As the Daytona Cubs are finding out, it is really hard to win a game when you commit more errors than you score runs. Other than the ongoing disaster in Daytona, the Cubs’ farm system had a pretty good day on Wednesday. Tennessee lost another close game while Iowa and Peoria both collected wins.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 4 – 3
Welington Castillo had three hits, including a home run and Josh Vitters smacked two more singles as the Iowa Cubs won 5-1.

When the Chicago Cubs need reinforcements, the players in Iowa will be waiting. In addition to Castillo’s eruption and Vitters staying hot, Tony Campana and Adrian Cardenas both enjoyed another good game at the plate. Cardenas, playing shortstop in this game, hit his second triple of the year and raised his slugging percentage for this season to an impressive 0.760. Even starting pitcher Casey Coleman got in on the offensive act with two hits and an RBI of his own.

On the mound, Coleman, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Blake Parker combined to hold Albuquerque to one run on five hits while striking out seven. Any one of these pitchers could be a candidate to help out in Chicago’s bullpen this season.

[Brett: Coleman left his start a bit early with a “funny feeling” in his arm, but Iowa manager Dave Bialas says it was just precautionary, and came from a swing in Coleman’s final at bat. Apparently it’s happened before, and it isn’t serious.]

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 4 – 3
A ninth inning home run spoiled Tennessee’s night as the Smokies lost a pitching duel 2-1.

Trey McNutt, Jeffry Antigua, and Kevin Rhoderick combined to strikeout twelve in the loss. It was Rhoderick who gave up the winning run, but all three pitchers deserve credit for keeping the Smokies in this one.

Logan Watkins scored the Smokies lone run. Only Elliot Soto managed to reach base twice. So far this season the pitching and defense for the Smokies has been good, but this is proving to be a team that at times has trouble scoring runs. The return of Junior Lake (when it happens) could be a big boost for this offense.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 1 – 5
Daytona has committed thirteen errors in three games. No matter how bad things get in Chicago, I doubt the Chicago Cubs can sink below the low water mark established by their High A farm club. With another lousy day in the field, it should come as no surprise that Daytona got clobbered 7-1.

Greg Rohan and Rubi Silva both had multi-hit games. Silva struggled in High A last season, but so far this year he is 10 for 21 at the plate with an OPS of 1.119. The Cubs have been using him at both second base and in the outfield; that trend should continue if he is promoted to Tennessee later this summer.

The only bright spot on the mound was Brett Wallach. He pitched two innings of one hit ball in relief for the Cubs, striking out two.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 3 – 3
Quad Cities scored three times in the first inning, but Peoria kept them off the board for the next eight. Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ offense got those runs back with interest as Peoria prevailed 5-3.

There were plenty of hitters who deserve credit in this game, but Ryan Cuneo eclipses them all. The first baseman was only recently added to the Peoria roster and on Wednesday he collected two hits, including a three run homer.

Michael Jensen was shaky in the first inning, but once he settled down the Quad Cities hitters could do little against him. Yao-Lin Wang and Andrew McKirahan kept that trend going, keeping the River Bandits off the board after the first inning.

I will be traveling for the remainder of this week. The Minor League Daily articles will continue to appear, but I probably won’t be around the comments, the Message Boards, or on Twitter. Unfortunately, despite passing within a few hours of Peoria, I won’t be able to stop in for a game. If you are more fortunate than me, be sure to post any pictures or comments from the games you attend in the Message Boards. Accounts and footage from all the Cubs’ farm teams is always welcome.

  • Ben

    thank you, and appreciate your columns

  • King Jeff

    Loving the minor league reports coming in so often. Keep up the good work Luke. After two weeks, I feel like I already dwarf my previous knowledge of Cubs prospects.

    • Macleoddaman

      Theo is a class A heartless and misguided jerk

      • TWC

        And what does that make you?

  • butlerdawgs

    Really hope Daytona gets things figured out before I head down there on vacation.

    • King Jeff

      When are you going? I go see Daytona 4-5 times every year. It’s about a 4 hour drive, but spending the weekend there when it isn’t Spring Break is still pretty fun.

