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A look at the Cubs lower level minor leagues

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  • A look at the Cubs lower level minor leagues

    Daytona Cubs (High A)

    The offense right now in Daytona is just atrocious, and the roster is filled with "fringe" prospects or players that aren't even considered prospects. With the promotion of Jake Fox to AA, the only player hitting over .280 on the squad is Sam Fuld and he's just returning from a stint on the DL with a bulging disc. Perhaps the most disappointing offensive player in Daytona has been former 2003 first rounder (6th overall) in Ryan Harvey. The power is still there, but he can't make contact with anything that isn't a straight fastball, add in his horrendous plate judgement and we could definately have a bust on our hands. His stock has taken so much of a major hit in the last couple of years that he's likely not even to be listed on Baseball America's Top 10 Cub prospects at season's end.

    It's been the pitching in Daytona that's helped keep their heads above water, and even with the promotion of Gallagher the staff does have some great talents. The kid that is making waves is Mark Holliman, our 3rd round draft pick in 2005. He leads the staff in wins, innings pitched, hits allowed, and strikeouts. If West Tenn wasn't full of pitching talent themselves, he'd already be there but with our surplus of arms, he's likely not to get a level promotion until the offseason. While lefty newcomer Donny Veal has had two nice starts, his control is still a little suspect but the movement on his ball is so great that it is overcompensating for the walks. And the arm to start questioning his talents is 2004 2nd rounder (Cubs 1st pick) is Grant Johnson. Hendry gave him first round money to forgo the rest of college career, and Grant was pegged as being a top 15 pick the season before his arm injury. Yet it's never turned out for the kid, and I won't be suprised to see Samardzija quickly climb the organizational ladder and saddled with his former Notre Dame teammate at some point in 2007. Johnson's strikeouts were down and his walks were up as a starter, so lately he's been pitching out of the pen. And under working a lighter load, his overall numbers have improved across the board. Grant has to find his control and fast, or else he'll be left in the dust by some of the other arms that have been taken later than he was.

    Peoria Chiefs (Low A)

    In Peoria, after winning the first half division title, the Chiefs are off to a good second half start by leading the division despite losing their top pitcher in Donny Veal. But the emergence of starter Mitch Atkins, the Cubs 7th round pick in 2004, has helped absorb the blow of losing Veal to promotion. While Blackford, who was obtained in the Hollandsworth trade to Atlanta and lefty Yepez have been stable forces in the rotation.

    Boise Hawks (Short A)

    I had the pleasure of watching a pair of Boise Hawks games a week ago when the team was stumbling out of the gate going 2-8 with decent pitching and absolutely no offense. Since then they are on a 4-2, the offense has put on a few showings and the pitching has been strong. The offensive catalyst at the top of the order has been shortstop Sammy Baez (NDFA 2005), of late he's been putting solid wood on the ball and has been a demon on the basepaths. Russ Canzler (drafted 30th Rd-2004) started off hot but is in a cold stretch (5 for last 27), still he leads the Northwest League in homers. While Alfred Joseph (drafted 15th Rd-2004) still continues to pound the ball and has shown off his 5 tool talent. Boise also has many of our 2006 draft picks, our first rounder Colvin is off to a slow start like most of our recent draftees. Alot of that could deal with getting situated with wooden bats, as 13th rounder Camp is the only draftee-everyday player that has an average above .250. The guy who can go either way is 6th rounder Lansford, his contact hasn't appeared yet but boy is he able to get on-base. The contact will come and the eye will stay, the questions are what position does he play and does the power ever show up.

    The arms leading the way have been Jose Pina (NDFA 2005), rehabbing former top prospect Billy Petrick (3rd Rd-2002), and our 8th round pick in 2006 Bill Muldowney. Pawelek, our 2005 1st rounder, has been disappointing to the point where he's not been starting of late. Instead his last two appearances have been out of the pen (2+ IP each outing) following Muldowney, where he has faired much better. Not only has Pawelek's control been way off this season but his stuff hasn't been as sharp. Whether it's due to him throwing more innings than he ever has last year or if the Cubs' choice to sit him out of competitive ball until June has something to do with his rust or none of the above. Muldowney isn't the only 2006 draft pick impressing folks but so has 19th rounder Jeremy Paplebon and 5th rounder Jeff Samardzija. Paplebon has yielded only two hits in 9 innings of work, all as a reliever; the organization plans on using him as setup/closer role. Sam the Shark's second appearance (3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 K) was much more fruitful than his first. His fastball was popping lower to mid 90's and his slider was sharply breaking. The kid looks like he can accomplish great things on the mound.

    Arizona Cubs (Rookie)

    In Arizona, it's not looking pretty thus far going 4-8. The top draft pick playing for them is 9th rounder high schooler Cliff Andersen and he's struggled, leading the team in strikeouts and collecting only 5 hits none for extrabases. The top hitters thus far have been 2006 nondraft free agents Lilly and Williams. Ryan Lilly out of University of San Diego leads the team in hits and walks while speedy Jeremy Williams from York College has already collected 3 triples and 5 walk. The best arm has been the lefty 21st rounder Taylor Parker out of Missouri, hopefully he'll get to see Boise shortly. The recently catcher-turned-pitcher Oscar Bernard has faired much better than he did in Boise. He definately has the velocity on his fastball to be effective, it's his control and mechanics that need tuned. Also, our 12th rounder Kitt Kopach out of Illinois State has looked sharp out of the pen. Having seen Kitt throw, he's got some velocity and a strong slider, but he's wild as hell; that's why the pen is his future.

    UPDATE: The Cubs 14th Rd selection and high school phenom, Drew Rundle, has joined the Arizona Cubs roster and will start playing shortly.

    For more stories like this go to
    What a Batted Ball is Worth (in terms of a run):
    Line Drive: .356
    HBP: .342
    Non-Intentional Walk: .315
    Intentional Walk: .176
    Outfield Fly: .035
    Groundball: -.101
    Bunts: -.103
    Infield Fly: -.243
    Strikeout: -.287
    It's now officially Doctor Bob Sacamento, D.C., C.S.C.S., and working on my D.A.B.C.O. (Diplomate American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedics)

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