As the season progresses to the end of June, it is starting to get close to trade season. The Cubs figure to make a least a couple of moves, and will need to use their minor league surpluses to do so. The substance of those moves could depend on the way rehab assignments go, as the AA Smokies are now carrying three major league rehab players.
Logan Watkins (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Torn Achilles Tendon), Will Remillard (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Tommy John Surgery), Austin Reed (60 Day DL, Tommy John Surgery), Marcelo Carreno (60 Day DL, Shoulder Surgery), Trey McNutt (60 Day DL, Shoulder), Jose Rosario (60 Day DL, Tommy John Surgery), Javier Baez (7 Day DL, Fractured Finger), Eric Jokisch (7 Day DL, Rib Cage), Anthony Carter (7 Day DL), Barret Loux (7 Day DL), Michael Jensen (7 Day DL), Rob Zastryzny (7 Day DL), Matt Brazis (7 Day DL), Steven Perakslis (7 Day DL), Paul Blackburn (7 Day DL) Ben Carhart (7 Day DL), Tyler Pearson (Inactive), James Norwood (7 Day DL)
Eugene Emeralds: 0-1, t-2nd Place Northwest League North Division
New short season affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds, got started on June 18th. There are some interesting names to watch on the short season roster, including Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ. Happ will make his debut on June 19th in center field. Jimenez opened the season with a 2-4 game with an RBI.
On the mound, 2 of last year’s over-slot draft picks will lead the starting rotation. Carson Sands took the mound on Opening Night, working 5 innings, allowing 2 earned on 5 hits and no walks. Justin Steele will work game 2.
South Bend Cubs: 27-37, 8th Place Midwest League Eastern Division
With all of the attention that is being paid to Gleyber Torres, it is easy to miss a solid effort being posted by Cael Brockmeyer. He leads the South Bend Cubs with an .830 OPS, has a healthy 10.5% walk rate and has hit 5 long balls. The 6’5′, 235 pound catcher is another in the line of massive human beings in the Cubs organization. While not a prospect of note, his performance in South Bend is notable, and could help him reach Myrtle Beach before the end of the summer.
Since Ryan Williams took off to AA Tennessee, Jeremy Null has reclaimed his place as the undisputed ace of the SB Cubs’ staff. What is remarkable about Null’s performance is that he has allowed a .307 BABIP to go with a 2.01 ERA (2.62 FIP) and 1.07 WHIP. While his strike out numbers aren’t anything to fawn over, his minuscule walk numbers and even lower HR allowed rate are feeding his very strong FIP. Like Williams before him, Null may be on the short list for a move up in the organization before the season comes to a close.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 38-27, 1st Place Carolina League Southern Division
On the field for the Pelicans, this week has seen the return of some players from injury. Shawon Dunston, Jr. has returned from an arm injury after missing almost two months. He is a talented outfielder who should look to have a strong second half after missing much of the first. Jeimer Candelario also returned from a much shorter stint on the disabled list. His first half has been mostly strong, especially in comparison to his difficult time at high A last season
In the “Pitcher’s wins and losses are stupid” column goes Pelicans righty Tyler Skulina. He is 2-4 in 10 starts this season. In those 10 starts, he is striking out 8.84 per 9 innings, walking just under 3.5 per 9, has a 3.27 ERA (3.60 FIP), and has a 1.09 WHIP. The batting average against him is .199. Half of the 20 earned runs he’s allowed came in 2 consecutive starts in April. Since April 26th, he’s allowed 9 earned in 7 starts spanning 41 innings, dropping his ERA from 7.07 after the April 26th start to its present 3.27. Skulina is on the mound on June 19th, and as of his writing, he’s worked 4 scoreless.
Tennessee Smokies: 36-30, 2nd Place Southern League North.
With Kyle Schwarber being promoted to the big league club briefly with a follow on to Iowa, the last of the “Bash Brothers” in AA is Dan Vogelbach. As a player who is a strong candidate to be traded before the summer is over, Voggy is still putting on quite the show at the plate. His line is at .293/.41./.443 with 4 HRs, and probably most impressive: a stolen base. He’s been steady at the plate in his initial run at AA, which is great news for his development and his trade value going forward.
Since moving into the bullpen, Corey Black has made 6 appearances. He has had 5 very good ones. If we ignore the outing where he went 1/3 of an inning and gave up 4 earned, he’s thrown 9 scoreless innings out of the pen. His walks are a tad high (6 in 9.1), but otherwise he’s been solid in his adjustment to a new role. Black is another player with a good arm who may be in the mix to help the big league club out of the bullpen later in the season. Scoreless outings are always the goal out of the pen, and Black has delivered, for the most part.
Iowa Cubs: 35-31, 2nd Place Pacific Coast League American Northern Division
Another player who is helping his trade value has been Christian Villanueva, who turns 24 today (6/19). Through 50 games with Iowa, Villanueva his hitting a solid .273/.337/.500 with 8 HRs and 30 RBI. Although he has 16 errors, Villanueva is regarded as a good defender at third base and his offensive performance this season can help him be of some value to the Cubs in trying to swing a deal this summer. He has been on the 40 man roster since coming from the Rangers in the Ryan Dempster trade, so moving him would clear that roster spot, in addition to helping the Cubs improve their team this season. For Villanueva, it would give him a chance to earn a big league opportunity in an organization where he would not be as thoroughly blocked as he is in the Cubs organization.
After an absolutely brutal start to his season in Iowa, Dallas Beeler appears to be figuring it out again. His last 2 starts have spanned 11 innings, where he’s allowed 1 run on 8 hits without walking anyone. The walks are an important point because he hadn’t walked fewer than 2 in an outing before that. He’s also dialed up the strike outs, notching 8 and 6 in those last two outings. With the 5th starter spot with the big league Cubs still being very much in question, Beeler’s resurgence may help him move into the conversation for that spot. He was counted on to be depth as the season began, but an injury and a slow start took him out of that role. If he continues to round back into form, it would be a huge boost to the starting pitching depth at the top of the organization.