Baseball: Cougars’ Jake Hannemann gets called up to Daytona

Geneva, 05/26/14--The Cougars' CF Jake Hannemann makes a diving catch of a sinking line drive. The Kane County Cougars hosted the Peoria Chiefs in baseball Monday afternoon.    | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Geneva, 05/26/14--The Cougars' CF Jake Hannemann makes a diving catch of a sinking line drive. The Kane County Cougars hosted the Peoria Chiefs in baseball Monday afternoon. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media

The parade of promotions to high-Class A Daytona continued Wednesdsay for the Cougars as leadoff hitter and center fielder Jake Hannemann got the call.

He is the eighth Cougars’ player to be promoted to Daytona this season and third in the past week, joining the Cubs’ 2014 first-round draft pick, Kyle Schwarber, and starting pitcher Juan Paniagua.

Hannemann hit .254 with a team-high 32 stolen bases in 88 games. For Daytona, he replaces 2013 Cougars outfielder Albert Almora, who was called up to Class AA Tennessee. Jeffrey Baez was called up from short-season Class A Boise to join the Cougars.

“He definitely came a long way this year,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said of Hannemann. “He’s earned it. He’s really helped this team do a lot of things. He’s been the catalyst this season. It’s bittersweet, but that’s our business, and it’s our job to get these guys better and get them out of here.”

Johnson said he’ll “mix and match” both in center and in the leadoff spot. Trey Martin started in center Wednesday, with Shawon Dunston, Jr. leading off.

“We’ll see who wants to take it over,” Johnson said. “It’s up for grabs. Whoever wants to prove that they can do it, we’ll see.”

Johnson pointed out that Baez, who hit seven home runs and stole 15 bases in only 38 games in Boise, can play all three outfield spots.

Wells gets rotation

The Cougars’ starting staff has been one of the main keys to their tremendous success this season, so it should come as no surprise that one of the starting six was promoted.

Paniagua earned the honor Monday. He was 6-4 with a 3.36 ERA and was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month in June. He lost his first start for Daytona Tuesday.

Replacing him on the roster is Ben Wells, who is no stranger to the Midwest League. Wells made 12 appearances for Peoria in 2012. He also played for Johnson at Boise in 2011.

“I get a chance to come here on a team that’s already playoff-bound and try to help the pitching staff as much as I can,” Wells said. “This is my fourth year (in the Cubs organization), so I know all of these guys.”

Wells describes himself as a sinkerball pitcher who features a two-seam fastball, a slider and an occasional changeup.

Leaving an impression

Schwarber played only 23 games for the Cougars, but Johnson saw enough to know that the Cubs drafted a talented player with the fourth overall pick last month.

He also feels like Schwarber can stick at catcher, contrary to what many talent evaluators felt when he was drafted.

“He’s a special kid and a special player,” Johnson said. “I think he can catch and he proved to me that he has the mind for it. His bat is his bat, and that’s what they drafted him for.

“It’s over my pay grade what we decide to do with him, but that’s a very valuable tool for the organization. He was an absolute pleasure to have on the team.”

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