The Farm Boy Files: Chris Rusin

Are y’all ready for a little MiLB rundown?

I’ve been wanting to do a Farmboy Files feature on Chris Rusin since the first time I heard of him. As there is a distinct possibility we’ll see him in a Cubs uniform before long, it seemed that I had better get on it.

So! Let’s get to know a wee bit about another Cubs farmhand. Here we go.

Full Name: Christopher Patrick Rusin
Born: 10/22/1986 in Detroit, Michigan
Pos.: LHP
Height/Weight: 6’2″, 195
B/T: L/L

Brief Scouting Report: Don’t look for overpowering stuff or flashy performances from Chris Rusin. Dominance isn’t his game. He relies on deception and craftiness to overcome opponents (on a side note, baseball might be the only area of life in which deception and craftiness are attractive qualities). Control and changing speeds are the name of his game. These facts are what piqued my interest in Mr. Rusin. Sneaky lefties with habits of picking hitters apart one pitch at a time tend to make for awesome baseball, if you ask me.
Chris’s repertoire includes a low-90’s fastball, a good change-up, a cutter and a curve.

Delivery: Looks like this (thanks to Chicago Cubs Online for the footage):

Stats: Chris, who has been in Iowa for the past season and a half, had a fantastic start to 2012. In his first two games, he hurled 14 innings and only allowed 1 ER while recording 12 strikeouts and an Opp. Av. comfortably under .200. His efforts were enough to earn him PCL Pitcher of the Week honors in early May.
Since then, things have been up and down for Mr. Rusin. He’s had several more decent starts, a few rough ones, and one or two that were really terrible.
He has made 16 appearances (all starts) for a total of 88.0 IP and currently owns a 6-6 record and a 5.01 ERA.  He has struck out 50 while he’s walked 31. His opponents are batting .277.
It may be of lesser importance, but Chris has also recorded 4 hits himself, and driven in 2 runs. His batting average is higher than his weight (not by much, but it is). Not half bad, for a pitcher.

Links: I discovered two recent video interviews with young Mr. Rusin. This one is from Comcast Sportsnet, and this one from the Des Moines Register. Have a looksie.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Farm Boy Files: 2012 Outlook

Here’s the deal:

I started writing this post during Spring Training (probably the beginning of it, but perhaps the middle. It was definitely well ahead of the end.) For some reason it didn’t want to come together in a presentable form, and the process of writing it had me ripping my hair out. By the time the regular season started, and a week or so elapsed, I decided to abandon the idea of a Minor League “preview”.

Nevertheless, last week I decided a return at least to the ordinary Farm Boy Files was in order. My love for the kids is strong, even if my love of writing about a bunch of them at the same time is nonexistent. Before choosing a subject, I took a peek at what I’d managed to scrap together for the original preview. While it wasn’t much, it was slightly more assembled than I’d thought, and it seemed like a waste not to go ahead and publish it.

So here we are. This overview of the Cubs farm system is neither extensive nor cohesive, but I’ve tacked on some recent stats to try and prevent its being completely irrelevant. I hope those of you who share my affinity for prospects will enjoy. To those who don’t, here is a nice baby sloth photo to make your stop here today worthwhile.

Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs Prospects, 2012:
1. Brett Jackson (OF)
2. Javier Baez (SS)
3. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
4. Matt Szczur (OF)
5. Trey McNutt (RHP)
6. Dillon Maples (RHP)
7. Welington Castillo (C)
8. Rafael Dolis (RHP)
9. Junior Lake (SS)
10. Josh Vitters (3b)

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Continue reading

The Farmboy Files: Midseason Roundup

Since the season is halfway through, I thought it would be a good time to take a peek at a few of the farmboys in the Cubs system and see how they are faring in 2011. First lets look at an overview of where our Cubs affiliates are currently standing…

Peoria Chiefs (Low A): The Chiefs are 41-49 and in next to last place in the Western Division of the Midwest League.

Daytona Cubs (High A): The D-Cubs, under the tutelage of Buddy Bailey, are currently sitting high atop the Florida State league with an impressive 57-33 record. The next best team is 8 games back. Keep it up, Daytona!

