Behind Enemy Lines: Tennessee Smokies
Behind Enemy Lines
The Lookouts begin a five game series at home against the Tennessee Smokies today, so let’s go behind enemy lines and take a peek at Chattanooga’s next opponent.
Team, Record (Affiliate): Tennessee Smokies, 21-24 (Chicago Cubs)
Dates, Start Times and Pitching Match Ups:
Wednesday, May 25th 7:15 EST, DJ Baxendale (R, 3-5, 3.11) vs Stephen Perakslis (R, 0-1, 9.00)
Thursday, May 26th 7:15 EST Nick Greenwood (L, 2-0, 3.60) vs Duane Underwood (R, 0-1, 4.91)
Friday, May 27th 7:15 EST David Hurlbut (L, 2-3, 4.66) vs Paul Blackburn (R, 3-1, 0.96)
Saturday, May 28th 7:15 EST Aaron Slegers (R, 2-4, 4.21) vs Tyler Skulina (R, 2-2, 4.14)
Sunday, May 29th 6:15 EST Ryan Eades (R, 2-2, 4.93) vs Brad Markey (R, 4-1, 2.59)
Smokies Team Leaders:
|AVG||IF Chesny Young (.309)||W||SP Brad Markey (4)|
|R||IF Jeimer Candelario (24)||SV||RP Corey Black (5)|
|HR||IF Kelly Dugan (25)||SO||SP Rob Zastryzny(42)|
|RBI||IF Jeimer Candelario (21)||ERA||SP Paul Blackburn (0.96)|
|SB||OF Jacob Hannemann(18)||WHIP||SP Paul Blackburn (0.89)|
Top Prospects (per MLBPipeline):
RHP Duane Underwood, Rank – #4 in system, #72 in Top 100
2016 stats – 0-1, 4.91 ERA, 22.0 IP (5GS), 23 H, 12 BB, 15 K, .264 BAA, 1.59 WHIP
Duane Underwood was drafted in the second round in 2012 despite touching 98 MPH and flashing an overpowering curveball as a high school senior, and the Cubs couldn’t be happier about having the chance to pick him up later than expected. After an up and down start to his pro career, Underwood has developed into Chicago’s top pitching prospect with a No. 2 starter ceiling. His fastball sits in the 92-96 MPH range with late movement, while his curveball and changeup both rate as at least average pitches. To fully tap into the potential of his plus pitches, Underwood will have to improve his control and work through some injury concerns (he missed two months last season and started this season late). The Lookouts will face Underwood Thursday night as he starts opposite Chattanooga’s Nick Greenwood.
OF Billy McKinney, Rank – #6 in system, #83 in Top 100
2016 stats – .234 AVG, 32H-137AB, 20 R, 12 RBI, 4 2Bs, 1 3B, 21 BB, 29 K, .342 OBP, .227 SLG
Lost in the flurry of Addison Russell’s stellar defense at shortstop for the Chicago Cubs is the acquisition of 2013 first round pick Billy McKinney in the same trade that brought Russell over from the Oakland A’s. McKinney has been described as one of the best pure hitters in the Minors with a lot of bat speed and hand-eye coordination from the left side of the plate. While McKinney has struggled a bit hitting so far with Tennessee, it must be noted that he is just 21 years old, and reached Double-A last season when he was a year younger. There is some doubt about how much power McKinney will display in the higher levels of proball, but the approach (21 walks compared to 29 strikeouts this season, .342 OBP despite a .234 average), the above average hit tool (60 out of 80 scouting grade) and reported maturity and make-up keep McKinney’s upside high.