[Important caveat up front from Brett: The names Luke discusses below are not being rumored in any particular deal, and, indeed, the Cubs undoubtedly want to keep many of them. He’s talking about them only insofar as they are the types of prospects who could be dealt if something came up.]
If the Cubs are going to make a major trade today or tomorrow, and we certainly can’t rule that out entirely, then one of the early indications that something is in the works will be odd adjustments to the line ups in today’s minor league games. We saw this with the Aroldis Chapman deal; Gleyber Torres being scratched just before game time was one of the first indicators that something fairly serious was underway.
If we are going to see a repeat of that today, then here are a few things from each team to be watching for. Keep in mind that if any pitchers who are not down to start for the day are being discussed, the lineup for each team will not indicate that. If the Cubs are thinking of including Duane Underwood in a trade, for example, Tennessee’s lineup won’t hint at that one way or another.
The biggest three names on Iowa’s roster are Jeimer Candelario, Albert Almora, and Mark Zagunis. I would be surprised to see Almora traded; he’s a candidate to make the playoff roster as a defensive outfielder. Candelario and Zagunis, though, could be inclusions in a deal of pretty much any size, from a rental to a mega-deal. Iowa’s starter today, Jake Buchanan doesn’t seem like a likely trade inclusion, so if he is scratched we’ll be safe suspecting injury. Iowa begins playing at 5:05 PM CT, so we should have the lineup by mid-afternoon.
The Smokies will have an even later start, 7:00 PM ET, but like Iowa their starting pitcher (Tyler Skulina) does not strike me as a likely trade inclusion. The lineup, though is worth looking at. Victor Caratini is a trade candidate, but as a catcher he doesn’t play daily anyway. Ian Happ missing from the lineup, on the other hand, could be a sign something pretty significant is in the wind. Jorge Soler‘s absence will be remarked on, if it happens, but given that he is on a rehab assignment for hamstring issues, I would hesistate to read too much into that one. Other players who could help fill out a trade include Chesny Young, Carlos Penalver, and Jacob Hannemann.
Myrtle Beach takes the diamond at 7:05 PM ET; add the Pelicans to the list of late afternoon lineups to look at. Jeremy Null is their scheduled starter, and he might be candidate to be added as the final (minor) piece to a larger trade. Odds are good, though, that any intrigue will come from the lineup or be hidden altogether. Donnie Dewees is the biggest name still in Myrtle Beach, but Yasiel Balaguert could draw some interest. Maybe Jeffrey Baez as well. The bulk of the Pelicans’ who seem more likely to be traded are on the pitching side, so the line up won’t tell us anything. Ryan McNeil, Jake Stinnett, and Trevor Clifton are probably the three biggest trade candidates on this team.
South Bend is loaded with trade candidates pretty much everywhere you look. They also have an early start, 2:05 PM ET, so it is possible that we’ll be watching more for players being lifted mid-game as opposed to players being taken off the lineup pre-game. And by players, I really mean Eloy Jimenez. If the Cubs are going to do anything significant today, Happ or Jimenez will probably be in it, and of the two I suspect it would be Jimenez. Eddy Martinez is a candidate, as is a list of Cubs’ pitchers headlined by Oscar De La Cruz. Adbert Alzolay, today’s starter, is on that candidate list.
It is very unusual for major prospects in a major trade to come from the Short Season leagues, but it isn’t impossible. If that is going to happen today, then the prospect in question will almost certainly come from Eugene, and he will almost certainly be a pitcher. Bryan Hudson is the scheduled starter, and he has a high enough of a ceiling to be interesting to a lot of teams as a piece of a fairly significant trade. Given that he is one of the highest ceiling pitchers in the system, though, I would be surprised to see him dealt. The same goes for Dylan Cease and South Bend’s De La Cruz. On the line up side of things, no one jumps out as an obvious candidate this year. D.J. Wilson comes the closest, or maybe Kevonte Mitchell, but neither seems likely to have much trade value yet. Odds are good that if Eugene is impacted by any deals today, it will because Emeralds are being sent up the ladder to fill in holes created by prospects further up the organization who were dealt.
- Jordan Pries: 3.2 IP, 5 R, 7 H, 4 BB, 2 K
- Pierce Johnson: 2.1 IP, 1 BB, 4 K. This is probably his best game of the season.
- Spencer Patton: 1 IP, 3 K
- John Andreoli: 1 for 5, 2B
- Albert Almora: 1 for 4, HR. That’s his fourth homer in Iowa.
- Tim Federowicz: 2 for 4
- Zach Hedges: 5 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K
- Jorge Soler: 1 for 3, BB
- Bijan Rademacher: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
- Ben Carhart: 1 for 4, 2B
- Jonathan Martinez: 6 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Tommy Nance: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 K
- Charcer Burks: 2 for 5, BB, SB
- Donnie Dewees: 4 for 5, 2B, BB, SB
- David Bote: 3 for 4, BB
- Yasiel Balaguert: 2 for 5, 2 2B, BB
- Bryant Flete: 2 for 6
- Jesse Hodges: 3 for 5, 2B, HR, BB
- Tyler Pearson: 2 for 4, 2B, BB
- Oscar De La Cruz: 4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 K. A very impressive start for one of the Cubs best pitching prospects.
- Casey Bloomquist: 3.2 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K
- Alberto Mineo: 2 for 4
- Eloy Jimenez: 3 for 4, 2B
- Tyler Peitzmeier: 4 IP, 1 H, 4 K
- Dakota Mekkes: 2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Robert Garcia: 3 for 5, 2B
- Marcus Mastrobuoni: 3 for 4, 2B
- Same Tidaback: 1 for 3, 3B, BB
- D.J. Wilson: 3 for 4
- Josh Conway: 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
- Luis Aquino: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 K
- Michael Cruz: 1 for 4, 2B
- Gustavo Polanco: 1 for 2, 2B
- Jhonny Bethencourt: 2 for 3, 3B
- Bryant Flete did not put up much in the way of numbers with South Bend, finishing that level with a line of just .228/.290/.342, but you would never guess it based on how he has played in Myrtle Beach. He has hit safely in each of his first five games for the Pelicans, with three of those being multi-hit games, and has two extra base hits and two walks against four strikeouts.