Tennessee Smokies (Double A): The Smokies aren’t doing too bad themselves with a 53-38 record on the year. They are easily in first place in the North Division of the Southern League.

Iowa Cubs (Triple A): And the I-Cubs, currently sitting on a 41-51 record, bring us back down to earth. They are in last place in their division of the Pacific Coast League.

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Now that we know where the teams are at, let’s get on to some individuals! Here we go.

Josh Vitters: Long considered the golden boy of the Cubs system, Joshy has yet to really live up to the hype. He has been healthy so far this year, though, which is good. His offensive numbers are respectable, but hardly mind-boggling. He’s batting .279/.316/.442 with 34 runs and 39 RBI through 80 games in Tennessee and has hit 8 homers and 19 doubles. He has a fielding percentage of .885 at 3B, where he has spent the most playing time. I don’t mean to dis the boy, but I’m a bit concerned at this point about what the post-Aramis era is going to look like for the Cubs.

Kyler Burke: The one time Cubs Minor League player-of-the year is a pitcher now, apparently. Whoa.

Matt Szczur: My new favorite prospect. Recently promoted from low-A Peoria to high-A Daytona. He was the Cubs rep in the MLB Futures Game. Follow him on Twitter! @SuperSZCZ4

It’s pronounced “See-zur.” Get it down now, folks!

Rebel Ridling & Ryan Flaherty: Two former VBL players, both doing tremendously well in AA Tennessee. One or other of the two leads almost every offensive category… convincingly ahead of Mr. Jackson and Mr. Vitters. It’s paying off, too. Ryan Flaherty was promoted to Iowa on Monday.

Drafted as a SS, Ryan has moved around a lot the past few years due to the Cubs depth at that particular position. And when I say moved around, I mean moved around. In 2011, he has played short (14 games), 1st (4), 2nd(37), 3rd (12), left (21), right (13), and has acted as DH a few times. It strikes me that Mr. Flaherty might be coming in handy in Chicago in a very short time.

Evan Crawford: I hadn’t heard of Evan up to this point (blast you, Vineline, and your less extensive 2011 minor league prospectus!) He was drafted by the Giants in 2009 and came to the Cubs I know not how.  Evan has registered 98 hits in just 78 games this season in Daytona, which caught my eye. He has also scored 52 runs, stolen 21 bases, and been hit by 12 pitches.

Not to be confused with Toronto double-A pitcher Evan Crawford.

Justin Bour: A Virginia native and George Mason alum. Woot. Justin, who plays 1B, has put up a good showing in Daytona, hitting 17 long-balls and 21 doubles in 85 games. He has driven in 63 runs and scored 45.

Ima be keeping my eye on him now.

Pitching, in general: It’s hard to judge. A lot of our farmboy pitchers have put up some less than exciting stats, but numbers rarely tell the whole story in minor league baseball.

Marwin Gonzalez: BRING HIM UP NOW, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE TO ACHIEVE THE STARLIN-MARLON-MARWIN-DARWIN COMBO!

Brett Jackson: Promoted Monday to triple-A Iowa along with Ryan Flaherty. Look for one or both in Chicago soon. We are going to need something cooler than “B-Jax” to call him. Get working on that, people.

D.J. LeMahieu: Premature cup-of-coffee stint in Chicago aside, D.J. has been very impressive so far this season. In 61 games between double and triple A, he has batted .353, hit 17 doubles, driven in 31 runs and scored 36. He’s only walked 12 times, but he’s also only struck out 27. I’ll take that.

Angel Guzman: After undergoing major surgery at the beginning of last year, Angel is finally back in the game. He has thrown 4 innings for Peoria and allowed one run. After all that he has been through, you can’t help but get behind this guy and root him on. I hope we will see him back in Chicago soon.

Draftees: Through Thursday, the Cubs had signed 17 of their draft picks from ’11, including first round selection Zeke DeVoss (an outfielder from the University of Miami.) Welcome to the Cubs, Zeke and company!

