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daytona cubs logoFor about a week now there have been signs that the Daytona offense was better than we were seeing. Their hit totals would be oddly high given their runs scored, or their walk to strikeout ratio as a team would be quite good despite totalling few runs, and that’s just two examples. The signs were there.

And last night Daytona finally blew up, and Clearwater’s ERA took a beating as a result. This game is not quite as impressive as the show put on by Kane County last week, largely because Kane County’s game came against one of the better teams in the league while Clearwater has an even worse record than Daytona, but it was still impressive.

By the numbers, in this game the Cubs piled up:

  • 18 runs
  • 17 hits
  • 12 extra base hits
  • 8 walks
  • 8 doubles
  • 3 triples
  • And 1 grand slam.

For real. Rock Shoulders (two doubles and the grand slam) finished with eight total bases, and he didn’t even lead the team in that stat. Pin-Chieh Chen had nine.

Even stranger, the two best prospects in the lineup, Albert Almora and Jeimer Candelario, went a combined 1 for 10 with a walk and a strikeout. Dan Vogelbach had the day off. And even without their three most potent bats the offense scored at least three runs in five separate innings.

Personally, I hope they can do it again today. Clearwater is starting Jeb Stefan this afternoon, and he has an ERA over 11. This one could get interesting.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - The Cubs took a large early lead, and this game was never in doubt. The Cubs won 10-3.
Tennessee - This was a close game until the Smokies gave up eight runs in the fifth. Tennessee lost 14-3.
Daytona - To recap, Daytona went off on a massive hitting spree and slugged their way to an 18-5 win.
Kane County - Kane County scored late and survived a later rally to win this one 5-4.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Javier Baez tripled (his first) and finished with 2 hits and 2 strikeouts. Luis Flores also had two hits along with a walk.
  • [Iowa] Arismendy Alcantara had a pair of hits, but his came from a double and by homering for the second straight game.
  • [Iowa] Eric Jokisch gave up 7 hits in 7 innings, but thanks to 8 strikeouts and no walks he was able to limit the damage to just 3 runs.
  • [Iowa] Chris Valaika continued his torrid start to the season with a 3 for 3 game that featured his fifth double.
  • [Tennessee] For a first start of the season, Pierce Johnson did not pitch badly, but you can see there is some rust to work off. He tossed 78 pitches over 4 innings (plus 3 batters in the fifth). He gave up 4 hits and 4 walks, resulting in 3 runs (all in the fifth, and a couple of which were of the inherited variety) and struck out 5.
  • [Tennessee] The Legend of Kris Bryant continues to grow. His silly-good Double A line got even better as he went 3 for 5 with a double and a strikeout. And his impressiveness goes beyond the box score. His at bats are so disciplined and smooth that he is an absolute joy to watch. If he is ever in a stadium within a few hours of your house, make the trip. You’ll thank me later.
  • [Tennessee] John Andreoli, 2 singles and 2 walks, and Taylor Davis, 2 singles, also enjoyed good days at the plate.
  • [Daytona] Tayler Scott took the game into the sixth and allowed just one earned run (3 runs total) on 4 hits and 3 walks. Stephen Perakslis and Austin Reed completed the blowout win.
  • [Daytona] So many hits. In addition to those noted in the intro, Gioskar Amaya finished 3 for 4 with a walk, and Marco Hernandez, Bijan Rademacher, and Tim Saunders each had two hits. Rademacher and Saunders each hit a pair of doubles. Chadd Krist drew two of the teams eight walks.
  • [Kane County] Paul Blackburn did not strike out anyone, but he only allowed one run in his 5.1 innings of 5 hit, 2 walk ball. Nathan Dorris allowed another run on 2 hits in his 2.2 innings.
  • [Kane County] Ben Carhart finished 2 for 4 for the Cougars only multi-hit game. Carlos Penalver, Yasiel Balaguert, and David Bote all doubled.

