The future Cubs won two of four games on Monday night. Three of them were nail biters into the ninth; Iowa won in a relative blow out. The highlights of the evening would include the power show put on in Iowa, the Tennessee bullpen again pitching beautifully, and a nice pair of pitcher performances in Peoria. The not-so-highlights would include the Daytona Cubs. They played an ugly game.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 3 – 2
The Iowa Cubs chased Albuquerque starter Jon Ely after just three innings as the Cubs collected a comfortable 10-6 win.

Anthony Rizzo hit one of his two home runs off of Ely, and, to add insult to injury, starting pitcher Travis Wood launched a bomb of his own. Rizzo’s 3 for 3, two home run day led the potent Iowa offense. Josh Vitters also had two hits. As a team, Iowa put together 12 hits and only left four on base.

Travis Wood pitched six good innings, allowing just three runs while striking out six. With the exception of Manuel Corpas in the seventh, the bullpen had a perfect night.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 4 – 1
Tennessee will head to their own stadium for the first time this season as the proud owners of a farm-system best 4-1 record. The Smokies rallied for the go ahead run in the ninth, winning another close one 3-2.

Jae-Hoon Ha and Rebel Ridling both collected two hits on the night. Starting pitcher Brooks Raley helped his own cause with an RBI sacrifice fly. Michael Burgess continued his very encouraging start to the year with a walk and a hit, raising his early season OPS to 1.136.

Raley pitched into the seventh inning, collecting six strikeouts while allowing just two runs on six hits and a walk. Alberto Cabrera got the win (his first) and closer Frank Batista picked up his third save of the season. Batista gets almost no respect as a prospect, and yet he is proving to be just as good a closer in Double A as he was in High A. Tennessee area readers, I have an assignment for you: scout Frank Batista. What is this guy throwing, and why is he so good in the ninth inning?

High A – Daytona Cubs. 1 – 3
Zach Cates had a miserable game in his Cubs’ debut, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and four walks. Unfortunately, his defense was even worse. Datyona dropped their third game of the season by a score of 8-7.

After taking an early six run lead, Dunedin tried to give the game back to Daytona. They even committed three errors. Daytona out-uglied them and committed five. Even so, there were a few bright spots in this game. The bullpen gave up just four hits over the final eight innings. Had it not been for the two unearned runs they allowed in the seventh, the bullpen would have won this game.

Greg Rohan somewhat made up for his three error performance with an three run bomb, one of his two hits on the night. Arismendy Alcantara also collected two hits and scored twice. Matt Szczur scored twice as well, but Daytona just could not overcome their mountain of defensive lapses.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 2 – 2
The wind was blowing hard to right field in Peoria Monday night, but that had little impact on the final score of the game. This contest was knotted at three heading into the ninth, but it was Peoria who came up short in the 8-3 loss.

Ben Wells was decent in his four innings of work, allowing three runs (only one earned) on seven hits and striking out three. Kyler Burke was better in his four innings, allowing just two hits and earning three Ks of his own. Unfortunately, Bryce Shafer was all kinds of wild in the ninth. Walks, hit batters, and wild pitches led to a five run inning for Quad City, and that was the difference in the game.

With that strong wind to right, it is surprising that Peoria only collected two extra base hits. Catcher Rafael Lopez had a double as part of his three for four night, and Wes Darvill hit the other double while going two for four. As a team, Peoria was just 1-13 with runners in scoring position and left a total of ten men on base.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Great job Luke! Keep up the good work. I haven’t heard one word on Javier Baez. What’s up with him?

    • Brett

      Still at Spring Training (extended), and probably will start at Low-A (short season) Boise in June.

      • Bill

        Per AZPhil’s unofficial box score in the first exteneded spring training game:

        5a. Javier Baez, SS: 1-3 (5-3, 2B, 2-5 FC, SB)

  • Da Cubs

    I am really liking the minor league recap,where we can follow some of the big names and future big names!

  • ETS

    Thanks again for the reports Luke.

    I couldn’t find anyone to go with me to the Iowa game last night… now I’m bummed. I think I’m ducking out of work early on Thursday though.

  • SirCub

    Great stuff. Planning to take in a game or two this summer at Knoxville, I’ll make sure to scout Batista.

