Four games were scheduled, three were played, two were losses, and the Peoria Chiefs rode some great pitching to the farm system’s lone win on Friday.

Tennessee actually played a very good game, but they lost their pitching duel thanks to a single error. The Smokies, I think, are better than their record indicates.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 9 – 12
So, the weather outside was frightful,
This paragraph, it’s not insightful,
The game was officially delayed,
For another day, another day, anther day.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 10 – 13
Tennessee was shut out on Friday despite out hitting Jacksonville eight to six. The woeful final score was 3-0.

Trey McNutt was very effective in his three innings of work (1H, 2K). An error in the sixth inning led to three unearned runs scoring on Ryan Searle, the only runs Jacksonville managed in the game, and that was enough to seal the loss. Except for that one inning Searle turned in a nice performance in extended relief. Daniel Berlind struck out one to end the eighth.

James Adduci nailed a triple (his first), and Nate Samson and Elliot Soto both had two hit nights to lead the offense. Logan Watkins also reached base twice on a hit and a walk.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 6 – 15
Well, at least they aren’t getting blown out. The Daytona Cubs lost another very close game despite a late inning rally. The final was 4-3.

Eric Jokisch picked up the no decision after pitching seven strong innings (9H, 2BB, 8K). He allowed three runs, but only one was earned. Larry Suarez came in for the eighth inning and allowed a run on two hits, earning the loss.

Matt Szczur was 1 for 5 with a double. Greg Rohan continued to hit with a 2 for 3 day that included another walk and Nelson Perez reached on both a base hit and a walk. The Cubs were fairly efficient with the chances they had. Their three runs came on just six hits.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 9 – 13
Sometimes in baseball the win is not the story. Sometimes the win is just the beginning of the story. The Peoria Chiefs won 3-0, but the good news for Cub fans is much bigger than that.

Patrick Francescon had another exceptional start. This time he went six inning, allowed just two hits, and struck out eight. I’ve seen enough; get this guy on a plane to Daytona. After five starts (27 innings) hitters are batting just .152 off him. He has totaled 26 K against just 4 BB and has a GO/AO of 1.41. The only knock on him is that he has allowed three home runs, but even that only averages to 1 HR/9. That’s not too shabby. I’m not sure how long it will take for the promotion to the Florida State League to happen, but I strongly suspect it will come within the next six weeks.

Bryce Shafer pitched two good innings of relief and Andrew McKirahan was, once again, perfect in his inning of work. McKirahan collected his second save of the season.

Oliver Zapata got back to his usual self on Friday. After going without a hit in three straight games, the diminutive outfielder smacked two singles. Pin-Chieh Chen also had two hits, but it was Paul Hoilman who delivered the big blow. His two run bomb in the first inning proved to be all the runs Francescon and the bullpen would need. Hoilman now has a twelve game hitting streak.

In my mind, though, the biggest story on Friday night was Francescon’s superb start. His performance this season reminds me very much of what Robert Whitenack accomplished last year. Both pitchers were unheralded at the start of the season, but both demanded our attention with their pitching. Since he was a college pitcher it is easy to say that Francescon should be dominating Low-A, but as a 40th round draft pick I don’t think anyone quite expected a performance like this.

If any of our Midwestern readers can make to a ballpark to see this kid pitch, I would love to read your thoughts. I would also like to know how hard he is throwing both his fastball and his breaking pitches. Data like that is inconsistently reported in the low minor leagues, but it is for players in the low minors that I most like to have that data.

  • Norm

    Figured I’d leave this here for lack of a better place…from Keith Law:


    • Some rumors of team preferences are starting to leak out, although it’s still fairly early. Some of the stronger rumors: Minnesota Twins with Kevin Gausman or Kyle Zimmer; Seattle with Mike Zunino or Byron Buxton; Kansas City Royals with Gausman or Lance McCullers, Jr.; Chicago Cubs with Max Fried or Albert Almora; Pittsburgh Pirates with Deven Marrero; Oakland Athletics with Addison Russell (with Billy Beane spotted at McCullers’ last outing); Atlanta Braves with Tanner Rahier; New York Mets with Gavin Cecchini or Courtney Hawkins.

