Cubs farm report: Watkins impressing, Rizzo HR form back
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Here is a re-cap of what is going on down on the farm for the Chicago Cubs.
Chris Rusin continued his up-and-down season with an up on May 8 in a 13-2 win over Fresno. The 6’-2”, left-hander tossed six innings, allowing one run on three hits. He also struck out a season-high five batters to two walks in picking up his third win of the season. The 25-year-old now has a 3.40 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 21 K/12 BB over 39.2 innings. The former fourth-round pick of the Cubs in 2009 has a deadly change-up and his fastball sits in the 88-90 mph range. With the way the Cubs bullpen has been giving away wins this season, mostly because of an inability to throw strikes, Rusin would bring excellent control as he has averaged just 1.9 walks-per-nine innings over 324.1 career innings.
Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-5 with two home runs and six RBI in the 13-2 win over Fresno. He had gone 10 games without a dinger and it marked the fourth time this season he has hit two in a game. The team’s top prospect is now hitting .357 with six doubles, nine hone runs, 31 RBI and a 1.056 OPS through 30 games. There are rumors coming out of Chicago the team may move Brian LaHair to the outfield to make room for Rizzo at first base. The 29-year-old LaHair is among the league leaders in several categories so far, including second in OPS (1.241), fourth in batting average (.373) and fifth in home runs (8).
Brett Jackson is hitting .323 over his last nine games with five extra-base hits and seven walks. He has, however, also struck out 13 times over that span, the one area the team wants him to work on before a call-up. On the season, the 23-year-old is hitting .256 with nine doubles, three triples, three home runs, 12 RBI, five stolen bases and an .824 OPS through 30 games. He has drawn 18 walks for a .362 OBP but has struck out 40 times. He remains the most exciting prospect the team has, but with Tony Campana playing well, and if the LaHair rumor turns out true, there just isn’t room for him right now.
Logan Watkins has been impressing fans with his play on both sides of the field all season. The 22-year-old, left-hander has only committed two errors all season, playing mostly at shortstop and second base. His speed, mixed with his soft hands and instincts, allow him to cover his position with ease. He has been heating up at the plate recently, as well. Over his last five games, he is 8-for-20 (.400) with a triple, home run and three RBI. Through 30 games, he is now hitting .270 with three triples, two home runs, nine RBI and five stolen bases. A slap hitter who makes consistent contact due to his level swing, Watkins’ speed allows him to wreak havoc on the base paths, as he swiped 21 bases and legged out 12 triples last season. An exciting young player who could put pressure on Darwin Barney in the near future.
Kevin Rhoderick has been, arguably, the best pitcher in the system this season. Owner of Frisbee-style slider that is a true wipe-out pitch, and a low-90s fastball, the 6’-1”, right-hander has showed the improvements in the only area of concern the team had for him – his command. After dominating at class-A Daytona last season, posting a 1.26 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 19 K/6 BB over 14.1 innings, he struggled with his command at Tennessee. Over 57 innings, he had a 3.47 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 58 K/37 BB.
Through 13 innings this season as the team’s closer, he has a 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 15 K/4 BB. He has four saves, and most importantly, has cut his BB/9 down from 5.8 to 2.8. With the closer situation up in the air on the north side of Chicago, the 23-year-old Rhoderick has put his name in the mix with his play this season.
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