Misc. Notes

Baseball America listed a host of our kids in the April 25 edition of Prospect Hot Sheet

Josh Vitters – The Florida State League isn’t an easy circuit to hit home runs in. Just ask Vitters, who hit just three in 50 games after being promoted to Daytona last year, and he had been homerless in his first 14 games of this year. Vitters was already having a pretty good week, having gone 7-for-20 with three doubles through six games, but he went out and earned his place on this week’s Hot Sheet by slugging his first two home runs of the year and going 3-for-4 Thursday night against Tampa. His four walks on the season might not sound like a lot either, but it doesn’t look too bad when you consider he only drew five in his FSL stint last year.

Starlin Castro – Castro made a case for making the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. A .404/.426/.649 start to his Double-A season isn’t going to slow down the calls for Castro to be promoted to the big leagues. He is a very complete player whose glove is just as good as his bat. It’s even more impressive when you consider that he just turned 20 in March. The jury is still out on whether Tyler Colvin has made significant improvement or is playing over his head, but Castro is one prospect Cubs’ fans can dream on.

Jay Jackson – It’s only April, but we probably won’t see many pitching performances this year better than Jackson’s last outing at Nashville, where he two-hit the Sounds over eight scoreless innings. Jackson didn’t put up big strikeout numbers, but he was remarkably efficient, throwing just 86 pitches and 74 percent for strikes. Jackson kept the ball down and relied on the Cubs’ infield defense, getting 12 groundouts compared to just two fly outs. That hasn’t been Jackson’s typical M.O., as his low- to mid-90s fastball and two above-average breaking balls usually have him missing more bats. Either way, he’s one of the best pitching prospects in the minors and not far away from being big league ready. (Source)

Matt Swain of Wrigley Bound took a look at three names who have potential to pitch this year out of the bullpen for the Cubs. I disagree with what he says about Gaub’s status. I think he’s more on the radar than you’d think. (Source)

Top Prospect Breakdown

Darwin Barney 24 AAA 66 10 2 0 0 5 1 2 3 11 .242 .273 .274 .547
Kyler Burke* 22 A+ 74 7 4 1 0 5 0 1 7 16 .194 .270 .284 .554
Welington Castillo 23 AAA 34 4 1 1 3 8 0 0 4 7 .179 .303 .607 .910
Starlin Castro 20 AA 66 13 6 4 1 15 4 3 3 7 .426 .455 .705 1.159
Ryan Flaherty* 23 AA 42 5 0 0 1 5 1 0 4 8 .167 .238 .250 .488
Sam Fuld* 28 AAA 8 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 .400 .500 .400 .900
Brandon Guyer 24 AA 65 13 4 2 1 7 7 0 11 5 .314 .453 .529 .983
Brett Jackson* 21 A+ 78 10 2 2 0 5 2 2 14 10 .302 .436 .397 .833
D. J. LeMahieu 21 A+ 72 4 1 0 0 7 0 1 7 5 .254 .324 .270 .594
Hak-Ju Lee* 19 A 65 9 2 1 0 6 7 1 3 11 .267 .297 .333 .630
Marquez Smith 25 AAA 42 4 1 0 0 2 0 0 5 7 .171 .286 .200 .486
Josh Vitters 20 A+ 73 10 6 0 2 10 2 1 4 14 .279 .329 .456 .785
Logan Watkins* 20 A 57 8 0 0 0 1 2 2 3 14 .264 .304 .264 .568
Christopher Archer 21 A+ 0 1 8.18 3 11.0 2 5 11 1.818 12.3 1.6 4.1 9.0 2.20
Christopher Carpenter 24 AA 0 0 3.00 1 3.0 0 1 1 1.000 6.0 0.0 3.0 3.0 1.00
Andrew Cashner 23 AA 1 0 2.60 3 17.1 1 4 25 0.635 3.6 0.5 2.1 13.0 6.25
Casey Coleman 22 AAA 0 2 4.82 3 18.2 1 2 9 0.964 7.7 0.5 1.0 4.3 4.50
Thomas Diamond 27 AAA 1 0 2.25 3 16.0 1 7 14 1.000 5.1 0.6 3.9 7.9 2.00
Jay Jackson 22 AAA 2 1 2.00 3 18.0 3 3 12 0.667 4.5 1.5 1.5 6.0 4.00

Organizational Offensive Leaderboard

Game Recaps

Iowa Cubs (AAA) – Round Rock starter Gustavo Chacin (1-1, 1.74) threw seven and one-third innings and gave up a lone run to lead the Express to a 5-1 win at Principal Park Sunday afternoon. Chacin stifled the Cubs offense, surrendering just five hits while striking out three and walking one. With the loss, Iowa drops to 7-10 and Round Rock improves to 6-11.

Chacin was in control for most of the game and managed to escape some trouble in the eighth. Bryan LaHair doubled to lead of the inning and Jim Adduci singled with one out to put runners on first and third. RH Gary Majewski took Chacin’s spot on the mound and killed the Cubs would-be rally by striking out pinch-hitter Marquez Smith and getting Darwin Barney to ground out.

Cubs starter Jay Jackson (2-2, 2.35), coming off his two-hit gem against Nashville, was out-dueled by Chacin. Jackson pitched well, giving up only two runs on five hits over five innings with four strikeouts, but lacked support from his offense.

Iowa’s only run came on Welington Castillo’s home run in the bottom of fifth to cut Round Rock’s lead to 2-1, but the Express outscored the Cubs the rest of the way, plating three unanswered runs. The homer was Castillo’s fourth of the season. Brad Snyder singled in the fourth to put his hitting streak to 10 games.

