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On Tuesday bats erupted all around the Cubs farm system; hits and runs were plentiful.

On Wednesday, the bats fell silent. Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria all managed just one run each. All three teams lost. Iowa fared better in California, but even their performance did not quite match the onslaught of the day before.

One bat that will not go silent belongs to Peoria’s first baseman Paul Hoilman. He extended his hitting streak to 22 games and now stands alone in Chiefs’ record books.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 13 – 19
Iowa scored six times in the eighth to take a commanding lead, but the bullpen could not hold it. The Cubs lost 8-7.

This was a starter-by-committee night for the Cubs. Rodrigo Lopez and Frankie De La Cruz both pitched three pretty good innings to open the game. Jeff Beliveau followed followed with a perfect seventh inning, and the Cubs entered the eighth trailing just 2-1. After the bats exploded for six runs in that innings, Frank Batista gave up a hit apiece to the only three batters he faced to put the Cubs in a serious jam. Scott Maine came on to finish what Batista started, and then allowed three more runs to score in the ninth. Maine received his first loss and his first blown save of the season.

This may sound a bit strange, but I like to see prospects struggle for a time in the minors. Every player is going to struggle at some point, and how a player responds to those struggles can tell us a great deal about that player and their likelihood of success. For the first time in quite some time, Frank Batista is struggling. Triple A hitters may have figured out how to hit the guy that dominated High A and Double A as a closer. Now it’s Batista’s turn. The league adapted to him so he has to make the adjustments and adapt to the league. It will be interesting to see how successful he is at that task and how long it takes him to pull it off.

Anthony Rizzo and Jonathan Mota both homered for the Cubs (that’s ten for Rizzo), and Luis Valbeuno and Blake Lalli both added doubles. Combined, the Cubs scored their seven runs on only nine hits and were three for eleven with runners in scoring position.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 14 – 20
The Tennessee Smokies were held to four hits on their way to a 4-1 loss.

Dallas Beeler threw more than ninety pitches, but he could not make it out of the fifth inning. Casey Harman pitched two and a third innings of hitless relief, and Alberto Cabrera was almost perfect in the eighth (he allowed a solo home run).

Michael Burgess singled and Matthew Cerda walked twice and scored the Smokies’ first and only run on a throwing error, but the best day belonged to Logan Watkins. Watkins was the lone man on the roster who had a good day at the plate as he went three for four with a double and stole his sixth base of the season.

Watkins is increasingly looking like a future option for the Cubs at second base. His strikeout rate is a little elevated (18.7%), but that’s not bad at all given his walk rate (10.4%) and his OBP of .363. Primarily a speed threat, he does have more power than one might expect (2 HR and 3 Triples this season). Defensively he is probably the best second baseman the Cubs have in the minors right now. His .766 OPS may not look that impressive, but when you consider that he is only 22 and that the Southern League average OPS is just .702, it looks quite a bit better. Now that Adrian Cardenas is in Chicago, there is no one blocking Watkins from a promotion to Iowa. I don’t expect that to happen quite yet, but if we get into the first of June and Watkins is still performing well, I think it becomes a distinct possibility. Regardless, he should be part of the second base conversation in spring training next year. A 2013 Chicago infield of Stewart, Castro, Watkins, and Rizzo would not only be one of the youngest in baseball, it might also be the best defensive infield in the league.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 12 – 21
Daytona’s brief winning streak came to a halt on Wednesday. They lost on the road 5-1.

Zach Cates allowed four runs in five innings and earned his fifth loss of the season. He is still looking for his first win in a Cubs uniform. Knuckleballer Joseph Zeller had another good outing in relief, pitching two innings of no hit ball. Scott Weismann allowed one run to score in his inning of work to finish the game.

Arismendy Alcantara was two for four with a double, and that’s pretty much it. Those were the only two hits on the night for Daytona. Matthew Szczur reached on a walk in the eighth, and then scored from first on a fielding error for the Cubs’ lone run of the game.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 13 – 20
Peoria had their chances to score some extra runs in this game, but only one Chief crossed the plate. Peoria lost a well pitched game 2-1.

Kyler Burke pitched into the seventh inning and had a pretty good day. He allowed both runs to score on six hits and one walk. On many days that would have been good enough to win, but on this day it resulted in his second loss. Austin Reed pitched the remainder of the game in scoreless fashion.

Paul Hoilman led the Chiefs with two hits, including a triple. Outfielders Taiwan Easterling and Oliver Zapata also had two hits in the game. Easterling and Wes Darvill collected Peoria’s only two doubles. Despite the nine hits, the Cheifs’ frustrated their own offense by not drawing a single walk and by going without a hit in four chances with runners in scoring position.

