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.
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.
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.
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.