Cubs

Five local players on Lemming's Top 100

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Five local players on Lemming's Top 100

Five Chicago area products are listed among the Top 100 players in the nation in the class of 2014, according to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. But none of them ranks among the top 75, an indication that this year's juniors rank a step behind the class of 2013.

The five are Plainfield South linebacker Clifton Garrett (76), Bolingbrook cornerback Parrker Westphal (86), Marist tight end Nic Weishar (94), De La Salle offensive tackle Jamarco Jones (96) and Crete-Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan (100).

It is interesting to note that Westphal, while consistently rated among the top five prospects in Illinois in the class of 2014, was named to the Joliet Herald-News' All-Area second defensive team. To date, he has accumulated 14 scholarship offers.

"At this time, I have interviewed in person one-third of the nation's top prospects and watched film on about 80 percent of the nation's top 2,000 prospects," Lemming said, explaining how he annually travels from coast-to-coast to make his evaluations.

"This top 100 will be changed in a couple of months after I have seen all of the nation's top prospects in person. So far, 19 players have earned five stars with more coming."

Garrett has nine scholarship offers -- from Illinois, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State and Ole Miss.

Weishar, the nation's No. 2 tight end according to Lemming, has 12 offers -- from Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Boston College.

As a sophomore, Weishar caught 73 passes for 1,149 yards and 15 touchdowns. As a junior, the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder caught 89 for 1,034 yards and five touchdowns. He has a 5.37 grade-point average on a 5.0 scale.

He was the only one of the five players who made Lemming's Top 100 to earn a spot on the Chicago Sun-Times' 24-member All-Area squad.

Westphal, a standout on Bolingbrook's Class 8A state championship team in 2011, has offers from Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, Purdue, Ole Miss and Cincinnati.

Jones has accumulated more offers (15) than any other local prospect -- Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, Toledo, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

Morgan, the defensive standout on Crete-Monee's unbeaten 2012 Class 6A state championship team, is a rapidly rising star. He has offers from Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Purdue, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

"I don't base my evaluations on the number of scholarship offers a player receives. And I don't take into account what a player does or doesn't do at a combine," Lemming said. "I think it is more important to judge a player's skills on the basis of his performance, in person or on film. And I like to interview each player to get a sense of his passion and love for the game."

Other juniors in the city and suburbs who are attracting considerable interest from colleges and could earn a spot in the top 100 before the end of the 2013 season are Glenbard North running backdefensive back Justin Jackson, Richards running backathlete Tommy Mister, Mount Carmel defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr., Stevenson defensive back Matt Morrissey and Hinsdale Central center Brian Allen.

Nation's Top 100 In Class of 2014

(According to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network)

No. Name, Hometown Pos. Ht. Wt.