      • butlerdawgs

        I’ll be down there the week of July 16-23. Not sure which games I’ll go to, but I always try to hit at least one while I’m down there.

  • Jason*Thundermug*

    I love the fact Vitters is playing great !!! I hope he continues and gets better on defense. I would like to think that he can still be our 3rd baseman of the future

    • Steve

      How sweet would that be?? All the pre draft hype, then the struggle in the initial stages, then BAM, like Emerald, the light goes “ON”
      We all need to remember, this guy is still VERY young @ 23. He has had the “luxury” of experiencing every level of the minors instead of being rushed, and I think it was needed as it surely would have been detrimental to him if he had been pushed hard to produce.
      Remember, he was THE BEST BAT in the draft that year, and that many scouts are rarely wrong. Sometimes it translates, sometimes it doesnt.
      Hopefully, this is a DOES>

  • ETS

    I get to see Iowa today. Hoping the bats are alive.

    It’s really fun to watch Campana on minor league base paths as well.

  • Chaz Mulherin

    I can’t believe I live about 45 minutes from Daytona and have NEVER seen a game there. I haven’t been that interested in the minors until last year though.

    • butlerdawgs

      I definitely recommend going to a game. The facilities aren’t the greatest, but you can’t beat cheap food, beer and a good time for about $5 a ticket. They used to have a promo on Mondays that was “gut-buster night” where it was all you could eat. Thursdays are usually dollar beers. Just don’t go on a night when Vince Carter is signing autographs, place gets way to crowded and miserable.

  • Kyle

    I’ve been saying all along (though one week doesn’t justify it) that Cubs fans have been way too harsh on Vitters.

    He was drafted at 17 and pushed very aggressively, always playing at levels against older players. He is still younger than several top college hitters who were drafted in 2011 and are just now making their full-season pro debuts. If he’d been promoted more slowly and played against age-appropriate levels, I think he’d have put up some gaudy numbers and people would still be hyping him. It’s hard to remind yourself that a 21-year-old hitting .283 .322 .448 in a pitcher-friendly AA is doing better than, say, a 21-year-old hitting .300/340/500 in Peoria.

    I’d be pretty surprised if he ever lives up to the No. 3 overall pick hype, but I think there’s an excellent shot that both his bat and defense become MLB adequate.

    • ETS

      I always joke that now that he is actually getting close to MLB ready he for some reason drops off our “top” prospects list for most people. I agree with your sentiments completely.

      • ty

        Ets and Kyle–had the privilege of watching Vitters all these years and I hope we never give up on him. Paul Molitor type hitter who understands the sweet part of the bat very well. Fielding has been an issue but reports that is improving. I kind of feel that he has dropped down in prospect list because he has been around so many years. Scouts and others tire of seeing him a bit and look for a new girlfriend in town. He has all ready played 3 seasons in Arizona Fall League which is highly un-usual. Go see this kid play and watch the ball jump off his bat.

        • DocPWimsey

          Vitters dropped on the prospects list because it became obvious that he doesn’t have pitch recognition. He’s walked a time or three this year already, but Vitters will be highly exceptional if he suddenly develops the ability to not swing at anything near the plate at this point. Now, Vitters does have amazing contact skills: but it is very rare that players actually carry that over to MLB level. Vlads and Ichiros are extremely rare!

          • Kyle

            You’ll note that his early season, small-sample three walks are a continuation of both his ST and the end of last season.

            • DocPWimsey

              Yes, but those combined almost certainly are not a big enough sample size to say that Vitters really has increased his walk rate. After the numbers he put up for so long, it’s going to take a bit to convince me that he’s really changed.

              • Kyle

                There’s a spectrum of confidence levels in a number like this, not just a binary “is it statistically significant or not.”

                Vitters’ recent walk totals are certainly not definitive, but they are encouraging.

                • Norm

                  He was always going to make the majors, but it would be nice if he turns into more than Shea Hillenbrand.

