Counting the major league win on Monday night, five Cub teams played and five Cub teams won. That’s the kind of results I’d like to see from the organization every day.

And that’s not all. Not only did the farm system pile on the wins, in every case they did it on the back of some pretty good pitching. Add it all up, and Monday was a great day to be a Cub fan.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 12 – 18
Iowa and New Orleans combined for just four hits on Monday. The Cubs won a great pitchers’ duel 1-0.

Once again a combination of rough starts and roster shuffles had left the Iowa bullpen stressed, and once again an Iowa starter put the team on his shoulders and gave most of the relievers a day to rest. Last time Chris Rusin was the hero. This time it was Casey Coleman.

Coleman was simply fantastic. He needed 91 pitches to complete seven innings of two hit, shutout baseball in which he walked one and struck out nine. He also smacked a double that stood as Iowa’s only hit until the ninth inning. In his six starts this season the right hander is being hit at merely a .188 pace. That’s a career low.

Randy Wells and Travis Wood have both had their chances to fill in for a start in Chicago. Casey Coleman might be next, and I would not be surprised if he enjoys some success when that opportunity comes. After all, he is only 24. He should still be getting better.

After Coleman exited the game, Scott Maine entered and earned the win with two innings of no hit pitching.

Other than Coleman’s double, Iowa’s lone hit in the game was a ninth inning single off the bat of Josh Vitters. Brett Jackson drew a ninth inning walk (the only one earned by Iowa), advanced to third on the single by Vitters, and scored when New Orleans starter Alex Sanabia balked while pitching to Mr. Everything Jonathan Mota.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 14 – 18
Tennessee earned win number fourteen by beating the Barons 4-2.

Nicholas Struck had another good game and earned his fourth win of the season. Marcus Hatley pitched two innings of relief, and Kevin Rhoderick tied up the ninth for this fourth save.

Michael Brenly‘s double and Rebel Ridling‘s solo home run led the Smokies’s offense, but the most interesting day probably belongs to Justin Bour.

In one sense, Bour had a terrible day. He was picked off base, was caught stealing, and was erased at first on a double play. On the other hand, his base running adventures led to the Smokies pushing a run across the plate. In the first inning Bour singled, advancing Jae-Hoon Ha to third with two outs. Somehow he then gets himself picked off of first, but rather than simply accepting the out he apparently tried to make it to second base. Keep in mind that Bour is a 6’4″, 250 pound first baseman. To put it kindly, he is no Tony Campana. Needless to say, he doesn’t make it to second and gets hit with a Caught Stealing as well. However, he manages to stay alive long enough for Ha to score from third (keep mind that there were two outs). Without knowing any further details I can’t say if it was brilliant base running by Bour, or just a guy making the best out of a mistake, or perhaps a little of both. Regardless, I suspect it was one of those plays that you are unlikely to see outside of the minor leagues.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 11 – 20
Daytona loves lefties, and lefties love Daytona. Another great pitching performance led another win with a final score of 6-2.

Take everything I recently said about Austin Kirk, and repeat it for Eric Jokisch. The young lefty threw seven innings, allowed four hits, and struck out a league high eleven batters. Joksich began the 2011 season in Peoria, but he finished it in Tennessee. I think he will be heading back to Tennessee in the near future. Jokisch has pitched 6+ innings with 7+ strikeouts in four of his last five starts. He has had a few rougher games this season, but despite those he is still striking out around a batter per inning. He hasn’t exactly been dominant, but he is certainly getting the job done. Like Kirk, Jokisch profiles as potential back of the rotation starter according to most scouts (I suspect he could improve enough to be a No. 3), and he is still a few years away from the majors.

After Jokisch left the game, Ty’relle Harris and Eduardo Figueroa pitched the final two innings and preserved the win.

Matt Szczur was three for four with a double and Nelson Perez was two for two with a triple to lead the Cubs. Richard Jones also tripled and Elieser Bonne collected his ninth stolen base of the season.

