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.
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.