The Kane County Cougars are a team that lives and dies by its pitching. Fortunately for them they have an excellent staff to carry them. The offense hasn’t contributed in the way one would like them to do, but there are still some interesting prospects, and a whole lot of season left to change that production. I’ll start with the pitching first.
Paul Blackburn is a legitimate prospect in every sense of the word. He’s produced on the field, and he has a project-able skill set that says he can be part of the Cubs core starters in the near future. The one thing that might concern you with Blackburn is that for a kid who has his kind of electric arm he doesn’t really miss too many bats with a pretty poor 6.0 SO/9, but on the plus side of that his BB/9 is a meager 1.8. For a power pitcher that’s an amazing stat. So one can probably determine he’s trying to be efficient and throw to his spots to induce contact to keep his pitch count down. Either way the results are very good as he continues to maintain a WHIP under 1.000 (0.987).
Tyler Skulina is another pitcher who has some promise, but has been about average thus far. Still adds to a very deep starting staff that continues to strengthen the organizational depth. This past week was no exception to his rather average performance thus far. Guess it could be worse as he hasn’t been bad either. Only 2 strikeouts in 2 starts is not going to excite anyone however. Also way too many walks with 9 in 26 innings. He needs to pick it up if he wants to be considered part of the organizations core in some capacity, or even part of another teams core should he be traded for. Still he does have a very respectable Whip (1.192), and ERA (3.81) to go with a decent BA against of .227.
The weak link has been Juan Paniagua, but he still has a world of potential, and great stuff. If he can turn it around this could be get scary for hitters in the Midwest league. It seems more and more like his road to success will come with him moving to the pen. As a matter of fact his best performance came in relief as he actually got a save in an old school type of way as he went nearly 3 innings to get it.
Daury Torrez and Jen-Ho Tseng have had good seasons thus far as well, and add to the depth of the organization in a system that is in need of pitching depth. It looks like so far the minor leagues are producing the depth they desired when they started drafting all those arms in the draft the past two seasons throwing numbers at the problem as a solution. Torrez and Tseng have been consistent this season. You can always count on a solid if not spectacular start from these two. For both of these kids it’s all about building towards their goals of becoming an MLB pitcher, and appear to be heading in that direction.
The pitcher with the best potential for greatness is by far Duane Underwood. He’s just settling in after coming off the DL and has had 3 really solid starts and one that was a little struggle but by no means awful. Has not been spectacular thus far, but consistently good is fine for a pitcher working his way back into the swing of things.
Bullpens been solid too. James Pugliese, Zack Godley, Nathan Dorris, and Justin Amlung, all have sub 2.00 ERA’s, and Jose Arias, as well as Tyler Bremer both have 3.00 or less ERA’s. With the exception of Amlung’s 6.9 SO/9 all these guys have a SO/9 of 8.4 or more with the 8.4 belonging to Dorris so they also miss bats. Lots of power arms working their way towards the majors in the Cubs organization.
As I mentioned previously there’s not much to talk about offensively. The exception to this rule would be Cougars catcher Will Remillard who has been nothing short of amazing. Even though the performances haven’t been there the potential still remains with players like Shawon Dunston jr., Jacob Hannemann, and Yasiel Balaguert are three kids to keep an eye on as far as a possible breakout soon.