    • Brett

      I’ve mentioned it in the comments before, but I didn’t want to do a full-on post for fear of screwing things up for the Cubs, but … I’ve heard the Max Fried thing from someone who would know. They’re definitely considering him.

      • hansman1982

        according to – ( – he had a 94 MPH fastball last August. Left-handed…I don’t think I would mind.

        • Norm

          hmmm, I’ve heard 89-90 fastball with knockout breaking stuff…a guy that would survive with an average fastball because of the secondary offering(s).

          • Brett

            Can’t you project some additional MPH based on a kid’s size/frame at 18? I’m out of my depth here, but I’m assuming that’s true.

            • Norm

              Yeah, now I’m looking him up and seeing “plus fastball’ and also 91-93…maybe I was smoking something….

              • djriz

                What I’ve seen

                Fastball sits at 91-92, reaches 94
                6-4 tall weight 170lbs, which could be the area of projection Brett refers to.

                Some scouts like his pitchability better than Giolito.

                How about this dream scenario: Cubs draft Freid, Giolito falls on injury/signability concerns, but Cubs use the Freid (Giolito is his HS teammate) signing to convince Giolito to accept a 2nd round signing bonus. Giolito’s injury goes away.

                • KCubsfan

                  I have seen Fried in person this year. His fastball sits around 92 to 95. His is projected to be a 94 to 96 mphs with plus Curve and an above average to plus change up.

    • Ryno G

      Not totally against Fried, but I’d much prefer one of the top 3 college arms fall to us. We’ll just see how the draft falls.

      • Luke

        There are some who thing Fried could move through the farm system about as fast as a typical college arm.  He is said to be fairly polished.

  • mark

    “The Smokies, I think, are better than their record indicates.”

    Not judging by team batting stats.

  • beerhelps

    I’m in Peoria here, but the next Chiefs home game isn’t until May 9. I’m hoping Francescon doesn’t get bumped up to Daytona before I get a chance to catch him. If and when I get a chance to see him, or anything else of note, I’ll post my hopefully insightful thoughts. I’ll try not to drink too much until he is done for the day … but no promises.

  • nkniacc13

    I wouldn’t mind taking Fried I don’t want Appel. Id rather have Zimmer fall to the cubs

    • ferrets_bueller

      I agree with this in its entirety. I DO NOT want Appel. I’d most like Zimmer out of all of them.

    • djriz

      Zimmer’s velo and stats are starting to drop…a lot!
      Think Simpson, Hayden.

  • Norm

    I’m not sure I want Appel or Zimmer…I’d rather take Correa or Almora.

  • nkniacc13

    Yeah but with the fact that Zimmer hasn’t been a pitcher anywhere as long as most of the other top guys im not as worried about the drop in velocity in this case because I think its more of a dead arm

  • nkniacc13

    My top 3 for the Cubs are Zimmer, Giolito ( if healthy) and then Fried

  • Crockett

    Francescon is 23 and repeating the level. Nothing to see here.

    • Luke

      He pitched 34 innings in the Midwest League as a reliever in 2011 (the same year he was drafted out of college).  This year he is starting.  I don’t think we need to completely brush his guy aside just because he came out of college and is being stretched into a starter.  The Cubs have a record of jumping newly-minted starting pitchers with college experience from Peoria to Tennessee (see Beeler and Jokisch last season).  It might not hurt to see how Francescon will do when he gets a chance against tougher competition as a starting pitcher before we condemn him to irrelevancy entirely.

    • Brett

      Yeah, “repeating the level” doesn’t really count when the guy was just drafted the year before. With the earlier signing deadline starting this year, maybe we can lob that criticism at guys, but I don’t really see it as fair this time around. He just turned 23 in January, and it’s his first full year in professional ball after being drafted out of college. He may not be a future ace, but there’s something to see.

      • Crockett


        Just saying.

        • Brett

          That’s a term of art when it comes to prospect criticism, though. And your use is not the widely understood usage of that criticism.

          • Crockett

            The second post was sarcastic, Brett. Come on.

            That being said, he’s still old for the level even being right out of college.

            • Brett

              I feel ya.

  • JustSwain

    Bryce Harper just doubled. Now THATS what I call a swing.