#Cubs Minor League report

Wednesday’s games

Drew Rucinski gave up two runs over five innings In Iowa’s 4-2 win over Nashville. Miguel Montero was the designated hitter and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Albert Almora had two hits, both doubles, and scored two runs.

Tennessee lost, 8-1, to Montgomery. Paul Blackburn gave up four runs over six innings. He had given up one earned run over 38 innings prior to Wednesday’s game. Mark Zagunis had two hits.

Cael Brockmeyer hit a solo home run in Myrtle Beach’s 5-1 loss to Winston-Salem. Zach Hedges gave up two runs over six innings. It was his fifth straight quality start.

Justin Steele gave up two hits over five scoreless innings in South Bend’s 2-0 win over Dayton. Steele struck out six. Andrew Ely was 4-for-4 with three doubles. Jesse Hodges had three hits.

12 Comments

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Blackburn is an interesting prospect, as he was drafted out of high school in the Supplemental 1st Round in 2012. He initially made the Cubs top prospect list (Cubs #16 on mlb.com in 2012, #17 in 2013, #15 in 2014), but fell off in 2015 despite still having pretty good numbers. To me, his numbers kind of look like Kyle Hendricks, as he doesn’t walk a lot of batters, keeps the ball in the park and gives up slightly less than a hit per inning. And when you look ahead at the Cubs rotation, Hammel is a potential free agent at the end of this season, and Arrieta & Lackey are both currently set to become free agents after next season. With Strasburg now off the market, next off-season’s free agent class is missing a true #1, which means if teams want to improve on their starting pitching over the next two seasons, they’d better develop from within or give up a few prospects in a trade. So if Blackburn can keep up his hot start, maybe he’ll be back on the radar and will allow the Cubs to fill one of their potential rotation openings over the next two years without having to overpay for a middle-of-the-rotation guy next off-season or part with a top prospect.

Aloha Doug- those are very good points you have brought up. I love not only dealing with the here and now but looking ahead as you said. I think as you point out, the importance of developing from within or taking a risk when warranted to get some prospects that can pay off in the near future. You brought up Hendricks and Blackburn. I love these types of pitchers, they do not throw “gas” not slow but use the plate and pitches to get ground-ball outs, strikeouts and pop-flies. I know there will only be one Greg Maddux but I always hope that if there would be one “like” him, it would come out of this organization (again). I am a little biased as Blackburn comes from our area and happy that the Cubs got him and not the A’s or Giants. I hope he can stay on track and rise through the levels to have a shot at the bigs. The other point you brought up was about current pitchers like Hammel and Lackey as well as Arrieta. I think the Cubs are still on the hook for EJax’s salary this year and with Ross retiring at the end of the year along with possible trades and buyouts of players contracts, the FO will have some funds to play with. As you know there are no guarantees that all of them come back after this year and next. But you hope that Arrieta could get an extension and possibly one of the other two secure a short term contract. No matter what, your point about developing and promoting from within or through prospect trades is important. Take care now. Mahalo.