1. Leonard Fournette, New Orleans, La. RB 6-1 225
2. Raekwon McMillan, Hinesville, Ga. LB 6-3 240
3. Tony Brown, Beaumont, Tex. DB 6-1 185
4. Marlon Humphrey, Hoover, Ala. DB 6-0 170
5. Jabril Peppers, Paramus, N.J. DB 6-0 190
6. Quin Blanding, Virginia Beach, Va. DB 6-2 200
7. Cameron Robinson, West Monroe, La. OL 6-6 300
8. Kain Daub, Jacksonville, Fla. LB 6-3 200
9. Gerald Willis, New Orleans, La. DL 6-3 265
10. Andrew Brown, Chesapeake, Va. DL 6-4 290
11. Hoza Scott, La Porte, Tex. LB 6-2 205
12. Da'Shawn Hand, Woodbridge, Va. DL 6-4 260
13. Drake Harris, Grand Rapids, Mich. WR 6-4 180
14. Kevin Crosby, Bamberg, S.C. LB 6-1 225
15. Deondre Clark, Oklahoma City, Okla. DL 6-5 235
16. Tre Williams, Mobile, Ala. LB 6-2 220
17. Bo Scarbrough, Tuscaloosa, Ala. RB 6-2 220
18. Braden Smith, Olathe, Kan. OL 6-6 275
19. Sony Michel, Plantation, Fla. RB 5-11 185
20. Devon Thomas, Broken Arrow, Okla. RB 5-11 210
21. Orlando Brown, Duluth, Ga. OL 6-9 360
22. Todd Kelly, Knoxville, Tenn. DB 6-1 190
23. Damian Prince, Forestville, Md. OL 6-7 310
24. Tyler Luatua, La Mirada, Calif. ATH 6-4 230
25. DeShaun Watson, Gainesville, Ga. QB 6-4 200
26. Jeb Blazevich, Charlotte, N.C. TE 6-5 240
27. Denzel Ware, Crestview, Fla. DL 6-2 220
28. Khairi Clark, Hollywood, Fla. DL 6-3 310
29. Jerrod Heard, Denton, Tex. QB 6-2 180
30. Nathan Starks, Las Vegas, Nev. RB 5-11 200
31. Nick Watkins, Dallas, Tex. DB 6-1 180
32. Jordan Poland, La Jolla, Calif. OL 6-8 330
33. Vincent Jackson, Tampa, Fla. LB 6-2 230
34. Mason Cole, Tarpon Springs, Fla. OL 6-5 280
35. Speedy Noil, New Orleans, La. WR 5-10 180
36. Andrew Williams, McDonough, Ga. DL 6-4 250
37. Justice Hansen, Edmond, Okla. QB 6-4 200
38. Edward Paris, Mansfield, Tex. DB 6-2 190
39. Racean Thomas, Oxford, Ala. RB 5-11 190
40. Michiah Quick, Fresno, Calif. DB 6-0 170
41. Nick Harvey, Lancaster, Tex. DB 5-11 180
42. Kyle Allen, Scottsdale, Ariz. QB 6-2 200
43. Marshon Lattimore, Cleveland, Ohio DB 5-11 180
44. Donnell Stanley, Latta, S.C. OL 6-3 305
45. Demarcus Christmas, Bradenton, Fla. DL 6-3 280
46. Dalvin Cook, Miami, Fla. RB 5-11 195
47. Jalen Tabor, Washington, D.C. DB 6-0 180
48. Bryson Allen-Williams, Ellenwood, Ga. DE 6-3 235
49. Cameron Hampton, Dallas, Tex. LB 6-2 210
50. Andy Bauer, St. Louis, Mo. OL 6-5 300
51. Laurence Jones, Monroe, La. LB 6-2 215
52. Malik McDowell, Detroit, Mich. DL 6-6 290
53. Cameron Denson, Tucson, Ariz. WR 6-1 175
54. E.J. Moss, Ashville, Ala. LB 6-4 220
55. Thaddeus Snodgrass, Springfield, Ohio WR 6-1 185
56. Demetrius Knox, Fort Worth, Tex. OL 6-5 300
57. Mark Andrews, Scottsdale, Ariz. WR 6-6 225
58. Steven Parker, Jenks, Okla. DB 6-2 185
59. Montae Nicholson, Monroeville, Pa. DB 6-3 200
60. Jay Hayes, Brooklyn, N.Y. OL 6-5 270
61. Josh Malone, Gallatin, Tenn. WR 6-3 188
62. Ronnie Clark, Calera, Ala. DB 6-3 212
63. Keller Chyrst, Palo Alto, Calif. QB 6-3 210
64. K.C. McDermott, Wellington, Fla. OL 6-6 285
65. Casey Tucker, Chandler, Ariz. OL 6-5 270
66. Caleb Henderson, Alexandria, Va. QB 6-4 215
67. Shaun Dion Hamilton, Montgomery, Ala. LB 6-2 225
68. David Cornell, Jones, Okla. QB 6-5 220
69. Will Grier, Davidson, N.C. QB 6-3 180
70. Nifae Lealao, Sacramento, Calif. DE 6-5 270
71, Jonathan Hilliman, Jersey City, N.J. RB 6-0 205
72. Artavis Scott, Tarpon Springs, Fla. WR 5-11 180
73. Lorenzo Fetherston, Greensboro, N.C. DE 6-7 215
74. Mike Ferns, St. Clairsville, Ohio LB 6-3 235
75. Roderick Johnson, Florissant, Mo. OL 6-6 320
76. Clifton Garrett, Plainfield South, Ill. LB 6-2 220
77. Adoree Jackson, Gardena, Calif. DB 5-9 170
78. Travonte Valentine, Palm Bay, Fla. DL 6-3 280
79. Jalen Hurd, Hendersonville, Tenn. RB 6-3 210
80. Bentley Spain, Charlotte, N.C. OL 6-5 285
81. Demarre Kitt, Tyrone, Ga. WR 6-1 200
82. Alex Bars, Nashville, Tenn. OL 6-6 275
83. Johnathan Lloyd, Graham, N.C. ATH 5-11 175
84. Ross Pierschbacher, Cedar Falls, Iowa OL 6-4 275
85. Josh Frazier, Springdale, Ark. DL 6-4 330
86. Parrker Westphal, Bolingbrook, Ill. DB 6-1 185
87. Dante Booker, Akron, Ohio LB 6-3 212
88. Solomon Thomas, Coppell, Tex. DL 6-3 265
89. Budda Baker, Bellevue, Wash. DB 5-10 175
90. Bryan Mone, Salt Lake City, Utah DL 6-3 284
91. Jamoral Graham, Decatur, Miss. ATH 5-11 175
92. Andrew Trumbetti, Demarest, N.J. DL 6-5 250
93. Melvin Keihn, Baltimore, Md. LB 6-2 220
94. Nic Weishar, Chicago (Marist), Ill. TE 6-5 215
95. Bijhon Jackson, El Dorado, Ark. DL 6-2 320
96. Jamarco Jones, Chicago (De La Salle), Ill. OL 6-5 285
97. Jalyn Holmes, Norfolk, Va. DL 6-5 230
98. Jacory Washington, Westlake, La. TE 6-5 215
99. Derrell Scott, Havelock, N.C. RB 5-11 175
100. Nyles Morgan, Crete-Monee, Ill. LB 6-2 220

