Minor League Playoffs and More
The most exciting thing around the Cubsverse right now is the minor leagues competing in the playoffs. Meaningless as a victory may be to the big league club down the line, it's fun to follow and have a rooting interest in something, other than the Cubs losing for a better draft pick slot.
- Last night both Daytona and Boise advanced to the finals of their respective league championships, both sweeping their best-of-3 series. C.J. "#5 Cubs prospect" Edwards continued his domination with 5 no-hit innings on 8 K's against one walk for the win, Ryan Searle had a 4-inning save and almost closed out the committee no-hitter before giving up back-to-back singles with one out in the 9th. Kris Bryant provided the bulk of the offense going 3-for-3 with a run scored, a double, 2 RBI's and a hit-by-pitch in the 4-0 victory. Daytona will play Charlotte (Tampa affiliate) starting tonight, with Pierce Johnson taking the mound.
- Boise won 11-7 on the strength of 12 hits and the weakness of Salem-Keizer's defense that included 5 errors by the Giants affiliate. Justin Marra went 2-for-5 with 4 RBI's and 2 doubles and Kevin Encarnacion and Daniel Lockhart both had 3 hits. Not a good night for either team's pitching, but Duane Underwood's 1.1 innings that included 2 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs allowed was a particular lowlight. Regardless, Boise starts their finals series versus Vancouver (Toronto affiliate) on Friday..
- Tennessee starts their playoff run as well tonight versus Birmingham (White Sox affiliate). Nick Struck will go for the Smokies.
- MLB Trade Rumors put out an all-minor league team and Dan Vogelbach and Javier Baez were the 1B and SS representatives. An admittedly weak first base class at the moment, but still a bit of a surprise announcement on Vogelbach whom will likely slot between #6 - #10 on most Cubs' prospect lists this winter. Baez faced much stiffer competition at shortstop, but making a run at the home run title gave him the nod.
- BP ran some scout quotes and one had this to say on Junior Lake
"He is starting to figure it out. He has always had the physical tools but never really looked like a natural baseball player. To see him slow the game down makes him a viable player. Of all the defensive questions I had in the past, his athleticism is starting to answer them at multiple positions. He has the physical attributes to impact major-league games… and it is starting to show up more regularly than expected."
Being the skeptic I am on Junior Lake's major league potential, I thought it would be a good time to bring up that he has a .380 BABIP right now in the majors that has lead to his current and very average 294/339/428 slash line. If you discount his first 7 games, which I admit is a bit of cheating, but it's not much of a leap to assume that major league pitchers weren't too aware of his strengths and weaknesses yet, he's 255/306/365. But if you're looking for upside, he does have some very nice splits versus lefties (1.113 OPS vs. a .637 OPS against righties) and his slash line over his last 16 games (297/348/406) is right in line with his season numbers...and he's 23. Ultimately I still believe he'll make his career as a short-side platoon outfielder or 4th outfielder/utility man.
- Speaking of draft pick slots (check the lower left sidebar), White Sox have taken a 2.5 game lead over the Cubs for the third spot in the draft and Cubs have just a one game lead over the Brewers for the 4th spot, although the Cubs do own the tie-breaker in both situations.
Everytime I recall Szcur's bne marrow donation to a stranger, it makes me smile:
If Matt is out will Kawasaki get the call-up? Or "Shane"?
"Matt Szczur will undergo an MRI on his right hamstring on Tuesday."
One of the reasons I think Maddon is a great manager -- he has changed the conversation on Baez from HR & strikeouts to great defense, versatility and an all-around good ballplayer. He rarely talks about his offense, which is the only thing anybody used to talk about with Javy. He took a lot of pressure off the kid, and he seems to have responded.
Good pitching and some nifty D tonight -- nice win.
In case you didn't see it -- it was the Little League play where the guy on first gets caught in a rundown on purpose and the guy on third tries to score. It worked.
Gotta love the Pirates pitcher intentionally hitting Zobrist, then allowing Zobrist to score on a 2-out wild pitch.
Also, glad to see Zobrist coming around with RISP after my remarks last week. Heh!
ESPN reporting heyward day-to-day with an injured wrist
ESPN game tonight, btw.
Cardinal way #48
"negligent transmission of STDs"
Heyward getting the night off.
Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd
Twitterverse reporting that Heyward is dealing with a sore right wrist
Cardinal way #47
See ya on parrot chat
In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST...
Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex:
4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes)
Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)
There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?
Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.
Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.