Stay tuned for more FBB Farmboy coverage throughout the year!

The Farm Boy Files: Tony Campana

It’s time for another exciting edition of The Farm Boy Files! Today we take a closer look at outfield prospect Tony Campana…

  Basic Info

Full Name: Anthony Campana

Born May 30th, 1986 in Springboro, Ohio

H/W: 5’8”, 160

B/T: L/L

Statistics

Tony spent 2010 with the AA Tennessee Smokies. He batted .319 in 131 games with an OPS of .763 and scored 76 runs while driving in 39. He hit zero home runs, but had 5 triples, and stole 48 sacks. This year, Tony has advanced to AAA Iowa where he is batting .346/.384/.469 in 20 games so far. He has scored 16 runs and stolen 4 bases.

Honors

Tony was a mid- and post-season all star for the Smokies last season. He was also named the Southern League’s “Best Hustler”(Personally, I think the award for that should be a trophy of Paul Newman with a pool cue.)

Scouting Report

Speed is the name of Tony Campana’s game. Vineline magazine calls him “a terror” when he bunts. I like to bunt any time I can,” Tony himself says. “Two strikes, it doesn’t matter. I feel comfortable in any situation.” He has been clocked at 4.35 in the 40-yard dash, 3.6 to first base on a batted ball, and 3.3 to first on a bunt.

Recognizing the source of his livelihood, Tony takes very good care of his tootsies. “…I don’t try to go out and do too much [after games]; otherwise they’ll be tired the next day,” he says. “I don’t wear flip-flops or anything. I usually wear tennis shoes just because they’re better for your feet.” When I read this statement, for some reason, I was reminded of the episode of Seinfeld where George becomes a hand model…

Minor league coach Buddy Bailey had this to say of young Mr. Campana: “He makes a lot of things happen, not only his stolen bases. He gets us some pitchouts, diverts the pitcher’s and catcher’s attention, gets guys more fastballs, has shown the ability to steal second and third, and we have some guys here that have been fortunate to have him on third when they’ve hit some very weak fly balls that have turned into sac flies that got them RBIs and saved them at-bats.”

As a diminutive fellow, Tony has had to battle and prove himself at every level. “Nothing is ever going to come easy for me, so I have to work my way [to the top.]”

In case you were wondering…

Tony Campana is also the name of a plumber from Vineland, New Jersey.

You should also know that…

As a child, Tony battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was diagnosed at the age of seven and wasn’t proclaimed to be cured until he was 18. Baseball seems like small potatoes when you take stuff like this into consideration.

The Farm Boy Files: J.R. Mathes

The Farm Boy Files is a feature designed to better acquaint us all with our Cubs prospects. This week’s profile is of left-handed pitcher J.R. Mathes.

Full Name – Alfred G. Mathes III

Basic Info – 6’3″, 210 lbs. Born November 9th, 1981, in Granger, IN. Selected by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft out of Western Michigan University.

Statistical Stuff – For AAA Iowa in 2009, he went 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 129.1 innings (21 starts.) 51 K to 14 BB, 1.26 WHIP, .291 OpBA. He played for Caracas in the Venezuela Winter League, pitching 28.1 innings and going 1-2 with a 5.08 ERA.

Repertoire Includes – Cutter, sinker, change-up, breaking ball

Socks – CHECK!

In case you were wondering – J.R.’s favorite pro athlete is himself, he would like to have dinner with Elmer Fudd, Bill Gates and Bruce Lee, he is afraid of moldy bread, he wanted a cheetah for Christmas, he has mad computer hacking skills, and he’s annoyed by people who hold their pinky finger in the air while drinking.

Bottom Line – It’s crunch time for J.R., in a manner of speaking. He has spent the last three years at triple-A Iowa and will become a minor-league free agent after this season. I found that detailed info was hard to come by for this one, but did find one decent and recent article. Here are a few excerpts:

In three seasons at Iowa, [Mathes] has become a familiar face around Des Moines and has won 31 games. In 421 2/3 innings, the southpaw has struck out 210 while walking 83.

