Albert Almora Jr. had not appeared in a game at AAA Iowa since August 10, thanks to a hand injury that we really hoped was nothing more than just a bruise. Two weeks had gone by, a trip to the hand specialist had been made, and there were still no sightings of Almora on the baseball diamond.
Until yesterday. Batting third and playing center field for Iowa against Omaha, Almora returned just a few days before rosters expand on September 1. It remains to be seen if the Cubs will immediately recall him to Chicago as soon as the calendar changes or if they will wait for the minor league season to end first, but either way I don’t think there is any question that he’ll be available for some September games at the highest level.
As for October – nothing is certain. The Cubs have a lot of outfielders, so Almora is unlikely to make the cut. On the other hand, his glove is the best of any of their current outfielders (with the possible exception of Jason Heyward, but the fact that it’s a legitimate question says everything), and an outfield featuring both Almora and Heyward would be a nice luxury in the late innings of playoff games. Whatever the Cubs decide, I have little doubt they’d rather have Almora healthy and forcing the decision than unavailable due to a lingering hand injury.
- Jake Buchanan: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 K
- Jack Leathersich: 1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
- Joe Smith: 1 IP, 2 K
- Gerardo Concepcion: 1 IP, 1 H.
- John Andreoli: 1 for 4, 2B. If Maddon wants a designated baserunner on his October roster, this is my nominee.
- Albert Almora: 1 for 4
- Tim Federowicz: 1 for 3, 2B
- Kristopher Negron: 2 for 3, HR, SB
- Zach Hedges: 6 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K
- Juan Paniagua: 2 IP, 2 K
- Chesny Young: 0 for 4. He played first base in this one.
- Lane Adams: 1 for 4, 2B
- Kelly Dugan: 3 for 4
- Ben Carhart: 1 for 4, 2B
- Jason Vosler: 2 for 4
- James Pugliese: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 9 K
- Daury Torrez: 2 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
- Charcer Burks: 3 for 4, BB, HR. He now has eleven homers and an .842 second half OPS.
- Donnie Dewees: 1 for 5, SB
- Daniel Spingola: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
- Casey Bloomquist: 5.1 IP, 6 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 6 K
- Pedro Araujo: 2.2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K
- Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K
- Carlos Sepulveda: 1 for 5, 2B
- Matt Rose: 1 for 3, BB
- Eddy Martinez: 1 for 3, HR, BB. That’s ten homers for Martinez.
- Bryan Hudson: 5 IP, 8 R, 11 H, 2 BB, 3 K. This season has not gone well for him, but I still like the stuff.
- Michael Rucker: 2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 K
- Andin Diaz: 2 IP, 2 H, 3 K
- Darryl Wilson: 1 for 5, 2B, BB
- Yeiler Peguero: 3 for 6, 3B, SB
- Trent Giambrone: 2 for 5, HR, SB
- Tyler Payne: 2 for 5, 2 2B
- Jose Paniagua: 2 for 5, HR
- Jose Gonzalez: 2 for 5, 2B
- Brian Matusz: 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 3 K
- Josh Conway: 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB
- Junior Marte: 3 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K
- Enrique De Los Rios: 3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K
- Edgar Rondon: 2 for 3, 3B
- Gustavo Polanco: 1 for 4, 2B
- Jhonny Pereda: 2 for 4, 2 2B
- Rafael Mejia: 1 for 4, 2B
- This was the first time Concepcion had thrown two straight scoreless outings since June 19. Hopefully he has worked through whatever was causing him problems over the past few weeks and is back to pitching like himself again. He is also unlikely for the postseason roster, but there is no such thing as too much pitching depth.
- So far as I know, there are no injury reports on Jimenez.
- Last week we learned that Eloy Jimenez was named the Player of the Year for the Midwest League, and yesterday another prospect joined him on the end of year award stage. Trevor Clifton finally had the breakout year we’ve been waiting on since he joined the organization, and he was named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year as a result. His ERA of 2.87 is the best in the league by a wide margin (among qualifiers), and he is doing that on back of a very strong K/9 of 9.7. If he continues to progress, Clifton has the makings of a very good Number Three big league starter one day – maybe a Number Two if things break right.