kyle hendricks iowa cubsJake Arrieta made what could prove to be his final minor league rehab start yesterday, and though he was effective, it wasn’t his best work. Through 5.2 innings he gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks. He also struck out seven. He left the game upon reaching his pitch count (although I’m not sure what that exact number was).

If Arrieta does head to Chicago soon, it will start a game of pitcher pinball that will quite possibly result in someone heading to Iowa. The Iowa pitching situation is fairly crowded, though. The Cubs could free up some innings if they had to, but it wouldn’t be easy. Pierce Johnson is also probably on the verge of debuting in the AA rotation, which is another organizational wrinkle.

Add it all up, and it isn’t impossible we’re on the doorstep of an early season roster move. Releasing someone from Iowa strikes me as a little more likely than a trade, but we are about at the point that early season trades crop up with more regularity.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The Iowa Cubs are back at .500 after this 5-1 win.
Tennessee – Tennessee is back at .500 after their 10-5 win.
Daytona – Daytona is a good week and a half away from .500, but they did win 6-5 in eleven innings.
Kane County – And Kane County falls to five games over .500 after this 5-3 loss.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Kyle Hendricks was back at it yesterday, and the results were again quite good. He finished with 6 shutout innings that contained 2 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts.
  • [Iowa] Matt Szczur had a very nice game. He finished 3 for 4 with his first triple of the season. Javier Baez returned to shortstop, and was 1-3 with a single and a HBP (in the wrist, but he was checked out, and cleared to stay in the game).
  • [Iowa] Arismendy Alcantara hit his first homer of the season and stole his 6th base as part of a 2 for 4 game.
  • [Tennessee] Rubi Silva and Jae-Hoon Ha both homered for the Smokies yesterday, and in both cases it was the first of the season. Ha also doubled as part of a three hit night. Silva finished with two hits.
  • [Tennessee] John Andreoli singled, tripled (his first) and stole his 8th base of the season.
  • [Daytona] Jose Rosario also had a nice day on the mound for the High-A Cubs. He pitched 4 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and striking out 4.
  • [Daytona] Jeimer Candelario walked and doubled twice while hitting eighth. It is probably too early to say he’s warming up, but it is a good sign.
  • [Daytona] Dan Vogelbach walked twice while hitting in the middle of the order. A patient hitter, like Vogelbach, can help his team by taking walks even when he isn’t hitting, and Vogelbach did just that by scoring twice.
  • [Kane County] Jen-Ho Tseng struggled in this one. He stayed in for 5 innings, but he allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits and a walk while striking out three. Tyler Bremer pitched two scoreless innings of relief in support of Tseng.
  • [Kane County] Carlos Penalver continues to hit. He had two more singles in this game, scoring twice.

Other News

  • Iowa was off the races yesterday. Josh Vitters picked up his first steal of the year, Logan Watkins stole his second, Szczur swiped his fifth, and Alcantara his sixth. Alcantara was also caught stealing once.
  • Even though the Smokies won 10 to 5, they were actually out hit 10 to 9 by Birmingham. The difference? Part of it was that Tennessee committed one error to the Baron’s three. The Smokies also drew twelve walks to the Barons five.
  • itzscott

    Just wondering if Kyle Hendrick’s pitching approach is projected to play any differently in the majors than it has in the minors?

    • Cubs_Questions

      I can’t be the only one that’s really excited to see Hendricks play in Chicago. Hendricks is a good finesse pitcher. He doesn’t seem to have overpowering stuff but has great control and makes hitters work.

      He has a career 4.91 K/BB ratio in the minors, and despite a slightly high BABIP and slightly low LOB% in 2014 so far, he still is allowing just a .216 BA and has a 2.73 FIP to go with his 3.65 ERA. He’s also got 9.1 K/9 in 2014 so far and a 4.17 K/BB.

      **Disclaimer: I’m not trying to compare Hendricks with Greg Maddux– a finesse pitcher of historic proportions– but I’d just like to point out some similarities.**

      When Maddux was in the minor leagues, he had a lower K rate and higher BB rate than Hendricks, coupled with similar H/9 numbers. Neither gives up a lot of home runs, and both had lots of success at each level.

      I wouldn’t say Hendricks is ever going to be the guy Maddux was. But I think he has a very high talent floor because he knows how to pitch. I think he’ll be a good middle of the rotation guy and could eventually be a top of the rotation. Definitely the most intriguing Cubs prospect to me.

  • ssckelley

    Whelp, I guess I can shut up about pining for Vitters to be in Chicago. But a nice 3 out of 4 today would get me fired back up.

    I love early season SSS.

    • E

      Hey, I’m with you. I think Vitters should have been on the roster this year instead of Kalish. I firmly believe if given a chance, Vitters could be an exceptional MLB hitter.

  • roz

    “Pierce Johnson is also probably on the verge of debuting in the AA rotation, which is another organizational wrinkle.”

    God damn I love me some organization wrinkles.