Other News

  • Ryan Searle had an awful inning in the fifth for the Smokies. He inherited a tough situation, replacing Johnson with runners on first and second, but it went steeply down hill from there. In one cringe worthy sequence, he hit a batter to drive in one run, gave up a grand slam for four more, and then a solo shot for six runs allowed in just three batters. And then he hit another batter. It was bad. But he came back out in the 6th inning and held the heart of the Baron’s order to one run. And in the seventh he faced the minimum. As bad as that fifth inning was, it was good to see him shake it off and pitch much better through two more frames.
  • Even though they got shelled last night, the Smokies still matched their walks to the their strike outs with four each. Silver linings.
  • Speaking of positive walk/strikeout differentials, Kane County earned eight free passes as opposed to their four strikeouts.
  • ibcnu2222

    No mention of Chris Coghlan’s 4! walks. I know, only so much room.

    • jp3

      That’s 4 more than almora has so far.

      • ced landrum

        Almora’s total lack of patience is a bit concerning.

        • Jon

          The question begs, are his lack of walks a function of him not being challenged by high A pitching(his strikeout rate is also pretty low) or is it a legitimate flaw in his game? I would like to see him against AA pitching.

          • Jon

            Looking at his numbers last year at KC, he had a 6.3% walk rate in 61 games, while it’s not great I think it’s tolerable when you consider he’s a guy that’s naturally going to maintain a high BABIP. I do think his 293 BABIP this year indicates he’s been a bit unlucky so far.

        • JCubs79

          Just because he’s not walking doesn’t mean he’s not being patient.

          • Thiscantbegood

            If he can hit idc if he draws a walk or not. Keep swinging away and getting on base with the bat.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            This is why the word “patient” is so misleading when we talk about walks and batting eye. It has nothing to do with “waiting” and everything to do with three zones: the strike zone, a batter’s hit (red) zone, and a batter’s swing zone. When batter’s swing zones are much bigger than their red zones or the strike zone, then you get a ton of K’s with few walks. That’s not “impatient”: it’s an inability to distinguish red-zone from non-red-zone pitches when it’s 10′ from the pitcher’s hand.

            When a batter restricts his swing to his red zone, then the illusion of patience is created IF his red zone is fairly small. A lot of the “selectively aggressive” hitters that propel the Sox lineup are like this. They don’t just take balls, they take strikes, too: and see a lot of pitches. However, if the first pitch thrown is in their red zone, then they swing. But when you get the batters with the big red zones, then even if they restrict their swing to pitches in that red zone, then they still will swing after fewer pitches simply because there is a higher probability of getting a pitch that triggers their swing.

            • JasonP

              That’s just a long winded way of saying patient.

              If you’re willing to take close pitches and strikes on the edge of the zone, being patient is a completely sufficient and parsimonious description.

  • shlenny

    Given the crowd at Iowa, I think that KB should start seeing some playing time in RF for a August call up to the Bigs. AAA isn’t going to be necessary.

    • ced landrum

      If Cubs truly view Bryant as a 3rd baseman (which I don’t know either way), they could have he and Villanueva rotate between 1st and 3rd in games where there is no DH.

    • BlameHendry

      “AAA isn’t going to be necessary”

      I know it’s easy to get over-exicted about these prospects, but the jump from AA to AAA is considered to be tougher than the jump from AAA to the majors. It is absolutely necessary, even if only for a short while. I’d like to see him promoted to AAA mid-season and get a shot at making the team out of Spring Training next year.

      • jp3

        My thoughts exactly as far as give him a bump to AAA soon and let him get 300 ABs there and if he’s still good give him a shot out of spring to make the big team next year.

      • JasonP

        I don’t disagree with you, but I give you Starlin Castro and his first season when he jumped straight from AA.

    • bbmoney

      Theo and Co have made some comments about wanting players to get a full seasons worth of ABs in AAA ….wink wink……at least when its convenient for service time concerns.

      Some elite prospects bypass AAA and while I don’t think that would have been a good approach for Baez given his polish, I could see that being a possibility for Bryant. I’m not sure he’ll learn all that much at AAA.

      He will probably end up spending some time in AAA, but this is one case where I could at least see it as possible that they bring him straight up from AA.

    • Lou Brown

      Probably could have said the same thing about Baez this spring. AAA seems to be very necessary.

  • jp3

    I think it’d be nice to see him stop in Iowa to play a little there where the pitchers are actually game planning for him. Then maybe he has a chance to start on the big league club next year.

