With such a quick turnaround from yesterday, it was a short and sweet media session with Lou today. Kosuke Fukudome’s hitting coach from Japan, Kyosuke Sasaki, is back with the Cubs.
“The last time he was here, I thought he helped Kosuke,” Lou said. “He’s very knowledgeable. He does a nice job. I know that Kosuke enjoys him being here, and we’re appreciative that he comes over here and helps out a couple times a year.”
“Just trying a couple different people,” Lou said. “Tomorrow, we’ll get back to a little different lineup. I’m playing different people.”
Jake Fox has not started since Sept. 3 against the White Sox.
“There’s nothing wrong with Fox," Lou said. "We’ve been facing a lot of right-hand pitching. I’ve got so many left-hand hitters here. We’ve been playing some left-hand hitters against right-hand pitching. We’ll get him in there before long.”
Since it was a quiet morning, I had a chance to shoot the breeze with farm director Oneri Fleita and scouting director Tim Wilken today. Lefty Austin Kirk, the Cubs’ third-round pick this year, was at Wrigley today throwing in the bullpen. Between Arizona and Boise this year, Kirk went 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA.
Last night, Class AA Tennessee evened its Southern League series with Huntsville at one game apiece with a 3-1 victory. Casey Coleman, a leading candidate for Cubs minor-league pitcher of the year, worked 7.2 innings giving up 4 hits and 1 run and getting the victory. It was Coleman’s 15th victory overall this year. Park Ridge’s Brian Schlitter got the save. Oneri said Starlin Castro had a nice plate appearance, looking at an outside pitch before hitting a sac fly. Castro looks to be the fastest-rising position player in the system, and he’s only 19.
Coleman is a 2008 draft pick of Wilken, as were Andrew Cashner, Chris Carpenter and Jay Jackson. Tim told me he likes “athletic” pitchers. He says not only does that help them at the plate and in the field, but it also helps them to “repeat their deliveries.” Interesting stuff.
Tim said one guy to keep an eye on in the low minors is righty Kenneth McNutt, who went 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP at Boise. In 20.1 innings, McNutt gave up 9 hits. He’s a 32nd-round pick this year, and people say he reminds them a little of Cashner
Wilken also said the Cubs were happy with lefty Brooks Raley, a sixth-rounder this year. Raley was 0-1 with a 2.53 ERA between Arizona and Boise.
As far as other position players go, Oneri talked up right fielder Kyler Burke, who had a Midwest League-leading 43 doubles to go along with a .405 OBP at Peoria.
“Kyler Burke had a tremendous year," Oneri said. "You look at the categories: a big man who hits for power, he can run, plays really good defense, has a tremendous throwing arm. I think he recorded his 15th outfield assist in the playoffs. He also has on-base percentage, doubles. He’s a run producer, and it’s not very often you can find guys who can give you all those type of skills and be a big corner outfielder.”