Vitters Cleans Up After Rizzo, Jackson
(Oh My) Josh Vitters doubled and singled today to nudge his batting average past .300 as the Iowa Cubs, tied with Delmarva of the South Atlantic League for the most one-run losses in MiLB, nipped Omaha for the third straight day at Principal Park. Adrian Cardenas, whose error permitted Omaha to tie the game in the 7th, delivered a walk-off single in the 9th to give the I-Cubs a 6-5 victory.
Brett Jackson sat for the fourth straight game with those pesky back spasms. But what about his bat spasms? Whenever he returns to the lineup he'll lug a 16 game whiff streak to the plate. Not since June 17th has Jackson started and not struck out at least once. Almost half of his hits are for extra bases (he's in double figures in all three of the non-single categories) but he's no Adam Dunn as a slugger, except for having fanned an astonishing 122 times already this year. Last week Jackson got a haircut and declared his intention to also trim his sweeping swing. We'll see if a curtailed swing curtails his futility as effectively as the aching back has in recent days.
Today was my first return to the scene of The Call-up and somebody named Diory Hernandez and his .179 BA were where The Rizzo used to be (sigh).
Randy Wells trudged to the mound and went through the motions to the tune of a 3-0 deficit after two innings before pitching a few relatively professional innings while his mates climbed back into the game. The winner in relief was recently promoted Alberto Cabrera who struck out four in two+ frames, running his total to 13 in nine innings of work across five appearances against nary a walk so far. He's promising at 6'4" with heat wave velocity. Cabrera earned a Southern League all-star nod before joining the I-Cubs.
Wellington Castillo threw out a base thief today after the Storm Chasers swiped five last night with Brian Esposito behind the plate. Iowa ranks last in the PCL in catching speeders.
Jay Jackson has pitched to the tune of a 1.67 ERA in 12 relief appearances. In nine starts he went 2-5 with a 9.23 ERA. Yes, he can hit, but maybe he's best-suited for supporting rather than leading roles; a bullpen/occasional pinch-hitter combo.
Finally, the hat trick of wins against the runaway division leaders notwithstanding, the only race in the second half of the season that's close around here is the local knock-off of the Milwaukee sausage derby. Today Hot Diggity Dog won. At the break it's Chippy 17, Koolee 16 and HDD now at 15.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
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.