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Photo via Chris Donahue/Iowa Cubs

The farm system got off to a great start by winning three of four games Thursday night. In addition to the wins, several of the Cubs’ key prospects got the 2012 season off on the right foot. Following the progress of the farm system last night was a great way to forget about the end of the Chicago Cubs’ game yesterday afternoon.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 1 – 0
On the same day the Chicago bullpen coughed up the save, two of the relievers Chicago demoted to Iowa combined to allow just two base runners over the final three innings. Manny Corpas pitched the seventh and eighth, and Scott Maine struck out two in the ninth for the save as Iowa won 5 – 3. I wonder… did events in Chicago give them some extra motivation?

Tony Campana, Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo all had multi-hit nights. Josh Vitters reached twice on a hit and a walk (and according to Gameday he laid off several very close pitches in that walk), and Welington Castillo was hit by two different pitchers. A hit by pitch is as good as a walk, right Theo?

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 1 – 0
Nick Struck had a lot of good games last season, but his performance on Thursday night might be the best of his young career. He allowed just one run on four hits as he struck out ten in six innings. The bullpen easily finished what he started as the Smokies won 4 – 1.

Logan Watkins and Justin Bour led the offense with three hits each (including a home run for Bour). As a whole, the team combined for six walks and just six strikeouts. Two of those walks were earned by Michael Burgess, a prodigious power hitter who has been held back by his lack of patience. There were two errors, both on the infield corners, but the Smokies pitching was so effective it just didn’t matter.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 0 – 1
Opening Night did not go well for Daytona. Starter Matt Loosen could not get out of the first inning and Daytona lost 11 – 4.

It wasn’t all bad for the Cubs. The bullpen did a nice job in the later part of the game. Ronald Torreyes, Rubi Silva, and Arismendy Alcantara all had multi-hit nights. The biggest surprise of the evening might have been Nelson Perez, who collected three walks in five trips to the plate. Unfortunately, he also struck out in his two at bats.

Even though they were on the road yesterday, Daytona will play their home opener tonight. Three game series that are split with two games in one city and one game in the other are fairly common in the Florida State League. That’s one of the advantages of playing an entire league in a single state, I suppose.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 1 – 0
Michael Jensen got his career off to a great start, pitching five strong innings and collecting the W as Peoria won the opener 5 – 2.

Wes Darvill and Pin-Chieh Chen had two hits on the night, including a triple by Chen. The Chiefs had a very efficient offense. They only managed seven hits, all of them singles except for Chen’s triple, and the middle of the order was dead silent. However, if you string enough singles together with a walk and a couple of sacrifice flies, you can still put plenty of runs on the board.

Zeke DeVoss got the start at second base. While he was involved in two double plays, he did commit an error. We’ll keep an eye on his defense at second as the season progress.

Last night we also enjoyed live reports from the Iowa Cubs game on the Message Boards thanks to hansman1982. Between Hansman’s commentary and the free radio feed, it was almost as good as being at the game in person. Almost.

  • TWC

    Wow.  I’m going to like this new Minor League roundup feature.  A lot.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ditto. Love reading this stuff.

    • Fishin Phil

      Excellent! Thanks Luke.

    • art

      Ditto, it’s great.

    • Karen P

      Ditto.

    • FritoBanditoyah

      Senior Fleita and Teoleod booboo cut polish guy, stud, el stupido

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Starting pitchers for tonight’s games:

    Iowa – Coleman

    Tennessee – McNutt

    Daytona – Jokisch

    Peoria – To Be Announced

  • Joker

    Luke/Brett – I am loving the emphasis on the minors. Thanks for taking on this workload.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Glad you’re enjoying it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You’re welcome.

      …er, I mean, thanks, Luke.

  • Shawon O’Meter

    Not gonna lie, I will be following the minor league games more closely than the major league club this year. I found myself checking my phone for updates on milb,com throughout the night. It will be fun following the kids. Thanks for the daily wrap up!

    • TWC

      I came really close to buying that MiLB app until I realized that there’s no way to stream the radio broadcasts of those games.  Like, what the foo?  For reals?  Totally lame.  I know you can stream the games (for free) w/o the app, but it seems silly to not have that integrated.

  • gratefulled

    Watching Vitters trip over the rug going from 2nd to 3rd last night was priceless. Glad I bought season tickets.

    After sleeping on it, should have left Dumpster in the game, for many reasons.

    • Doug

      I disagree. He’d thrown 108 pitches. I understand people saying that but we can’t have our starters throwing 9 innings every outing. No matter how bad this pen ends up being. I’m sure Kerry will be kept on a tighter leash for a while though.

