There were only two games on the Cubs’ minor league slate on Sunday, and the Chicago prospects won them both. Both games looked like pitching duels early, and both turned into offensive showcases late. While Tennessee once again used their dominant bullpen to lock up a win, Iowa fans enjoyed some bottom of the ninth heroics by the team’s top prospect.
AAA – Iowa Cubs. 2 – 2
Jay Jackson got his first start of the season, and for four innings he held Round Rock scoreless. A four run fifth inning cost him a chance at the win, setting up closer Scott Maine to collect his first W of the season. Iowa rallied in the eighth and ninth to claim a 6-5 win.
The heroes of the day are definitely Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson. Rizzo tied the game with a three run bomb in the eighth, and Jackson drove in the winning run with a double in the bottom of the ninth. Iowa won this game because their best players got the job done when it mattered the most. It isn’t hard to imagine Rizzo and Jackson leading a different Cub team to similar wins on a slightly larger stage in the not so distant future.
Cub fans have plenty more reasons to be encouraged, however. We know Rizzo and Jackson aren’t coming to Chicago for several more weeks, at the earliest. Jeff Beliveau, on the other hand, could be on a plane any day now. He struck out four in two innings of relief. Tony Campana is also looking for a return to the North Side, and with three more hits and two more runs today, he raised his season line to .438/.444/.500. More on Campana in a bit.
One question we had heading to this season involved Josh Vitters. Could he tame his tendency to swing away and turn himself into a disciplined hitter who waited on a pitch he could drive? It is too early to know for sure, but there are some encouraging early signs. Through three games, he has already drawn two walks. For a guy who has never drawn more than 22 walks in a season, that’s big news. In Sunday’s game he didn’t earn a free base, but on one occasion he fouled off pitch after pitch by Round Rock starter Greg Reynolds on his way to an eight pitch at bat. If these trends continue, Ian Stewart has reason to be looking over his shoulder.
AA – Tennesse Smokies. 3 – 1
For the first four innings, Dae-Eun Rhee did not give up a run. In the last three innings, the Smokies bullpen kept Chattanooga off the board. The four runs given up in the middle were more than eclipsed by the seven the Tennessee offense produced, and the Smokies walked away with their third win of the season by a score of 7-4.
Meanwhile, Logan Watkins continues to be one of the hottest hitters in the minor league system. On Sunday he was 1 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored, upping his season averages to .471/.526/.471. Again, it is too early in the season to get too excited by these numbers, but keep in mind that Watkins should be one of the first players to get a shot at unseating Darwin Barney.
High A – Daytona Cubs. 1 – 2
Daytona was off on Sunday. The Cubs resume their season on Monday at home against Dunedin. The Cubs starting pitcher for Monday night has not yet been announced.
Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 2 – 1
The Peoria Chiefs come home on Monday night to start a series against Quad Cities. Peoria area Cubs fans will get their first look at right handed starter Ben Wells. We’ve heard a lot of good things about Wells in the past year, so if any Bleacher Nation fans are going to be attending that game, we’d love to hear what you think of him. You catch Brett and me on Twitter (@BleacherNation and @ltblaize), on the Message Boards, or in the comments section.
The phrase ‘game changing’ has often been used to describe Tony Campana’s speed, but what does that mean? In short, what does game changing speed look like? Well, Campana painted us a portrait of exactly what that means in the third inning of Sunday’s game. I’m just going to quote the game recap verbatim, with just a bit of added emphasis.
Tony Campana doubles (1) on a soft ground ball to third baseman Tommy Mendonca.
Brett Jackson grounds out, second baseman Yangervis Solarte to first baseman Michael Bianucci. Tony Campana to 3rd.
Luis Valbuena out on a sacrifice fly to right fielder Joey Butler. Tony Campana scores.
That’s right. Per the game recap, Tony Campana doubled on a soft ground ball to third. I don’t think speed can get more game changing than that.