And yet the Chicago Cubs have not called the former Western Michigan University standout to the majors while bringing up many of his teammates for a September look-see.

The Cubs have yet to even place Mathes on their 40-man roster.

“Des Moines is a real nice place,” said Mathes. “But I’ve been there for far too long.”

Could 2010 be the year?

“That’s a great question,” said Mathes this week during a break in workouts at Western Michigan in Kalamazoo. “What else do I have to prove at this level? I feel like I’ve raised some eyebrows.”

“Patience is a virtue,” said Mathes. “All I can do is be patient and wait and, hopefully, I get that opportunity.”

With the calendar turning to a new year, Mathes is picking up his workout pace and expects to attend his second big league camp in Mesa, Ariz., beginning in mid-February.

“I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing,” said Mathes, who expected to talk with Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Mark Riggins this week. “I’m getting things honed in.”

The Farm Boy Files: John Gaub

Because I enjoy being “up” on the Cubs’ farm system, and because every time I write about a prospect the blog seems to get a ton of hits, I’ve decided to start profiling individual players.

To kick it off, we are going to take a look at left-handed pitcher John Gaub. Let’s giddy-up!

Basic Info – Born 4/28/85, 6’2”/200 lb., College- Minnesota. Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 21st round of the 2006 draft, acquired by the Cubs on December 31, 2008 in the Mark DeRosa trade.

Statistical Stuff – Solid in 2009, John split the year between AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa. He went a combined 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 60.0 IP… 33 BB/80 K, .172 OpAVG, 1.15 WHIP. He struggled in Arizona Fall League, going 1-1 in 9.2 IP with 9.31 ERA.

Repertoire Includes – Fastball in the low 90’s, above average slider.

Socks – CHECK!

In case you were wondering – John is a hockey fan (favorite team, Minnesota Wild), he is annoyed by ketchup packets, his favorite boardgame is Candyland, he never leaves home without chapstick, he wanted a new arm for Christmas, he enjoys the lakes of Minnesota, and he can bend his fingers all the way back so they touch the back of his hand.

Minorleagueball.com says[John Gaub is a] guy who could help in the bullpen in 2010. Command is an issue but great K/IP ratios and low hittability stand out.

Marc Hulet of fangraphs.com says – The southpaw began the year in double-A where he allowed 19 hits in 28.2 innings of work with a walk rate of 5.34 BB/9 but a strikeout rate of 12.56 K/9. Gaub, 24, has now allowed one hit in 5.2 triple-A innings, with three walks and four Ks. In his career, left-handers are hitting just .158 against him, so he could have a career as a LOOGY* if he cannot sharpen his command and control. (July 2009)

*Left handed specialist

Marc Hulet also says – The organization may have regretted trading veteran infielder Mark DeRosa to the Indians, but it wasn’t all bad. The club received back three interesting arms in the deal. Gaub is the closest to having a key impact at the MLB level. The left-handed reliever had a dominating season in the minors, even with below-average control (5.34 BB/9 in double-A). At that level, he also allowed just 19 hits in 28.2 innings of work, while also posting a strikeout rate of 12.56 K/9. Moved up to triple-A, Gaub allowed 17 hits in 31.1 innings with a strikeout rate of 11.49 K/9. His control improved a smidgen to 4.60 BB/9. His stuff – especially his fastball velocity – has improved each of the past three seasons. Impressively, he’s equally as effective against left-handed and right-handed hitters (.167 average/12.57 K/9 vs lefties and .175/11.45 vs righties). (December 2009)

I sayThat what you say is what I say.

But seriously – Other than his shaky AFL showing, I don’t see any reason why John Gaub shouldn’t be able to make it to the bigs at some point in 2010. I would not expect him to make it right out of spring training, but we’ll have to wait and see I suppose. With injuries and such, one never knows. Oh my goodness… that rhymed.

Because that accidental rhyming just inspired me

John Gaub

ain’t no slob.

For his job

a ball he lobs.

And if you’re interested in a YouTube video of John throwing, here is one.