Given that the farm system lost three times yesterday, it might be surprising to hear that there were a number of very good and very encouraging pitching performances across the system. Ground ball inducing starters led the way in the lower minors while the Triple A bullpen once again attempted to soothe the frayed nerves of Cub fans everywhere.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 1 – 2
The Iowa offense was in classic Chicago form Saturday night, but not in a good way. The Triple A club stranded ten base runners on the way to a 7-2 loss.

Brett Jackson reached base three times and scored both of Iowa’s runs. Blake Lalli had two hits and drove in one run; Anthony Rizzo collected the other RBI. Iowa did most of their damage against the Round Rock bullpen, but they never could get a sustained rally going.

Chris Rusin was pitching a good game until the sixth inning, when he was tagged for three runs. Round Rock later scored three more times off Nate Robertson in the eighth. There was some encouraging news for the belabored Chicago bullpen, however, as Frankie De La Cruz and Blake Parker were both effective in relief. With the exception of Robertson’s bad inning, the Iowa bullpen has been pretty good in the early games. If Chicago needs some help, Iowa should have some arms available.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 2 – 1
Speaking of bullpen meltdowns, Tennessee suffered through a pretty bad one on Saturday. The only thing separating the Smokies from a win was the nine runs they surrendered in the sixth. Tennessee wound up with a 10-2 loss.

Dallas Beeler was not dominant in his five innings of work, but he only gave up one run. All in all, it was a pretty good first start for the promising pitching prospect. And then Daniel Berlind entered the game and promptly pitched his way to an ERA of 108.00. Casey Weathers was a little wild when he entered the game, but managed to escape with minimal damage. Jonathan Mota, a career infielder, pitched a perfect final frame.

Logan Watkins stayed red hot with another two hits and Jae-Hoon Ha added a couple knocks of his own, but the Tennessee offense was not able to overcome that nine run disaster.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 1 – 2
There was a fantastic pitchers dual in Florida as the Daytona Cubs went to bat against Brevard County’s Jed Bradley, Milwaukee’s top left handed pitching prospect. The Cubs came up just short, losing 1-0.

The Cubs managed just four hits on the day, and two them came from John Andreoli, who also collected the team’s only walk.

On the mound, Hayden Simpson did not have a lot of velocity, but he pounded the strike zone with pitches Brevard County could not consistently square up against. He gave up just five hits across his four and a third innings of work, including the game winning run on a solo shot in the fourth. His fastball was clocked at 86 MPH, but his breaking pitches yielded a steady stream of soft liners and ground balls. The radio crew was impressed both by the quality of his breaking stuff and by his high level of preparation. Apparently this guy is a serious student of the game who does not take his planning lightly.

After Simpson left the game, Casey Harman and Larry Suarez combined to allow just three base runners the rest of the game. The offense could not match that level of virtuosity, however, and Daytona took the loss.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 2 – 1
Peoria earned the lone win in the Cubs’ system. They beat Beloit by a score of 6-2.

Jose Rosario got the start for the Chiefs. He pitched five and a third innings and earned his first win of the season. Like Simpson, he produced a ton of ground balls and soft liners during his two hit, two strikeout performance. When he left the game, Austin Reed, Yao-Lin Wang, and Andrew McKirahan were perfect for the remainder of the game.

Eduardo Gonzalez, Brad Zapenas, and Taylor Davis all had two hits a piece as Peoria piled on more than enough runs for the win. Zeke DeVoss, Pin-Chieh Chen and Paul Hoilman also reached base twice.

If you like unusual stat lines, you’ll love the one produced by Marco Hernandez. He finished the game with both a run scored and an RBI, but he had no hits, no walks, and was not hit by a pitch.

Of course I’m not going to tell you how he did it. That would take all the fun out things.

[Brett: A couple more tidbits passed along by BN’ers who were at games this weekend, though they harken back to Friday’s games. Grant says that, in person, Patrick Francescon looked as good as his line suggested he looked. And Jeff spoke to AA pitching prospect Dallas Beeler, who shared a bit of info about his roommate, pitcher Brooks Raley. He said that Raley stayed back on the last day of Spring Training so he could pitch in front of Theo and Jed. During that showing, Raley apparently made Anthony Rizzo look bad on three pitches during that outing. Beeler even said that he thinks Raley would have been the Smokies’ number 1 if he hadn’t stayed back that extra day – given the makeup of the Smokies’ rotation (McNutt, Struck, Beeler, among them), that’s quite a compliment.]

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