Blackhawks

Minor league updates on Rizzo, Jackson, Jokisch

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Minor league updates on Rizzo, Jackson, Jokisch

Fresh off of the first Epstein-Hoyer Draft, what better time to take our weekly look at the Cubs top minor league prospects in this weeks minor league wrap up.Yes, you guessed it. Anthony Rizzo had another stellar week for the Iowa Cubs. In limited action this week (4 games), the Cubs crown jewel went 6-for-12 (.500) with four runs, three doubles and an RBI. He did not strike out once in his 12 at-bats.Rizzo also deserves to be applauded not only for his play, but for his attitude during this arduous process. Somehow he has remained focused even in the face of constant talk of being called up. The unflappable 21-year-old brings a passion to the club house every day, and it hasnt gone unnoticed. Rizzo was named Cubs Minor League player of the month for the second time in a row in May. He hit .326 with nine doubles, a triple and 10 home runs. His 23 RBIs and .758 slugging percentage are even more reason to deem this the summer of Rizzo. You take your victories where you can get them, right?Brett Jackson continued his resurgence from mediocrity this week by going 10-for-25 (.400) with two homers, four RBIs and a.459 on-base percentage. To borrow a phrase from football coach Dennis Green, maybe he is who we thought he was. Jacksons production has sky-rocketed in the past two weeks, raising his batting average 33 points to .261. His recent climb has to be reassuring for Cubs scouts who labeled Jackson the top prospect in the organization at the beginning of the year.

The Tennessee Smokies called up Eric Jokisch from single-A Daytona last week, and he has proceeded to show us why. Jokisch looked untouchable in both starts last week. On Thursday he went 6.1 innings, allowing one run on one hit with a .053 batting average against. It was his six walks that led to the run, and ultimately a no decision for Jokisch. In his second start last week, the left-hander left nothing to chance, going seven innings while allowing no runs on five hits on his way to the win. Jokisch appears to be hitting his stride at the perfect time for the sub-.500 club searching for wins.Trey McNutt also continued his steady climb back to .500 this week after having a rough start to the season. McNutt was 1-for-1 last week in his only start. He surrendered a single run and was stingy on the bump, allowing only four hits in six innings. McNutt is now 3-4 and looks to be approaching mid-season form in his last few starts.

There have been few highlights this season for Single-A Daytona, but Cubs first baseman Greg Rohan has given fans something to cheer about. Rohan went 12-for-31 (.387) last week in seven games played. He also amassed six RBI's and a home run on his way to a .428 on-base percentage. Most impressively, Rohan peppered both outfield gaps for five doubles last week. He is finding his way on base by any means necessary and not only that, he is scoring at a consistent rate (33 runs scored on the season).In his first full week with Class A Peoria, Javier Baez did not disappoint. The Puerto Rican-born shortstop was 7-for-12 (.318) with five runs, five RBIs and two round trippers. Baez looks very comfortable in his role with the Chiefs, but if he continues to produce dont be surprised if he takes his next step forward in the system sooner rather than later.Joe Musso contributed to this report

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 4: Roster overview

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

Starting a dynasty means you have to identify a group of core players to build your team around. Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews were those guys, along with Marian Hossa, who joined that mix later on.

You also need a mixture of young talent and strong veterans to fill out the depth to become successful. That's exactly what the Blackhawks had at the beginning of their dynasty and throughout.

On the first day of NHL free agency in 2008, the Blackhawks inked All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell to an eight-year deal, which solidified Chicago as a destination players wanted to commit to long term. That same year, Kris Versteeg emerged as the Blackhawks' third Calder Trophy candidate in two years, Martin Havlat and Andrew Ladd set a career high in points with 77 and 49, respectively, while youngsters Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien began to make a name for themselves as valuable pieces to the puzzle.

"Real good group of guys," Joel Quenneville said on Oct. 18, 2008. "I can say that it's the first time I walked in the room where, wow, I was impressed."

Six of the Blackhawks' Top 10 scorers in 2008-09 were aged 23 or younger. The average age for the other four? 27. The youth movement was real and they all contributed in a big way.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs offense takes a step in right direction, when will rotation follow?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs offense takes a step in right direction, when will rotation follow?

For the first time in almost two weeks, the Cubs offense started to look more like the team we know they can be in Wednesday afternoon's victory over the Brewers. But when will the starting rotation follow? Kyle Hendricks pitched better than his stat line once again, but it's getting late in the season to continue to use that rationale for any Cubs starter.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs-Brewers series and Kelly sits down with David Bote for a 1-on-1 chat about his whirlwind week. Leila Rahimi also catches up with MLB Network's Dan Plesac to get his thoughts on Javy Báez's place in the NL MVP race, how the Central division is shaping up and X-factors for the Cubs and Brewers down the stretch.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: