#Cubs Minor League report: Black, Underwood, Balaguert

Friday’s games

Dallas Beeler gave up nine runs on five hits and three walks over 2 1/3 innings in Iowa’s 14-2 loss to El Paso. Arismendy Alcantara had three hits and one RBI. Matt Szczur had a hit, and now is 15-for-45 (.333) in 14 May games.

Corey Black gave up one run on three hits and struck out six over five innings in Tennessee’s 10-8 win over Mobile. Wilson Contreras had two hits, including a home run, and two RBI. Kyle Schwarber also had two hits, including a double, and one RBI. Billy McKinney had two hits and two RBI while Anthony Giansanti had two hits and three RBIs.

Duane Underwood posted a quality start, giving up two runs over six innings, but took the loss in Myrtle Beach’s 2-0 loss to Carolina. The Pelicans totaled four hits, all singles. It was Underwood’s fourth quality start of the season.

Yasiel Balaguert had two hits, including a home run, in South Bend’s 6-5 come from behind win over Lake County. Jake Stinnett started and gave up five runs over five innings. Gleyber Torres had two hits and three RBI.


When will the cubs say NOPE TO STROPE ? And when will the fashion police catch up to him and tell him to put his cap on the right way ?

It is not just Strop, Ron. Our bullpen ranks 22nd amongst all major league teams. That`s not going to `cut it` if we have expectations of contending for a `wild card` or more in 2015. Take a good look at this Royals` team. It has much to recommend it, including the bullpen which enjoys the games` number one ranking. As Joe suggested yesterday in his post game comments, it`s easy to see why KC played in the WS in 2014. They are in a place where our Cubs are not. It is advantageous for our Cubs to observe this opponent `up close and personal ` as they are doing this weekend. The young Cubs especially are seeing what it takes to reach the highest levels of this game. I especially admire centerfielder Cain and catcher Perez. Cain is able, as I suggested in the 2014 postseason. He has already made multiple defensive `highlight reels` in 2015. Perez is also a stalwart defensively; he has `cat like` moves around the dish and plays almost every blessed game; he positively `hates` not being included in the lineup each and every game day. Backstops, more than any other position, need rest periodically, as you know; but not this guy apparently. Perez is a warrior.

Aloha jhosk- when I have more time I will comment in detail but thank you for giving us the stat that the bullpen is at the bottom and it is not just Ron, It was like the pen fell apart after Ramirez went down in April. They have not been the same since. At the same time, I have realistic expectations, meaning I was not hoping for a WS this year but if they go there great! Having said that, I hope the FO is not anxious and think they have to trade away good young players/prospects for bullpen help. I do not think they will. At the end of this season there will be a lot of FA pitchers available so I just hope the organization can make it work til then, maybe the pitcher they got from Seattle for Castillo can help out when ready. Take care now. Mahalo!

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Hey K.G., I agree with the Cubs not making a trade right now. Castro’s trade value is dropping and we would have to include a couple of top prospects which we shouldn’t do. Let’s move Castro out to the outfield, Russel to short, Baez to second. Hopefully with September callups we may see Schwarber? We have improved this year but still have a long way to go. Pitching, defense, RISP, reducing strikeouts. A lot of work to be done. Go Cubs!

Aloha jhosk, agreed. Maybe today’s rain delay is good for the team. I hope Wada is ready to go tomorrow. By the way, a family member wanted to see a movie and the one they chose is in our back yard, San Andreas. Well, I can say that the MLB did have a small cameo in the film! Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. Did I mention there is a new film in ` a theater near you,` as they say, and its title is `Aloha?` Before someone attacks me for bringing up a subject which is not Cubs` related or even `baseball` connected, I have a `ready` reply. Bill Murray is part of the cast. Bill is a `die hard` Cubs fan, as y`all know, and a legend in his mind, I mean `time.` {Johm Krasinski is also in the cast, and I like him, but I do not have a connection to the Cubs with John. And that comment may be erased.} But wait! Since Joe Maddon is a big fan of `The Office,` perhaps the editors on here will let the Krasinski reference stand.

And Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams are not shabby either. {This comment will surely be censored.}

Aloha jhosk! Yes, I saw your comment earlier about “Aloha,” and thought you might be seeing the movie and could give us a review! We like Emma Stone and McAdams and of course Bill! If you have a chance look up Emma Stone lip-synching online, she is very talented! My family member wanted to see San Andreas today and to my surprise it had a baseball reference in it! I felt it “hit-home,” maybe a little too close if you know what I mean! Well, I just hope Maddon and his staff can work out the bugs in the bullpen. They need folks who not only can throw strikes but know how to set up the batters; in essence if the starter has done his job through say 7+ innings, whoever in the bp is being told that “this night” you could be called upon, needs to be watching and paying attention as to the work that has already been done. Meaning, they need to have a clue when they get the call and go to the mound what is happening, going on. Or as I like to say, “continuity.” As of right now, I do get nervous when the call goes out to the bp, not like KC last year that was so confident in their pen come the 7-8-9 innings. Or the Yankees in the past when they had their setup folks just before Mariano. Anyhow, the team needs to pick up tomorrow’s game and start-a-new the next series. Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. I plan to take your advice and find Emma Stone online and also look for `San Andreas.` ESPN`s `Outside the Lines` devoted much of today`s episode to the Cubs and Wrigley Field and its renovations. Fans can find that online, as well, and it is `worth a look.` Speaking of pens, recall Brandon Finnegan from the 2014 Royals` postseason. You and I discussed him at length as he jumped to the majors from the June draft in 2014 and was a factor in the Royals` success, and he`s the first player ever to appear in both the college WS and major league WS in the same season. Have you noticed he`s not on the current Royals` roster? Had a poor spring and he was demoted to minors where he`s going to attempt to become a starter. I also feel a sense of `trepidation` these days when the manager calls on the Cubs` bullpen. Those `arms` need to make better pitches, as Joe said in his post game comments after Friday`s contest.

Aloha jhosk- maybe you or Jasper can comment as I know you are able to watch the games. Wada did another good start for this team and holding down a very good KC team, today the bp has held the line, good for them. I noticed that Montero was pulled and Ross inserted. When it came time for a pivotal move and the chance to win in the 9th I commend KC because after Rizzo gets a triple and Bryant strikes out, KC knows that Ross is coming up after Castro, so they throw all balls to Starlin. What I am saying, is that barring an injury because I was not able to watch it, I wonder if Montero should have been pulled when he was because it hurt having Ross come in on that situation. I was then hoping that Soler could shorten up and make contact and he did drive the count to 3-2 but in the end struck out. I know the day will come when the team is able to manufacture runs and play small ball and that will be exciting, my human side just wishes it could be now! Hope they can pull this one out! Mahalo!

Well jhosk- first some corrections: Bryant was ahead of Rizzo in the lineup, so he struck-out then Rizzo had the triple, Castro walked and so forth in the 9th inning. Some scary moments there but the team held up and of all folks it was Ross that got the winning hit, good for him and for the team to pull this one out against a very very good KC team! Mahalo!

So the make-up game will be the last home game against K.C.? How big a game that might turn out to be!

Aloha Tom- it could be a very big game and even foreshadowing a series down the line! Mahalo!

Did not see today`s game either, k.g. My `exercise program` took precedence. Did hear most of the bottom of the eleventh inning via car radio, and I reckon that was the best part of the game. Ross had failed to produce in the ninth, I`m told, when he bunted with Anthony on third with one out. The bunt was a poor one; Anthony could not move off third and Ross was thrown out. But Ross redeemed himself with that `bloop` single just out of the reach of ss Escobar. We lucked out. I did hear Joe Maddon`s post game comments, and he insists Fowler was safe on that close play at the dish earlier in the inning, a play which was reviewed and it was determined the plate umpire`s original `out` call was permitted to stand. {Seeing replays of that tonight, it is my opinion the call was correct; Perez tagged Fowler`s hand before that hand touched the plate.} Maddon did praise your guy, Wada, very highly. Joe said he pitched very well, but Joe also said Wada is a very good baseball player; meaning he has an idea when at the dish, and he runs the bases well. Joe also made the point that the Cubs will benefit most from playing teams of excellence like this KC club, rather than teams which are `bottom feeders.` He means the Cubs` players` growth will be more rapid due to their challenging these `high level` teams like KC and the Nats. And don`t we play the Nats after the upcoming Marlins` series? {Aside: I read something today that baffles me. The piece stated that some native Hawaiians have an issue with the title of that film we`ve discussed, `Aloha.` They believe it`s `disrespectful.` I do not `get that,` k.g. Can you shed light on this matter?

