Bulls

White Sox Minor League update: Mitchell slumping

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White Sox Minor League update: Mitchell slumping

AAA Charlotte Knights

The Knights pitching staff has had its struggles this season, but Dylan Axelrod has been a bright spot for the club. He is 2-1 in five starts and has only surrendered 23 hits in 31 innings of work. Axelrod has only allowed three earned runs all season and holds an impressive 0.87 ERA. In his one start last week, Dylan went six innings, struck out nine and allowed one unearned run on a fielding error. Axelrods name may sound more familiar than other prospects because he has seen glimpses of action for the White Sox this season. He appeared in three games with one start and holds a 3.52 ERA in the big leagues.

Charlotte catcher Josh Phegley continues to look for answers in the second week of May. After coming off a productive April, Phegley has had a great deal of trouble finding his swing this month. Last week, he went just 3-for-24 (.125), and in four of the six games, he was hitless. Phegleys recent slump has caused his once jaw-dropping average to flutter just above .300 (.303). It is still early in the season, but Phegley needs to fix his swing not only to help his shrinking average but also for a Charlotte team searching high and low for run support.

AA Birmingham Barons

Birmingham speedster Jared Mitchell appeared to have pumped the breaks last week and his production followed. Mitchell went 4-for-24 (.166) with only one extra base hit, and two RBI. He fanned 11 times with five multiple strikeout games. Of the six times he reached base safely last week, he swiped three bags. Mitchell could be a true threat on the base paths, his only issue has been getting there, and his .233 OBP for the week tells us exactly that.

Simon Castro was deemed to have location issues coming into the season, but it appears that in his last two performances, he has been completely in control. Castro toed the rubber for one start last week and put on quite the show. He tossed seven innings, allowed one unearned run, and struck out five. Even more impressively, Castro only allowed three hits in his seven innings of work. With a methodical approach to his last two starts, Castro has silenced many analysts who were critical of his ability to locate his pitches.

Class A Winston-Salem Dash

The Dash improved to 22-15 on Wednesday and their recent success can be largely attributed to left fielder Brady Shoemaker. In the five games he played last week, Brady went 10-for-18 (.555) with three RBIs and an OBP of .600. His recent tear catapulted his average to .356 on the season, the highest on the team and good enough for fourth in the league. Not only has Shoemaker been hot, he has delivered in the clutch, hitting .351 with runners in scoring position.

Spencer Arroyo had one start this week in Winston-Salem. He threw five and a third innings allowing one run on four hits with six Ks. Arroyo started the season slowly, allowing 13 combined runs in his first two starts but his performances have become increasingly more efficient and his ERA (5.97) is slowly beginning to level out. In his eight starts, Arroyo leads the club in strikeouts (35), and is second in innings pitched (37.2).

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do Bulls or Blackhawks have a better chance at making playoffs?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do Bulls or Blackhawks have a better chance at making playoffs?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Kaplan was joined by Ben Finfer, David Haugh and Mark Lazerus to discuss the Bulls not tanking well and the Blackhawks tanking too well.

Plus, Alshon Jeffery is heading to the Super Bowl while the Bears stay home. And is the hot stove league about to heat up with Yu Darvish?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here

Cubs adding catching depth that may help them out in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes

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AP

Cubs adding catching depth that may help them out in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes

Chris Gimenez, come on down.

The 35-year-old catcher isn't exactly a household name, but he's been signed by the Cubs to add backstop depth, according to Chris Cotillo and Ken Rosenthal:

The Cubs didn't have much depth in the catching department beyond Willson Contreras and inexperienced rookie Victor Caratini and while Gimenez doesn't light up the stat column, he's a link to Yu Darvish that could give the Cubs a unique advantage in that domain:

Darvish and Gimenez played together with the Texas Rangers in 2014-15 (though Darvish was hurt in 2015) and Gimenez has been shedding some light on what the free-agent pitcher may be thinking this winter. Is this Part II of a David Ross-Jon Lester personal catcher situation?

That may be reading a bit too much into things, as the Cubs were always going to sign a veteran catcher to provide depth beyond the unproven Caratini. They saw how important that was in 2017 when Alex Avila spent roughly a month as the starter when Contreras was hurt.

The link between Gimenez and Darvish is real, but the frontline starter has also made 48 starts over the last two seasons while throwing to a catcher not named Gimenez. And the free agent catching market is pretty thin beyond Avila and Jonathan Lucroy, both of whom should earn starter's money or close to it.

Gimenez has played 361 games in the big leagues over the last nine seasons as a journeyman, with stops in Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Texas, Cleveland (again), Texas (again), Cleveland (again) and then Minnesota last year. He played for Cubs manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Jim Hickey while in Tampa Bay.

Gimenez turned in a career season in 2017 with the Twins, notching new highs in games played (74), at-bats (186), runs (28), hits (41), homers (7), RBI (16) and walks (33).

He has a career .218 batting average with a .309 on-base percentage, .345 slugging and .654 OPS. 

But Gimenez isn't just a catcher. He's made nine appearances as a pitcher over the last few years, including six in 2017, where he allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.

Gimenez will probably compete with Caratini for the backup catcher role in Chicago and can lend a veteran presence. He's also the best bet to take for first position player to pitch in a game in 2018.