  • AB

    Burgess has a very good walk rate. I think the primary problem has been strikeouts and contact rate. If anyone sees him this year, I’d be interested to see if he is just missing on pitches or if his high K and BB rate are the result of extreme patience at the plate where he is deep into counts.

  • Steve

    My dreams have been realized !!!! A competent minor league update board!!!!!!

  • Eric

    Jackson and Rizzo both had spectacular diving catches. Jackson’s was a ball required alot of speed to get to and Rizzo’s was a reaction play on a hard hit ball. He was playing pretty well off the base.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      The Iowa radio crew loves Rizzo.  And they aren’t convinced he’ll be staying in Iowa very long, either.

      • Eric

        Lol, I bet he moves up as soon as he can no longer obtain super 2 status.

  • Eric

    Also, Jackson was 2-4 with a BB and 2 K’s. He takes alot of pitches.

    • hansman1982

      I have heard that he K’s so much because he does take so many pitches. Sharp kid though.

  • Matt

    I might have missed it an earlier post, but who started for Iowa yesterday? Sounds like whoever it was had a solid outing too.

    • hansman1982

      Wells – he looked ok. I just didn’t like his body language last night, definitely looked like he did not want to be there.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Can you blame him. If you were done wrong, you wouldn’t be happy either.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Lol at done wrong.
          Wells: Pitch good and you’ll make the team. Easy at pie.

          • Eric

            Norm hit the nail on the head. If you are truly MLB talent it will be obvious to everyone in a hurry.

            Don’t pout, just enjoy breezing through AAA hitters.

  • Robert

    Brett, this is a little off topic, but since Castro got a “hit” in yesterdays game, isn’t his On Base Streak at like 41 now? it continues from last year, right? I believe many people have forgotten about this…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good call. Will have to look into that.

  • Andrew

    First time commenter, this site is awesome. Does anyone know why Iowa doesn’t play the Indianapolis Indians? I live in Indy and was really hoping to see Jackson and Rizzo play. Since the Indians are the Pirate’s AAA affliate I don’t see why they wouldn’t play each other and didn’t know if there was a reason behind it or it is just a scheduling quirk.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Different leagues, actually.

      Iowa plays in the (don’t laugh) Pacific Coast League.  Indianapolis is in the International League.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      They are actually in different leagues (the Major League affiliate doesn’t dictate which league the AAA team is in – it’s mostly geographical). The Iowa Cubs are in the Pacific Coast League, while the Indianapolis Indians are in in the International League.

      Oh, and thanks!

  • Rynomite

    Discovered this blog on BCB when Brett started doing the MLB bullets. Haven’t been back to BCB since. The minors coverage just increases the aweseomeness. Thanks to you both!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Ryno. Glad you enjoy. BCB is pretty good, too.

  • Spencer

    Pretty nifty post!

  • MikeW

    Take it Campana didnt stick around long in Chicago yesterday morning then if he was back in Iowa in time to play last night.

  • Da Cubs

    Very good job Luke.Keep up the good work!

  • atfinch

    First time commenting. I just have to echo that the minor league report is really cool. Not sure if it’s depressing or not to be almost more concerned with the teams in the minors than the big leaguers but that’s the situation we are in. Hopefully in a year or 2 that changes, but for now I’m enjoying the site and really digging Luke’s work. Keep up the great work guys!

  • Joe N

    Great post! It definitely sounds like it’s going to be more fun following the minor league teams this year than the major league one ( at least until some of those players get up here ). Thanks

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    It appears tonight’s Peoria starter will be Patrick Francescon.  This is a somewhat surprising choice.  Francescon was drafted in the 40th round in 2010 and pitched almost entirely in relief last season.  He did strike out 44 in 38 innings, primarily with Peoria.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I read somewhere that he was getting a bit of buzz in camp.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in a piggy-back arrangement with another potential starter.  Francescon will go four or five innings, and then someone like Wang or Reed will come in and pitch the rest of the game.  Peoria did that quite a bit last season, and it worked pretty well.  It can lead to some odd looking stats, though.

        I think I read earlier today that Burke will be teamed up with Wells in that sort of an arrangement.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        9K in 4.2 innings.  And now we know why he got the start.

        • Ryan

          How many did he walk?

          • Kyle

            none

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            None.  And he only gave up two hits.