  • Eric

    I am announcing something right now. I am signing up to package so I can watch every AAA Iowa Cubs game so I can watch Jackson, Rizzo, and Vitters. The exciting future of the Cubs. Because the present of the Cubs sucks. And about the only time I want to watch them is when Smardzija and Volstad starts. I suggest you guys do the same.

    • Gabriel

      Question – is the minor league package included with Premium? Cuz I already subscribe to that

  • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

    Luke: Thanks for the extensive info on the minor leagues. It has never been as important to us “die-hards” than now to know that there is help on the horizon. Keep up the great work.
    Brett: Great choice in Luke being BN’s minor league “expert”. Thanks!

  • Garrett

    I am sure it has been asked and I apologize if I am repeating it, but where will Conception start and when should we see him in action? Thanks

    • Kyle

      He’s still in XST, so we really don’t know until they decide to send him to a club. The reports I’ve heard have been pretty solid: he’s just as advanced as we heard, throwing lots of strikes with adequate breaking stuff.

      My guess is Daytona, but as conservative as the new regime is being with prospects, not even Boise would shock me.

  • Brandon

    Luke: Keep up the good work. It is nice to be able to follow the prospects. I like hearing the reports on Daytona, so I know who to look for as they move up to AA Tennessee.

    Our team at Smokies Park looks like they are talented and hungry…but also feeling out their spots on the field. Harper (last year) and Bailey (this year) like to juggle the defensive lineup. It is hard not to see Rebel at first base, but Justin Bour looks like he is the guy for Buddy Bailey. i am really liking the looks of Logan Watkins on D as well as Soto at SS. If Junior Lake comes back to AA (which I expect) it will be interesting to see if they move Soto to 3rd base. Burgess looks good in RF and Jae-Hoon Ha is a stud. Not impressed at all with Brenly behind the plate. He had several passed balls on Tuesday night and seemed a little overwhelmed at the plate as well. Hopefully, he’ll snap out of it, but Apadaca looks better behind the plate so far.

    Anyway….keep up the good work!

    • ty

      Brandon–would you agree–Ha may be the most talented prospect under the radar that we are developing.

  • TWC

    Psst:  If you’re looking to listen to the Cubs’ Minor League affiliates’ games (via web or mobile), I compiled a list of resources over on the Message Board.  Check it:


    I live in SC so Tenn is the closest place for me to see the Cubs play. My kids and I usually catch 4 to 6 Smokie games a year. We actually prefer these games to going to Atl anymore. Less money and less people to deal with. We’ve seen almost all of our top young talent play and have met most of them. BJaxx, Vitters, Castro, Campana, McNutt, Junior Lake. I like the future of the Cubs. Not only are these guys good players but pretty nice fan friendly guys as well. If you are in the area I suggest checking out a few Smokies games this year. Lots of fun and reasonable prices.

  • Steve

    I second Mr Johnson hurumph hurumph!!!
    The minor league experience is really special. At the Chattanooga Lookouts game vs the Smokies, beers were 3.00 and the game was excellent. Crowd was fun and parking was awesome. Say that about any major league stadium

  • ferrets_bueller

    Who has been committing these errors?

  • Big Joe

    Just an observation. Cuneo, drafted in 2010 is 23 years old, and in Low A ball? There’s another reason the Cubs are behind a lot of teams. 23 years old, playing in a league made for 19 year old kids.

    • AB

      Average ages for Midwest League (A-)
      Pitchers – 22.1

      Hitters 21.9

    • Norm

      Check every other roster in that league, Each team will have multiple players that age and older.

  • mb21

    @AB – the average age of the league isn’t necessarily the best way to look at it. I think we’d want to limit ourselves to prospects. I know you can say all of them at that level are prospects, but I think we can agree a 24 year old in Low A isn’t much of a prospect. I wonder what the average age of the top 300 or so prospects would be at each level. I think it would be much higher than we generally think, but lower than the league average age.

  • Big Joe

    Thank you for making my point, AB. I’m too lazy to look up the stats. He is around a year older than your average low A player.