Aloha jhosk- Yes, we did luck out as you say and Ross made up for his earlier ab in the ninth. I think the team is in Florida tomorrow, 6-1 and Hammel is the starter in that series. Then they go to DC for that 4-game series you are talking about and wrapping up the road trip in Detroit against them pesky Tigers! This is going to be a real test of a trip and where this young team stands as of now. I agree with you what Maddon said and in fact back in college would relish playing the better teams because he is right, it makes you a better player-team. If the Cubs can come out of this next road trip at .500 or better, they have really accomplished something. I am not selling them short or placing them with low expectations, quite the opposite, they are going to have to fight and fight hard to get every win on the road. Should be fun to watch the next 9 games! Lastly, when I was younger, I am sure I got bent out of shape a few times, you see Hawaii is a melting pot and the culture there is very unique but at the same time we were blessed to be a part of this country. Today, there are certain academia there and folks who point out the ethnic makeup, who are bothered when a Hollywood movie is made and it shows mainly one “ethnicity,” knowing that the islands are made up of so much more. My mother who is Caucasian and came to the islands from the mainland, took right to folks and they to her. She used to remark how friends on the mainland loved to watch the old Hawaii-Five-O TV show because it gave Americans on the mainland a glimpse-tour into the life of folks on the islands, including all the ethnic groups or mixed up ones like myself! I do not let it bother me anymore. The movie is about folks in the military and growing up there I can see that the most interaction I had as a young person with “Black & White” folks were in and around the bases. Yes, the words have meaning and how they are conjugated, used. I know when asked I help folks out with their pronunciation and meaning of certain words. To the academic folks and the others, I think they should approach the Hawaii Film Office and tell them they do not want any more of these films being made in the islands, these same folks will also need to be honest and up front with all the islanders there because many of them have jobs in the industry. I do not think it will ever happen but instead of going to the press, go to the source that brings in these projects and tell them your concerns. Anyhow, just one person’s 2cents, back to ball! Mahalo!

Thanks for your input regarding that Hawaiian matter, k.g. I failed to see why the term `Aloha` was offensive, in any way, and that`s why I was originally `in the dark.` I want to comment on Sunday`s close play at the plate involving Fowler as the runner. I suggested recently that I admire broadcasters who are objective and give credit to players who make outstanding individual efforts in games, regardless of which team those players represent. Left fielder Gordon made an exceptional off-balance throw, given he had no time to `set himself.` On the end of that throw was catcher Perez, and he also made a remarkable defensive one-handed grab and swipe of the tag applied to Fowler. The Cubs` broadcasters should have called attention to those defensive efforts. I had no access to the tv guys, and have no clue if they did or not; in fairness, I heard just part of Pat and Ron`s descriptions of that play and heard no praise for Gordon or Perez in the part I did hear, but I could have missed such attribution. You`ll recall we commented Saturday that Perez is an exceptional defensive backstop, and that right there is a prime example why. { Aside: in yesterday`s Reds/Nats game, a Cincinnati batter was `walked` by Nats` relief pitcher Grace, at one point. But the broadcasters pointed out that four balls had not been thrown to the batter; just three had; it was a three ball `walk,` and it was permitted to stand. The umpire `goofed.` How often does one see that? And I do not mean umpires `missing calls.` I mean how often does one see `a three ball walk?`

One more thing, k.g. As you know, I`m a baseball fan, meaning all levels of baseball. As you must know, the `Road to Omaha` has begun. There were `Regionals` all across the land over the weekend, and some continue into today, Monday. Rice played Houston in the Houston Regional Sunday, and Rice won 3-2 in 20 innings. The contest took 6 hours, 20 minutes. And Rice has to play another opponent tonight to determine the winner of that regional. My Virginia team has had a `down` year, and it was even questionable at the end of April if they`d even qualify for their ACC tournament. But lo and behold, they won their regional at Lake Elsinore, California this weekend. It`s a minor miracle; trust me. The Hoos await the winner of today`s UCLA/Maryland contest in the Los Angeles Regional to determine next weekend`s Super Regional opponent. The Virginia players have to `sit tight` in California tonight to see what their next move will be. If the Bruins win, they`ll stay in California until the weekend. If Maryland wins, the Cavaliers will board a plane and head back east, of course. {Is the first time the school`s baseball team has ever been in this position.} In the meantime, the Virginia players are going to see a major league game tonight, either in San Diego or Anaheim.

Aloha jhosk- Yes, the College World Series! Just saw a friend recently that had been in the athletic department with me and we were reminiscing as they say. It is neat to see so many other teams from other states in the hunt, not just from one or two areas. Your Cavaliers were in a tough regional! All the teams from CA except for you and to go from one coast to the other! I hope they get to say out here and take on UCLA! You know the weather is nice, we are not getting any rain so as Ernie would say, “Let’s Play Two!” I wish I had the resources to take off the middle two weeks in June as the series is a lot of fun. And yes, I remember the pitcher from last year that won the CWS, then drafted then in a WS with KC. I hope he is able to find his groove and come back up, that was a neat story. Take care tomorrow is another day! Mahalo!

The good news continues. The Cardinals lost to the Brewers tonight. We gained a game in the standings. This should be the case more often.

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