Jackson Two Really Can Say Goodbye
The weather on closing day was as perfect as it had been inclement on Opening Night. A full house was still trickling in at a leisurely holiday pace into the third inning. Enough came to nudge the season turnstile meter past the half million mark for the seventh time in the last eight seasons despite a last-place team that lost more games than it won for the first time since 2005 [for the record, the home slate was well above sea level at 40-31] and the loss of three dates, most recently on the Saturday night of a holiday weekend on the final home stand. Oddly, the franchise ended up setting an attendance record for a three-game series over the weekend, thanks in part to a rainout that nobody wished for.
A fickle breeze that heralded the change in seasons from summer to autumn and had the flags waving goodbye to the sun-splashed crowd also played havoc with airborne balls. Several were dropped including one that glanced off the glove of Lorenzo Cain and reduced the otherwise fine-looking Omaha centerfielder to Alfonsoandso; bopping him on the schnoz and allowing the eventual but still meaningless winning run[s] to score. Earlier, the Storm Chasers’ left-fielder, David Lough, wrestled a routine fly into his glove like he was lassoing a rhinoceros before dropping the equally routine one hit by the next batter. At that point he accepted a pair of shades relayed to him from the dugout. Iowa’s Marquez Smith snagged a pop fly near the stands and dropped one on the infield grass on consecutive plays an inning later.
On the concourse the scent of sunscreen mingled as pleasantly with grill smoke as season-ticket neighbors did with one another for the last time until spring again comes round.
Prospective wunderkind Brett Jackson opened the game with a home run before later drawing a walk and making a sparkling catch that was extra conspicuous in light of the aforementioned atmospheric conditions.
Having been followed out of the park by a foul ball during the first matinee of the year back in mid-April I decided to make a deliberate try to collect one as a bookend to the campaign. I went out to the parking lot behind the third-base side of the ballpark in between the top and bottom of the 2nd inning. The I-Cubs were retired without hitting one out of bounds, but in the top of the 3rd I heard a percussion just before a white speck appeared on the blue metallic roof of Principal Park. I played it perfectly and it bounced to me as obligingly as a room service double play ball does to the shortstop. Omaha DH Clint Robinson banged 23 homers this year to go with the one foul ball he hit my way [on the next pitch he singled in his 100th RBI of the year, tying the game temporarily at two].
Jay Jackson was one inning shy of his seventh consecutive quality start when he was pulled after five solid innings. Cain’s misfortune in the bottom of the 5th, which was in addition to having already been hit by a Jackson pitch, did at least make Jay the winning pitcher.
The I-Cubs began the season with only three players on the roster age 24 or younger. On Monday there were 11 from that demographic in the home dugout up against the division-winning and playoff-bound visitors from the Royals’ fertile system. Reinforcements seem to be spurting from the farm like water from an uncoiling hose, although LeMahieu at 23 was the only one of the 11 among the Cubs quartet of call-ups. We are left to hope as many will spray all the way from Des Moines to Chicago as from Omaha to Kansas City. Gordon, Duffy, Hosmer and Moustakas? There are more where they came from.
The scoreboard reported that Iowa won, 7-2. But it also posted this grimmer news - next home game: April 5 vs. Round Rock.
BONUS: Bryan LaHair stands to reap an additional $7,600 from the 38 homers he tagged in 2011. Not only did he break the franchise record of 37 set by Joe Hicks in 1984, he will collect $200 per roundtripper as the recipient of the Joe Bauman Award, bestowed annually upon the top homer hitter in the minor leagues. It’s as though each one equates to a lap around the Monopoly board. LaHair is the first I-Cub to win the honor. Bauman, you may or may not know, hit six dozen IFO’s playing for Roswell, N.M. in 1954 [and drove in 228 runs!]. Folklore holds that every time he hit one at home the fans thrust dollar bills at him through the backstop like they were ringsiders at a strip joint. I doubt he raked $7,600, though. Within a couple of years he was pumping gas at a Phillips station on Route 66.
I've been wracking my brain to work a "Room With a View" reference in there but I just haven't gotten it to work.
Bryant might be playing SS during an infield shift, no? Usually he is moved to 2B but it could happen.
I won't really be happy until I see Bryant at shortstop.
Yeah, Underwood impresses the internet scouts more than the opposing hitters. Blackburn and Williams have pitched well but they would be more interesting if they missed more bats.
Myrtle Beach has a couple of guys--Trevor Clifton and Jake Stinnett--worth keeping an eye on.
South Bend has the best record in the Midwest League but it's more about their bats than their starting pitching.
Thanks Steve, I always forget about that.
Maddon spins the wheel-o-lineups and Bryant is playing 1B.
The line-ups, by the way, appear in the Twitter box on the left and usually very soon after they are made available.
Looks like no Heyward or Rizzo in the lineup today.
HAGSAG: Kevonte Mitchell has shown some improvement in 2016. He takes a lot of walks, shows occasional power, and he's an athletic defender capable of making the big play in the OF.
However, he strikes out way too much, he doesn't always take the most-direct-route to get to balls hit into the air, and he sometimes runs himself into outs on the bases. He is still very raw.
E-MAN: I don't think Dallas Beeler has a long-term future with the Cubs, but (when healthy) he has gotten the call over the past couple of years as the "26th man" when the Cubs needed an extra starter in a doubleheader.
PHIL: Thanks for the wrap. A 2010 early-ish round Hendry draft pick, why do you surmise the new management team just doesn't cut bait on Beeler? Not shown that much as a starter. Does he have a power arm when right? Is he another Schlitter? Or, is he rosyer filler while the org waits out the lower-level arms to surpass him?
Ryan Kellogg is still a fringy prospect despite being very old for low-A. He's putting up very good numbers no matter who he's facihg.
Great article on Yosh and Nobe. Thanks for including it Trans.
Phil, it looks like Kevonte Mitchell has made some progress this Spring. Your thoughts please, thanks.
so far ryan williams (AAA) is the only system prospect on the "could be ready soon" horizon doing well...that said, he's not very exciting and he's assumed to be an end-rotation talent at best.
paul blackburn is getting great early returns in AA, but he's getting surprisingly low K numbers doing it. he throws lot of low/sinking stuff with good control...also assumed to be an end-rotation guy, but he's got room to be better, especially given his control as base to build on.
Speaking of pitching -- another ugly outing for Underwood at AA. Through 6 starts: 5.19 ERA, WHIP 1.69. Yikes!
Man, do we need starting pitching depth. Our best hopes are still hanging with AZ Phil in Arizona. Very scary.
jeebus... that's terrible.