  • Justin

    I’ll probably get blasted on here, but I am having a hard time figuring out why Almora gets the amount of love he gets? His minor league #’s aren’t that great, he has little power, and gets injured a lot, and still at High A. I know he’s suppose to get great jumps on balls in the outfield, and play good D. But I just can’t get why he’s so highly thought of?

    • TWC

      Because he *never* walks, and walks just clog the bases.

    • BlameHendry

      He’s an all-arounder like Derek Jeter. Solid, dependable, no holes or weaknesses in his game. Good at everything. He’s likely to be a career .300+ hitter who also takes a lot of walks, doesn’t strike out much, and make contact when it counts. He’s also been developing more power lately and bulking up a little. I could see him racking up 70-90 RBIs in an average season. To me he seems like the ideal #2 hitter in any line-up.

      • TWC

        “He’s likely to … takes a lot of walks”

        What could you possibly be basing this on? Jeter, at least, walked at ~ a 10% clip in this minors. Almora hasn’t even hit a 4% walk rate for his entire MiLB career.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yeah, Almora probably will never walk much: his strong point is that he’s got a red zone that exceeds the A+ strike zone. On the plus side, Almora doesn’t seem to swing much at pitches outside of his red zone. This sort of player actually is pretty rare, and it’s tough to guess whether he’ll continue to not swing at pitches he cannot handle (and thus have his walk total goes up as improved pitching shrinks his red zone), or if his swing zone will remain the same while his red zone shrinks (elevating K’s without elevating walks much). History doesn’t provide us with many cases like this, so it’s tough to predict.

    • mjhurdle

      Last year his offensive stats were pretty impressive. Plus he plays really good D.
      And most scouts that have seen him rave about his makeup and how great his attitude and approach is.

      I think the combination of his skills and his work-ethic/attitude really make the scouts consider him to be a pretty solid bet to make and succeed in the majors. I think that is why most analysts rate him so highly.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The problem is that work ethic and makeup won’t affect the part of Almora’s game about which some of us are worried: once he gets to levels where pitchers can throw stuff Almora cannot hit, then will he still restrict his swing only to pitches he can hit well?

        Attitude will have no bearing on how that plays out. (I honestly have no idea what to expect here, myself.)

    • JCubs79

      What he has been doing for his age at each level is pretty impressive.

    • DarthHater

      If you want to know why Almora gets the amount of love he gets, go read some of the numerous professional scouting reports on him. Since you seem to think that sweeping generalizations based on a small sample size of low-minor-league stats of a 20-year-old are a legitimate counterweight to the opinions of those scouts (which you apparently have not even read), then, yeah, I think it’s safe to predict that you’ll probably get blasted.

      • Jon

        Also his new lady friend on twitter/instagram is a must follow @cynthiacaneja

        Well done Albert

        • DarthHater

          Okay, he passes the girlfriend test – the first standard of traditional baseball scouting!

          • DarthHater

            Not only does Albert have good eyesight, apparently Cynthia does, too:

            [img]https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7386/13980383392_c5d7f1a129_n.jpg[/img]

            • CubsFaninMS

              Indeed.

      • Justin

        Whatever “DarthHater”.. Weird handle for sure. I’ve read the “numerous professional scouting reports” and still don’t get how he is getting the amount of praise he gets. I understand he has good makeup and plays good D for a avg speed player. But that seems to be what all the scouts hang everything on… Plus “Darthhater”, I was just asking a question and not trying to “darthhate” on Albert, but was just curious. Thanks, for blasting/darthhating. Nice pic with Albert with his shirt off too, because that’s not at all weird…

        • Patrick W.

          Dude, you knew you were going to get blasted, roll with it.

          Your question sparked some legitimate debate, and some hate from a guy who is so clearly a hater he has hater in his name. But look through the hate and see that he’s asking pointing out we haven’t seen enough of him in the minors to know yet if he’ll be able to handle big league pitching consistently. It’s all good.

          • TWC

            Whatever, “PatrickW”.

    • blublud

      Almora is 68 PA into his season and still no walks. A .294 OBP, and the only reason it’s not .277 is because he was hit twice. I know it’s early and I know people will make excuses about pitcher can’t throw the ball past him, but when will the excuses stop.

