And then there was one. Now that C.J. Edwards has been shut down so the doctors can investigate some discomfort in his shoulder, there is only of the Cubs Top 5 prospects who is without a recent injury. The Tennessee Smokies have played 21 games so far this season, and Kris Bryant has appeared in 20 of them. He is easily the healthiest of the Cubs best prospects.
And he is continuing to tear up the Southern League. Bryant ranks among the league leaders in home runs, doubles, walk rate, OPS, ISO, SLG, and pretty much every other category you’d expect. Right now he is on a seven game hitting streak during which he has eleven total hits, three of them doubles, and one home run.
I’m not sure how long the Cubs will leave Bryant in Tennessee, but local fans should go see him while they have the chance. He is striking out a little too much for comfort right now, so the Cubs may wait for him to bring that rate down a bit, but that is just about the only flaw to be found in his game. Should the Cubs be so inclined, and I don’t think they will be, he could probably jump directly to the majors. More likely, though, he’ll spend some time in Iowa later this summer working out some final bugs in his game before arriving at Wrigley.
When can we expect that arrival?
After the Cubs are completely out of contention. The last thing the Cubs will want to do is call up Bryant (or Javier Baez for that matter) while the team is struggling early in the season and risk the Chicago press heralding him (or them) as the Saviours of the Franchise, only to pile the blame on them when the Cubs continue to lose. The pressure of carrying the Cubs will be on their shoulders soon enough; the Cubs will be wise to not risk making them carry that load while they are getting acclimated to the majors.
I continue to think that Bryant will be up after the trade deadline (Baez could be up before it, depending on how fast he adjusts to Iowa), but if the Cubs start dealing earlier in the summer, I can’t rule out a somewhat earlier call up.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa - Iowa opened the road trip with a nice 9-0 win in Colorado Springs.
Tennessee - The Smokies never got their offense going as they lost 3-1.
Daytona - Daytona took an early lead, and it carried them to a 7-3 win.
Kane County - After trailing the entire game, Kane County scored seven times in the eighth inning to pull out the improbable 10-8 win.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Tsuyoshi Wada needed just 55 pitches to breeze through 5 shutout innings. He walked one, allowed 4 hits, and struck out 6. I do not know why he left after throwing just 55 pitches, but as of last night no word of any injuries had come out.
- [Iowa] Chris Valaika led the Cubs with 4 hits (one double). Josh Vitters (one double) and Christian Villanueva (two doubles) each had two hits.
- [Iowa] Somewhat overshadowed by Wada’s efficient performance were the 2 no hit innings and 4 strikeouts dealt by Alberto Cabrera.
- [Tennessee] Stephen Bruno singled and tripled, his first, and was the only Smokie with two hits in the game. Bryant doubled and walked, and Dustin Geiger doubled.
- [Tennessee] John Andreoli went 0 for 3 with a walk, but this game was a touch more notable in that this was the first time in 2014 he had been caught stealing. Through 19 games he now has 8 steals in 9 chances. He is on pace to steal 59 bases and to get caught 7 times this season.
- [Daytona] Yao-Lin Wang allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks through 4 innings, but after that Ben Wells, Stephen Perakslis and Arodys Vizcaino combined to put up zeroes for the rest of the game. Vizcaino allowed a walk and two hits in the ninth, but got out of it without any damage thanks to a pair of strikeouts.
- [Daytona] Dan Vogelbach launched his second home run and broke out of his slump with a 4 for 4 performance that featured him picking up his first Caught Stealing for the season.
- [Daytona] Albert Almora doubled and finished 2 for 4. He did not walk, but he is riding an 8 game hitting streak. Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez also had 2 hits.
- [Kane County] Josh Davis did not have a great start (3 IP, 6 R (3 ER), 7 H, 2 K) subbing for Daury Torrez, who’s been bumped to today, but Jose Arias, Tyler Bremer, and Zack Godley were there to keep the game close enough that the offense could stage their rally. Bremer in particular stood out. Over 3 innings he allowed a run on a hit and a walk while striking out 6.
- [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann and Trey Martin each had 2 hits for the Cougars, and they were the only ones to feature multi hit games. Doubles by Martin and Daniel Lockhart were the only extra base hits.
- [Kane County] Kane County also walked 8 times against just 3 strikeouts. Any team that puts up ratios like that is going to have plenty of opportunity to win some games.
- Yes, Javier Baez is striking out about 40% of the time, but there is still no need to worry. Because he missed about ten days with that injury, he only has about 40 plate appearances on the season. For a guy who is historically a little slow to get going when he arrives at a new level, and who has missed time on the DL already, that is not a lot. Don’t panic yet.
- And don’t get too excited, either. The Iowa Cubs are currently playing in Colorado Spring, home of the third most hitter friendly ballpark in the very hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. If Baez starts launching some of those long fly balls that have been dying on the warning track in Iowa this spring, he could hit a bunch of homers in a hurry. That will not mean he is ready for the majors. A few weeks later, though, he visits New Orleans, the most pitcher friendly park in the league. If he starts bombarding the bleachers with Baezbombs in the Big Easy, then we can start to think about a little irrational excitement. But not yet. And certainly not based on anything that happens in Colorado.
- Further evidence of the worthlessness of the Loss as a pitching stat: Ivan Pineyro. After allowing 2 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings yesterday, Pineyro was saddled with the loss and is now 0-2 on the season. He also has an ERA of 1.74.
- How did Kane County rally from behind to score 7 runs in the eighth inning and walk away with a win? Single, single, fly out, hit by pitch, double (2 runs score), single (run scores), walk, double (2 runs score), intentional walk, sac fly (run scores), wild pitch (run scores), walk, line out. That’s how.