The number one through eight hitters each had a hit last night. Munenori Kawasaki was 1-5 with an RBI. Willson Contreras was back from his foot injury after a few days and was 1-4 with a couple strikeouts and a run scored. Dan Vogelbach was 1-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Two players in the lineup were making their AAA debuts. 23 year old right outfielder Mark Zagunis and 22 year old 3rd baseman Jeimer Candelario were promoted from Tennessee to Iowa. Zagunis was batting second and he was 1-5 with a strikeout. Candelario is the more highly touted prospected. He was 2-4 with with 2 doubles, 2 runs scored and a strikeout.
Zagunis is a high walk, low strikeout batter who had a great start to the 2016 season. He hit .302/.408/.453 with a .403 wOBA and 153 wRC+ at Tennessee. His walk rate was 14.2% and strikeout rate was 17.1%. It was 15.6% and 16.8% the year before in High A and has been about the same throughout his career. Candelario was much better in AA last year at the end of the season than this year, but he probably didn't have a lot left to prove at that level. Despite the low average, Candelario still had a .328 wOBA and a wRC+ of 102.
Rob Zastryzny got the loss after throwing 5.2 innings and allowing 5 hits and 5 runs. He walked 3, struckout 6 and gave up a home run. Gerardo Concepcion threw 1.1 innings, allowed no hits or walks and struckout 2. C.J. Edwards pitched 0.1 innings, allowed 2 hits and 3 runs. He walked 3. Dallas Beeler had a clean inning and Miguel Mejia pitched 0.2 innings and walked a batter while striking one out.
A year ago I'd have laughed at the idea of Concepcion being an MLB pitcher, but here we are. Clayton Richard is terrible and Concepcion has turned in a really good season so far. He was very impressive at AA to start the year and has thrown 13 innings at AAA now. He threw 17.2 innings in AA so we're still talking small samples, but I don't think there's ever been a 30 inning stretch where Concepcion was anything other than terrible so this is real progress. He's striking out a lot of batters and while he's walked quite a few at AAA, I'm thinking it's time to give him a shot and release Clayton Richard.
The Smokies had only 6 hits in this game. Their top two guys, Jacon Hannemann and Chesny Young combined to go 0-10 with a strikeout. Victor Caratini had half of the team's hits. He was 3-5 with a strikeout. Billy McKinney was 1-4 with a double, walk and strikeout. Daniel Lockhart was was also 1-4 with a double. Pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng was 1-2.
Caratini is a 22-year old, switch hitting catcher. He's 6-1, 205 and will turn 23 in August. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft by the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs acquired him in 2014 for Emilio Bonifacio. He doesn't have much power, but he walks a lot and doesn't strike out much. After the trade to the Cubs in 2014, he was in A ball for 14 games. In 2015 he went to High A and in 453 PA he hit .257/.342/.372 with a wOBA of .335 and a wRC+ of 111. He hit just 4 home runs, but did add 31 doubles and a triple. So far in 2016 at AA, he's had 203 PA prior to yesterday's game and has hit .296/.399/.391 with a .373 wOBA and a wRC+ of 132. His walk rate last year was 10.8% and it's jumped to 14.3% this season. His strikeout rate has remained about the same and he's struckout in 17.7% of his PA this season.
MLB.com ranks Caratini 25th in the Cubs system. He's apparently expected to stick behind the plate, but still needs a little work, which isn't surprising since he's only 22. If Willson Contreras takes over as the full time catcher in the near future, the Cubs could use a backup catcher. Caratini could be that guy and it's a bonus that he's a switch hitter. He can also play 3rd base so you'd have a utility player as your backup catcher enabling Joe Maddon to carry more relievers. Everybody wins!
Jen-Ho Tseng had a really good start. He threw 5 innings, allowed just 2 hits and a walk. He struckout 5. Juan Paniagua continues to pitch well in relief for the Smokies with a scoreless inning, though it wasn't without drama. He allowed 2 hits and a walk. David Garner and James Farris pitched 2 shutout innings each. Both allowed a hit and Farris struckout 3. Nick Sarianides got the loss with 0.1 innings, 1 hit, 2 walks and a game-losing 3-run home run.