    On another note—and this is probably something that has been discussed ad nauseam at this point—how long do you think Kris Bryant stays down at AA? While I want to point out that he has right around the same number of PA’s at Tennessee that he had at both Boise and Daytona last year, I recognize that that was a bit different because he’s an advanced college hitter that was accelerated through the lower levels, and that it doesn’t necessarily predict the time he needs to spend at Tennessee. While his K% is a bit high, his triple slash line right now is awesome and he looks like he’s handling the Southern League fairly well right now.

    • ssckelley

      I think that is the million dollar question right now. A promotion to Iowa could be the beginning of trying Bryant out in the outfield or, perhaps, moving CV to first base.

      The Cubs are going to have to make some interesting decisions soon through out the organization.

      • CubFan Paul

        “A promotion to [The Show] could be the beginning of trying Bryant out in the outfield”

        No need for Iowa.

        • Chad

          No need for Iowa at all, or just no need to play OF in Iowa?

          • CubFan Paul


            • Cubs_Questions

              I’d be very surprised if he just skipped Iowa altogether. With a high K rate in Tennessee and a bad team in Chicago, there’s no reason to rush him if he isn’t ready. He has a great BB rate and slash line, but there’s still no need to do that.

              I’d also be very surprised if they brought him to Chicago without having him work in the outfield first. Especially since I expect Olt to have a chance to claim third for the majority of the year, my speculation is that Bryant will be playing in the OF at Iowa later in 2014.

              • Cubs_Questions

                Especially with the potential Alcantara-Castro-Baez infield, the infield picture looks crowded and Bryant might have to get pushed.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “there’s no reason to rush him if he isn’t ready”

                  Who’s considering that? Not being ready wasn’t part of the discussion.

                  Also, Bryant being a MLB OF has *always* been my position

                  • Cubs_Questions

                    Whether that wasn’t explicitly stated, just bringing him up to the show would be rushing him after such a limited time in Tennessee and with no experience in Iowa.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “just bringing him up to the show would be rushing him after such a limited time in Tennessee”

                      Not if he’s ready. Iowa is not a requirement either.

                    • Cubs_Questions

                      His K rate in Tennessee is a little higher than 27% right now and he has a total of 216 PA in the minor leagues. There’s still some work he has to do to be ready.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “There’s still some work he has to do to be ready”

                      No sh*t Dick Tracy. He has a 27% K rate today, but No one is saying call him up for the April 22nd game.

                    • Cubs_Questions

                      And all I’m saying is that until that changes, it’s premature to even suggest skipping Iowa.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “it’s premature to even suggest skipping Iowa.”

                      Because all the fast rising blue chippers stop for 500 AAA at-bats, I know.

                    • Cubs_Questions

                      I didn’t say he would need 500 AAA at bats. I didn’t even say he would need to play one game in AAA. I just said while he is striking out 27% of the time at AA it isn’t worth talking about yet.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “I just said while he is striking out 27% of the time at AA it isn’t worth talking about yet.”

                      Then leave the message board/comment section?

      • Chad

        Hmm, that’s the first time I have heard the move of CV to first base. I don’t know about that. I would rather see Bryant head to the OF I think. I just feel he will have a longer career in the OF.

        • ssckelley

          CV is solid defensively at third, he really has nothing else to prove at 3rd but CV needs to prove he can hit in order to move up. The question on Bryant is not so much his hitting but if he can stick at third base. Moving CV to first is a way to keep both bats in the lineup every day since the Cubs do not have a legitimate prospect at first base at Iowa.

          • Don Eaddy

            I guess thats true, but is it stupid of me to think we dont really need a 1B prospect in AAA because of Rizzo? Id rather keep Villanueva at the hot corner and see if Bryant can handle LF. I could see Alcantara getting a call to Wrigley at some point this season, so 2nd base will be occupied and Baez would probably need to move to 3rd (where Olt isnt exactly lighting it up)
            All of that makes me think Bryant moves to LF. Lake can go to CF for now

          • Chad

            CV to DH? I’d rather see him get reps at 3B. I see CV as a future 3B or super utility so I want him to continue to work on his glove. I get your point on Bryant as well, but I hate to take reps from a guy who is more likely to stick at that position. I’d also like to see Alcantara get reps in CF as he could be the Bonifacio type of the future for the cubs. It is a very good problem to have, and I’m glad I just get to guess about ti rather than make the decisions.

            • ssckelley

              Possibly, but I don’t think they use the DH in every game. Plus I think they have been using it to keep the extra outfielders regular at bats along with Watkins. First base is the one position at Iowa you are not taking away at bats from another prospect, Lars Anderson is your regular 1st baseman. If you are thinking CV ends up being a super utility then playing him at 1st is not a bad idea either.