            • Ryan

              Thats a nice start

  • Puma0821

    I was at the game I-Cubs game last night (might go tonight as well) As far as Vitters goes, I didn’t catch his walk, but on his hit and another ball he hit (weak ground out I believe), he seemed to jump on balls that weren’t pitches to drive and both were hit weakly.

    Campana and Jackson seemed to wreak havoc on the bases. There was a specific sequence where Campana got a single, stole 2nd then Jackson hit a relatively weak grounder directly to the 3B man on which I was surprised to see Campana go for third, the 3B man seemed a bit distracted and hurried, he threw a ball in the dirt to 1st. Jackson may have beat it anyways but I think the 1B man was pulled off the bag and while he was concentrating on the scoop, Camapana ran home. By the time the throw got to the catchers mitt TC was sliding head 1st through home and beat it easily. Jackson promptly stole second a few pitches later. That was some exciting stuff right there! Also as stated earlier both Jackson and especially Rizzo looked great on defense.

    One of the times Wellington got HBP, it was right around the hand and was scary for a second…the trainer came out but he shook it off and went to 1st. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was sore today and he sat out…

  • Jeff

    Brett,

    I’m headed out to see McNutt pitch tonight @ AA, want any info, updates or video via iPhone? Hope to see a few more Bour home runs.

    • Steve

      Jeff, Im going also. Looks like a beautiful night for baseball.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Any/all would be great. You rock.

      • Jeff

        What info in particular do you want?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          On McNutt, would love to know as much as you see about his velocity, whether it looks like it’s coming “easy,” and how sharp his breaking stuff looks. Plus, literally, anything else you happen to take note/picture/video of (that is to say, anything that happens to strike your own personal fancy) is probably going to be interesting to all of us.

  • Jeff

    Better than last night lol.

    I hope the only lighting and fireworks are Smokies’ home runs!!

  • Ryan G

    Conception got added to Daytona today. Have to assume he takes one of those rotation spots for sure.

    • Kyle

      Wow. If he starts in Daytona, I think he only gets three option years. He’s going to have to move very quickly.

      • CubFan Paul

        Supposedly he’s polished enough to where he should move quickly

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I’m not sure he’s actually in Daytona.  He’s been assigned to that roster, but he is on the 7-Day DL.  When he comes off the DL… which may or may not be in 7 days… he could be reassigned elsewhere.  Since he is on the DL, I don’t think this assignment has any bearing on his option status, but I’m not entirely sure on that.

      • CubFan Paul

        Do u think he’s on the DL for an injury or just to buy time for another reason?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          There may be a minor injury of some kind, but I strongly suspect he’s being held in extended spring training for a bit while the Cubs decide where to send him.  He got a somewhat later start in the spring the rest of the pitchers; an extra few weeks in Arizona won’t hurt him at all.

  • die hard

    Promote Campana and Jackson after dumping Byrd and DeJesus

  • morgan

    you look at our AAA team, and they might be better than our mlb team, or pretty darn close,

    • Kyle

      Take out Garza, Soto and Castro, and I think they are pretty comparable.

  • ferrets_bueller

    this is awesome. Great job on comments, guys, hope this keeps up all year.

    • MichiganGoat

      Agreed, my baseball IQ will grow dramatically with this series. Great job Luke

  • Jeff

    A one to nothing win for the Smokies tonight, McNutt, Antigua, Cabrera and Batista pitched well. The lone run was a blast from Michael Burgess.

    “Last years team was a power hitting team, expect this year to be a pitching and defensive team.” courtesy of Dallas Beeler, super nice guy by the way.

  • Nick Nesler

    just read that RoLo has left Iowa and will be added to the big club some time this weekend.

    • Ryan

      well thats constant with hoyers comments. I wonder what the other move will be

    • drew

      Took me a second to decipher the Quade-esque nickname.

  • Kyle

    Vitters walks for the second night in a row

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Lightening just struck a flying pig who won the lottery.

      • DocPWimsey

        So, free bacon for everybody?

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    Luke, just curious. Shawon Dunston Jr got a big bonus, What’s his eventual projection.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He’s got the speed and the arm to stay in center, but the Cubs are reported to think he’ll develop a fair amount of power as well.  He is very young and very raw, though, so we aren’t going to see him in Chicago any time soon.

      He’ll likely stay in extended spring training until the short season leagues start.  Then he’ll either head to Boise or play in the Rookie League.  It is much too early to project what kind of player he can be, but the Cubs believe his ceiling is at least as a starting center fielder.  We’ll have to wait until we get some game data to say much more than that.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Cool. Thanks.

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