Like Kris Bryant only a week ago, the Cubs made the call to add Addison Russell to the major league roster. That means the projected insane infield of Bryant, Russell, and Baez will never come to pass in Iowa. Because of the extended absence to grieve the loss of his sister, Baez is just now reporting back to extended spring training to resume baseball. He should return to the I-Cubs in the not too distant future. When he does return, he will still be trying to work through his approach and make a return to the big league club. On a more human level, hopefully returning to baseball brings the young man some peace. After losing a sibling who he was very close to, it remains to be seen how he is able to handle the day-to-day life of being a baseball player again.
Logan Watkins (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Torn Achilles Tendon), Will Remillard (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Tommy John Surgery), Dallas Beeler (Extended Spring Training, Shoulder), Javier Baez (Extended Spring Training, Bereavement Leave), Drake Britton (7 Day DL), Anthony Carter (7 Day DL), Eric Jokisch (7 Day DL), Blake Parker (7 Day DL) Pierce Johnson (Extended Spring Training, Lat Strain), Rob Zastryzny (7 Day DL), Juan Carlos Paniagua (7 Day DL), Erick Castillo (7 Day DL), Michael Heesch (7 Day DL), Andrew Ely (7 Day DL), Trevor Graham (7 Day DL), Tyler Ihrig (7 Day DL), Ryan McNeil (7 Day DL), Jeffrey Baez (7 Day DL), Tim Saunders (7 Day DL), Yasiel Balaguert (7 Day DL)
South Bend Cubs: 6-8, t-5th Place Midwest League Eastern Division
Cael Brockmeyer has not cooled off. After 12 games, he’s working a .442/.529/.674, including 7 doubles in 43 at-bats. By any measure, a 1.204 OPS in that span is sensational. The 8 walks he’s drawn are a nice touch to the hot bat. He knows what he’s looking for, and when he gets it; he hits it…and if he doesn’t, he accepts his walk. Chesny Young is following suit in taking his walks, with 5 in the early going, compared to 3 strike outs. His .333/.407/.396 places him 3rd on the SB-Cubs roster with an .803 OPS. As a team, the stolen base has been a solid weapon, swiping 20 bag while being caught 9 times (.689).
Jeremy Null has made 3 starts. He has allowed 2 earned and 12 hits in 17 innings, to this point. And he hasn’t walked anyone. While pitcher wins are a completely meaningless stat, his 2-0 record has been earned by brilliance thus far. 20 year old Erick Leal has been nearly as strong in his 2 starts, allowing 3 earned in 10 innings. He’s been hit quite a bit harder, but his ability to strand runners in the early going has been impressive. There should be an expectation, though, that if he keeps his WHIP at 1.80, his ERA will run higher than its current 2.70. As a staff, in general, this team has been brilliant in an even greater sense than last year’s MWL Champs…
Combined numbers from the last seven starts by @SBCubs pitching: 37.2 IP, 3ER, 30K, 10BB 0.72 ERA
— Mike Monaco (@MikeMonaco_) April 23, 2015
Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 9-4, 1st Place Carolina League Southern Division
Billy McKinney is heating up, folks. He’s up to .325/.426/.425 with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 6 walks, and only 4 strike outs on the year. The season is still young, so he was able to make a jump pretty quickly from a rough patch out of the gate. Unlike McKinney, Shawon Dunston, Jr. hasn’t gotten it going at High A quite yet. At .219/.242/.344, his offense hasn’t been much to talk about. Defensively, though, he continues to make strides. Dunston remains an intriguing young player in the system, and it shouldn’t be expected that his struggles continue throughout the season.
Duane Underwood has made 2 starts. He’s allowed 1 earned run. And he took a no-hitter into the 7th (the last inning of the game in a doubleheader). He has carried on his success from last season early on this year. With one of the highest ceilings in the system among pitchers, Underwood may not make it through the entire season at Myrtle Beach if his torrid start keeps up. Gerardo Concepcion has tossed 6.2 out of the bullpen thus far, and has looked a bit more like the prospect the Cubs thought the may be getting when they signed him before the 2012 season. The fact that he is now 23, though, and has not yet moved above high A doesn’t bode well for his major league prospects. He may be a late bloomer, but he needs to perform consistently at this level and beyond.
Tennessee Smokies: 7-5, 1st Place Southern League North
The trio of Dan Vogelbach, Kyle Schwarber, and Albert Almora are lighting up the Southern League at the moment. All have batting averages at or above .300, and Schwarber and Vogelbach have on-base percentages above .500. Vogelbach has 8 walks and 3 strike outs in the early going, and may be one of minor league baseball’s most challenging outs at the moment. The step up to AA hasn’t phased him a bit, as evidenced by an early 1.224 OPS. That dominance has earned him a Southern League Player of the Week award.
Felix Pena was a tough luck D-Cub last year, mowing down the Florida State League without the benefit of run support. This season, he’s worked 12 innings in 2 starts, and has allowed just 7 hits and 1 run. Frank Batista has been almost as good, going 10.2, allowing 1 earned and 5 hits. The pitching in Tennessee has been solid all around the rotation. But these two have set the pace for a pretty good group.
Iowa Cubs: 6-8, 3rd Place Pacific Coast League American Northern Division
Look. A team can’t lose Kris Bryant and Addison Russell in less than a week and expect to be as good offensively. As has been discussed, reinforcements are coming with Javy Baez nearing a return. Arismendy Alcantara and Matt Szczur are also on their way back to Iowa after opening with the big club. Szczur, for his part, as taken pretty well to his return to AAA, going 4-12 upon his return.
Tsuyoshi Wada has returned to rehab with the I-Cubs, working 10 innings and allowing 3 earned thus far. His walks are a bit high, with 6, but for a pitcher still rounding back into form, there is nothing to be too concerned with as far as Wada goes. Armando Rivero leads the I-Cubs in appearances, with 6, out of the pen. He’s allowed 5 earned with 5 walks in 4 innings. For someone who was expected to make a big league debut this summer, inability to find the strike zone is the worst result. Until he clears up that problem, he will not be making a jump to Chicago anytime soon.