8/27 Cubs Inbox

With the Cubs season winding down, it will be time to rev up the Cubs Inbox. Send questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com:

Q: How is Mike Olt doing in Triple-A? His stats look good. — James D., New Orleans

A: Right now, Olt is on Iowa’s disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. In 28 games with Iowa, he was batting .302 with nine doubles, seven home runs and 24 RBIs, striking out 33 times. His slash line is .302/.348/.585. Compare that to his numbers with the big league team: .139/.222/.353, when he hit 12 home runs in 72 games.

8/27 Minor matters – Tuesday’s games

Tacoma beat Iowa, 5-3, on Tuesday, but the I-Cubs playoff hopes are still alive. Omaha lost Tuesday, but Oklahoma City won to take over sole possession of first in the American Northern Division. With five games left to play, the Cubs are four games behind the RedHawks. The I-Cubs and RedHawks play head-to-head for the final four games of the regular season, starting on Friday night at Principal Park in Des Moines.

On Tuesday, Kris Bryant hit a RBI single in the first, but that was the only run off spot-starter Andrew Carraway through five innings. Carraway (8-5) was a last minute replacement when scheduled starter Erasmo Ramirez was scratched. Dan Straily (7-8) took the loss after giving up five runs (four earned) on 10 hits, three walks over five innings. He struck out six.

Junior Lake hit a two-run homer in the eighth, and doubled in the sixth. He has scored at least one run in seven straight games. Brian Schlitter worked one scoreless inning in relief and Jeff Antigua finished with two scoreless innings for the I-Cubs.

Dae-Eun Rhee gets the start in the series finale on Wednesday.

8/26 Soler to start Wednesday

Manager Rick Renteria said Jorge Soler will likely bat fifth or sixth on Wednesday and make his Major League debut in right field.

“I think it’s pretty exciting for the whole organization,” Renteria said Tuesday about Soler’s promotion. “A young man that has been talked about quite a bit will be joining us tomorrow, and everybody’s pretty excited about it. Their teammates are excited about it, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Why promote him on the road?

“Just getting their feet wet — I couldn’t say if it’s detrimental or advantageous one way or the other,” Renteria told reporters in Cincinnati. “I think they’re still coming out here to play the game of baseball. So I think they’re more concerned about what they’ve got to do between the lines.”

Why was Soler promoted before Sept. 1?

“I’m sure that the organization feels that he’s been moving along and that they’d like to get him up here to start experiencing some big league baseball, kind of get his feet wet and kind of chip away and see how he goes,” Renteria said.

Soler is the second member of the so-called “core four” to be promoted to the big leagues, joining Javier Baez.

“The development system, we’re very proud of, because they’ve had a lot of these guys and they’ve done a good job with them,” Renteria said. “And when they get here, we’re very comfortable when they get here. Just like everything, once a guy breaks into the big leagues, they have hiccups; it could be just about anything. But we’re hoping they’ll be able to handle both successes and failures as best as they can.”

8/26 MInor matters – Monday’s games

Jorge Soler hit a three-run homer in the third and Jonathan Mota added a home run in Iowa’s 8-0 win over Tacoma. The Iowa pitching staff posted its 14th shutout, tops in the league. Eric Jokisch, Alberto Cabrera also pitched. Soler is 11-for-20 with 10 RBIs in his last five games. Junior Lake also had a single and double.

C.J. Edwards gave up one run on one hit over five innings in Tennessee’s 2-1 loss to Jacksonville. Edwards struck out eight.

Daytona lost, 8-7, to Dunedin. Gioskar Amaya and Bijan Rademacher both homered. For Amaya, he finished with seven total bases, adding a triple.

Yasiel Balaguert and Jeffrey Baez hit back to back home runs in the seventh to lead Kane County to an 8-3 win over Burlington. Jeimer Candelario had three singles.

Trevor Clifton threw seven shutout innings in Boise’s 3-0 win over Everett. Clifton struck out three and gave up six hits.

8/25 Kane County’s Johnson honored

Kane County’s Mark Johnson was named the Midwest League manager of the year on Monday. Johnson has guided the Cougars to an 86-46 record this season, the best mark among all Major League and Minor League teams.

The Cougars are three wins away from breaking the mark for most regular season wins in franchise history. Entering play Monday, there were eight games remaining. Under Johnson, the Class A team clinched the Western Division first half championship and will play in September’s Midwest League playoffs as the top seed.

Johnson has had to deal with plenty of roster turnover. The Cougars have lost 15 of the 25 players on their April Opening Day roster. This is his fourth season as a manager in the Cubs’ system. Johnson made his Kane County managerial debut last season and prior to that, skippered the Short-A Boise Hawks in 2011 and 2012. The ’12 Hawks advanced to the Northwest League Championship Series. Johnson enjoyed 17 professional seasons (1994-2010) on the field including 332 Major League games with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.