  • Ogyu

    I have today repeatedly encountered advertising at this site with auto play audio. That is a complete non-starter for me. Hopefully this advertising will be eliminated very, very soon or I – for one – will be bidding BN a reluctant farewell. Thanks for considering this request.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Unfortunately I don’t have control over that, and it should be an extreme rarity. I apologize for the inconvenience (sincerely), and hopefully it’s not something that will last.

      Advertising – in all forms – can be annoying, and sometimes really annoying (I hate the auto-sound, too – though I hate all sounds online (unless I’m watching video), so I keep my computer on mute). But I’ve got to make a living (and, presently, I work for less than minimum wage). I hope you understand.

      • TWC

        For what its worth, over the weekend on my home computer I noticed an ad on the Message Board site that just played music.  Crappy music, but music nonetheless.  It was odd.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yeah, my guess is there is a rotation going on now that includes an autoplay or two (the rotations usually last a week or so, and you usually see the same ad only once or twice in a given day – again, those are just “usuallies”). And everyone sees different ads based on a variety of factors, so I haven’t seen the ones you guys are talking about. I really hate them, but they are beyond my control (if I want to keep displaying ads as I have been, and trying to stay in business).

          • TWC

            My work computer is always muted, so while they may play all the time, I just never noticed them/it until last Sunday.

            • Cubbie Blues

              My sound is always on and I have never heard any ads.

    • MaxM1908

      You may also want to check your system for viruses and other malware. I once had malware that hijacked the advertising of every site I visited and inserted obnoxious advertising on sites where I had never experienced it before. I’ve never encountered auto-play on Bleachernation, which makes me think you might have the same problem I did. Check and see if the same advertising pops up on other sites. If so, it may be malware on your computer.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It’s possible, but it’s also possible that there are a few autoplays in the rotation right now (you usually see a particular ad only a few times, so it’s not something that should last, but you can never be certain). I’d like to think that most folks would consider it a minor (and extremely rare) inconvenience that doesn’t make BN not worth reading, but that’s just me being hopeful.

    • Jeremy

      Get Ad block plus and your problem is solved.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        His maybe. But not mine…

  • Idaho Razorback

    Is it just me, but I cringe when I see the attendence numbers at these games. The weather is beautiful. We, up here in North Idaho, are struggling to reach 60 degrees.

    http://network.yardbarker.com/author/article_external/10748105?headline=miscues_help_angels_edge_cubs_at_fitch_park&linksrc=mb_right_col&mailing_id=1580&sport_name=mlb

  • Brandon

    Logan Watkins is a winner. I have really enjoyed watching him in TN and personally/selfishly hope he can spend an entire year here in AA. I believe confidence at every level is critical, and he is a bright spot for our team so far this season. He has such a good approach to the game, and he is always “on the rail” for every at bat when in the dugout and focuses on the little things. From my perch in row 1 above the Smokies dugout, I see a lot. Even his warm up swings in the on deck circle are with purpose. He hates to lose too……which I like seeing. Often times, these kids take losing in stride, but he honestly hates it. His defense has been stellar, and his approach at the plate has been incredible. He has some pop too…..he has “just missed” several homeruns that fell on the warning track.

    For me…..Watkins, Ha and Burgess are exciting to watch (have not seen Lake yet this year but will be looking forward to seeing improvement from last year when he struggled).

    Smokeis return home tomorrow night for 5 games to face those Damn Jackson Generals and their stacked pitching staff (again). So I look for 5 more games of fairly pedestrian run totals. Then the Smokies follow up the homestand with their 1st (10) game road trip that likely will decide our fate in the 1st half as it relates to getting back in the hunt for a playoff spot.

    Regardless…..I’ll be there rooting for our guys!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Great stuff.

      I love it that you’re putting Burgess in the same category (at least in terms of being fun to watch) with Ha and Watkins.  If Lake is still showing the improvements he showed in the AFL, I think you should notice a difference.  If nothing else, you should notice the extra couple of inches he seemed to have grown when he was playing spring training.

  • JulioZuleta

    Wrap your head around this: In his last 5 games, Matt Cerda has a BA of .000, but an OBP of .500. That’s right in his last 5 games, he’s 0-10 with 10 BBs.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      For the season he’s hitting just .238 but he has an OPS of .871.  Those two numbers are not paired up very often.

      Cerda’s been slowed by a few injuries this season (thus only having 57 PAs).  When he’s healthy, he’s just a good hitter.

      • JulioZuleta

        Fun fact/question, although the context in which I’m asking it gives it away:

        -Who was the last batter that Danny Almonte (14 year old pretending to be 12 year old who threw a perfect game in the little league World Series) struck out in the Little League World Series?

        -Matt Cerda

        He used to be just another guy to me, but ever since I read this, he’s one of my favorites.
        http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=cerda

        • Cubbie Blues

          Is it Matt Cerda? The SS converted to Catcher?

          Yes, that is a long but good read.