In his last ten games Matt Szczur, the Cubs’ future center fielder, is hitting .326/.356/.512 with two walks and five strike outs over 43 at bats. Two walks in 43 ABs is not a great rate, but since his OBP is still .356 and he has only struck out five times in that span, I’m not worried. In the past ten games he also has five stolen bases and seven extra base hits. If he hasn’t packed for Tennessee yet, I think he might want to do so soon.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 12 – 19
It was a see-saw affair until the Cheifs’ erupted for four runs in the seventh. Peoria never looked back and finished with a 7-5 win.

Patrick Francescon pitched another of those low-WHIP, low-K games that have become so common among the Cubs’ better tier of pitching prospects. He did allow four runs in his six innings of work, but only two of them were earned. Sheldon McDonald, a Canadian left hander making his season debut, and Jeffrey Lorick pitched the final three innings.

Paul Hoilman had a huge game for the Chiefs. His three for four, five RBI night was capped off by a grand slam in that decisive seventh inning. Taiwan Easterling scored three times on two hits (including a double) and no walks. Ryan Cuneo also had two hits, including a double.

  • King Jeff

    Nice to see some good pitching from the minors. I understand Coleman has been pitching well, but you don’t think Wood did enough to earn another spot start before someone else gets called up? I know with the rotations it might mean that any of the three go, but aside from one inning, Wood was pretty good the other day, and I think he should at least get a chance to build on that.

    • Luke

      Wood definitely pitched well enough to get another start in Wrigley at some point, but rotations are going to have something to say about it.  I think Coleman is pitching well enough that the Cubs would rather give Coleman a shot than pitch Wood on four days rest, for instance.

  • Steve

    What,, No Junior Lake??
    No Anthony Rizzo?
    No Trey McNutt?

  • Edwin

    Coleman’s been striking out 8 per 9 so far this season, which the highest he’s been since Boise. I think Brett mentioned that he’s been working on a slider this off-season, so maybe that is helping. However, he’s also walking batters at 4.3 per nine innigns, a career high. His K/BB ration has never been great in the advanced minor leagues except for 2011. His career minor league K/BB rate is 1.88, which is what he is at this year. For an effective starter, you probably want that closer to 2.5.

    If he can cut down his walks and maintain his strikeouts, he could be an ok Long Man out of the pen, or an occational spot starter. Wood has pitched much better in the minors over his career, and probably has more upside. I’d choose Wood over Coleman.

    • Cedlandrum

      He is also throwing a bit harder as well. His mechanics look just a bit different and he looks like he is getting more drive on his pitches. That is all with my not so trained eye, but he does look a bit different. He also switched which side of the rubber he throws from at the end of last year on advice from his pops. I like Coleman I think he can be a big leaguer.

  • Drew

    Do you think the Bour play was a forced-balk designed to get the run in?

    • Luke

      I have no idea what happened on the Bour play.  Whatever it was, Bour kept it alive long enough for the run to get in.  It was early enough in the game that I doubt it was anything too fancy.

  • mark

    encouraging re coleman. i didn’t realize he was still only 24.

    re szczur’s only 2 BBs in the last ten games, maybe that has to do with him feeling like he’s hitting, seeing the ball so well in the same period. he’s had 4 multiple hit games in that run and each of his walks came in games when he had either 1 hit or 0 hits. he seems to be the kind of guy who’s mindset is, if he’s not hitting, do whatever else it takes to contribute. like that. he has trouble with lefties, but when he does hit them he seems to make good hard contact.

  • djriz

    So Luke, do you have any idea if the Cubs are going to ‘reset’ the Minor League rosters when extended spring is over? Does everyone from ExtSp just get sent to Boise?

    Are you hearing anything? Baez to Peoria. Concepcion to Boise. Solar to ????

    • Luke

      Most players in extended spring training will either head to Boise or the Arizona Rookie League.  Some may head into Peoria, particularly pitchers who might take the place of pitchers currently in Peoria who are nearing their innings limit for the year, but Boise and Arizona are the most likely rosters.

      Right now I expect Baez to begin in Arizona or Boise.  Concepcion will likely stay with Peoria for awhile.  He may drop to Boise when the Northwest League starts up, but that is by no means certain.

      There is no news on Soler.  We know he exists, but not much else.

  • AB

    The starting pitching in the minors has been a big disappointment so far.

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