After driving about three thousand miles across seven states over the last five days, I’d recommend the Ford Fusion to anyone needing a car for long drives. And after looking over Sunday’s box scores, I’d recommend the Cubs’ minor league affiliates to anyone wanting a great day of baseball. Three of the day’s four games required extra innings – nine extra frames in total. The Cubs finished the day with just one win, but every contest was a great one.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 6 – 5
Iowa torched the Round Rock pitchers for 22 hits over thirteen innings, but fell by a single run in the end, 11-10.

Randy Wells could not escape the third inning and finished the day having allowed eight runs in just two and a third innings. Once again, Wells failed to make a compelling argument in favor of being promoted to Chicago. The first reliever out of the pen, Ryan Rowland-Smith, stemmed the bleeding and allowed just two more runs through the end of the fifth.

And then the Cubs turned to two relievers who would love to join the Chicago bullpen, and once again they both did their best to get that call as soon as possible. Esmailin Caridad and Scott Maine not only combined to shut out Round Rock for five straight innings, they only gave up one hit and no walks over that span. For two relievers who rarely work more than an inning, that’s a great day at the ballpark. Manny Corpas gave up the winning run in his third inning of work; prior to that inning he also had a pretty good day.

Tony Campana hit a home run for Iowa, as did Luis Valbuena and Blake Lalli. Alfredo Amezega had five hits. Adrian Cardenas was right behind him with four. Anthony Rizzo and Campana both contributed three hits. [Brett: Allow yourself a double-take back to the beginning of the paragraph. Yes, you did just read that Tony Campana hit a home run, the first of his minor league career.]

By the way, Cardenas now has an OPS of 1.013 with seven extra base hits and just two strikeouts over 39 ABs. It is only a matter of time before he gets a chance in Chicago.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 6 – 5
Nicholas Struck was decent in his five innings of work, but Marcus Hatley struggled in the final two frames. The Smokies lost 5-4 in nine innings.

Elliot Soto had another good day at the plate and once again led the Tennessee offense with two hits, both of them doubles. His double-play partner, Logan Watkins, singled and drew three walks. Other than that, the Tennessee offense was both quiet and efficient. Their four runs came on only seven hits with just six left on base.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 2 – 8
A mere 464 fans got to witness what might just be one of the best game to go down in the minor leagues this season. Daytona came up short in the low scoring marathon, losing 2-1 in twelve innings.

Austin Kirk did everything he could in this one. He allowed one run in the first, but followed up with with six innings of zeros. Continuing the trend of low-K, low-WHIP specials, he struck out one while allowing only four hits and a lone walk. A.J. Morris and Casey Harmon kept the game tied at one, but ultimately Larry Suarez took the loss in the twelfth.

Unlike the offensive showcase put on in Iowa, this marathon featured only eight hits by Cub prospects, including two a piece by second baseman Rubi Silva and outfielder John Andreoli. It was Matt Szczur, however, who scored the Cubs’ only run in the fourth.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 4 – 6
The Chiefs claimed the lone win for the farm system on Sunday. They rallied in the ninth and again in the eleventh and claimed a road win 5-3.

Willengton Cruz gave up all three Wisconsin runs in his five and two thirds innings of work. Luis Liria, Andrew McKirahan, and Yao-Lin Wang combined for five and one third innings of five hit, four strikeout shut out baseball.

The Chiefs staged two late game rallies in this contest, and outfielder Oliver Zapata was right in the middle of both. Zeke DeVoss also had a good day. His first inning triple led to the game’s first run, and his ninth inning single drove in two to tie the game.

One other trend highlighted by Sunday is visible at second base. In all four levels of the system, the Cubs have legitimate second base prospects playing well and (in many ways) out performing their leagues. Any one of Cardenas in Iowa, Watkins in Tennessee, Silva in Daytona, or DeVoss in Peoria could be the future of the Chicago Cubs at second base … and they aren’t the only candidates. That future is on display daily at a minor league stadium somewhere in America. If you haven’t made it out to a game yet, this might the time to start a new trend of your own.

