Cubs minor-league round-up: Rizzo still hot


Cubs minor-league round-up: Rizzo still hot

As many of the Cubs minor league affiliates approach the halfway points of their seasons we take an in depth look at some of the top names in this weeks minor league update.

Many wondered how Cubs top prospect Anthony Rizzo would bounce back after his injury scare last week. Needless to say he didn't disappoint. Although Rizzos numbers did slightly drop last week (4-for-15 (.266), 1 HR, 2 RBIs), he continued to deliver when his team needed it most. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th Sunday afternoon, Rizzo came to the plate hit-less on the day. With one swing of the bat he sent his 23rd home run soaring over the fence giving his team a 3-2 lead. The two-run blast proved to be the deciding factor in Sundays contest. It is evident that Rizzos time in Iowa is coming to an end and what better way to thank the fans then giving them one last game-winning round tripper to remember him by.

Brett Jackson once again left us scratching our heads in disbelief this week. He was 5-for-18 (.277) with four runs scored, three RBIs and a .380 OBP. While these numbers are nothing to spit at, Jackson continues to strikeout at an alarming rate. Over the past 10 games his K rate sits at an astronomically high 50 percent. This is Jacksons third year in the organization and he has been labeled a top prospect from the day he was drafted. His performance in the first half of the 2012 season has been forgettable at best. If Jackson wants to be an integral part of the Cubs plan for the future he is going to have to make some major changes immediately.

Tennessee Smokies coaches cannot stop raving about their 21-year-old shortstop prospect Junior Lake, and the praise comes with good reason. Last week, Lake was 7-for 20 (.350), scored four runs and stole three bases, doubling his season total. The Junior Lake that came into the All-Star break hitting .301 is a completely different player than the one who showed up to the clubhouse on opening day. Coming into the season the youngsters main problem was his wild approach at the plate. He was known for chasing pitches well out of the zone and tallying his fair share of one pitch at-bats. What we see now is a Junior Lake with a much more refined skill set at the dish. He has grown in his approach and it is elevating his stock to a new level.

Trey McNutt struggled again in his one start last week. He went 5.2 innings allowing five runs on nine hits. Of the nine hits, three of them found the cheap seats. McNutt was labeled the Cubs top pitching prospect by many scouts at the beginning of the season but he has failed to live up to the hype. His 4-6 record and 4.09 ERA are two major indications that something simply is not clicking for the right hander. What is most alarming for me is McNutts endurance. In his 13 starts he has yet to pitch deeper than the sixth inning.

Arismendy Alcantra may not be a household name just yet but the Daytona shortstop is everything we love and hate about highly talented prospects. Last week, he was 6-for-17 (.353) with two RBIs and a .363 OBP. Most impressively, he swiped his 20th base of the season which is good enough for third best in the Florida State League and just two off the leader. Along with Alcantras tremendous athleticism and speed comes a youthful disposition that at times can lead to avoidable errors. The shortstop recorded his 25th error of the year and like the majority of his blunders it was of the throwing variety. A move to second base is looking like it will be beneficial not only for his team but also for his career.

In four games last week Javier Baez managed to break out of his hitting funk in a big way. The Peoria shortstop was 5-for-12 (.416) with two round trippers and a ridiculous 1.438 OPS. Baez also recorded five RBIs and four runs, one in each game. This is the type of production we expect from one of the Cubs top prospects and I believe it will become regularity for Baez as he grows both mentally and physically.

Joe Musso contributed to this report

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after morning skate on Thursday morning.

"It’s exciting," Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks will assign forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

It costs a lot of money to see the GOAT, apparently. 

According to TickPick, a secondary-market ticket site, the get-in price for Sunday's Bears-Patriots matchup is currently sitting at a nice, plump $356. 

That price is, according to this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, more expensive than a ticket to No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 16 North Carolina State ($161) and No. 5 LSU vs. No. 22 Mississippi State (39$??) combined. It's also over 100 percent (116, to be precise) higher than the Bears' following game against the New York Jets. 

This is on top of what is, according to CNBC, already the most expensive gameday experience in the NFL. Soldier's average beer costs $9.50, coming in as the 2nd-most expensive cup of Bud Light Foam, behind only San Fransisco. 

Honestly though, it's not even that cold yet. Who needs heat/electricity when you can have nosebleed seats and *one* beer instead!