It is always a little unclear how much credit we should give to the coaches at the major league level. When a player struggles or has success, is it because the player has changed something despite the coaching, or is ignoring the coaches, or has been coached into a place where he is more or less successful than he had been? Does the coach even factor into it at all? We have some cases in which we have an idea how those questions may be answered, but in general at the major league level we are never sure how much credit (or blame) the coach gets.
Things are different at the minor league level. The entire point of the minor league system existing is to provide a place for young players to learn and improve on their game so that some of them, usually a small few, can play in the majors and have success. When a farm system is doing a lousy job of producing major league talent, it is often an indication that the coaching is just not getting the job done (poor scouting and draft preparation can also play a roll in those cases). To put it bluntly, a good prospect can be ruined if a team has bad coaching in the farm system.
In the minors, then, coaching matters a lot.
And Manny Ramirez is now one of those coaches. He, along with Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson, is one of the two highest profile coaches in the organization. No one can dispute his credentials as a hitter – steroids or not, he is one of the best right-handed hitters in history – and the Cubs appear to be convinced that he can teach some of the secrets of his craft to their young hitters. If he can, this could prove to a great signing.
Ramirez won’t turn an average hitter into a good hitter, but he just might help a good hitter refine his game into one that can have sustained success at the next level. The upside to this move may be hard to see on the stat sheets, but I like it all the same. For me, this is a gamble worth taking.
I only wish it had happened sooner. Ramirez will stop in Arizona, and then report to Iowa. That means any hitters in Kane County, Daytona, or Tennessee will not have the opportunity to work with Ramirez this season whether they want to or not. While Baez, Villanueva, Alcantara, and eventually Bryant will certainly benefit, lower level players such as Bruno, Vogelbach, Almora, and Hannemann may not. At least not this season.
Hopefully Ramirez will work out and hang around the farm system for a few years making that point irrelevant.
Scores From The Weekend
Friday – The Smokies managed a single tally in this 7-1 loss.
Saturday – Tennessee wasted a pretty good pitching performance in this 2-1 loss.
Sunday – They salvaged the weekend, though, with a 7-2 win.
Friday – The Cubs gave up a big first inning and lost 9-2.
Saturday – The Cubs rallied in the bottom of the sixth for a 5-4 Game One win. In Game Two Daytona piled on the runs in the first two innings and walked away with an 8-4 win.
Sunday – The winning streak went to three games with a 4-1 win in Sunday’s Game One. Game Two ended that streak, though, as the Cubs lost 5-2.
Kane County -
Friday – The offense and pitching were both on display in this 7-0 win.
Saturday – Kane County never led as they lost 3-2.
Sunday – Both teams rallied late, but it was Kane County who came away with the 7-3 win.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Javier Baez had another good weekend, this time adding a Sunday grand slam to his resume. That homer was his 7th of the season. He also doubled, walked, and struck out 5 times.
- [Iowa] Matt Szczur doubled as part of a 2 for 4 Sunday after walking 3 times on Friday.
- [Iowa] Arismendy Alcantara homered for the 5th time this season on Sunday.
- [Iowa] On Saturday Chris Rusin struck out 8 over 6 scoreless innings while walking a pair and giving up 4 hits.
- [Iowa] Tsuyoshi Wada struck out 5 in 6 innings on Friday, but he also allowed 3 runs on 9 hits and a walk.
- [Tennessee] Kris Bryant is up to 13 home runs now, after his Saturday blast. As for his other stats? Well, stratospheric seems a little bit weak as a compliment, so we’ll go with freakin’ awesome.
- [Tennessee] Joseph Gardner made his Tennessee debut, lasting 5.1 innings and allowing 2 walks and 2 hits while striking out a pair.
- [Tennessee] Julio Rodriquez also made his debut this weekend, striking out 6 in 5.1 innings of one run ball.
- [Tennessee] Dustin Geiger finished with 4 hits, including a double and his 6th home run.
- [Daytona] Rob Zastryzny has struggled some this season, but he turned in a good (if short) performance on Sunday. Over 3 innings he allowed 2 hits and a walk while sitting down 4 on strikes.
- [Daytona] Starling Peralta struck out 5 and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits over 5 innings on Saturday. Zack Godley struck out 2 in an inning and a third.
- [Daytona] Dan Vogelbach finished the weekend with 7 hits, included 2 home runs. He now has 4 on the season.
- [Daytona] Jeimer Candelario also had a nice weekend, finishing with 5 hits, including a pair of doubles and his 4th home run.
- [Daytona] Pin-Chieh Chen tripled and also finished the weekend with 5 hits.
- [Kane County] The Friday shutout was provided Tyler Skulina (5 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 7 K), Michael Wagner (3 IP, 1 H, 3 K), and James Pugliese (1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K).
- [Kane County] Juan Paniagua struck out 4 and allowed a run on 3 hits over 6.1 innings.
- [Kane County] Jordan Hankins had 5 hits this weekend, including 3 doubles.
- [Kane County] While playing sporadically, Shawon Dunston is starting to warm up. He had two hits and his 4th stolen base on Friday to raise his OPS to .638.
- [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann has hit safely in 5 straight. He is also up to 14 steals on the season.
- Corbin Hoffner, one of the interesting sleeper pitching prospects in the lower levels of the system, has arrived in Kane County and now has his season underway. He struggled in his debut, but rebounded nicely to pitch pretty well on Sunday.
- If the signing of Ramirez has you looking for dates to visit Iowa, might I suggest June 20 and 21? I’ll be in the stadium for both of those games, and I enjoy talking minor league baseball with Bleacher Nation readers even more than I enjoy writing about minor league baseball for Bleacher Nation. I’d love to meet a few dozen of you that weekend.