  • CubFan Paul

    I’m all for a Cardenas call up. DeWitt is a statue at 2B and has never been an offensive threat.

    • ETS

      I wouldn’t be too hasty. DeWitt performed much better than Cardenas this spring. I would give DeWitt a few more chances is all.

      Baker on the other hand… well, are we even sure he still “crushes” lefties?

      • CubFan Paul

        “DeWitt performed much better than Cardenas this spring”

        Spring stats are meaningless. The season has started and DeWitt is as below average in the field as he is at the plate (.100/.091/.100) which is the exact opposite of Cardenas, who can also backup SS

        • ETS

          Spring stats are meaningless, but DeWitt was cut from the team and didn’t pout. He worked hard and showed he still earned a spot. I’m willing to give him a few more weeks.

          • CubFan Paul

            Lol. Who cares if you’re willing to give DeWitt more time? It’s not our decision, it’s Theo&Co’s, I’m just in favor of the younger, cheaper, better offensive player getting called up because every chance to win is sacred.

            • ETS

              I guess my point is I’m not convinced on better at this point in the season. Also, I think at this point Valbueno would be be called up before Cardenas.

              Also, I realize it’s not my decision :) I’m just saying I’m not calling for DeWitt’s head (yet).

              • CubFan Paul

                To be clear, if Cardenas was called up I’d want him to start at 2B over Barney because he’s better offensively than Barney, DeWitt, & Baker. Then Barney would be the SS backup we haven’t had in years

      • Spencer

        Hard to say since he isn’t even getting PH at bats against them.

        • ETS

          Yeah, curious move by Dale to leave in Lahair against a lefty in St Louis.

  • Tonycampanathebasethief

    Camps as homer was to lead off the game and value as homer was actually a grand slam!

    • Beer Baron

      Wait, he led off the game with a grand slam? If that’s true, we’ve burried the lead since somehow Tony Campana has the ability to alter the space-time continuum (although still has no appreciable major league skills). Truly amazing!!

      • MichiganGoat

        He is like Superman fast maybe he spun the earth around

      • Brett

        You didn’t already know about Campana’s Flash-like ability to run backwards and forwards in time?

      • Tonycampanathebasethief

        No sorry stupid iPod spell check campanas homerun lead off the game and valbuenas home run was a grand slam

  • Njriv

    Mama there goes that man

  • baseballet

    It seems to me like DeWitt has had enough MLB time to show what he can do. In 2010 he played in 135 games, with five home runs and a .336 on-base percentage. In 2011 he played in 121 games with five home runs and a .305 OBP. He has been a below average defender both years. His greatest asset is his ability to play several positions.
    He looked out of place yesterday fielding second base, although I don’t know if he just had a bad day or if he always looks that bad.
    I don’t know if Cardenas looks like a player who can match DeWitt’s production, so I’d be curious to hear Luke’s offense/defense assessment. Cardenas is 24 and DeWitt will turn 27 next month, so maybe now is the time to find out if Cardenas can be a bench player in the majors.

    • Luke

      The biggest question on Cardenas is his defense.  He may never be a good defender at second, but that doesn’t mean his glove can’t be good enough.  On that note, it’s just too early to say.

      Offensively, he would likely out-produce Barney.

      Long term, if Cardenas does take the job I’m not sure if he can hold it against the onslaught of second baseman lurking in the minors.  His future may be as more of a offensive utility guy, and in that role he could be the perfect complement to the more defensive minded Barney.

      • CubFan Paul

        By most accounts Cardenas’ glove was good enough in spring training and 10times better than advertised

        • dabynsky

          The games I’ve watched Cardenas has looked steady, and for that matter so has Vitters at 3B. I haven’t seen either make any amazing plays, but neither has been the butcher that at least I was lead to believe they were.