The Pelicans only had 5 hits, but 3 of them were extra-base hits and they also walked 5 times. They still only scored 3 runs. Rashad Crawford was 0-3 with a walk, run scored and a strikeout. Gleyber Torres was 1-3 with a 2-run home run and a walk. Ian Happ was 1-4 with 2 strikeouts. Gioskar Amaya was 1-2 with a double and 2 walks. Jeffry Baez was 1-4 with a double and 2 strikeouts.
2014 2nd round pick, Jake Stinnett continues not impress. He's 24 years old and in High A and not very good. He started and threw 5.1 innings, allowed 7 hits and 3 runs. He did strikeout 6 and walk none so there's that. Daury Torrez gave up 4 hits anf 4 runs over 1.1 innings. Dillon Maples is still a thing. 0.1 innings from him with a hit allowed a run scored. A lot of disappointment in this game with Stinnett and Maples. Daniel Lewis gave up a hit, walk and a run in 1 inning of work.
P.J. Higgins had a rough night at the plate going 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. Donnie Dewees was 2-3 with a triple and a walk. He also scored 2 runs. Eloy Jimenez did Jimenez things. He went 2-4 with a double, RBI, 2 runs scored and a strikeout. Eddy Martines also had 2 hits. He was 2-4 with 2 doubles and an RBI. He struckout twice.
Ryan Kellogg threw 7 innings, allowed 5 hits and 2 runs. He walked nobody and struckout 5. He did surrender a home run. Scott Effross picked up the win in relief, improving to 4-0, with 2 innings pitched and 2 hits allowed. He walked 1 and struckout 2.
Kellog was a 5th round pick in 2015. He's a 22-year old left-hander who so far hasn't struckout a ton of batters, but also has shown good command. John Sickels wrote a good article on him last year.
However, the hoped-for fastball velocity gain never really happened. He was upper-80s in high school and has picked that up just a tiny bit, working at 88-91 most of the time and topping at 92. It played in college due to his strong secondary arsenal, but there's no guarantee that will happen at the highest levels, which is why he lasted until the fifth round this spring.
All that is the standard report on Kellogg, but here is the unsubstantiated prediction part.
I think his velocity WILL increase, not up to 97 or anything, but into the 90-94 range. Add that to his three strong secondary pitches and his mound instincts and you have a mid-rotation starter with advanced command who will zip through the minors fairly quickly. I think pro instruction and a mechanical tweak or two will add that extra zip to the heat Kellogg needs to live up to his full potential. And I think that velocity gain will be obvious and in place by the end of 2016.
The Cubs1 team fell to 0-5 with this loss and it was the Pirates only win. Herson Perez (DH) was 2-3 with 2 walks, an RBI and a run scored. Orian Nunez (SS) was 2-4 with a home run. Yonathan Perlaza (2B) and Samir Lara (CF) had the other two hits.
Yunior Perez got the loss with 4.1 innings of work. He gave up 2 hits, walked a batter, surrendered 3 runs (2 earned) and struckout 3. Freddy Tineo pitched 2 innings, allowed 4 hits and 2 runs (1 earned). He walked 3 and struckout 1. Aneuris Rosario pitched 1.2 innings, allowed 2 hits and a run. He struckout 2.
Fidel Mejia (SS) was 2-4 with 3 RBI. Luis Diaz (2B) was 2-4 with a strikeout and Henrry Pedra (3B) was 2-2 with a double, RBI and 3 runs scored. Miguel Amaya (C) and Fernando Kelli (LF) had the other two hits.
Andres Bonalde threw 4 innings, allowed a hit and a walk and one run. He struckout 4. Omar Ventura threw 2.1 innings, allowed a hit and a walk. He gave up 2 runs (1 earned) and struckout 1. Fauris Guerrero picked up the with 2.2 scoreless innings. He allowed a hit, walked none and struckout 4.