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Cubs System Sonogram And The Bad Outing

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One bad outing in the Midwest League might mean something... or nothing.

Keith Cooper/South Bend Cubs

As nobody can listen to or watch all the games in any system, at least, if they want to have time for anything else in their life, we have to use some shortcuts. One of those shortcuts would be statistical results. While it's certainly acceptable to use results as a proxy for production, it's best to remember numbers are a proxy, not a pure picture. Particularly in the minor leagues, and in small sample sizes. The trip through a system is generally a rather long one, and over-reacting to any statistic can lead to a bad reading. Sometimes a bad outing can skew things for quite awhile.

Jake Stinnett had a brutal outing last week. I doubt he would argue with that. He retired seven hitters, and walked seven, as well. If all a person does is read walks-per-nine numbers, Stinnett's control this year will be bad. Pretty much forever. And, truth be told, control may be a problem with Stinnett for his career. That it hadn't been before isn't an indicator that it can't be in the future. As with anything in baseball, it merits monitoring.

However, that's generally the way it should be done. Keep monitoring that which concerns, or enthuses you. Unless a way has been created to buy or sell a player's career, as with stock shares, it's all living vicariously through their performances. While I tend to be more an optimist along those lines, some talents that I want to be better developed in the pipeline, won't develop. My task is to spot trends. The next four or five Stinnett starts, my attention will be on his control. Hopefully, it will be much improved.

If Stinnett straightens things out, a start in April in the Midwest League will have precious little value in a few years. Nonetheless, people will be questioning his control for the next few months or years off of one start. Numbers are a tool. The question shouldn't be now, "What does (insert player here)'s (insert key stat here) number look like?" It should be "Is this guy better than his level for his age?" presently. Numbers help with that. However, buying too heavily into one specific stat, or any one assessor (including yourself) can be a problem. Checking myself at the door regarding opinions is generally a good idea.

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South Bend is having trouble closing. In a few games this season, they've been very close to putting away a win, and it slipped away. A few times, it's been the bullpen. Sometimes, it's been more on the defense. What I have to keep reminding myself of is how special the Kane County team was last season. They defended well, had pitching that seemed as deep as they needed it to be. They grinded out at-bats, getting into the other bullpens. They took advantage of mistakes. And, they caught a few breaks.

South Bend's shortstop is 18 years old. One of their infielders (Andrew Ely) is injured. Some of their pitchers have been a bit off so far, to the tune of four blown saves over the last six games. In other words, they probably won't win 91 games, and run the post-season gauntlet undefeated this time around. They have some good things going on so far, but they need to learn to close games out. Whether they figure that out or not is up for grabs, but they are still a fun listen, as are the other teams in the pipeline. Though the last few outs can be very frustrating.

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It really is going to be tough to  replace Kris Bryant's production in the pipeline. I know running the best players to the major leagues is the point and the goal, but trying to account for his productivity will really make it hard to win in Triple-A Iowa. And the troubles will trickle from there.

I'm paying a bit closer attention to the Reds system this year. Playing them more in the Midwest League and the Carolina League will help with that. I'll probably mind them more in the Southern League tilts as well. They have a few really good players, but I think our system is still far better than theirs.

I'm also monitoring the Winston-Salem Dash a bit, as well. The White Sox Advanced-A affiliate was playing Myrtle Beach over the weekend. The ChiSox have a few guys in their Top Ten that look like they'd have a hard time cracking the Cubs' Top 25. Based on the Padres series over the weekend, a little patience still might be needed.

Three Up/Three Down

Three Down

Iowa outfielder Rubi Silva has an OPS of .478 through Sunday morning.

Tennessee's Ryan Dent has an OPS of .485.

Wes Darvill is hitless in 13 at-bats for Myrtle Beach, and has an OPS of .071.

Three Up

Some are wondering why Kyle Schwarber (OPS 1.063) isn't playing every day behind the plate. While part of it is the "daily grind" thing, part of it is because of a stretch of games against National League-affiliated teams early. This leads to NL-style baseball in the Southern League, and no DH being available. The other part is that Willson Contreras (OPS 1.140) combines with Schwarber and Dan Vogelbach (OPS 1.192) to give Tennessee Smokies fans a reason to look forward to DH games. Tennessee is the only NL-affiliated team in their division. Once they get the third-base situation figured out, they ought to be a tough beat in the Southern League North. They are 6-3 as of Monday morning.

Iowa's bullpen has six relievers (James Russell, Joseph Ortiz, Gonzalez Germen, Zac Rosscup, Drake Britton, and Blake Cooper) with their WHIP  below 1.0. (Germen is now with the parent club.)

Tennessee's Ivan Pineyro left his last Arizona Fall League game last season with what sounded like a scary injury. He is pitching well early this season, with a WHIP of 0.80. Sometimes, snap speculations are inaccurate.

Through 11 innings, Jeremy Null has a WHIP of 0.82 for South Bend, and has fanned 13 hitters.

Daniel Lockhart has an OPS of .949 to lead a very balanced Myrtle Beach offense. Duane Underwood has a WHIP of 0.82