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tennessee smokiesThe big name prospects get the spotlight, and deservedly so, but I also like following the stories of the career minor leaguers and ultra fringe players who need the stars to line up just right for them to get a major league chance. They don’t have the star power of the big names, but they can still be quite a bit of fun to watch and ponder on.

Take Lars Anderson, for example. Formerly one of the Red Sox better prospects, Anderson never made it to the major leagues for long, and he never did a whole lot while he was there with strikeouts being just one of his problems. This year for the Cubs, though, the strikeouts are way down (Iowa: 17.8%, Tennessee 18.4%). Combine that with some moderate power and healthy walk rates, and Anderson starts to look like a possible left handed bat off the bench. He has been playing left field lately, and while he is not a defensive wizard out there, he’s easily good enough for part time duty.

The Cubs will have had a bad winter if they go to Mesa needing Anderson to make the major league roster (assuming he is still with the team; he signed a minor league deal in January), but it would not be a bad thing to see him in the fight for the final outfield slot.

Charles Cutler is a more curious case. He has been a mainstay in the lineup for the Smokies this season, appearing at first, behind the plate, in left field, and as a DH. He walks at a high rate (13.1%), doesn’t strike out (9.3%), hits for average (.308), and is left handed. So why is he still in Double A at the age of 28?

Because he’s a DH who has played for National League organizations. Catcher is his most frequent position, and his work behind the plate is not pretty. Triple A catchers tend to be guys who could be called to the majors on a moments notice, but that does not describe Cutler. And while he has very good on base numbers, he is lacking in power. An ISO of .102 in Double A probably is not going to cut it at first or in left.

And yet an OBP of .414 is just too tempting to leave languishing in Double A, isn’t it? Is that OBP worth bringing him to Triple A next year in an effort to groom him for a future as a fifth outfielder and bat off the bench? That probably depends on who else will need at bats on that roster. And, to be honest, probably not. But if Cutler can ever find a positional home, or if he starts hitting for more power, or if the National League suddenly adopts the DH, he may yet get a small window in which to carve out a job.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa fell all the way back to .500 with this 7-2 loss.
Tennessee – The Smokies lost on the road 8-4.
Daytona – An eighth inning run proved key in this 5-4 win.
Kane County – Kane County raced to early lead in this 7-3 win.
Boise Hawks – The Hawks scored five times in the first two innings and twice in the thirteenth in this 7-5 win.
Arizona – Arizona won a rain-shortened shutout 6-0.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Junior Lake homered in this one. More importantly, he only struck out once in 5 at bats.
  • [Iowa] Half the Cubs hits came from their infield combo of Jonathan Mota and Elliot Soto. Each had 2 hits.
  • [Iowa] Dan Straily pitched 6 pretty good innings to start the game, but Armando Rivero was unusually shaky in relief.
  • [Tennessee] Ivan Pineyro did not have much success yesterday, but the bullen of Tony Zych, Zach Cates, and Jeff Lorick pitched well behind him.
  • [Tennessee] Lars Anderson and Pin-Chieh Chen both doubled. Those were the only extra base hits for Tennessee.
  • [Tennessee] Anderson, along with Charles Cutler and Stephen Bruno, finished with 2 hits.
  • [Daytona] Rob Zastryzny allowed 2 runs (one earned) on 5 hits and no walks over 7 innings while striking out 5.
  • [Daytona] Jacob Hannemann hit his 2nd Daytona homer and finished with a walk and 2 hits.
  • [Daytona] Bijan Rademacher hit his 8th Daytona homer.
  • [Daytona] That key 8th inning run came via a Kyle Schwarber home run, his 5th at this level. Schwarber also walked twice and collected his 3rd steal.
  • [Kane County] Jonathan Martinez allowed just 3 hits over 5 scoreless innings while striking out 7.
  • [Kane County] Jacob Rogers had another big game, finishing with 4 hits.
  • [Kane County] Mark Zagunis doubled and stole his 3rd base as a Cougar. Considering he has only been in Kane County for 6 games and he was drafted as a catcher, that’s pretty impressive.
  • [Boise] The Hawks pitched 10 straight scoreless innings thanks to the efforts of James Farris, Tommy Thorpe, Daniel Lewis, and Corbin Hoffner.
  • [Boise] David Bote doubled twice and Charcer Burks once. Each finished with 2 hits.
  • [Arizona] Alex Santana allowed 3 hits over 6 innings and struck out 4.
  • [Arizona] Gleyber Torres, Ricardo Marcano, and Ho-young Son all doubled for the AZL Cubs.
  • [Arizona] Eloy Jimenez finished 0 for 3, but did not strike out and still drove in a pair of runs.

Other News

  • We’re used to seeing power numbers slip in the Florida State League, but it appears Stephen Bruno bucked that trend last year. In his 19 games with Daytona, the second baseman slugged .478 in 2013. This year in Tennessee, though, his SLG is down to .398. That is a steep drop, even taking into account the increase in difficulty. The answer to this riddle probably is as much in the small sample size of the Daytona stats as anything.

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