Cubs Insider Weekly Farm Report: 7/28 – 8/9
AAA: Iowa Cubs
Javier Baez made his long-anticipated return to the I-Cubs lineup with a BANG! Baez hit 2 home runs in his first game back from injury, helping the Cubs to victory. For the stretch, the SS went 13-56 with 3 home runs and 16 RBI. When in the lineup, Baez has been a run producer. He is very close to a one-RBI-per-game pace with 45 RBI in 50 games played in Iowa.
John Andreoli has been batting leadoff lately and he has been very successful. The speedy outfielder went 17-51 with a home run, 2 triples, and 10 RBI. Andreoli also walked 6 times and scored 12 runs.
Christian Villanueva drove in 10 runs during this recent stretch. He also slugged his 17th home run of the season.
Before being called back up to the big leagues, Clayton Richard put in a scintillating effort in his lone start at Iowa. He pitched 7 shutout innings allowing just 3 base runners. Richard also struck out 4 and walked none.
Journeyman Felipe Paulino has been pitching very well as of late. He was able to get 3 starts during this stretch and all 3 starts were of the quality variety. He dominated Nashville on 7/29, striking out 12 batters in 6 innings. In his most recent start, Paulino went 7 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits while striking out 6. In total, the right-hander went 19 innings allowing 13 hits while striking out 22 in his 3 starts.
Dallas Beeler put in his best work of the season in his most recent outing. Beeler went 7 shutout innings and allowed only 2 hits while striking out 3. More importantly, the sinker-ball pitcher induced 11 ground ball outs versus only 4 though the air.
Hitting Star: John Andreoli – 17-51, HR, 2 3B, 3 2B, 10 RBI, 6 BB, 4 SB, 12 R
Pitching Star: Felipe Paulino – 3 GS, 19 IP, 13 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 22 K (W)
AA: Tennessee Smokies
Albert Almora is on fire. The center-fielder went 17-48 with a home run and 5 doubles. Almora also walked 9 times! For those who follow the minors, it is widely known that Almora struggled last season with his walk rate, collecting only 14 free passes all year. So far, he has walked 25 times this season and that seems to be trending upwards.
If Almora is on fire, Willson Contreras is an inferno. Contreras went 26-45 with a home run and 6 doubles. He also drove in 17 runs while scoring 13. The catcher raised his batting average from .311 to .337 during the stretch with no signs of slowing down. He has the 2015 Cubs organizational hitter of the season award all but locked up.
Billy McKinney is saying “don’t forget about me!” The outfielder went 14-46 at the dish with 5 doubles and 6 RBI.
Jeimer Candelario is adjusting well to Tennessee. The third baseman went 17-44 with 3 home runs, 3 doubles, and 15 RBI. Since his promotion, Candelario is slashing .338/.378/.544. His pedigree suggests his batting average and on-base percentage will have a wider gap as the season finishes out, so expect to see more walks from the 21-year-old.
All Pierce Johnson does is win, at least this season. Johnson picked up 2 more wins moving his season record to 6-0. For the stretch, the right-hander started 3 games for the Smokies and all 3 were fantastic outings. He went 20 innings allowing 3 runs while striking out 17.
Rob Zastryzny continues to go deeper into games. He went 6 and 6.1 innings in his 2 most recent outings, season-long outings for the right-hander. For the stretch, Zastryzny started 3 games and picked up 2 W’s. He went 17.2 innings, allowing 8 runs while striking out 15.
After a rough outing, Ryan Williams was back to his usual self. Williams tossed 6 shutout innings versus Birmingham to pick up his 10th win of the season. Overall, he is 10-3 with a 2.11 ERA. Just like his teammate Willson Contreras, Williams has the 2015 Cubs organizational pitcher of the year on lock-down.
Hitting Star: Willson Contreras – 26-45, HR, 6 2B, 17 RBI, 7 BB, SB, 13 R
Pitching Star: Pierce Johnson – 3 GS, 20 IP, 11 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 17 K (2W)
High-A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Chesny Young kept doing what he does at the dish, which is to get hits. He went 13-44 with 3 doubles and 4 RBI and scored 5 runs. For the season, Young is batting .338, which ranks him number one in the Carolina League.