  • EQ76

    Love the spring recaps, but when are we gonna hear about some of last year’s draftees? Baez, Vogelbach, Maples???

    • Brett

      When they start playing in these games. So, probably not until Boise’s season gets underway in June.

    • JasonB

      They’re all likely to play short season ball this year so probably not until June or so when the season starts.

    • David


    • Luke

      You are hearing about a few of last year’s slightly lesser names already.  Zeke DeVoss, Michael Jensen, and Taiwan Easterling are already playing.  I’ll pick up the rest as they move into one of the leagues.  I’ll cover Boise and Arizona as well as the four full season leagues just as soon as play begins.

      Due to the changes in the draft signing deadlines, I think we’ll see several of the 2012 draftees in Boise and Arizona this year as well.  Should be a plenty of talent on both of those teams this season.

  • SouthernCub

    Arismendy Alcantara…….Luke, you’re just making stuff up (chuckle)

  • Brett

    I find it interesting that Burke got a true piggy-back outing and four innings. Are the Cubs trying to make him a starter?

    • Luke

      At the very least, they are trying to get him innings.  He’s got the size scouts like to see in a starter; I’d be surprised if he wasn’t still being considered for that job in the future.

      From what I understand, that piggy-back arrangement with Wells is going to continue for the foreseeable future.  That’s a tough combo for opposing hitters to face.

      • Cedlandrum

        This is a big year for Burke and the Cubs. The cubs either have to put him on the 40 Man after the year or risk him getting selected. Of course for Burke this is big because he has to pitch very good to even get thought of as a prospect to be selected.

        • Luke

          He’d be a long shot to be selected, even if he does pitch well.  I doubt he see few, if any, innings outside of the A-ball levels this year.  Pitchers that far down do get picked in the Rule 5, but it isn’t common. Lendy Castillo is, of course, the most recent exception.

          Regardless, it’s still a big year for him.

          • Cedlandrum

            David Patton was also an A ball pitcher. I understand it isn’t a sure thing, but there is no reason to believe he can’t be in AA by the end of the year. So he could be a bit more advanced then Castillo.

            • Luke

              Oh, of course.  Jokisch jumped from Peoria to Tennessee late last season.  So did Beeler.

              So far I haven’t read much of anything on Burke’s actual stuff.  I’m not sure how he compares with anyone, to be honest.

              • Cedlandrum

                Now take this for what it is worth since it was his own pitching coach.

                “Rosario said Burke throws a 90- to 93-mph four-seam fastball, above average overhand curveball and is working on a changeup.
                “For a left-hander that can have a nice, fluid delivery, that can give you 90 to 93 (mph fastball) and can create quality breaking balls, he can give you hope,” Rosario said. “We’re excited about him.
                “He’s got a lot of things going his way.”


                Also AZ Phil has stated he can get it in the mid 90’s and has very good control of his breaking pitch. So it sounds like he has a good repertoire for a bullpen guy. He averaged 9.6 k’s per 9 last year. So I think his stuff is there.

                He is exactly the type of guy a crappy team could stash in there bullpen and then as ETS says be stashed on the 60 day, just like we are going to do with Castillo.

          • ETS

            and here is where the 60 day DL gets abused.

  • Luke

    Minor League starting pitchers for today’s games.

    Iowa – Randy Wells (1-0, 4.45 ERA)

    Tennessee – Nick Struck (1-0, 1.50 ERA.  10 Ks in his last game)

    Daytona – Austin Kirk (0-0, 4.15 ERA)

    Peoria – Wilington Cruz (0-1, 54.00 ERA).

    • TWC

      “Tennessee – Nick Struck (1-0, 1.50 ERA.  10 Ks in his last game)”

      I want to see this guy kill it again.

      “Iowa – Randy Wells (1-0, 4.45 ERA)”

      I’d really like to see this guy do what the Struck did last time out.

      • TWC

        Unfortunately, it appear that Randy Wells did what Randy Wells did last time out.

  • Luke

    Baseball America had a few nice things to say about Rizzo as well.