      • TWC

        Who’s making excuses for Almora, Jay?

        • blublud

          People keep saying he’ll walk more once he reaches a higher level and the pitchers get better. I dont see it. I like Almora. I think he is good prospect, but not a top prospect. But his bat is not good enough to be a good hitter with a low walk rate.

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

            *cough* Jacoby Ellsbury *cough*

            Ack, stupid season change cold.

            • blublud

              I bet my life damn near he never reaches that level

              • bbmoney

                That seems an awfully frivolous risk to take when no one was even asking for it.

                • CubFan Paul

                  Speak for yourself

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

                Well that’s a pretty safe bet.

                But not for the reason you think it is.

                • Brocktoon

                  Are you telling him he’s dying?

          • TWC

            Okay, so to be clear: no one was making excuses for him. No one.

            At most, you disagree with other folks’ optimistic projections. Considering your track record, we know what that’s worth.

            • DarthHater

              You’ve gotta admit that Almora is no Campana or Barney.

        • DarthHater

          [img]https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2808/11482816066_688dcb2688_n.jpg[/img]

      • DarthHater

        Almora’s OPS as a 19-year-old at Low-A last year was .842. If he can carry that level of performance into the majors, he’ll be a very valuable asset in CF (for example, Carlos Gomez’s OPS last year was .843). Giving more weight to his bigger sample size of stats from last year (and to scouting reports) than to stats from his first 16 games at the next level up is not making excuses, it’s exercising common sense.

      • CubsFaninMS

        I believe a good counterpoint lies within your comment. Two hit by pitches would affect his OBP nearly .20 points. I’m not a samplesizologist, but it is clear we are looking at a small sample size.

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

        Sigh…do we need to dredge up the comments from his stint in Rookie ball?

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

          Oops, it was A- where he didn’t walk in 60 PA.

      • Coop

        Maybe when they are no longer valid?

        Almora has no BBs, but also only 7 Ks. The pitchers aren’t throwing it by him. Career he now has 485 PA – only 19 BBs, but also only 50 Ks, and an OBP of .351 (higher than Baez’s).

        Baez has 41 plate appearances and only 2 BBs, but also 16 Ks.

  • http://kempfintl.com pfk

    I fully expect Bryant to be up with the big club sometime in late July. He’s raking in AA and we will probably see him move to AAA in late May. Its even possible he could go straight from AA to the bigs but I doubt it. He’s the real deal – a pro’s pro.

    • CubFan Paul

      “He’s the real deal – a pro’s pro”

      Hasn’t been challenged yet.

  • J

    He is widely seen as someone who will maximize his tools, making his floor higher. He has good range in CF, despite less than typical speed. He projects to hit .300+ . Last year, he hit .329/.376/.466 at age 19 (2.3 years younger than the weighted average of all batters in the league). As for power, 34 doubles in 485 PA may translate into more HR power as he ages.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Of all the Cub prospects, I’m most optimistic on Albert Almora. He is a solid, multi-tool player who, I believe, can have a long and productive major league career. Think Jacoby Ellsbury without the top end base stealing ability.

    • Coop

      Almora also just seems like a guy that will be easy to cheer for – professional, courtesy, and an all-around good teammate.

  • Javier Bryant

    Headed to the Cougars game today. Skulina’s on the mound

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    Bryant with another walk.

  • Jon

    Would it be out of line to say Bryant is probably more ready for a big league promotion than Baez?

    • cubbiekoolaid2015

      At the beginning of the year I would of said “yes, completely out of line.” Now?… Not so sure.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Baez is not ready for the big leagues. I can see him being a September call up. But the plan has got to be for him to adapt his hitting from an all or nothing approach.

    • ari gold

      Yeah, Baez is not very ready yet. But he does adapt very quickly to new levels. He just really needs to calm down his approach.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I think it would be safe to say that Bryant has a more advanced hit tool than Baez.. Considering that Bryants father was a proffesional ball player and was coaching him from a young age that’s understandable. There is no doubt about Baez’ power or bat speed, but plate disipline is going to be the thing that makes him or breaks him.

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    Corey Black is dominating right now. Go check the box score, I’m not jinxing anything.

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