guys batting in front of Bryant are getting on base a lot!

        The 9 SB by Bryant tell us a lot more about Bryant than the RBI do. In particular, they tell us that he is getting on base a lot. (Of course, 10 walks in 64 PAs is an easier way to glean that fact!) As this year’s ZeroBP Cubs lineup shows us, that’s very valuable.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          True, with the minor problem that Bryant hasn’t actually stolen 9 bases.

        • ssckelley

          That and they also tell us that the guy can hit with runners on base.

    • CubsFaninMS

      Ahh. Wow. Senior moment (and I’m only 33). His speed still surprises, although not at the rate my erroneous observation had it.

      • terencemann

        A lot of guys have a little bit of speed when they’re young but it will disappear pretty quickly. Also, minor league pitchers aren’t as worried about runners as they are about getting the guy at home out.

  • JasonP

    I love that the Cubs got Pinyero for Scott freaking Hairston.

    With the value that Hairston was “adding” to last year’s team, dumping his salary on the Nats for a bucket of baseballs would have been a plus trade, let alone for a guy who looks good at 22 years old in AA as a starter.

    • ssckelley

      I thought it was nice deal for the Cubs also. If Pinyero keeps pitching like this in AA he will be a top 100 prospect next season.

      I will keep saying this until everyone gets sick of it, and then say it some more, but I think this is the year of the pitchers in the Cubs minor leagues. I see a number of intriguing arms the Cubs have acquired via trade and the draft, I think the odds are in the Cubs favor that a few of them emerge. Pinyero is one of those intriguing arms.

  • KHRSS

    How has Vitters been at LF this year? Has he shown he can handle the position well?

  • Funn Dave

    Not great scores this weekend….

  • willis

    Man, Rubi Silva is having himself a day so far. He seems to be turning it on a little.

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    Bryant with another H, BB, and RBI today. I really didn’t believe anyone who said there was a chance Bryant could make it up to the majors this year but he’s quickly making AA look like child’s play.

    • ari gold

      He needs to get his SO rate down in order to get promoted. His walk rate and BABIP are really helping his numbers right now.

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