As the Cubs struggle to snap their extended losing streak Cubs fans can turn their weary eyes to the team’s minor leagues for some glimmers of hope.
The Cubs made headlines, and raised eyebrows, when they gave 20 year old Cuban defector Gerardo Concepcion a contract worth a reported $6 million. Concepcion looked like a colossal flop after his first few starts for the Peoria Chiefs. In his first three pro starts Concepcion logged just 6 2/3 innings while allowing 14 earned runs on 19 hits and three walks. He has settled down considerably in his more recent starts even turning in six shutout innings in a May 15th start against the Burlington Bees. For the season Concepcion is just 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA in six starts. He has walked 14 and struck out 1o in 21 2/3 innings.
Speedster Matt Szczur has been shwoing off his legs for the Daytona Cubs. The 22 year old outfielder has racked up 19 steals and 41 runs scored in 42 games. Szczur is hitting .268 with a .361 OBP this season.
Former Cubs first round pick Hayden Simpson is still struggling with his command. Simpson has appeared in 10 games (four starts) for Daytona and has walked 24 and allowed 44 hits in 32 1/3 innings. Simpson’s WHIP this year is an unsightly 2.10.
Tennessee shortstop Junior Lake got off to a late start in 2012 due to a spring training injury. He’s been doing his best to make up for lost time. In 17 games with the Smokies Lake is hitting .328 with five doubles, a triple, and two home runs. Lake posted a .680 OPS in half a season with Tennessee in 2011. The 22 year old currently has a .938 OPS for the 2012 season. lake has already drawn 10 walks this season compared to the 13 he drew in 67 games with Tennessee in 2011. The sample size of 17 games is admittedly small but Lake looks like he is developing into a major asset for the Cubbies.
Much has been written, and speculated, in regards to Iowa first sacker Anthony Rizzo. He’s continued his all blitz on PCL pitching and currently has 16 home runs to go with a staggering 1.122 OPS. Rizzo will soon be in Chicago. Dale Sveum’s problem will be finding a spot on the field for both Rizzo and Bryan LaHair.
The Cubs recently plucked Travis Wood, Blake Parker, and Adrian Cardenas from the Iowa roster. Relief pitcher Jeff Beliveau could be the next I-Cub to get the call to Wrigleyville. Beliveau, a 25 year old lefty, is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 16 games with Iowa. He’s struck out 23 batters and allowed just 15 hits in 21 innings. Beliveau has a 1.14 WHIP on the season. Last year he posted a 0.88 WHIP in 41 games for Tennessee.