8/25 Minor League roster moves

Double-A Tennessee outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha has been transferred from the Smokies to Triple-A Iowa. In 117 games with Tennessee this season, the 23-year-old posted a .226 average (98-434), adding five homers and 49 RBI, the latter ranking second on the team overall this year.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Rubi Silva has been activated from the disabled list. Prior to being placed on the DL on June 29, Silva, 24, was batting .256 with six homers and 38 RBI in 74 games.

In addition, right-handed reliever P.J. Francescon has been placed on the DL, retroactive to Aug. 24. In 43 appearances for Tennessee during the 2014 campaign, Francescon has compiled an 11-6 record and 3.52 ERA (27 ER in 69 IP).

In a corresponding move, catcher Luis Flores has been activated from the DL. He was batting .273 (27-for-99), hitting three homers and driving in 13 runs in 31 games.

8/25 Soler to join Cubs

Cubs fans have had a chance to see a glimpse of the future with recent call-ups of Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks and Arismendy Alcantara. Now, Jorge Soler will join the group. Soler, 22, will join the Cubs in Cincinnati, and was expected to be at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday.

Ranked No. 5 on MLB.com’s top 20 Cubs prospects, Soler belted a three-run homer in the third inning Monday in Iowa’s game against Tacoma, and was then pulled from the game after two innings. The right-fielder was batting .282 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs with Iowa, including a .373 average with runners on base.

Soler began the season with Double-A Tennessee, but suffered a leg injury after his first game April 3. He went on the disabled list and return in May, but again played sporadically. After rehabbing in Mesa, he rejoined the Smokies in July, and batted .463 in 15 games before he was promoted to Triple-A. In nine games in July with Iowa, he hit .304, and was batting .271 this month.

The Cuban outfielder signed a nine-year, $30 million contract in June 2012, and is on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. He’s part of the so-called “core four” that also includes Baez, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. Bryant is at Iowa, and leads all Minor League hitters with 43 home runs, while Almora is playing for Tennessee.

Because the team is on the west coast, Soler will need Tuesday to travel.

– Carrie Muskat

8/25 Happy day


Luke Toth, a cardiology patient at Advocate Children’s Hospital, celebrated his first pitch to Justin Grimm on Sunday.

Photo by Brian Corbin

8/25 Three Iowa Cubs honored

Arismendy Alcantara, Tsuyoshi Wada and Blake Parker named to the 2014 All-PCL team today, as announced by the Pacific Coast League. It’s the first time the Iowa Cubs have had three players named to the post-season All-Star team.

Alcantara batted .307 (103-for-335) with 25 doubles, 11 triples, 10 home runs, 41 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 89 games with Iowa before he was called up to the Cubs on July 9. At the time of his promotion, he was leading the PCL in triples and extra-base hits (46). His 11 triples are still tops in the league.

Wada was named as the top left-handed starter in the league this year. In 19 games, including 18 starts with Iowa, Wada was 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA. He gave up 104 hits, walked 28, and struck out 120. At the time of his promotion, Wada led the PCL in strikeouts, was fourth in ERA, fifth in WHIP (1.16), and tied for sixth in innings pitched. In eight starts with the Cubs, Wada is 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA (13ER/45 2/3 IP).

Parker is 0-1 with a 1.91 ERA (7ER/33 IP) and leads the PCL with 23 saves in 33 games with Iowa this year. He ranks fifth in the league with 30 games finished. Parker has been called up to Chicago five times during the year and is 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA (9ER/13 1/3 IP) in 10 big league appearances. His 23 saves are second on Iowa’s single-season list and he is the franchise’s all-time leader with 64 career saves.

8/25 Minor matters – Sunday’s games

Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler both homered but it wasn’t enough as Iowa lost, 5-4, to Tacoma in 14 innings for its ninth loss in the last 10 games. Bryant connected in the first inning with a two-run homer, his 43rd of the season in the Minor Leagues. Soler went 3-for-5 with a solo shot in the seventh. Dallas Beeler started, and threw six shutout innings.

Felix Doubront gave up three earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in Tennessee’s 9-7 loss to Jacksonville. Doubront walked three and struck out five in his rehab start. Addison Russell had two hits, including a two-run home run in the ninth. Pin-Chieh Chen had four hits and Lars Anderson had three.

Kyle Schwarber hit two home runs to help Daytona beat Lakeland, 7-1. Schwarber finished with three RBIs, and was batting .314. Tayler Scott got the win, giving up one run over five innings. Billy McKinney had two hits.

Daury Torrez gave up two unearned runs over five innings in Kane County’s 2-1 loss to Burlington. Carlos Penalver had two hits, including a double.

Boise had the day off, and resumes play Monday against Everett.

Mesa totaled two hits in a 5-1 loss to the Angels.


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