Iowa and Round Rock will play two tomorrow, starting with game one at 5 p.m. RH Thomas Diamond (1-0, 2.25) gets the call for Iowa and will oppose LH Andy Van Hekken (1-1, 1.53) in game one. RH Casey Coleman (0-2, 4.82) will start game two for the Cubs while Round Rock will send out LH Polin Trinidad (0-0, 2.45).

Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Following the end of their seven-game winning streak in a 4-3 Game 1 loss Sunday, the Tennessee Smokies’ rebounded with a 9-7 win in Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader with the Birmingham Barons. The split at Smokies Park puts the Smokies at a still minors-best 14-3 record on the year. Birmingham goes to 3-13.

The Smokies got off to a promising start Sunday, as Southern League “Hitter of the Week” Robinson Chirinos clobbered a three-run home run in the first off Barons starter Matt Long. However, the Smokies offense failed to deliver much else for starter Andrew Cashner, as Long and relievers Miguel Socolovich (1-1) and Rick Brooks (S, 1) kept the Smokies in check for the rest of Game 1.

Cashner (1-1) lacked consistent command in his fourth start of the season, allowing four runs on nine hits in a complete-game Game 1 loss. The Southern League’s strikeout leader fanned four Barons on the afternoon.

Robinson Chirinos kicked off a six-run second inning for Tennessee Game 2 with a run-scoring single off Barons’ starter Anthony Carter. Chirinos would reach base five times Sunday and extend his hit streak to 12 games.

Two costly errors would prove to be the difference late in Game 2, as Tennessee took advantage of multiple Barons’ miscues in the bottom of the sixth against Barons reliever Joe Torres (0-1). Jake Muyco (1-0) picked up the win with Dustin Sasser (S, 2) earning his second save of 2010.

Ty Wright continued to pulverize opposing pitching with four hits and two RBIs on Sunday. The left fielder leads the Southern League with 20 RBIs. Starlin Castro’s 10-game hit streak came to an end in Game 1, but the Cubs’ top prospect still leads all Southern League batters with 26 hits.

The Smokies and Barons continue their five-game series with Game 3 Monday night at 7:15. RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1, 7.50) gets the start for the Smokies, while the Barons will counter with RHP Charlie Shirek (1-0, 0.47).

Peoria Chiefs (Low A) – The Peoria Chiefs collected just three hits over 14 innings on Sunday and were swept in a doubleheader by the Quad Cities River Bandits 3-1 and 1-0. The losses give Quad Cities a sweep of the three-game series and the Chiefs have their first three-game losing streak of the season

In game one, Peoria had chances to score against Eric Fornataro in the first and second innings but left runners in scoring position both times. Hak-Ju Lee led off the game with a walk and Matt Cerda walked with one out to move Lee into scoring position. Greg Rohan flew out to the warning track in left and Justin Bour bounced into a fielders’ choice to keep the game scoreless. In the second DJ Fitzgerald led off with a single and moved to second on a groundout by Mario Mercedes. George Matheus moved Fitzgerald to third with a groundout but Francsico Guzman struck out swinging to end the inning.

Chiefs’ starter Nick Struck retired the first nine Bandits he faced before D’Marcus Ingram reached on an infield single to start the fourth. Struck picked Ingram off first base before Ryan Jackson doubled to left-center. Niko Vazquez worked a walk and with two down Devin Shepherd walked to load the bases. With a 0-2 count, Ryde Rodriguez got Quad Cities on the board with a three-run double to the wall in right-center.

The Chiefs came back with an unearned run in the top of the fifth. Mercedes reached on an error by Luis Mateo at second and moved to second on a groundout by George Matheus. Mercedes advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Francisco Guzman to cut the Bandits’ lead to 3-1.

The Chiefs brought the tying run to the plate in each of the last two innings against reliever Jesse Simpson but fell short both times. Jose Valdez walked to start the sixth but was caught stealing second for the first out. Bour walked to start the seventh and pinch-runner Logan Watkins moved to second in a one-out groundout by Mercedes. Matheus struck out looking against Simpson to end the game.

Struck (1-2) took the loss after allowing three runs on three hits over five innings. He struck out three and walked two. Andres Quezada threw one perfect relief inning and struck out a batter.

Game two started with the Chiefs again leaving runners on base as Cerda singled with two outs and Rohan walked. Bandits’ starter Jorge Rondon beat Bour to the bag for an inning ending groundout to strand two Chiefs runners.

Quad Cities took advantage in the bottom of the first and jumped on top again. With one down Jason Stidham singled off Jeffry Antigua and barely beat the throw to the plate as Niko Vasquez doubled to the wall in left-center. Antigua bounced back to retire Edgar Lara and Freddy Parejo and end the inning with the Chiefs down 1-0.

The Chiefs put two on with an error and a two-out walk in the second but Lee flew out to left to end the threat. Peoria never mounted much of an attack until the seventh inning against Rondon or reliever Michael Blazek.

With two down in the top of the seventh Blazek walked Valdez. Valdez stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the catcher Robert Stock. With the tying run 90 feet away, Blazek struck out Guzman on a 3-2 pitch to end the game with Quad Cities winning 1-0.

Antigua (0-1) took the game two loss despite allowing just one run on three hits over five innings. He struck out two and walked three while also picking a runner off first base. Jordan Latham walked two and gave up a hit but struck out a batter with the bases loaded in his one scoreless inning.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail