Cubs

Down on the farm: Cubs, White Sox weekly minor league report

Down on the farm: Cubs, White Sox weekly minor league report

Each week, CSNChicago.com goes down on the farm for a minor-league report from both the Cubs and White Sox system, presented by Service King.

CUBS

The Cubs signed Joe Nathan to a major-league deal earlier this week, but if they're looking for some bullpen help, they don't need to look any further than Triple-A Iowa.

Spencer Patton was called up to the big leagues when Neil Ramirez went on the bereavement list and surrendered a hit to the only batter he faced. But in the minors, Patton hasn't allowed a run in 13 innings, picking up five saves.

Patton and Carl Edwards, Jr. have combined to strike out 42 batters in 27.1 innings.

Edwards (2.51 ERA, 1.256 WHIP in 14.1 innings for Triple-A Iowa) was also promoted to the big leagues for the Cubs' doubleheader last week, but did not appear in either game. 

He had a 3.86 ERA and 1.286 WHIP in five games with the big club last season and figures to be one of the first names called up to Chicago if the Cubs need bullpen help down the line.

To boot, the Iowa Cubs also have a trio of other relievers turning heads with Felix Pena (1.86 ERA, 0.724 WHIP, 11.6 K/9 in 19.1 innings), Brandon Gomes (2.76 ERA in 16.1 IP) and Jean Machi (3.10 ERA in 20.1 IP).

WHITE SOX

Tim Anderson's hot streak continued over the past week.

The White Sox shortstop was named the International batter of the week on Monday.

In the last 10 games, Anderson is batting .426 with three homers, six RBIs, a triple and four stolen bases. His season average has also jumped from .231 to .300 during that span.

If he continues at this pace, he could reach the majors this season.

The White Sox acquired 26-year-old pitcher Anthony Ranaudo last week in exchange for reliever Matt Ball.

In Ranaudo's first start for the Charlotte Knights, he pitched four innings, allowing three hits, one run and striking out four. He earned a no decision.

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

Is this the offseason that Cubs executive Jason McLeod finally becomes an MLB general manager?

According to Bruce Levine, the Giants are reportedly interested in McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development, for their vacant general manager position.

McLeod joined the Cubs' front office in 2011 alongside Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Before the Cubs, he spent six years in the Red Sox front office and two in the Padres' (with Hoyer, who was San Diego's general manager from 2010-2011). 

Of course, the Giants' reported interest in McLeod doesn't necessarily mean that he will interview for the job. However, it's worth noting that McLeod interviewed for the Twins' general manager job in 2016; he also withdrew his name from consideration for the Padres' general manager job in 2014. 

In addition to the Giants, McLeod's name has been linked to the Mets' general manager vacancy. This is more speculation, but the point is that it seems to be only a matter of time before McLeod is hired as general manager elsewhere.

For what it's worth, though, McLeod is under contract through 2021 and has previously said that he is grateful to be with the Cubs. 

“I’m exceptionally grateful,” McLeod said. “All of us are. Look at where we are at this moment in time with this team," McLeod said in 2016. "I can’t imagine a better environment, a better culture to work at in baseball.

"We’ve been together a long time. We’re friends. We’re good. We embrace the fact that we are good. And we challenge ourselves to be even better.”

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.