Oscar De La Cruz, the Cubs Number Two prospect on the pre-season Top 40, has been suspended 80 games for using an agent that can mask performance-enhancing drugs. He will be eligible to return very early next year.
As far as I can recall, this is the first time a significant Cubs prospect has been hit with performance-enhancing-drug-related penalties under this front office. There have been a few drug of abuse suspensions and a few PED suspensions among fringe guys in the Dominican Summer League, but nothing like this. Until now.
De La Cruz, 23, was not having an especially good year at AA – 5.24 ERA, 4.65 FIP – but he was having a healthy year, which was something he’d not been able to do for a long time. Alas, his season is now over anyway.
This is just the latest disaster for the top of the Cubs’ farm system. My preseason No. 1 guy (Jose Albertos) is having serious trouble finding the strike zone. No. 2 (De La Cruz) is suspended for PEDs. No. 3 (Adbert Alzolay) is out for the season with an injury. No. 4 (Alex Lange) is having a good year. I honestly can’t complain here; Lange has done exactly what we hoped he’d do and is without question one of the best pitching prospects in the system. No. 5 (Aramis Ademan) has looked good at times, but is generally posting anemic numbers for Myrtle Beach.
It was a weak farm system to begin the year, and it has gone poorly at the top. Despite that, and even after the 80 game ban for De La Cruz, the farm system probably isn’t in any worse shape now than when it began the season. I’m pretty confident that Lange is the only member of the pre-season Top 5 who will still be that high when I re-rank after the trade deadline. A wave of new talent has come together in the lower minors, though, and the upshot is the farm system rankings are going to look very different in a few weeks.
As for De La Cruz, I’ll drop him from the rankings altogether until he is back from the suspension. That’s typically how I handle season-ending surgeries on pitching arms, and this feels like an analogous situation.
- Duane Underwood: 5 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 5 BB, 5 K
- Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 3 BB, 3 K
- James Norwood: 1 IP, 2 K
- Ryan Court: 1 for 3, BB
Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Tennessee was rained out.
- Erich Uelmen: 0.0 IP, 1 R, 1 BB
- Jose Paulino: 2.1 IP, 10 R, 11 H
- Tyler Peyton: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Roberto Caro (LF): 1 IP and a line of zeroes
- Yeiler Peguero (2B): 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K
- Tyler Pearson (C): 1 IP, 2 BB, 3 K
- Aramis Ademan: 2 for 4, 2B
- Kevonte Mitchell: 2 for 4
- Erling Moreno: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 2 K
- Mitch Stophel: 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 K
- Cam Balego: 1 for 4, 2B
- Rafael Narea: 2 for 3, 2B
- Zach Mort: 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K
- Jeffrey Passantino: 5 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 4 K
- Carlos Vega: 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K
- Fernando Kelli: 3 for 4, SB
- Nico Hoerner: 2 for 4, BB, 2 SB
- Christopher Morel: 2 for 4
- Jonathan Sierra: 4 for 4
- Tyler Durna: 2 for 4
- Didier Vargas: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K
- Chi-Feng Lee: 3.1 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K
- Jimmy Herron: 1 for 3, 3 BB
- Yovanny Cuevas: 2 for 6
- Luke Reynolds: 2 for 4, 2 2B, BB
- Alexander Guerra: 1 for 3, 2 BB
- Yonathan Perlaza: 2 for 4, BB
- Jamie Galazin: 2 for 4
- Luis Silva: 4.1 IP, 4 R (2 ER), 5 H, 3 BB, 1 K
- Sucre Valdez: 4.2 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 5 K
- Cole Roederer: 1 for 4, BB, SB
- Reivaj Garcia: 2 for 4, BB
- Grant Fennell: 3 for 5, 2B
- Luis Verdugo: 1 for 5, HR
- Fidel Mejia: 3 for 5
- Raymond Pena: 2 for 4, BB
- Tennessee has had some changes to their roster. Righty reliever Ryan McNeil has been released, and LHP James Buckelew, a formerly well regarded prospect in the Miami and Seattle organizations, has been added. Buckelew doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, but his groundball rate ranges from high (58.9% in Double A last year) to insanely high (69.2% in High A in 2016).
- Daury Torrez has also been sent back to Tennessee from Iowa, presumably to help fill the gap left by De La Cruz.
- Uelmen pitched one batter, and then the game was delayed for 52 minutes. He didn’t take the mound after the delay, but since that one guy he walked scored, he was shackled with the pitching “loss”. Just one more example of why pitching wins and losses are the single worst statistic in professional sports.
- Yes, three Myrtle Beach position players really did combine to throw three innings of one hit baseball against one of the best teams in the league. And yes, a catcher did strike out the side in the ninth. Bizarro baseball strikes again.
- Jose Paulino’s ten-run meltdown marked only the second time he had allowed any runs since moving to the bullpen in late May. The other occasion, a solo homer that came during a three inning stint on June 29, was also against Buies Creek.
- Fernando Kelli’s fourteenth steal of the season was a steal of home. This at least the second steal of home for Kelli this year, but both have been on the road so we don’t have good video of either.
- Cole Roederer, the high-ceiling high school outfielder who the Cubs drafted after the second round, made his professional debut last night. And it was a good one – a base hit, a walk, and a steal.