Catcher Cael Brockmeyer went 12-41 with 3 doubles and 5 RBI. He also walked 7 times.
Recently-promoted Jason Vosler went 10-36 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI and also walked 13 times. In just 16 games at Myrtle Beach, Vosler has 4 home runs. He had 4 home runs in 69 games with South Bend. Maybe finding that power stroke?
Jonathan Martinez was excellent in his 2 starts during this stretch. The right-hander went 14 innings allowing only 1 run on 6 hits. He also struck out 10 batters. On the season, he is 8-2 with 3.00 ERA. Martinez is starting to look like a nice little coup for Theo Epstein and Co. after he was acquired as a PTBNL from the Dodgers for infielder Darwin Barney. Yes, that Darwin Barney.
Brad Markey continues to be my surprise pitcher of the second-half. Markey remained undefeated at Myrtle Beach, picking up another win in 1 of his 2 starts during this stretch. He went 12 innings, allowing 2 runs on 9 hits. Markey also struck out 6. He is now 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA at Myrtle Beach. Markey is 23, so he may be a little too polished for the league, but it’s still impressive when you consider he is still relatively young as a starting pitcher, with only 6 starts all season.
Paul Blackburn continues to pitch well. Blackburn started 2 games and threw 13 innings without give up any earned runs. The right-hander came back from injury in mid-July and all he has done since then is give up 1 earned run in 5 starts.
Hitting Star: Jason Vosler – 10-36, 3 HR, 2B, 6 RBI, 13 BB, 6 R
Pitching Star: Jonathan Martinez – 2 GS, 14 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K (2W)
Low-A: South Bend Cubs
Jeffrey Baez followed his 17-44 previous week with an even hotter stretch. Baez went 21-50 with a home run and 6 doubles and also stole another 5 bases. Baez’s stretch consisted of 6 multi-hit games and he is now batting .411 in during the last 30 days. Incredible run for the 21-year-old.
Gleyber Torres went 12-45 at the dish with 9 RBI. The speedy shortstop also stole 5 bases to get him to 21 on the season.
Ian Happ slugged his 5th home run of the season.
Jake Stinnett keeps getting better. He is going deeper into games and he is limiting his walks, two areas that were causing problems earlier in the season. In his 2 starts, Stinnett went 13 innings allowing 3 runs on 8 hits. He struck out 11 while walking only 2. The right-hander has lowered his season ERA from 6.10 to 4.52 in his last 10 outings.
James Norwood had his best outing of the season in his most recent start. Norwood picked up the win, going 5 shutout innings while allowing only 3 hits.
Tommy Thorpe made 2 starts and went 12 innings allowing only 1 run in each start. Thorpe also struck out 5.
Erick Leal threw a no-hitter! Kind of. He threw 9 innings without allowing a hit. Unfortunately, the South Bend offense could not muster any offense and the team actually lost the game in 12 innings.
Hitting Star: Jeffrey Baez – 21-50, HR, 3B, 6 2B, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SB, 11 R
Pitching Star: Jake Stinnett – 2 GS, 13 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 K (W)
Short Season-A: Eugene Emeralds
The Eugene offense has been a little light with Ian Happ being promoted and Eloy Jimenez missing time due to injuries, but one player who has hit is Andrew Ely, who went 15-40 with a triple and 5 doubles.
Donnie Dewees went 10-43 at the dish with a home run, double, and 5 RBI. Dewees has 4 home runs on the season.
Oscar De La Cruz continues to be the best starting pitcher in Eugene. De La Cruz started 2 games going 11.2 innings while not allowing an earned run. He also struck out 10 batters. For the season, De La Cruz is 4-2 with a 2.39 ERA in 9 starts.
Adbert Alzolay is impressing. Alzolay picked up 2 wins piggybacking the starters, going 11 innings without allowing an earned run. The right-hander’s ERA stands at a dominant 0.87 for the season.
Carson Sands has recovered nicely from a start in which he gave up 9 runs in 0.1 innings a few weeks ago. Sands started 2 games, going 9.2 innings allowing 1 earned run. He also struck out 8 batters.
Hitting Star: Andrew Ely – 15-40, 3B, 5 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 R
Pitching Star: Oscar De La Cruz – 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K