Aloha Doug- just a follow-up to my earlier response. I just read Carrie’s Inbox and she informed fans that Arrieta has stated he wants to stay in Chicago but will not do so for a “hometown” discount. Strasburg is 27, Arrieta is 30. I have argued in the past that not only age should be considered, also how many innings does a pitcher have on their arms, any injuries in the past and so forth. My concern with Arrieta is that even though he is 3 years older than Strasburg, he too might be thinking of a 7yr $25mil/year contract. If Arrieta does not get an extension and goes into the FA after the 2017 season, he will enter the following season at age 32. Right now both Strasburg and Arrieta are very close in numbers (yrs-service time/innings pitched), even body measurements! I guess Arrieta could argue that the rigorous training he puts himself through keeps his body in “young-shape.” If the Cubs do not offer an extension this year they might be able to do it next year and trim 1-2yrs from a 7yr contract and play less without going to arbitration. But they run the risk of him wanting to test the market as it gets closer to his time. If they do offer and extension to him within this season, I bet he and Boras will expect $25mil per year, starting of course for 2017 and a 5-7yr contract. I say that because maybe they put in an opt-out clause like the Dodgers did with Grienke. All of this being said, back to your point the organization needs to play out two scenarios: A roster with Arrieta after the 2017 season and one without him. Right now the 3 pitching prospects that are slated to arrive first are Johnson/Edwards/Williams, then Black/Tseng as early as 2017. I hope out of those 5 plus Blackburn that one of them is up in a starting role by 2017; especially if Arrieta is not signed. You have made me think now, if Hammel has a good 2016, maybe the Cubs offer him another 2year contract as a backup as he would cost quite a bit less than Arrieta. A lot of what-ifs, including Theo’s contract too. I hope for a good start to the Pirates series tomorrow. Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g., are you forgetting I repeated information I read in “USA Today” more than 10 days ago regarding Arrieta and his agent and their expectations? Boras claims he hinted last winter that Jake will be seeking a seven year deal, and the Cubs did not even want to consider that. After reading that piece, it was my conclusion that Arrieta and Boras may entertain a six year contract, but something shorter than that is highly unlikely. Jake`s “window of opportunity” is a narrow one, and who can blame him for wanting to strike while the iron`s hot? If the Cubs are unwilling to compromise, you can be certain another organization will meet his demands.

Speaking of opt-outs, Joe Buck, John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal during last Saturday`s broadcast, discussed the fact that Heyward has such a clause in his contract. Those personalities agreed that opt-outs favor the player almost exclusively, to the detriment of the club. What those men never revealed was when Jason will be eligible to exercise that clause, if he so chooses. Do you know?{The implication was he will only do so if he`s performing at a very high level. If Heyward is underachieving at the time he is eligible, one can be certain he will decline.}

Aloha jhosk- I forgot that you had mentioned it via the USA Today article. I totally understand Arrieta trying to get the best contract he can and if he even mentions the idea of a “discount” for the home-team it could discourage other possible suitors. I get it, it is a business and he has to “think” about himself. I hope it works out for Cubs’ fans that he stays. Hammel was gritty today and went 7 innings, that is a positive. Hammel understands that he “thrives” in this organization and has the support. I have seen other pitchers get huge contracts with other clubs and not fare as well. I think Arrieta has succeeded partly because of the this Cubs organization. Not to take anything way from the Orioles but his success is coming the past 3yrs in Chicago. I hope he considers that. Take care now. Mahalo!

Hammel has team option of 10mill… That’s a steal he will be back and arrieta has arb not a free agent …

If all things are equal, Hammel will be back in 2017. However, the past two seasons he has run out of gas towards the end of the season. If he does so again this year, or if he gets hurt at some point this year, maybe the Cubs think twice about bringing him back for 2017? So I mentioned Hammel being a free agent after this year as something that isn’t completely impossible as of right now.. But even if/when they do pick up his option, that leaves a potentially big rotation turnover after 2017. If all three leave after 2017, then you’d hope that someone like Blackburn would be ready to step in from the minors.

I endorse that Hammel wears down as the season progresses. Will never forget he started the final game of our 2015 season versus the Metropolitans, and was shelled in the first inning to such a degree that we were hopelessly out of the game before we even had our first at-bats.

Hoping I did not leave the impression that all opt-out clauses in contracts are unfavorable to organizations. Had there not been an opt-out clause in Joe Maddon`s contract with the Rays, he would not be our skipper today.

I reread that “USA Today” piece on Arrieta, k.g. It was the April 27th edition. I was wrong to suggest Boras ” hinted” he wanted a seven year contract for Jake. That was too timid. Boras asked for such a deal in the off season, and the Cubs were willing to discuss a deal for just three or four years, according to Boras. It`s a matter of accepting Boras`s credulity, I suppose. What I do know for certain is the price for Jake`s services is only going to continue to rise the more he excels, as you saw today. There are precious few pitchers one can name whom you can be confident will win any given game he starts, and Jake Arrieta occupies that rarefied status. You saw it today. I doubt there were many fans who were not expecting the Cubs to emerge victorious today, given they knew Jake was starting that game. How do you evaluate that kind of confidence? It`s priceless, I suggest.

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