When you work third shift, and you have a night off, sometimes the news can be a bit slow at two in the morning. Such was the case a number of years ago, before I tweeted, or burned hours on Facebook. Back then I noticed a trace article on the Cubs signing lefty pitcher Jason Stanford. I did what any fan of anything Cubs would do. I ran a Google search, and found an article written by Josh Timmers from this site mentioning his signing. A few days later, I started to become a nuisance here under a different moniker, trying to learn from those wiser than I was. Today, I am starting my weekly update on Cubs prospects.
This is not to steal Josh's thunder, by any stretch. What I hope to do every week is note something you might not have caught otherwise. I will still be the same nuisance I've always been every night, though some of the nuggets I might have thrown on the site before will be saved for this weekly update.
How it will progress is a bit up in the air. I know I want to take a closer look at stats than a nightly recap justifies. Walks drawn, and walks allowed leap to mind. I plan to have a "game of the night" I'm monitoring, and I'll be recording my findings from that game, and any other, from any source available. I will probably lean toward Daytona and Kane County, as the Tennessee and Iowa games will often be available the next day on MiLB.TV, which is a great investment at $40 per year. If you mainline minor-league ball, consider this a free plug. Just so you know, Daytona is not televised.
It may appear that I am being "too nice" in my player assessments. That is entirely by design. Following one of my recent articles, one of the players in the talent pipeline commented he liked what I had written. That reminded me of something: players read stuff written about them. If you are looking for me to humiliate a player for having a bad game, look elsewhere. As long as I think a player is giving a good effort in representing the club, I'm going to be respectful. However, if he's playing his way into a lower level, I will admit as much.
Since this week's edition is going to be written about spring training results, small sample size will be very applicable. I'll be listening, watching, or reading as possible. I will pass along what I have gleaned.
On Friday, it was really refreshing to hear Jorge Soler and Javier Baez hit back-to-back laser beams. I've seen them both for Peoria, and feel very fortunate in that. None of the Zygotes (sure, I'll use the term) have seemed to have too much difficulty in the field, either. Through the weekend, Logan Watkins and Christian Villanueva have represented, if only with the glove in Villanueva's case. Johermyn Chavez' first name is pronounced as "You're minn." Chavez' calling card is his right field-quality arm.
Christian Villanueva continues to not be over-matched on defense, and also responded with a homer against the Rockies. Watkins and Baez chipped in with hits. Chavez flashed his strong arm on a throw to third.
... wasn't a very good day for pitchers. Trey McNutt was hit hard, after Brooks Raley was less than impressive. Jaye Chapman retired only one hitter, and Alberto Cabrera struggled mightily in his third relief inning. The jujumagumbo even jumped to different facility, as Arizona's Rule 5 selection Starling Peralta failed to retire any of six hitters. The only pitching prospect who avoided getting pounded was Hector Rondon, who was spared from pitching.
As bad as Wednesday was, the day following was that much better. Soler flashed a strong throwing arm, nailing Josh Reddick on a first-to-third assist. Soler, Baez, Lake, and Villanueva chipped in offensively. Rondon pitched a three-up-three-down inning, with a strikeout. And a unicorn farm opened down the street. Not all days will be like this, and the zygotes have been struggling against more-advanced pitching, but Thursday was a very good day.
Baseball America posted their list of international signings recently. Since it was behind a paywall, a few of us missed it. Here is a free list that may very well be similar. I plan to nod to the Dominican Summer League and Venezuelan Summer League squads this season. However, with nothing but box scores, weekly updates will be of questionable value. Nonetheless, what else was I going to write about for them?
In case you're curious, most of the minor-league guys reported by Friday morning, having arrived in, roughly, three waves. They will start playing games soon against teams of similar talent levels. As with other squads, the Cubs will be making the rather difficult decisions of who to keep around and which players the system will release. While the guys that don't catch on with the parent club go to Triple-A Iowa, or points below, players are jockeying for spots in Double-A and the A-level squads, as well. Some will catch on with a full-season squad. Some will go to extended spring training in Mesa. However, some will be out of a job. This year, more than many before, these will be very difficult roster moves, as even the guys that don't catch on in Kane County or elsewhere will oftentimes be very good players.
As roster moves trickle in, I will note them weekly in the Sonogram, also highlighting "Three Up" and "Three Down" as the season begins, noting who is on a good spell, and who is struggling. My week will usually end in the pipeline around Thursday, so I can have the update posted on the site over the weekend. As the college season/draft signings progress, I will have something on the weekend or maybe Monday regarding that. Your participation is very much appreciated.