Chicago Cubs: Evan Longoria

Rapid Reaction: Rays 4, Cubs 0

August, 9, 2014
Aug 9
6:18
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive

 
CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 on Saturday afternoon. Here’s a quick look at the game.

How it happened: The Rays put up two runs in the fourth and sixth innings while starter Jake Odorizzi was mowing the Cubs down en route to Tampa Bay’s second straight win. Evan Longoria and Yunel Escobar had RBI hits in the fourth and Escobar drove in two more in the sixth. Odorizzi struck out nine while giving up just three hits in six innings of work. Between the first and second innings he struck out five in a row, whiffing Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena and Arismendy Alcantara. The Cubs struck out 15 times overall. Edwin Jackson lasted six innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks.

What it means: The strikeout totals are starting to pile up for Baez, who ended a run of six in a row with a sixth-inning double. The Cubs' all-time record is nine consecutive strikeouts. Baez looked to get out of his rut by doubling to cap off a 10-pitch at-bat in the sixth, but he struck out again in the ninth. That's seven strikeouts in the series so far.

The Cubs’ defense hasn’t been great in the first two games of the series, but Alcantara’s play in center field continues to impress. He made a sliding catch of a Kevin Kiermaier ball in the third inning and a diving grab on James Loney in the fourth. Both came with men on base.

Doubront throws: Pitcher Felix Doubront is back throwing as he recovers from a calf strain.

“He continues to progress,” manager Rick Renteria said before the game.

Turner coming: Newly acquired pitcher Jacob Turner is scheduled to join the team Sunday and will more than likely head to the bullpen, though Renteria isn’t certain what the right-hander's role will be yet. The Cubs have not announced whose roster spot he will be taking.

What’s next: The Cubs will try to avoid getting swept with Travis Wood (7-9, 5.08 ERA) scheduled to take the mound against Alex Cobb (7-6, 3.52) Sunday in a 1:20 p.m. CT start.

Bryant on same path as Longoria

August, 9, 2014
Aug 9
3:21
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Ever since Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant was drafted No. 2 overall in 2013, Cubs brass has used Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria as a template for him. Longoria was drafted third in 2006, made it as high as Double-A that season, then played at Double- and Triple-A in 2007 before getting called up early in 2008. That could be about the same path Bryant takes from 2013-2015.

“It worked for me,” Longoria said before the Rays played the Cubs on Saturday. “I think they evaluate every individual differently.”

But that doesn’t mean Longoria liked waiting. As a two-year major college player at Long Beach State, he was more advanced than others, in the same respect most college players are more mature when they hit the professional ranks. Longoria hit .299 with 26 home runs and 95 RBIs in 2007, his final year in the minors. Bryant has that mature feel to his offensive game and persona as well – and he’s exceeding Longoria’s numbers. He’s hitting .341 with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs with about three weeks left in the season.

But, like Longoria, Bryant isn’t likely to see the major leagues in his first, full professional year. Not surprisingly, Longoria joins Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo as a proponent of a quick ascension to the big leagues, if it’s deserving.

“The earlier you can get that experience at the major league level I think it bodes well for you in the future,” Longoria said. “Some of the prospects over there have proven they can play at every level.”

Longoria was well aware of Bryant as well as the Cubs' most recent call-up, Javier Baez.

“They waited until after that Super 2 deadline, right?” Longoria said of Baez.

That’s a reference to an arbitration deadline that has come and gone, giving Baez three full years after this one before he’s eligible for the process. Cubs fans undoubtedly don’t want Bryant to have to wait that long next season, but they should be alright with a mid-April call-up, which would make him a free agent after 2021 instead of 2020.

“We were talking about how if you have a college kid, those guys can be moved a little faster than a high school kid,” Longoria said.

Bryant’s path is similar enough to Longoria’s that you can expect about the same timeline into next season for the former, except for different reasons. The Rays seemed intent on waiting to call Longoria up in 2008, but Willy Aybar got hurt and they deemed Longoria the only player who could play third base. They called him up on April 18, 2008, and while there could have been monetary considerations to the timing, they eliminated those by immediately signing Longoria to a sixyear, $17.5 million deal. With club options, it was worth up to $44 million.

“I think I felt more pressure the way that it happened in 2008 when I didn’t make the big league team out of spring training and then signing a contract when I was called up,” Longoria said.

That’s where the similarities could end between Longoria and Bryant. As has been well-documented, Bryant’s agent is Scott Boras, not exactly a hometown discount kind of guy. As prospects go, Bryant is as close to a sure thing as possible. That’s probably why the Cubs would presumably consider locking him up as early as they can. He probably won’t let them down. More likely, his performance could exceed an early contract signing.

“If a guy can help you win, you call him up,” Longoria said. “That’s more about us being selfish, because if we see a guy at the minor league level that can help we want them up.”

Of course, that’s not the case with Bryant. Yes, he can help the Cubs win some games now, but not anything like a division or playoff spot. It’s what team president Theo Epstein referenced on Friday.

“In his first full pro season, not only would the player have to be doing extraordinary things," Epstein said, "but there would have to be unique circumstances with the big league team too, where we were in a pennant race and really needed that boost.”

That’s not the case, so Bryant stays the course like Longoria did in his first full pro season. But a long-term contract like the one Longoria signed might have to wait.

“If you’re playing up to the potential that you have, then I think you move him (up),” Longoria said. “But every player and team is different.”

Cubs staying patient, won't rush prospects

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
12:37
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
While the Chicago Cubs are spending the weekend promoting their youth movement to their season ticket base, it doesn’t mean their rebuilding plan is going to move any faster. The front office reiterated -- once again -- that they will be patient with their prospects.

“I believe in what we’re teaching, how we’re teaching it and the amount our players are buying in, in the minor leagues and the progress we’re making,” team president Theo Epstein said Friday. “One thing we tell our players, ‘You want to move up? Dominate your competition. Perform.' It comes down to performance.”

Several players have already dominated their competition, like shortstop Javier Baez last season at Single and Double-A and third baseman Kris Bryant in this fall’s Arizona Fall League.

“If you are dominating your level over a significant period of time, you will advance,” Epstein said.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll skip any levels to get to the major leagues. So expect Baez to perform at Triple-A before making it to Wrigley Field. Bryant left off at High-A ball in September, so he has a ways to go.

“I’ve been impressed by his performance so far,” Epstein said of Bryant, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. “This was a very advanced college bat who put up historically good power production at the college level.”

Bryant is hitting .371 with a league leading six home runs in Arizona, while Baez hit 37 home runs combined in his 2013 minor league season. Despite that domination, neither will break spring training with the big league club.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.292 14 65 58
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
WJ. Arrieta 10
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167