A wave of pitching promotions dominoed through the farm system yesterday, and even though this wave probably did not include the promotions you were hoping for, it still contained some very interesting ones indeed.
Starter Frank Batista, the former long time closer who converted to rotation with the Smokies this season and enjoyed surprising success, is now in Iowa. Through thirteen Double A starts Batista posted an impressive 1.70 ERA backed by a respectable 3.53 FIP. He was not a strikeout guy (just a 5.90 K/9), but was fairly stingy with both walks and home runs while holding opposing hitters to just a .216 average. If he can repeat those numbers, or anything moderately close to them, in Triple A, Batista will be an option for the Cubs as an emergency starter down the stretch. [Brett: Also fair to wonder if Batista will replace Donn Roach in the rotation this week if he’s called up for a spot start tomorrow.]
To replace Batista, the Smokies receive reliever Zach Cates from Myrtle Beach. Cates got hit fairly consistently in his first trip through Double A this year, but since returning to High A he has posted a strikeout rate of 10.00 K/9 and an ERA of just 1.50 (FIP of 4.00) over eighteen innings. He had some trouble with walks early in his stay with the Pelicans, but over his last ten innings he has allowed just five free passes. He needs to hold the walks to a minimum and continue to wrack up the strikeouts if he is going to keep his place in Tennessee. If he doesn’t, given that he has been with the Cubs since the Rizzo trade, he may not stay in the organization a whole lot longer.
Joining Myrtle Beach is Midwest League All Star closer James Farris from South Bend. Farris has been very effective at the back of the Low A Cubs’ bullpen this season, compiling an ERA of 2.79 on the strength of an impressive 1.80 FIP and 12.10 K/9. He has not allowed many walks and has to surrender a home run as a professional pitcher. If he continues to dominate to this degree in the Carolina League the Cubs may well opt to challenge him again before the year is out. He also strikes me as the sort of player who could be attractive as a finishing piece in a mid-season trade.
The South Bend Cubs have not yet announced a roster move to replace Farris. They have two pitchers on the seven day DL right now (Trey Masek and James Norwood), so it is very possible that they will not receive anyone new from Eugene or extended spring training. And it is also possible that the Cubs have another wave of prospect assignments ready to go out in the next day or two that could shake things up even further. It is, after all, that time of year.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – The Cubs swept a doubleheader at home yesterday. They won the first contest in extras 3-2, and then took the second game 1-0.
Tennessee – The Smokies opened their second half with a 2-1 win.
Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans were unable to get their offense going in this 2-1 loss.
South Bend – South Bend overcame two errors to win 4-3 on the road.
Eugene – Eugene made a first inning lead last all game long in this 3-1 win.
Arizona – The Cubs moved over .500 thanks to this 6-4 win.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] After pitching 6.1 innings in the first game, Dallas Beeler is definitely not a candidate for Chicago on Saturday. He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and struck out 6.
- [Iowa] Neil Ramirez recorded 2 outs, one via strikeout, and gave up a hit in his rehab stint.
- [Iowa] Carlos Pimentel can also be eliminated from the Saturday candidate list, but he pitched a great game in Game Two. Over 6 innings he allowed just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 9. That’s good for a Game Score of 74.
- [Iowa] Mike Olt finished 3 for 4 with a home run (and just one strikeout) in the first contest. He was 0 for 2 with a walk and 2 strikeouts in the second one.
- [Iowa] Kyle Schwarber doubled and tripled on his way to a 2 for 5 Game One as a DH. In Game Two he moved behind the plate and finished 0 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts.
- [Iowa] The Cubs only managed 2 total hits in Game Two, and both them came from Christian Villanueva.
- [Tennessee] Taylor Davis took care of the offense in this game with 2 solo home runs.
- [Tennessee] Dan Vogelbach was hitless, but did walk twice. Billy McKinney picked up 3 hits, all singles.
- [Tennessee] Pierce Johnson threw 83 pitches in 3.2 innings on the hill. He allowed a run on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out one.
- [Tennessee] Corey Black had a great game in relief. Over 2 IP he allowed nothing and struck out 3. Tayler Scott (2.1 IP, 1 H, 4 K) and P.J. Francescon (1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) pitched very well as well.
- [Myrtle Beach] Tyler Skulina struck out 4 in his 3 innings on the mound, giving up a run on 3 hits and 2 walks as well.
- [Myrtle Beach] Pin-Chieh Chen and Daniel Lockhart both finished 2 for 4 in this one. Chen also stole his 10th base for the Pelicans.
- [South Bend] Gleyber Torres hit his 3rd triple and finished 2 for 4. Jason Vosler also had 2 hits, including his first homer.
- [South Bend] Kevin Encarnacion finished 1 for 2 with a walk and his 2nd homer of the year.
- [South Bend] Jordan Minch recorded 4 outs in relief, and all of them came via the strikeout. He also gave up 3 hits.
- [Eugene] Justin Steele allowed just a run on 3 hits over 6 innings while striking out 6.
- [Eugene] Justin Marra doubled and tripled to finish 2 for 3 with a walk. Eloy Jimenez also had 2 hits.
- [Arizona] The Cubs hit a total of 3 triples in this game. Roberto Caro (1 for 5) had one, Joey Martarano (2 for 5) had another, and Wladimir Galindo (2 for 3, double, walk) had the third.
- [Arizona] Jose Paniagua and Carlos Jimenez also had 2 hits each.
- A couple more 2015 draftees have appeared on the Eugene roster now, including corner infielder Blake Headley (20th round) and probable utility infielder Vimael Machin (10th round).
- In case you missed it yesterday, the Cubs have signed several more draft picks, including early round outfielders Donnie Dewees and D.J. Wilson.
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