It’s opening day again! Here is the schedule for today…
6:35 PM CST
Memphis Redbirds (0-0) @ Iowa Cubs (0-0)
6:30 PM CST
Tennessee Smokies (0-0) @ Pensacola Blue Wahoos (0-0)
5:35 PM CST
Daytona Cubs (0-0) @ Brevard County Manatees (0-0)
7:00 PM CST
Kane County Cougars (0-0) @ Quad Cities Bandits (0-0)
Check back tonight for recaps!
We are getting an early look at what Ricky Renteria might do on a daily basis with the lineup. The good? I like sitting Barney and giving Bonifacio a start at second base against the right-handed pitcher. The bad? I don’t like that Olt is sitting in game two after an off-day, I think he is the every day third baseman so he should be in there. I understand the though process, I just want him to play as much as possible. I also like that Ryan Kalish gets an opportunity tonight, I think a lot of people will be fans of his immediately.
First pitch is at 6:05 PM CST on Comcast SportsNet Plus
With no Cubs game today, it makes sense to shine a light on the Minor Leagues. We cover every level of Cubs baseball here on the blog, and recently it has been a lot more fun than writing about the Major League club as the future offers a bit more promise, I think you agree.
The Daytona Cubs open the season this week, Thursday to be exact, here is their opening day roster. This roster might be tweaked before then, but here is how it stands at the moment.
- RHP – Zach Cates
- RHP – Michael Jensen
- LHP – Austin Kirk
- LHP – Andrew McKirahan
- RHP – Felix Pena
- RHP – Starling Peralta
- RHP – Austin Reed
- RHP – Jose Rosario
- RHP – Tayler Scott
- RHP – Arodys Vizcaino
- RHP – Yao-Lin Wang
- LHP – Rob Zastryzny
PLAYERS TO WATCH
There are a number of intriguing arms that will start their season at Daytona this year, Arodys Vizcaino has to be at the top of that list. Some might be surprised by seeing his name here, but he is coming back from a long recovery from two different elbow procedures. Slow and steady wins the race here as the Cubs are very high on Vizcaino, there is no reason to start him any higher.
I’m very excited to Rob Zastryzny starting at Daytona this year, the left-handed starter was the Cubs second round pick last year. That’s right, this is his first full professional season, and he is starting at high A, that’s something to be excited about.
I enjoyed watching Tayler Scott at Kane County last year, and think that he could start making a name for himself this year. Scott was a 5th round draft pick of the Cubs in 2011, and has jumped a level each professional season.
- Gioskar Amaya (R-2B)
- Jeimer Candelario (S-3B)
- Marco Hernandez (S-SS)
- Tim Saunders (R-2B)
- Rock Shoulders (L-DH/1B)
- Dan Vogelbach (L-1B/DH)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
This is a very exciting roster, and is basically the same group of guys that made Boise so entertaining two years ago, minus a few players here and there.
For an organization with little catching depth, the Cubs boast three solid ones at Daytona. My favorite backstop has to be Chadd Krist, Krist was drafted in the 9th round of the 2012 draft by the Cubs. In two professional years, Krist has played at four different levels, and I expect him to play at two more this year. He finished 2013 at Daytona, and if he displays the same approach this year as he did last year, then Tennessee will be calling.
Where to start in the infield? Amaya and Candelario are going to be a lot of fun to watch as they continue their ascension in the Cubs system. Both guys were signed by the Cubs as non-drafted free agents, and both are considered to be top-20 prospects in the Cubs system by MLB.com.
All eyes will be on Dan Vogelbach, and Albert Almora this season, and I don’t think either guy will finish this year at Daytona. Almora was sidelined for parts of he first two professional seasons, but his production while on the field has been outstanding. He played all of 2013 at Kane County and finished with a .329 average, and an .842 OPS, he’s heading to Tennessee shortly. Vogelbach was originally though of as an overweight, monster power designated hitter when he was drafted. The only thing he has done since then is work hard in order to make his own opportunities. Since he was drafted, Vogy has lost all sorts of weight which has allowed him to improve his defense, but he hasn’t lost any of the power. 2013 was a big one for Vogelbach, he played at Kane County and Daytona, registering 19 home runs, and 76 RBI’s, he will be in Tennessee at some point this season.
The Cubs did some good things today, getting hits with runners in scoring position was not one of them. But about those good things, the Cubs pitching was stellar, and their defense was just as good. Jeff Samardzija loves facing the Pirates, especially in Pittsburgh, one year after going eight scoreless against the Buccos, he went seven scoreless but settled for a no decision. Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and James Russell all did their job out of the bullpen, Carlos Villanueva, not so much. Villanueva faced one batter, and that was it, Neil Walker blasted a walk-off home run to move the Cubs to 0-1 on the young season.
The Cubs struggles were front and center at the plate as they went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, yikes. They also struck out a lot, eleven times to be exact as they were baffled by Francisco Liriano all day long. I did like the Cubs approach today though, as they worked deep counts and were able to get to the Pirates pen by the 7th inning, it just didn’t work out. Emilio Bonifacio had a big day at the plate in his debut as he went 4-for-5 with a double, the Cubs as a whole only had six hits in the loss.
* Photo credit: GENE PUSKAR/AP
Opening Day is upon us, one of my most favorite days of the year. Jeff Samardzija, who owns the Pirates will take on Francisco Liriano, who owns the Cubs, something’s gotta give, or the bullpens will decide it. Below are the lineups, first pitch is at 12:05 PM CST, and the game is on ESPN (outside of Chicago), and WGN TV.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 12:05 PM CST
(TV: ESPN, WGN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 6:05 PM CST
(TV: CSN+) (RADIO: WGN 720)
Thursday, April 3, 2014 – 11:35 AM CST
(TV: MLBN, CSN) (RADIO: WGN 720)
– Series Vitals –
– Pitching Matchups –
Samardzija (Career vs. Pirates) (4 – 3; 2.11 ERA, 18 appearances, 7 starts)
Liriano (Career vs. Cubs) (3 – 2; 2.72 ERA, 6 appearances, 6 starts)
Jackson (Career vs. Pirates) (6 – 2; 3.19 ERA, 10 appearances, 10 starts)
Morton (Career vs. Cubs) (2 – 4; 4.91 ERA, 9 appearances, 9 starts)
Hammel (Career vs. Pirates) (2 – 1; 4.35 ERA, 4 appearances, 3 starts)
Rodriguez (Career vs. Cubs) (9 – 7; 3.60 ERA, 24 appearances, 24 starts)
– Weather –