  • hansman1982

    I will second the notion on the Ford Fusion – great car and I own one, although I would not recommend the 4 cylinder to anyone but the 3.5L sport is a great car.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Sport and Ford Fusion should NEVER be said in the same sentence. Just sayin’.

  • Cedlandrum

    I wasn’t too worried after the first 2 starts for Wells, but he got absolutely piss pounded yesterday. Also how do you have 27 baserunners and lose a game?

    • CubFan Paul

      Hopefully this ends all the Randy Wells love. I’ll send him a six pack for his troubles

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, how do you let the other team reach base 22 times and win?  Yes, usually the team that reaches base most often wins (104-28 so far this year): but when you get this much offense, then it becomes the question of who gets luckier with the “big” hits.  That is, who gets the single, walk and HR instead of the walk, HR and single.  (It’s hard to talk about “clutch” or “choke” when both teams perform so well offensively and so poorly defensively.)

      Where the hitting conditions excellent or fielding conditions awful?  That looks like a “wind blowing out” game…

      • Cedlandrum

        Looks like a PCL game.

  • Kevin

    Cubs ownership wants their cake and eat it too! How can the Ricketts family charge major league prices for a minor league club? Maybe they can save face and use the money they are saving to refurbish Wrigley Field without any government assistance. Please put a competitive team on the field. I do not understand why you are being so cheap right now. At least put something exciting on the field for people to get excited about.

    • Pat

      The thing is, they are probably spending as much as the Trib did. The major difference is that the Trib did not have to service over 600 million in debt. Throw in the expanded front office and minor league spending, and it’s probably almost exactly the same amount.

      • CubFan Paul

        “and it’s probably almost exactly the same amount”

        It’s not.

        • Pat

          Really? And you say this based on what? Quick back of the napkin math has them paying around 30 million a year in debt service, not even considering if they are paying the debt down. Are they spending 10 mil more than the Trib on the front office and minors? I’d say so. That’s 40 million right there.

          • CubFan Paul

            Annual revenues are at least $270M. How do we know that the Trib wasn’t just pocketing $40M/yr?

            Keep in mind Ricketts is a billionaire twice over still, not from the Cubs but from what he owns in TDameritrade & InCapital ..taking his debts payments away from baseball operations makes no sense

            • Pat

              The Ricketts kids are not billionaires, their father is. He gave them the downpayment to buy this team, but nothing so far has indicated that he is willing to throw additnal money at it. In fact, Tom Ricketts has publicly stated on several occasions that all profits will be reinvested in the team. The unsaid, but inferred, part there is that outside money will not be added.

              And I don’t know that the Trib wasn’t pocketing money. All I said is that Ricketts is spending as much as they were, when you consider debt service and upgrades. I can only take him at his word that all profits are being reinvested.

              • CubFan Paul

                As I thought, you’re clueless to InCapital & other financial facts about the “kids”

                Have a nice day

                • Pat

                  Is InCapital Tommy’s bond business that, according to his father, finally became profitable in the tenth year he was running it?

                  • CubFan Paul

                    So you go from making excuses for Ricketts to a condescending attitude towards ‘tommy’ & ‘the kids’

                    Either way, pick up a Forbes or business journal for more accurate numbers

                    • Pat

                      Not making excuses. I believe he/they are handling the team exactly as they have stated from the beginning that they would, ie reinvesting all profits in the ball club.

                      That is an entirely different question than whether I believe the kids are good businessmen on their own. I don’t, and I think it shows in some of the decisions and public activities they have done since taking over the team.

  • JulioZuleta

    Campana is the only person for whom you feel the need to specify that it was an “over the fence” homerun.

  • Kyle

    Three more strikeouts for Jackson last night. Mark me down as Officially Concerned.

    He may not be as close to the majors as we had hoped. He’s going to need to make some adjustments to more advanced pitching, and that may well take the entire year at Iowa.