  • Jonski

    Im thinking Rizzo might force the fo to look into a roster spot with big club him coupled with Stewert and Lahair as a corner outfielder could be very strong left handed presences in our lineup… the problem is and will be what to do with Bryd and Soriono !Anyhoo enjoyed the update Luke.

    • JB88

      I think it is more likely that the Cubs look to trade LaHair at the trade deadline than it is to see the FO move him to the outfield.

      The FO places a premium on defensive ability and trying to slot LaHair into the outfield would be as bad as putting Adam Dunn out there IMO.

      • MaxM1908

        Agree. I’m really pulling for LaHair to have a fantastic season. It would be a pleasant surprise if he became some trade bait. Same goes for Barney though I imagine he won’t be as attractive since he doesn’t have the minor league numbers to back it up like LaHair.

  • Luke

    The Iowa Cubs are on the air!

    Game is tied at 1 each in the third.  Rizzo walks and scores on a hit by Lalli  Vitters also has a hit this afternoon.  Jackson is in right today; Campana is playing center.

    • Tonycampanathebasethief

      Hey Luke u think u could do a cubs top 20 prospect list and update it throughout the season???

      • Luke

        I did a Top 21 list while I was still writing for Cubbies Crib.  I haven’t done one for Bleacher Nation yet, but there will definitely be one sometime this winter.

        I’d rather not do a list where I slide players up and down it during the season.  That could get awfully reactionary in a hurry.  I’d rather a take a more patient, long-view type of approach, and I don’t know that an in-season updating list would accomplish that.

        That said, I do have some plans for mid-season articles that will fill that void.  I probably won’t do a full blown ranking until after the season, there will be related articles in the meantime.

  • Michael

    Where is junior lake in all this? Haven’t heard anything recently? Is he playing

    • Luke

      As far as we know, he’s in Arizona rehabbing a non-serious injury.  He’s expected to report to Tennessee when he’s ready to go.

      • Michael

        Thanks Luke. Was curious. He has become the one prospect I can’t wait to see develop. Btw Ur updates r great

  • Kyle

    Vitters with his third walk of the season.

    • Luke

      That was another good at bat, too.  He fouled off some pitches en route to an eight pitch at bat and the walk.

      • Ferrets bueller

        I’m beginning to get excited. If vitters keeps this up….uh-oh. He might end up the beast he was supposed to be to begin with. And if he does, we suddenly have quite a farm, at all levels. At least hitting-wise.
        A rizzo, Stewart, Castro, vitters infield has one hell of a high offensive ceiling, especially if rizzo fixes his swing to be shorter.

        • Brett

          If Vitters and Stewart are both there, who plays where? I know folks said in the offseason that Stewart could theoretically play second, but it’s a bit hard to see with his size. Would be interesting.

          • Luke

            If all those guys are on the same team at the same time, I think Vitters is playing left.

            Cardenas or Watkins could either one be on second in that scenario, and you’d still have a fairly potent offensive infield.

          • Kyle

            Yeah, if you absolutely have to get both in the lineup, you put Vitters in LF and Stewart at 3b.

            But ideally, you just figure out which one you like more and that’s your 3b, the other is trade bait.

  • Cedlandrum

    Cardenas ties it with a bomb. Nice work.

  • Puma0821

    Vitters now leads the team in BA. And Campana with 2 steals and 2 walks.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Brett, do you ever see Rebel making the big league club? What position does he play?

    • Brett

      I know that Luke likes him, and he does have some positional versatility (1B/OF), so it’s possible he could make the bigs as a bench bat. He’s got power. It’s possible, if not necessarily likely.

      • Ferrets bueller

        Off the top of my head, isn’t he already 26?

        • Brett

          Also off the top of mine, yes. (Just checked – turns 26 in May. Mitigating factor, though, is that he was a college senior, so he’s only had three full pro seasons.)

          • Luke

            I do see him as a bench bat / platoon guy at first or in left.  Until this season he had never repeated a level of the minors (and I’m not sure why he’s repeating this season).  He’s always been a little old for his league, but he’s also consistently produced.

            I don’t think he’s a future star, by any means, but I do think he could be a nice guy to have on the major league roster one day.  I guess if I had to compare to him anyone, it would be Matt Stairs (but that isn’t an especially good comparison).