At the end of the day, it is all baseball.
Hayden Simpson is likely to go down in history as one of the worst first around picks in Cub history, but he should hold a near unshakable claim to being the unluckiest. The Cubs reached for him in the first round in 2010 in no small part because they had watched his fastball hit 97 MPH (and for a variety of other reasons we have discussed endlessly elsewhere, so I won’t rehash them here). And then he came down with a devastating case of mono, lost a lot of muscle mass he never really had to loose, and was started on a downward spiral.
At the start of the next season, in a move I still do not agree with or even understand, the Cubs rushed him back from that mono case and slotted him as a starter in the Midwest League. I was at one of his best starts that season, and I saw enough to convince me that Simpson was a potential No 3 starter. I also saw the thinnest pitcher I have ever witnessed in a professional game. He had not regained the weight he lost to mono, and it showed. He wore out quickly and was essentially done by mid-season. He was never consistently effective over any prolonged stretch as a professional starter again. The new Cubs front office finally cut him loose this spring.
But the story does not end there. Simpson did not retire from baseball, he joined the independent leagues instead. According to The Southern (a prominent regional newspaper in Southern Illinois), Simpson is a strong candidate to join the starting rotation of the Marion Miners. His velocity is back into the low nineties, and his breaking pitches have never been in doubt. With any luck Simpson can relax out of the spotlight in Southern Illinois and get back to what he had with Southern Arkansas.
Odds are good that he will never again pitch in a major league organization, let alone in the majors… but he might. This is baseball, and baseball has a way of finding surprising endings to the strangest stories.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa – There was a pitching duel in Iowa yesterday, and the Cubs came out on top. Iowa won 1-0.
Tennessee – The bullpen bailed out the Smokies in this one. They won it 6-4.
Daytona – Lackluster pitching and three errors cost the Cubs in this 12-7 loss.
Kane County – The Cougars took Game One 5-0, but they lost the second contest 8-2.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] Matt Garza was very good in his rehab start, but Brooks Raley was also very good in relief. Raley threw three innings of two hit ball, walking one and striking out three.
- [Iowa] The lone run for the Cubs was scored by Dave Sappelt. Sappelt has not had an easy time transitioning back to Triple A. Hopefully finally playing a few games in Iowa will help get him going.
- [Tennessee] Matt Loosen struggled with the command and walked 6 in 4 innings (while also striking out 5), but A.J. Morris had no such issues. Morris shut down the Jackson offense with 3 perfect frames, striking out 3 in the process.
- [Tennessee] Frank Batista picked up his fifth save with a hitless ninth.
- [Tennessee] Four of the Smokies’ six runs were driven in by Ty Wright. Wright hit two home runs, each of them a two run shot.
- [Daytona] Chadd Krist did his part. Recently promoted from Kane County, Krist was the DH in this game. He finished 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, a walk, and 5 RBI.
- [Daytona] Also giving fans their money’s worth was Dustin Geiger. Playing first base in this game, Geiger went 3 for 5 with a double and a solo home run.
- [Kane County] Game One was patched together from the bullpen, and the Cougars had the prefect candidate to spot start in Brian Smith. Smith pitched four no-hit innings while walking two and striking out two. Eddie Orozco and Jeffry Antigua finished off the shutout.
- [Kane County] Gioskar Amaya doubled as part of his 3 for 4 performance in Game One. Jeimer Candelario one-upped him by doubling twice in his 2 for 3 performance in Game Two.
- [Kane County] Credit Steve Perakslis with some nice work in relief in Game Two. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowed three hits, and struck out two.
- If you watched the Tennessee game (you did know you can watch minor league games on MiLB.TV, right?) you may have noticed Rubi Silva playing in center with Matt Szczur slotting over into right. Normally I’d say that Szczur is the better defensive outfielder of the two and therefore would be in center, but I have to admit that Silva looked pretty good out there as well. I don’t think we should read anything into this configuration, though; it looks like the Cubs have been moving Szczur around all over the outfield this season. And that is probably a smart move. I still think Szczur profiles best as a very good fourth outfielder, and those guys need to be able to read the ball off the bat from all angles. A little practice in the corners certainly won’t hurt.
- The Cougers have been gradually stretching Brian Smith out lately, so I would not be surprised to see him take a permanent spot in the rotation soon. He is currently riding a streak of 10 scoreless innings.
- In many ways, Dillon Maples career may have almost paralleled Hayden Simpson. Maples, as I’m sure you recall, was held back by the Cubs for nearly all of last season due to conditioning and some minor injuries. Despite the big signing bonus, the new front office did not rush him the way the old front office had rushed Simpson. How would things have played out differently if Theo Epstein had not taken over the Cubs the winter after Maples was drafted? Hard to say. I tend to think Maples would have been rushed into a rotation and would have struggled badly, but we’ll never know. That’s probably a good thing.