              • josh ruiter

                First things first…no need to move Lake to CF…Bryant looks like a solid RF, and we could trade Schierholtz. At the end of the day if you want to see those 3 (Baez, Bryant, Alcantara) in Chicago you are going to see 2 of Boni, Barney, Olt, Valbuena dealt and probably an additional one or two of Sweeney/Schierholtz/Ruggiano. I really think you will see the Cubs wait till the deadline and see how many pieces they can ship out to make space to avoid the roster crunch. You also can’t count out guys like Vitters, and before any of the big league moves come, guys will be getting vacated from Iowa to make space.
                It is a great year to live in the Des Moines area!

  • PejaO42

    Watkins has been doing much better (SSS and all) his 2nd time round AAA. I think he has to be in the future plans for the Cubs as a super utility guy. Can never have too many of those guys off the bench

  • Steve

    Shhhh Roz…I’m going to Chattanooga to see him May 2-3rd. He can go after that!

  • Brocktoon

    How was Arrieta effective giving up 5 runs on 3 HRs in 5.2 innings?

    I’m in no hurry to see him in the majors and don’t quite understand why people are excited for him.

    Hendricks on the other hand…

    • Chad

      IMO Arrieta is a lot like Samardzija, great stuff that could be ace worthy, but not the consistency, I think everyone wants to see him in Chicago to see what we have in him and if he can develop. He could be a big part of the future if he can figure it out and Bosio could be a big factor there. As far as Hendricks, we will see him once Shark is traded, but might as well let him season a bit in AAA. I don’t think he has pitched that much there yet anyway, so it won’t hurt him to get a few more innings there.

    • CubFan Paul

      “How was Arrieta effective giving up 5 runs on 3 HRs in 5.2 innings?”

      He was probably throwing ALL fastballs to build up arm strength…

    • Luke

      He gave up 3 earned runs and nearly pitched 6 while striking out 7. That’s not a bad start.

      • Brocktoon

        Failing to go 6 while giving up 3 runs wouldn’t be solid.

        He gave up 5, and the reason 2 were unearned is one of the runners who scored on a HR would have been the 3rd out. It’s not like Candelario threw the ball into the stands allowing 2 runs to come in.

        Giving up 3 HRs to an A ball lineup(one of them from the 8 hitter) is never going to be solid in my book

  • cking6178

    Anybody else disappointed the CV will be making his next scheduled start? I was hoping he was done in the starting rotation…he’s a good mentor for the young guys, but he belongs in the bullpen…

  • Bilbo161

    Yea this really is going to be an interesting season. There is so much roster pressure from the kids fighting their way to the top starting to show up that something has to give. Some trades need to happen soon in order for development to continue. If there are not at least three trades by the deadline I would be surprised.

  • thrilho

    I wouldn’t say Tseng struggled. Of his 7 hits, the only XBH was a double. He only walked one, and had a 6/2 GO/FO ratio. He’s done a good job all year of getting ground balls, while limiting hard contact and walks. The runs don’t bother me that much.

  • CubChymyst

    Any idea if Hendricks success at AAA has been linked to the cutter he was trying to add?

    • Luke

      I suspect it might be, but I’m waiting on more numbers before I try to dive into his performances patterns against left vs right handed hitters as compared to last year, and that’s where I think that cutter would start to show up.

      His K/9 is remaining higher than I expected given his career trajectory, though, and that is a very good sign for the Cubs.

  • http://BN Sacko

    A lot of people excited about Vitters getting called up..however I don’t know who would be moved in the outfield..right now..hopefully it puts more pressure on the Barney trade..Boni then used more in the IF. I’m all for some moves as there are alot of holes to fill. Elimination of these possibilities is fine with me.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, the Cubs will have to make some moves in order to free up playing time for Vitters in the outfield. The problem is I doubt they will find any takers for a 32 year old Ruggiano that is struggling to hit the ball right now. Ruggiano, IMO, is who is keeping Vitters down at Iowa.

      • Cubs_Questions

        I have to agree here. Ruggiano has little value in my opinion. Even with 37 XBH in 424 AB in 2013, he still had an OPS less than .700.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I’ll take Ruggs in a pinch hit role before Barney..If Ruggs was hitting better it would make no sense to trade him and bring up Vitters. Barney has got to go.

  • Stu

    It will be one more year of flipping the current roster for more minor league pitching depth. Bonifacio, Barney?, Valbuena, Schierholtz, Lake?

    Theo will keep the former Red Sox players Sweeney, Kalisch.

  • Ivy Walls

    Come on Capt Obvious is looking at the roster and it is this:

    who is producing and who is not?

    Veras…sunk money, Strop and Rondon have earned the late innings role. Villaneuva moves to long relief. Can you say DFA Veras?

    Schierholtz is fast playing himself to move to a team that needs a LH reclamation project for a team needing a platoon OF’er. Cubs need to make some changes and sooner the better.

    Remember the focus thing.

    • Cubs_Questions

      There’s no way they DFA Veras right now. The question is, how much longer does he get to prove that he isn’t wasting a roster spot? I have to think he’ll have at least a few more weeks. He still has only pitched 4.2 innings this season, as ineffective as he’s been.