Cubs ride unconventional pitching performances to 8-6 win over the Reds

Cubs ride unconventional pitching performances to 8-6 win over the Reds

Before Thursday’s game against the Phillies, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon was asked if, given the current state of their bullpen, Tyler Chatwood could see some innings as the closer. 

“I think he’s amenable to it...” Maddon responded. “... the big thing with him is throwing strikes. If he does that -- his stuff is that electric -- we’ll use him any time. As he gets well from [throwing 4 innings on Wednesday night] it’ll probably a solid two days, maybe three, before he’s ready to go again. We’ll see - we’ll see that night needs. I’m not afraid of it by any means.

“I would say that the first time he got a chance with us, it would be because the other guys aren’t available that night.”

48 hours later, with the Cubs white knuckling a two-run lead, it was Chatwood coming out of the ‘pen in the top of the 9th. Two singles, a double-play, and a Yasiel Puig flyout later, Chatwood had closed out one of the Cubs’ more unconventional wins of the season, a 8-6 nail-biter that featured a little bit of everything.  

“It was a little bit [surprising],” Chatwood said. “But I kept myself ready. I was able to get loose in the pen and luckily I got that double play right there, and we won. So it’s good.” 

On a day when the Cubs’ cobbled together their pitching performance, it was Yu Darvish’s 7 innings -- the first time he’s gotten that deep into a game since 2017 -- that kept Chicago in punching distance. The line itself isn’t particularly flattering; six runs on 12 hits is an eyesore. His performance may not have played well on Cubs Twitter, but those inside the clubhouse could not stop talking about it. 

“That was huge. I thought he was really good today,” Albert Almora, who already surpassed his 2018 home run total (5) with a solo homer in the 2nd inning, said. “I didn’t think he was going to come back out, so I said ‘good job’ to him in the 7th. I saw him back out in the 8th and was like ‘all right, he wanted it.’” 

