The Cubs are preparing to shuffle their minor league rosters a bit and to promote players who are in need of promotion. Matthew Szczur, fresh off his trip to the Futures Game, will make the trip to Daytona, but he is not the only one packing his bags. We can continue to expect minor league roster moves throughout the month of July.
Remember that for this edition of the Minor League Report, the week begins on Tuesday July 5th.
Iowa Cubs (41-50) Pacific Coast League (AAA) North: 4th place
Just when it looked Iowa might make a run, they drop seven straight road games. Iowa is taking a three game break now for the All-Star Game. They are only nine games back, so some late season heroics aren’t out of the question… yet.
I can’t blame this losing streak on the pitching, though. Alberto Cabrera, Casey Coleman, Jay Jackson, and Nicholas Struck all turned in very solid pitching performances during the losing streak, and the bullpen did a nice job keeping every game in reach. For the first time all season, Iowa has a rotation of nothing but young pitching prospects with major league potential, and their rotation is pitching well. None of these guys are likely to become the ace of a staff, but any of them could emerge as a back of the rotation guy.
With the emergence of Tony Campana as the speedy pinch runner and defensive fifth outfielder in Chicago, Fernando Perez became expendable and has been let go. Augie Ojeda is also gone. These moves were made to open up playing time for some much higher profile prospects emerging out of Tennessee. Like Chris Rusin, Cabrera, Struck, Robert Coello, and Marco Carrillo on the pitching side, former Smokies D.J. LeMahieu and Marwin Gonzalez are both doing very well at the plate for Iowa. There should be a few more Smokies on the way to Iowa soon.
Tennessee Smokies (8-10) Southern League (AA) North: 3rd place (tie)
Tennessee finds themselves in a very odd position… under .500 for the second half of the season. They have lost six in a row to fall off the pace in their division, and those loses came both at home and on the road. If they are going to right the ship, they will have to do it in Mississippi.
The pitching has not been bad for the Smokies, surprisingly so given how many of their best arms are either on the disabled list or in Iowa now, but they are consistently losing close games. However, even as more talent gets promoted to Iowa, Tennessee could get a nice infusion of talent from Daytona.
Daytona Cubs (7-9) Florida State League (High A) North: 5th place (tie)
Losing streaks were contagious in the Cubs farm system this week. Daytona, always a streaky team, has lost four in a row. They set out on an eight game road trip this week, so the Cubs have every incentive to get back to winning in a hurry.
On Daytona’s losing streak, the pitching just has not been there. This is not surprising. Just as Tennessee has shipped a small army worth of pitchers to Iowa, Daytona has been shipping several of their best arms, especially out of the bullpen, to Tennessee. This is great news for Chicago Cub fans, but it does mean that things could get a little rocky in Daytona while the new pitchers get adjusted.
One hopeful sign for the Cubs is Michael Burgess. In his last ten games Burgess has struck out just five times, walked five times, and is hitting just over .300. Burgess has a ton of power, but he has not been able to consistently harness it. He swings and misses far more than is healthy for anyone. If he can learn some patience and start to make more consistent contact, he could become a Wrigley Field favorite.
Peoria Chiefs (7-10) Midwest League (Low A) Western: 6th place (tie)
The Chiefs went .500 last week, but with losing streaks all over the Cubs farm system, we’ll take a .500 week as a bright spot. Unfortunately, .500 was not good enough to gain any ground for the Chiefs, who now find themselves in sixth place.
The biggest news in Peoria lately has been word that Matt Szczur is headed to Daytona, and the arrival of Starling Peralta. Peralta is a big right handed starting pitcher who in two starts with the Chiefs is holding opposing hitters to just a .158 batting average. Also newly arrived in Peoria is Ben Klafczynski who was just drafted earlier this month. He takes the place of Szczur in the outfield. Like Szczur, Klafczynski was drafted out of college. His ceiling is no where near as high as Szczur’s, but he is definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Boise Hawks (14-10) Northwest League (Short-Season A) East: 1st place
The Hawks went 4-2 this past week and now stand alone in first place. If they can stay there, they will be the third Cub farm team to make the playoffs this season.
The Hawks’ roster is constantly churning it seems, but some names are standing out. Yao-Lin Wang, Luis Liria and Willengton Cruz continue to turn in solid pitching performances, and Reggie Golden is starting to demonstrate why the Cubs made him their second pick in 2010. Dustin Harrington, Pin-Chieh Chen, and Wes Darvill are continuing to play well up the middle. As the Cubs start to sign some of their higher dollar draft picks, there is a good chance a few of them will make an appearance in Boise, if only a brief one.
Be sure to check back on Wednesday for the Cubbies Crib Minor League Line of the Week.