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Cubs minor-league roundup -- Week 3

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Cubs minor-league roundup -- Week 3

The Cubs are 5-12 and in last place in the NL Central, already six games out of first place. They're one game behind the lowly Houston Astros.

This isn't the "next year" Cubs fans have been waiting for. There's no getting around that fact.

But while the big-league club is hurting for talent, there are young players on the horizon, stirring up excitement for the future. Each Tuesday, we will take a look at how the Cubs' minor-league players are faring to date.
Triple-A Iowa

Anthony Rizzo is the hot story here, with 7 homers, 19 RBI and a .380.429.718 slash line in 18 games. He has two more homers than the entire major-league Cubs team.

Welington Castillo (.971 OPS), Adrian Cardenas (.958) and Luis Valbeuna (.910) are also performing admirably at the plate.

Dave Sappelt, who came over in the Sean Marshall deal, is struggling so far with a .239.282.388 line, as is Josh Vitters (.606 OPS, only two extra-base hits).

Top prospect Brett Jackson is striking out way too much (21 in 75 at-bats), but leads the team with 9 walks and also has 10 extra-base hits and is 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts.

25-year-old left-hander Chris Rusin may not strike a lot of guys out (only 9 in 21.1 innings), but he boasts a good 3.38 ERA and sparkling 1.13 WHIP in his four starts. Left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau (3.72 ERA) and right-handed starter Casey Coleman (3.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) have also started the season on the right foot.

Travis Wood, the main piece in the Marshall trade, is getting by on a middling 5.19 ERA, but has only made three starts so far and got the ball to kick off Tuesday's game.

Right-handed reliever Manny Corpas challenged for a job in the big-league bullpen in spring training but has given up 16 hits and 11 runs (10 earned) in just 10.1 innings.

Double-A Tennessee

Trey McNutt, widely considered as the top pitching prospect in the organization, has been on fire to start the season, boasting a 0.77 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in his three starts. He does have 7 walks in 11.2 innings, however, and that is something Theo Epstein and Co. would love to see him correct.

Reliever Alberto Cabrera (1.74 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) is also off to a hot start while Casey Weathers, the second part to the Ian Stewart-Tyler Colvin trade, has struggled badly. Weathers has a 5.40 ERA and 2.40 WHIP in his first 5 innings and has surrendered a whopping 7 free passes.

Dae-Eun Rhee has a 4.76 ERA in three starts.

The Smokies are struggling on offense so far, but young infielders Logan Watkins (.779 OPS, 4 SB), Rebel Ridling (.777) and Elliot Soto (.735) have been the bright spots in the first few games.

Top prospect Junior Lake has started the season on the DL, but will probably join the Smokies when he returns.

High-A Daytona

Matt Szczur is hitting just .206 with a .537 OPS, but has 8 stolen bases already. He is extremely athletic and should start getting things going with the bat soon.

Second baseman Ronald Torreyes is only hitting .240, but has a .345 OBP and a .380 SLG. He's only 19, but excited Theo and Jed Hoyer enough that they acquired him as part of the Marshall deal from the Reds.

Zach Cates, acquired in the Rizzo-Andrew Cashner deal, has given up a whopping 20 hits and 14 earned runs in 8.1 innings. 2010 top draft pick Hayden Simpson is also struggling with a 7.11 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in three starts.

Tony Zych, a 2011 draft pick, has walked just one and allowed only three runs in nine innings.

Low-A Peoria

Outfield prospect Reggie Golden has many excited about his potential, but he's gotten off to a slow start with a .192 average, though it is in just 26 at-bats.

Marco Hernandez, ranked as the Cubs' 13th best prospect by MinorLeagueBall.com, is just 7-for-60 to start the year.

Ben Wells, a promising young right-handed pitcher, has a 6.28 ERA in three starts.

Etc.

Other top prospects INF Javier Baez, RHP Dillon Maples, 1B Dan Vogelbach, INF Jeimer Candelario, INF Gioskar Amaya and OF Shawon Dunston, Jr. have yet to start play in 2012.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.