    • Mrp

      As much as I hate to say it, this is starting to really bother me too. I know it is still a small sample size for this season, but his strikeout rate is crazy high so far. He hasn’t made it through one game yet this year without striking out at least once.

      • Brett

        Do they keep track of swing and miss percentage for hitters in the minors? I’d just like to know how many of his strikeouts are coming on takes, and how many on swings.

        • Mrp

          Not sure, but just taking a look at the game logs he has struck out swinging 10 of the 16.

        • Luke

          That data is sometimes tracked, but not consistently.

          Fangraphs does a nice job of gathering what reliable minor league data is out there, but even they don’t have much.

          Edit: Wrong link

  • Dustin S

    With the season we’re going to have I think there will be more focus than ever on the Cubs minor league system, so I appreciate the detailed updates like this.

    Any word on Junior Lake’s injury status in extended spring training? Last I heard he was on the DL. I’m also interested in how Baez and Vogelbach are doing down there in EXST. I’m not sure how long the extended league runs, but I’m going to see Peoria play in a few weeks and hoping to see Vogelbach and the rest of the team then.

    • Luke

      Extended spring training runs into the start of the short season (Boise) and Rookie (Arizona) leagues.  Unfortunately, data from extended spring training is scarce.  We can get some eyewitness accounts (which are extremely valuable), but hard data is harder to come by.  To be honest, even if we did get that hard data, interpretation would be difficult.

      So far as I know, Lake is still rehabbing and will be returning to Tennessee when he’s ready.

      • ty

        Luke–stats are not kept. If Az Phil is in attendance he will keep accurate stats. Umpires are used for games but coaches control flow of game. If pitcher has thrown too many pitches in an inning and can not get 3 outs–his MGR. can yell out “roll em” and the inning ends. Pitchers may just work on one pitch–8 curve balls in a row or 20 fast balls in a row. That is why Baez got in dislike with Angels because he sat on fastball knowing damn well that was all pitcher was throwing that inning. Rehab guys will lead off every inning until they have batted 5 or 6 times and then go to clubhouse. I am speaking especially of mlb rehabbers such as Freddie Sanchez of Giants. I saw him bat 5 times in 5 innings last week. Another hint–just because a guy is rehabbing in Arz does not always mean he has an injury. It is sometimes come home to Momma and re-assess. That is all I will say about that.

  • Stuart Williams

    Cardenas and Campana would be upgrades over Barney and Byrd. Move Barney to utility role and inform him that he needs to walk more. He is not a power hitter.

    Jackson is probably not ready with his high strikeout totals. Learn how to take a few pitches.

  • Stuart Williams



    • CubFan Paul

      Sveum/Stuart stop bunching the lefties & righties together

  • Luke

    Starting pitchers for Monday’s minor league games:

    Iowa – Casey Coleman

    Tennessee – Trey McNutt

    Daytona – TBD.  No starter has been announced yet.

    Peoria – Michael Jenson

    Peoria has some extra festivities planned for Monday as well.  Every year a number of palm trees are shipped into the recently-thawed tundra of central Illinois and planted beyond the outfield fence in Peoria.  That annual planting is underway right now.

    • Luke

      Eric Jokisch is the Daytona starter.

  • Eric

    Adrian Cardenas was the guy they got who was a pretty good offensive 2B but not very good defense. Am I remembering the guy right? Checking out his baseball page, wow first round pick. This is yet another previous high prospect that is still young Theo and co targetted. Considering that, and also his performance. I have to agree he will DEFFINATELY get a fair shot.

  • Jeremy

    Kinda hoping we get to see Campana back up soon with Byrds struggles as of late.

  • Josh Z

    Does anyone see Cardneas becoming the starting 2B? I just don’t see Barney as the long-term option. I have liked what I’ve seen from him so far this year but I’m still not convinced. Torreyes will hopefully pan out as the future 2B but what about Cardneas?