The Battle of Eastern Tennessee took the form of a pitcher’s duel on Friday night, but it was a relatively unknown starter for the Peoria Chiefs who had the best game of the evening. It’s too early to say if Francescon will replicate Robert Whitenack‘s meteoric ascension from last season, but I will definitely be watching his next appearance with interest.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 1 – 1
Iowa almost pulled of a great come from behind win, but fell just short. They lost their first game of the season 4-3.

All four runs were given up by Casey Coleman, but the Iowa bullpen gave up just two hits (and five walks) over the final four innings. Jeff Beliveau struck out two in his inning of work, and Esmailin Caridad struck three over two frames to finish the game.



The Cub hitters had a tough job; they had to face Martin Perez, one of the best left handed pitching prospects in the game. Several of the future Cubs were up to the challenge. Josh Vitters picked up a single off the tough southpaw, Welington Castillo hit an RBI double, and Brett Jackson torched the lefty for a triple. When the Cubs rallied for two in the eight of the Round Rock bullpen, those same future Cubs were right in the thick of things. Unfortunately, the rally died with Jackson and Anthony Rizzo both in scoring position.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 2 – 0
Fans in Chattanooga were treated to a fantastic pitching battle. Four Smokies pitchers combined for the shutout and Tennessee won 1-0.

Tennessee managed just five hits, including two each by Logan Watkins and Michael Burgess, but the only run came on a solo shot by Burgess in the sixth.



The real stars of the night are the pitchers. Trey McNutt needed to 72 pitches to get through three and two thirds innings, but despite coughing up two hits and three walks, he kept Chattanooga off the board. Jeffry Antigua picked up where McNutt left off, pitching two and a third scoreless innings. Alberto Cabrera tossed two zeros for the hold, and Frank Batista collected his second save of the young season, stranding the tying run on third in the process.

[From Brett: BN’er Jeff was at the game and reported a variety of interesting tidbits. Jeff said McNutt looked better than last year, with no one getting great contact off of him. His fastball was sitting in the low-90s, which is a tough low for McNutt, but Jeff said he looked physically good (maybe even had dropped a few pounds from last year, as well as the beard. Jeff said that Jeffrey Antigua looked very sharp, and Alberto Cabrera looked good, too. Jeff also had the pleasure of sitting next to Dallas Beeler for part of the game (Jeff called him a very nice guy), as well as Nick Struck (also a very nice guy). I had Jeff ask Nick if he was angling to become more of a strikeout pitcher after this week’s huge strikeout performance (Struck was a pitch-to-contact type last year), but Nick said that, no, he’s still all about getting early contact. Great stuff, Jeff.]

High A – Daytona Cubs. 1 – 1
Daytona got back to even with a 6-2 win. Even though Eric Jokisch had a good game, Ty’relle Harris gets the win and Tony Zych pitched the two inning save. It’s good to see that Harris is back on the mound after that horrible hit-and-run last season.



Rubi Silva and Arismendy Alcantara carried the offense with three hits a piece, including two doubles for Silva and a three run blast for Alcantara. The other highlight of the night probably belongs to Matt Szczur. With Szczur on second, Silva dropped a surprise bunt and Szczur somehow scores on the play. Even Campana would have been proud of that show of speed.

Granted, it is early in the season, but it is never too early to ogle unusual stat lines. Nelson Perez currently has a batting average of .000, but he has an OBP of .556 and a run scored. If he can keep that up all season, Brad Pitt might be playing him in Moneyball 2.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 1 – 1
Say hello to Patrick Francescon. He may not be the best known pitcher in the farm system, but he put up a very impressive performance by striking out nine in just four and two thirds. He handed a nasty jam to Luis Liria in the fifth, but Liria got out of it with just one run allowed. Unfortunately, Willengton Cruz gave up a grand slam seventh, and the Cheifs offense could not recover. Peoria took the loss 6-1.

There were no standout performances on the offense, but there were a couple of plays worth noting. Reggie Golden swiped his first base of the season. Wes Darvill scored the Cheifs’ only run when scored from first on a double by Eduardo Gonzalez.

I know we had some Bleacher Nation readers in attendance at some of these games, including that great pitching showcase in Chattanooga. If anyone else made it to a game last night, we’d all love to hear what you thought. Who knows, maybe Jed Hoyer himself will see your thoughts and be so impressed he offers you a job.

If that happens, maybe you can watch Brad Pitt play you when they make a movie out of it.




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