The Iowa Cubs have been on the road for some time now, but they will finally be home on Thursday. There are some interesting promotions taking place on Thursday that our Iowa contingent might want to check out. First, there will be dueling pianos. When was the last time you went to a baseball game and saw two pianos going at it with pistols from forty paces? Exactly.

You probably won’t see that on Thursday either (if you do I want videos), but those so inclined will be compensated for their disappointment with discounted beer (conditions apply, see the website for details).

If you do happen to head out the ballpark this week, or any time for that matter, make sure you bring a good pen. You never know when an opportunity for autographs and Bleacher Nation bragging rights will present itself.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 17 – 20
If you are looking around for some relievers who could help out in Chicago, the Iowa Cubs would like to submit a few nominees. Three likely candidates for the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen contributed to Iowa’s 3-1 win on Monday.

Rodrigo Lopez, Jay Jackson, and Scott Maine combined to pitch eight innings of four hit baseball. Lopez pitched the first five innings and earned his first win of the season. Maine pitched the ninth and picked up second save. Jackson threw two good innings of relief, joining Nate Robertson in that role.

If Jay Jackson continues to have success as a reliever, the Cubs will almost certainly give him a chance to work out of the pen in Chicago. At one time he was considered a potential No. 3 starter, but he never quite put it all together. I think he has the stuff to be a reliever, and a good reliever at that. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to prove it in the majors one day soon.

Iowa did not have a lot of hits, but thanks to their pitching the did not need a lot of hits. Anthony Rizzo homered (that’s 12 now) as did Blake Lalli. Luis Valbuena had two hits for the Cubs. Brett Jackson had one hit and stole two bases.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 16 – 23
Thanks to the rain out on Sunday, the Smokies played a twin bill of seven inning games. The Smokies won the opener 15-4, but lost the night cap 3-1.

In the first game, Trey McNutt pitched five pretty good innings (2R, 3H, 1BB, 5K). The only serious blemishs on his first win of the season were the two home runs he gave up. Brian Schlitter gave up two runs on five hits in the final two innings, but the Smokies’ batters made sure it would not matter.

Tennessee scored 15 times on 13 hits in this game. Lots of Smokies had good games, and that requires a list. Keep in mind that these numbers are all from a seven inning game.

And those are just the highlights.

Junior Lake started at third in this game. Watkins played short and Samson was on second. I would not read anything into that quite yet. Tennessee has several infield prospects who need to get into games, and that is going to require that the Smokies shuffle some players around the infield. It is possible that the Cubs are grooming Lake for a rapid promotion to the hot corner in Wrigley Field, but don’t count on it.

Dallas Beeler pitched a (seven inning) complete game in the second half of the double header. He earned his third loss of the season despite allowing just three runs on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Beeler also gave up two home runs.

Ha had the Smokies’ only extra base hit in the night cap, a double. Elliot Soto went two for three and had Tennessee’s lone RBI of the game.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 14 – 22
Another great start from a Daytona lefty led to another Daytona win, 2-1.

Austin Kirk allowed just one run in his six innings of work. He lowered his ERA to 1.75 as he won his second game of the season. A.J. Morris pitched a perfect eighth and Tony Zych nailed down the ninth for his fourth save.

There were just four Cub hits in this game, and two of them belong to Nelson Perez. Perez also had both of the Cubs’ RBI in this game, driving in Arismendy Alcantara and Ronald Torreyes.

What Daytona lacked in hits they made up for in steals. Alcantara swiped two bags, Perez took one, and Elieser Bonne stole one as a pinch runner.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 17 – 21
You may experience some deja vu. The Peoria Chiefs also got a good start from a lefty starter and turned it into a 2-1 win.

Kyler Burke continued his excellent start to the season with six innings of good pitching (1R, 4H, 2BB, 4K). Austin Reed earned his second win of the season by pitching two innings of scoreless relief and Yao-Lin Wang held the lead in the ninth for his second save.

Recently promoted Anthony Giansanti had two hits to lead the Chiefs. Zeke DeVoss and Taylor Davis both reached base twice on a hit and a walk. DeVoss also stole his seventh base of the season.

  • ETS

    When I look at Jay Jackson I see a 6 ERA and a 1.667 WHIP with a 1.59 SO/BB. Looks to me like he still has stuff to figure out.

    • Luke

      Those are mainly his numbers as a starter.  He’s only had two games as a reliever so far, but the results are markedly different.  The Iowa radio crew, while they did not have radar readings for him, also commented he seemed to be throwing quite a bit harder when he works out of the bullpen.

    • AB

      Jackson is pretty much organizaton filler at this point.

  • Ron Swanson

    Regardless of the timing for a big league appearance, I’m a fan of seeing Lake get playing time at third. It just makes sense.

    • mark


  • mak

    Between these 2 outings and his solid spring, I think its clear Jackson’s future is the in pen. I’m hoping he can make a MLB career out of it.

  • Ryan G

    Lake 2-2 with a double already today as well.

  • Brandon

    It is pretty clear that the Cubs plans for Junior Lake are at 3B. Bill Dancy (Minor League Infield Coordinator) has been in TN all week working with Junior. His raw talent is excellent, and arm strength is also very good. He is learning the position and the coaches appear to be working with him on his footwork around the bag. He makes me nervous whenever a ball is hit to him because I remember several routine plays last year that he booted. But on the flip side, over the past 4 games he has had several outstanding plays on defense. He is also batting leadoff and drawing a lot of walks. When he squares up a ball it is hit with authority. He crushed a fastball last night for a long HR, but again, is still easily fooled on breaking balls. But, I must admit, he looks (and acts) like one of the best players on the field.

    The infield is starting to me together with Lake, Watkins, Soto/Samson and Bour/Ridling.

    Matt Cerda appears to be the odd man out right now; which is concerning because I like him quite a bit. But he is not hitting and his confidence appears to be taking a hit.

    • Brett

      Wonderful, wonderful stuff, Brandon. Thanks.

    • Luke

      Great stuff.

      Cerda will get more playing time as soon as someone goes to Iowa, and that could be fairly soon.  It’s too soon for Lake, but Watkins could be ready.  That would open some at bats at second for Cerda.

      • Brett

        Cerda has the best discipline in the system, no?

        • Luke

          Let’s just say he’s one of the best pure hitters in the system. He doesn’t really have a home on defense, though.  I think he could have a very nice career as a offense-first utility guy in the majors one day.

          • Brett

            So basically you’re saying he’s guaranteed to be Ben Zobrist with a little less power? Awesome.

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  • http://Bill Bill

    Concepcion brilliant for Peoria today. Starting to get on track, and the pitching in Peoria has been outstanding. Hopefully it continues as they move up the chain!