On the minor league rehab trail, it’s been tough sledding for some Cubs. Tommy La Stella has been put back on the shelf after aggravating an injury with Tennessee. Dallas Beeler has been optioned to Iowa after struggling during his rehab stint in Iowa. Tsuyoshi Wada‘s stint ended and he made his debut with the Cubs in San Diego this season. More interestingly and applicable to the big league team, though, are the arms getting going in Arizona. Both Neil Ramirez and Jacob Turner are on active rehab programs in extended spring training. The next steps are to get them into some games in Arizona and to minor league rehab outings. Ramirez should be back well before Turner, but it is good news to see that Turner is starting to crank it up, albeit slowly, in Arizona.
Logan Watkins (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Torn Achilles Tendon), Will Remillard (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Tommy John Surgery), Trey McNutt (60 Day DL, Shoulder), Anthony Carter (7 Day DL), Anthony Varvaro (Inactive), Barret Loux (7 Day DL), Yoanner Negrin (Elbow, 7 Day DL), Corey Black (7 Day DL), Pierce Johnson (Extended Spring Training, Lat Strain), Steve Perakslis (7 Day DL), Rob Zastryzny (7 Day DL), Matt Brazis (7 Day DL), Juan Paniagua (7 Day DL), Stephen Bruno (7 Day DL), Erick Castillo (7 Day DL), Shawon Dunston, Jr. (7 Day DL, Right Arm), James Norwood (7 Day DL), Jake Stinnett (7 Day DL),
Neil Ramirez (Extended Spring Training), Jacob Turner (Extended Spring Training),
South Bend Cubs: 18-22, 7th Place Midwest League Eastern Division
While Gleyber Torres has gotten much of the attention off the mound in South Bend, 2013 9th round pick Charcer Burks has quietly put together a solid season. In his first season in full season ball, the 20 year old outfielder has hit to a tune of .321/.379/.393. With that strong slash line, Burks has worked an 8.4% walk rate and stolen 12 bases in his 36 games. Like much of the South Bend Cubs’ roster, power has not been a part of his game, with no home runs. He has hit 8 doubles, a triple and driven in 20 to this point. Burks is not a sexy name in the organization. He doesn’t come with any fanfare or real recognition, but he is an example of a player who continues to develop as he makes steps up the organizational ladder.
Last summer’s 10th round pick, Ryan Williams has supplanted Jeremy Null as the most dominant starter in South Bend’s rotation. In his 6 starts, he has a 0.72 ERA and a 2.11 FIP. That very strong FIP is aided by a paltry 0.78% walk rate in his 37.2 innings pitched. Because of the recency of his selection, the fact that Williams was selected out of college and his quite old (23) for the Midwest League, Williams is another name Cubs fan probably aren’t very familiar with. If he is able to continue his development and pitch well at higher levels, though, he may become a more common name within the system.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 24-13, 1st Place Carolina League Southern Division
While the Pelicans are tearing up the Carolina League, one player who has not had the start he’d hoped is C Victor Caratini. What is fascinating about Caratini is that while the surface numbers don’t look particularly good, his peripheral numbers suggest he is due to break out. He is hitting only .212/.304/.253. However, he has a 9.8% walk rate, a very respectable 12.5% strike out rate, and a ridiculously low .247 BABIP. A player who is taking his walks, making consistent contact, and not getting balls to fall in his as prime a candidate to go on a hot streak as anyone. Caratini, a 2nd round pick in 2013 by the Atlanta Braves, was acquired when James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio were traded last July.
After a great debut in Kane County last summer, P Jen-Ho Tseng has not been the same in high A. His 2.40 ERA and 3.28 FIP were both strong marks for a 19 year old making his debut in the United States. This season, though, has not been quite as encouraging. His 5.26 ERA looks somewhat unlucky next to his 4.19 FIP, but neither match expectations for Tseng going into the season. He relies on command to compensate for his less than dazzling stuff. And although he hasn’t walked a ton of hitters, he is still past the pace he set last season. It’s still early, but Tseng has shown some early signs of struggle against more advanced competition…and he hasn’t even gotten to AA, yet.
Tennessee Smokies: 22-18, 2nd Place Southern League North
If you weren’t looking for it, you’d have completely missed the surge that Kyle Schwarber went on over the weekend. He hit 3 home runs and drove in 6 in games against Montgomery and Jackson. While he has since cooled off, his season numbers are still absolutely obscene. .310/.434/.612, 9 HRs, 23 RBI in 145 plate appearances is an outstanding mark. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Schwarber is lighting up the Southern League as the #4 pick in last summer’s draft, but it doesn’t mean he is headed to Iowa soon, necessarily. While he continues to work on sticking behind the plate, it may keep him in AA longer than a position change to get his bat up normally would.
Watching Carl Edwards, Jr. (C.J. Edwards) out of the bullpen is starting to get really fun. While he began the season with some growing pains with the adjustment to life in the pen, Edwards has been able to get his stuff to play up recently. In May, Edwards has allowed only 2 earned in 10 innings. He has walked 5 in those 6 outings, but 3 of those came in his last appearance on May 19. Otherwise, he has been efficient and has pounded the zone. His 13.73 K/9 for the season is a taste of what a player who has this kind of stuff can do in a shorter outing. It looks likely that, at some point in the not too distant future, Edwards could pack his bags for what might be a short stint in Iowa.
Iowa Cubs: 19-19, 2nd Place Pacific Coast League American Northern Division
This isn’t the season Arismendy Alcantara had envisioned. After opening the season in the majors and being optioned back to Iowa, Alcantara has been up and down since returning to Des Moines. Since getting back to AAA, Mendy is at .228/.295/.436. His walk rate is healthy, at 8.8%m which is better than he’s done in any full season, apart from his break out 2013 in AA Tennessee. His strike out rate is at 26.3%, which is still high, but better than the over 30% he was playing with in the big leagues. He has shown some power, with 4 HRs and his BABIP is still lower than it’s been in his minor league career at .279. There is no concern over Alcantara, but if he is able to get back into a rhythm the way Javier Baez has the last week, both of those players could provide a nice boost to the parent club later in the summer.
Dallas Beeler’s rehab stint has ended with the Iowa Cubs…but his time there has not. He was activated by the Cubs and optioned to Iowa after 5 pretty ugly looking starts. He has walked as many as he’s struck out (15) in 19.2 innings. He has a 10.53 ERA and a 5.52 FIP. He’s allowed a .370 BABIP and only 44.8% have been left on base. There is no way to slice how tough it has been for Beeler to get back into the swing of things this year after opening on the disabled list. He is still rounding back into form, though, and these numbers should trend back to where he has been in the past. Beeler went into the season as a depth option for the parent rotation. Between his injury and ineffectiveness, he has not shown the capability to provide that, yet. If he does round into back into form, it is not out of the question that he returns to Chicago at some point. At the moment, though, that’s not a consideration with where Beeler’s performance currently is.