Playing Out Strings
The team, the economy and the schedule all stunk. This looked to be the year when the Cubs’ winning streak at the turnstiles would snap.
But, in the tradition of neighborhood taverns everywhere, ownership resorted to cheap beer and even cheaper hot dogs to keep ‘em comin’ in and now, with 12 home dates remaining in the season, if the current average of just over 37,000 is maintained Team Ricketts will again have suckered/entertained in excess of three million guests. Maybe somebody slipped the fire marshal a free pass to a skybox suite to get him to look the other way so they could cram the joint when the schedule called for it, as when the Yankees visited over a weekend in June. Suddenly the place holds 42,000+.
I personally visited only once, my lowest total in years. I came for an unveiling and stayed for the dollar dogs and free sunset in the bleachers.
Business remains good down here on the farm, too. Despite the smallest market in the 16-team league to draw from, and that they’ll finish in the PCL North basement with their first losing record since 2005, the I-Cubs are still running 4th in the league attendance derby. Omaha is the crown jewel of the Royals’ top-ranked farm system and leads its division while playing this summer in a brand new ballpark. Still, the Storm Chasers are 9th in attendance. Guess maybe the name change didn’t take…
Fresh from dropping the finale of a nine-game series with Oklahoma City [four here; five there]Iowa comes home tonight for the final stand of 2011. The only unfinished business is Bryan LaHair’s assault on Joe Hicks’ club record for home runs. Stalled for a few days at 36, he remains one short. I’d like to be there when he ties and breaks it before collecting his reward of a September call-up. When that happens LaHair might be the happiest Cub at Wrigley Field all summer.
Meanwhile the I-Cub website has already posted the tentative schedule for 2012. Shuffle the cards.
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.