“It looked like he emptied the tank against Puig in the 7th with a big strikeout,” Chatwood added. “But he still went back out there and battled and pitched into the 8th. That’s huge. We didn’t have many people available today, and I think he knew that. I thought that was one of the best games he’s thrown the ball.”

Darvish managed to strand eight base runners, though, and only walked two. He’s now gone three straight games while walking three batters or less, something he’d failed to do at any point prior. 

“I knew that the bullpen was going through a little struggle, and didn’t have much rest,” Darvish said. “So my main goal was to go more than 7 innings today.” 

On a warm day, with the wind blowing straight out at 16 miles per hour, Wrigley played as small as it has all year. The Cubs (and the Reds, for that matter) went deep three times, which brings their homestand total to 11. 

“The wind was a friend to both sides today,” Maddon said. “But really, you’ve got to give Yu a ton of credit for getting deeply into the game today. He still had his good stuff in the end. The stuff was still there, but it’s 107 pitches, and it’s just deflating when all that happens.” 

Not to be outdone by the guy who started the game or the guy who finished it, recently-called up pitcher Dylan Maples was the winning pitcher of record. He and Tim Collins came in from Triple-A Iowa that morning, and Maddon wasted no time throwing Maples into the fire. After walking his first batter, Maples got Reds’ rookie Nick Senzel to strikeout on a 91mph fastball to end the 8th. 

If it hasn't seemed easy of late, that's because it hasn't been. Of the Cubs’ first 50 games, 16 have been decided by one run (9-7). Over their last 12 games, eight have been decided by two or less runs. 

“They seem to all be like that,” Maddon said with a laugh. “Especially recently. We’re seeing a lot of good pitching. 

“That’s entertainment, guys. Woah.” 

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon usually isn’t one for conspiracy theories, but even he’s wondering what’s going on. MLB teams are hitting home runs at an absurd rate, including the Cubs, who are hitting them at a historic rate for the franchise’s standards.

Entering Saturday, here’s where MLB teams stand in average home run rate and total home runs in 2019 compared to recent seasons:

2017: 1.26/game, 6,105 total
2018: 1.15/game, 5,585 total
2019: 1.33/game, 2,009 total

While the MLB season is just over 30 percent finished, teams are on pace to hit a combined 6,483 long balls in 2019. This would absolutely obliterate the 2017 total, which, like the 1.33 home runs per game figure, would be an MLB record.

The Cubs are no exception to this home run wave. Including Saturday (game No. 50 of the season), the team has hit 80 home runs (and counting) in 2019. Only the 2000 Cubs (83) hit more home runs in their first 50 games in franchise history.

“We’re having home runs hit here into some firm breezes, which has not happened before,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters before Saturday’s game against the Reds. “That’s the thing that stands out to me. It’s been crazy.

“Even [Kyle] Schwarber’s home run, I know that was hit well, but dang, that wind was blowing pretty firmly across at that point.”

Schwarber absolutely crushed his home run yesterday, a 449-foot blast that needed little help getting into the bleachers. However, Maddon has a valid point regarding home runs being hit despite the wind. Entering Saturday, 54 total home runs have been hit at Wrigley Field this season, 29 of which have come with the wind blowing in.

By the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, the Cubs and Reds had hit a combined six home runs, one of which appeared to be a routine fly ball hit by Jason Heyward that wound up in the left field basket thanks to the wind. At the same time, Yasiel Puig hit one 416 feet onto Waveland Ave. that had a 109 mph exit velocity. The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field helps, but it isn’t everything.

MLB players have questioned time and time again if baseballs are “juiced,” including Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. And while Maddon didn’t flat out say that he thinks the baseballs are juiced, he notices a difference in how they're flying off the bat.

“I don’t know, I’m normally not into the subplot component of all of this and the conspiracy theorists, but I’m telling you right now, it’s jumping,” he said. “It’s absolutely jumping.

“Nobody is ever going to admit to it. The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird.”

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