Cubs minor-league roundup -- Week 3


Cubs minor-league roundup -- Week 3

The Cubs are 5-12 and in last place in the NL Central, already six games out of first place. They're one game behind the lowly Houston Astros.

This isn't the "next year" Cubs fans have been waiting for. There's no getting around that fact.

But while the big-league club is hurting for talent, there are young players on the horizon, stirring up excitement for the future. Each Tuesday, we will take a look at how the Cubs' minor-league players are faring to date.
Triple-A Iowa

Anthony Rizzo is the hot story here, with 7 homers, 19 RBI and a .380.429.718 slash line in 18 games. He has two more homers than the entire major-league Cubs team.

Welington Castillo (.971 OPS), Adrian Cardenas (.958) and Luis Valbeuna (.910) are also performing admirably at the plate.

Dave Sappelt, who came over in the Sean Marshall deal, is struggling so far with a .239.282.388 line, as is Josh Vitters (.606 OPS, only two extra-base hits).

Top prospect Brett Jackson is striking out way too much (21 in 75 at-bats), but leads the team with 9 walks and also has 10 extra-base hits and is 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts.

25-year-old left-hander Chris Rusin may not strike a lot of guys out (only 9 in 21.1 innings), but he boasts a good 3.38 ERA and sparkling 1.13 WHIP in his four starts. Left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau (3.72 ERA) and right-handed starter Casey Coleman (3.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) have also started the season on the right foot.

Travis Wood, the main piece in the Marshall trade, is getting by on a middling 5.19 ERA, but has only made three starts so far and got the ball to kick off Tuesday's game.

Right-handed reliever Manny Corpas challenged for a job in the big-league bullpen in spring training but has given up 16 hits and 11 runs (10 earned) in just 10.1 innings.

Double-A Tennessee

Trey McNutt, widely considered as the top pitching prospect in the organization, has been on fire to start the season, boasting a 0.77 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in his three starts. He does have 7 walks in 11.2 innings, however, and that is something Theo Epstein and Co. would love to see him correct.

Reliever Alberto Cabrera (1.74 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) is also off to a hot start while Casey Weathers, the second part to the Ian Stewart-Tyler Colvin trade, has struggled badly. Weathers has a 5.40 ERA and 2.40 WHIP in his first 5 innings and has surrendered a whopping 7 free passes.

Dae-Eun Rhee has a 4.76 ERA in three starts.

The Smokies are struggling on offense so far, but young infielders Logan Watkins (.779 OPS, 4 SB), Rebel Ridling (.777) and Elliot Soto (.735) have been the bright spots in the first few games.

Top prospect Junior Lake has started the season on the DL, but will probably join the Smokies when he returns.

High-A Daytona

Matt Szczur is hitting just .206 with a .537 OPS, but has 8 stolen bases already. He is extremely athletic and should start getting things going with the bat soon.

Second baseman Ronald Torreyes is only hitting .240, but has a .345 OBP and a .380 SLG. He's only 19, but excited Theo and Jed Hoyer enough that they acquired him as part of the Marshall deal from the Reds.

Zach Cates, acquired in the Rizzo-Andrew Cashner deal, has given up a whopping 20 hits and 14 earned runs in 8.1 innings. 2010 top draft pick Hayden Simpson is also struggling with a 7.11 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in three starts.

Tony Zych, a 2011 draft pick, has walked just one and allowed only three runs in nine innings.

Low-A Peoria

Outfield prospect Reggie Golden has many excited about his potential, but he's gotten off to a slow start with a .192 average, though it is in just 26 at-bats.

Marco Hernandez, ranked as the Cubs' 13th best prospect by, is just 7-for-60 to start the year.

Ben Wells, a promising young right-handed pitcher, has a 6.28 ERA in three starts.


Other top prospects INF Javier Baez, RHP Dillon Maples, 1B Dan Vogelbach, INF Jeimer Candelario, INF Gioskar Amaya and OF Shawon Dunston, Jr. have yet to start play in 2012.

