Let's get this one done today a little quicker and cleaner than yesterday's four-hour affair between the Cubs and Reds. It's a beautiful Saturday here at Wrigley Field, with the wind blowing in from the north. We'll get to some of your questions about various minor-leaguers as we had a chance to visit with Jason McLeod, the Cubs' scouting and development chief. We'll also get to his comments about Tim Wilken's new and expanded role and the new scouting director Jaron Madison.
First, the Cubs today activated reliever Lendy Castillo of the DL and optioned lefty reliever Scott Maine to Iowa. Castillo had been out since mid-May with a groin strain. He returned to Wrigley yesterday to get checked out after completing his rehab assignment. Castillo was a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies.
Manager Dale Sveum said he talked at length today to Starlin Castro about his basepath mistake yesterday.
"He was completely _ I don't know if 'remorseful' is the right word _ but he knew he made a big mistake. In a certain part of a game, 5 runs down, you got to be a little more prepared for that situation and do a better job," Sveum said.
Brett Jackson is not in today's lineup. He suffered what Sveum called a whiplash-like injury yesterday in an outfield collision.
If you found it in our Cubs notebook today in the paper or online, you saw the Cubs did some more front-office expansion, hiring Jaron Madison away from the Padres to be director of amateur scouting. They also moved Tim Wilken up from director of amateur and pro scouting to special assistant to president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer.
McLeod was beaming about both moves earlier this afternoon.
"We're pretty excited about the opportunity it gave us," he said. "In talking to Tim about it, it really allows us to utilize his strengths and skills in a greater capacity. He's going to be touching, really, all the departments in the organization with still a heavy influence on amateur scouting, but also using him on the pro side for major-league work, for international. I've already started including him on the player-personnel decisions in our minor-league system as well. Tim's such a talented evaluator. His history speaks for itself. I know he's really excited about it. It makes him feel, not re-energized like he needed it, but he's been in amateur scouting for so long and done such a great job there, I know he felt like he was ready to contribute in other departments in the organization."
We'll start with Class A Boise, where big Dan Vogelbach continues his home run streak. The 6-foot, 250-pounder hit 2 more Friday in an 11-8 victory over Everett. The 19-year-old Vogelbach has hit homers in five straight games and has 8 for the year at Boise. Tim Wilken took Vogelbach with the Cubs' second-round pick last year out of Bishop Verot High School in Florida.
"He's had a tremendous half-season so far,” Jason McLeod said. “He had a pretty good extended spring but he's really taken off once the games started counting, hit two more home runs last night, and it's just a whale of a short season so far. I think he's only played 40 games or so and he's got 14 or 15 home runs. Big, strong, you see what they saw in him last year when they took him. He's got a chance to really create some havoc from a cleanup standpoint."
McLeod was asked if Vogelbach will stay at Boise or move up.
"It remains to be seen,” he said. “If he continues on this pace, he might force the issue a little bit. He's already hit his way out of Mesa and in 10 games or so in Boise now he's doing the same thing there, so we're really proud of him."
Class AAA Iowa lost 4-3 to Las Vegas. Chris Rusin worked 5.2 innings, giving up 8 hits and 3 earned runs while walking three and striking out two. Recently acquired Jaye Chapman pitched 1.2 innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 earned run.
Class AA Tennessee fell 4-3 to Huntsville. Northwestern's Eric Jokisch worked 6 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 earned run while walking none and striking out six. Trey McNutt relieved and pitched 2 innings, allowing 1 hit and 1 unearned run, walking three and striking out one. Matt Szczur was 2-for-4.
Class A Daytona lost 8-5 to Dunedin. Matt Loosen started and went 4.1 innings, giving up 7 hits and 5 earned runs.
Since one of you guys asked about Loosen, I followed up with McLeod.
"He's what you look for, in terms of the size and the way the delivery and the arm works,” Jason said. “He's a low-90s guy, pretty good curveball. Like a lot of the younger pitching it's about developing the consistency and command of his off-speed pitches because he uses his fastball pretty well. For me, he's a definite starter candidate for the future and that's what you try to build in the minor league system."
Jason added that Kyle Hendricks, obtained in the Ryan Dempster trade, has pitched a lot of innings this year already and that the Cubs are backing him off.
Theo Epstein was just in Daytona, and Sean Kernan of the Daytona Beach News Journal interviewed him. On being in Chicago as opposed to Boston, Theo was quoted as saying: “It's been a change from the East Coast mentality. I love the Red Sox fans, too. But it's almost as if they're -- even if things are going good, that they're looking for something to go wrong. Whereas here, even when times are bad right now, they're looking for something good to happen, which doesn't necessarily come naturally to me, being born in New York and raised in Boston. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate it."
Peoria (A) fell 10-5 to Burlington. Michael Jensen pitched 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 6 earned runs. Jorge Soler made his Peoria debut, going 1-for-4 with 2 RBI.
Arizona (Rookie) lost 7-3 to the Rangers. Shawon Dunston Jr. was 2-for-4, and Albert Almora was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Duane Underwood started and went 1 inning, giving up no hits and 2 walks.