Morning Update: Bulls win season opener; World Series returns to Wrigley

Morning Update: Bulls win season opener; World Series returns to Wrigley

Complete Cubs-Indians World Series Game 3 coverage on CSN

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Dwyane Wade's 'perfect storm' makes his debut a dramatic one in Bulls' win

Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks ready for the next biggest start of his career

John Fox: 'No truth' to reports he’s done with Jay Cutler

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

How Kyle Schwarber is such a ‘baseball rat’ that Cubs used him in their draft war room

Together again: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane reunite on top line vs. Devils

Cubs 'can't imagine' what Wrigley Field atmosphere will be like for World Series

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

Bulls physicality a new wrinkle from last season

College teammates Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder made plans to go to dinner after Thursday’s game in Chicago but for a few short moments they weren’t just competitors but unexpected combatants, getting tangled up in the second quarter.

There looked to be some harsh words exchanged after Butler took a charge on an unsuspecting Crowder near three-quarter court, with Crowder putting the basketball in Butler’s chest while Butler was still on the floor, causing players on both teams to convene for some tense moments.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas got involved and then before Butler could blink, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo joined the proceedings, as pushing and shoving ensued before technical fouls were assessed to both teams after an officials’ review.

If one wondered whether these Bulls—a team that touts itself as young with so many players having three years or less professional experience—could play with some bark and bite, perhaps the season opener provided a bit of a positive preview for the next 81 games.

Nearby, an unbothered Dwyane Wade took a practice 3-point shot, much to the delight of the United Center crowd, as observers witnessed the first sign of tangible proof the Bulls have intentions on regaining a bit of an edge on the floor.

Wade joked and took it as a sign of respect between the two teams.

“It looked like it, right? Yeah. It was a little something out there,” said Wade when asked if there was some chippy play. “Every time we play them it’s gonna be like that. Two teams finding their way in the Eastern Conference. We know we gotta see each other a lot. They never give up. They can be down 30 with 15 seconds left and they’re still gonna fight.”

The Bulls have externally preached toughness from the start of camp. Although Wade didn’t participate in that meeting of the minds, he isn’t exactly running away from such matters.
And Rajon Rondo is competitively ornery enough to have his voice hard no matter the setting.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“It’s been a big theme of practice,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We want to play with physicality and toughness. I think it was evident on the glass tonight.”

Yes, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 19, but that could’ve been a by-product of the Bulls’ crashing the offensive glass on a porous shooting night. And yes, the slightly tense moment between Butler and Crowder probably won’t be an expected occurrence.

But when’s the last time one had multiple examples to dissect to discern this team’s level of toughness—or lack thereof.

“That’s something to show that the guys are out there fighting for each other,” Hoiberg said. “That they were playing with an edge. It happens with this game. You have to be competitive.”

Competition boiled over slightly, but considering the NBA isn’t exactly UFC, one doesn’t have to do much to display a little physical resolve.

“The fact that nothing escalated was good,” Hoiberg said. “The fact that those guys are out there and playing for each other and have each other’s back, that’s a huge thing right now.”

Too many times last season, it seemed the Bulls would submit in situations like those. Not that they were particularly soft, but it didn’t appear they had the collective will to fight for one another if an altercation arose.

Half the time, they looked like they could barely stand to be in the room with each other.

“It’s people’s will to win. Not saying a bad thing about anybody from last year,” Butler said. “To tell you the truth, I study the game and put in a lot of work but Rondo studies the game a lot. Every time I’m in the gym, he’s in the gym. That lets me know, these (dudes) are going to war with you. Every day. When I hit that deck, Rondo was right there. I wanna play with guys that’s gonna play hard, that’s gonna fight.”

And it didn’t take long for Butler to realize he has at least a couple teammates willing to jump in the foxhole with him.