I can’t figure Randy Wells out. He pitched pretty well for the Chicago Cubs in several games, so we know he can pitch. He says mostly the right things when he talks about being sent to Iowa, so I’m pretty well convinced he knows what he needs to do in order to return to the majors. And then, despite that, he completely fails to get the job done. At this point I think Wells has effectively buried himself on the Cubs pitching depth chart. At the end of spring training he was the Cubs’ sixth starter. Now, I think he’s more likely the tenth.

On the other hand Gerardo Concepcion is looking very much like a solid pitching prospect. After a rough start to his professional career many impatient Cub fans had written him off entirely, but those assumptions were enormously premature. Concepcion has been improving steadily, and on Tuesday he served notice to us all that we should not give up on him so easily. He still has a lot of work to do, but it is good to see very clear signs of progress.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 17 – 21
After an extended stay in California, the Iowa Cubs can finally look forward to a game in their own ballpark. Their West Coast tour ended with a 9-4 loss.

Randy Wells picked up his second loss of the season by allowing seven runs in his five innings of work. As you can see from his line (7R, 8H, 3BB, 6K), he just did not pitch well. Manny Corpas, Esmailin Caridad, and Jeff Beliveau were all very good in relief, but Mike McDougal struggled badly in his Iowa Cubs debut.

Gioskar Amaya made his 2012 debut as a pinch hitter in this game, and he made the most of it. He hit a double in his one at bat, came around to score when the next batter homered, and finished the game playing at second base. He’s still very likely to be sent down in a day or two, but he has to feel good about leaving Triple A with a slash line of 1.000/1.000/2.000.

In what is starting to feel like a daily occurrence, Anthony Rizzo homered yet again (his thirteenth, if you’re still counting) as part of a 3 for 4 day. Alfredo Amezaga also homered (his second).

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 17 – 23
Two more pitchers whose stocks are rapidly rising featured prominently in this game. The Smokies overcame their errors and rallied for a 10-8 win.

If Dae-Eun Rhee felt frustrated after this game, no one would blame him. On the one hand, Rhee gave up just two hits and two walks in his four innings of work. On the other hand, thanks to a stack of Tennessee errors, he allowed six runs to score (two earned). Jeffry Antigua allowed two more runs in his inning of work, and then the bullpen shut Jacksonville down.

Marcus Hately had another good appearance, but the real eye opener was Casey Weathers. Weathers has great stuff, but he has never been able to control it. Typically he walks about as many as he strikes out. On Tuesday Weathers picked up his second win of the season by not allowing a base runner at all. He faced six batters across two innings and let his defense retire all six. That’s a very encouraging sign from a guy who has walked 14 batters in 11 innings this year.

The other pitcher who is improving his stock is Alberto Cabrera, who picked up his second save in this game. As a starting pitcher, Cabrera had not enjoyed very much consistent success in the Cubs’ system. The Cubs responded by moving him into the bullpen full time, and he is thriving there. What Cabrera is doing in Double A now reminds me of what Rafael Dolis did at the same level last year. Don’t be surprised if the Cubs leave spring training in 2013 with both Dolis and Cabrera pitching in the back of the bullpen.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 14 – 22
Daytona was rained out. This is a regular occurrence in the Florida State League.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 18 – 21
The Chiefs are creeping ever closer to .500. Thanks to some good work by the pitching, they won again, 2-0.

Gerardo Concepcion picked up his first win of the season by throwing six innings of shutout baseball. He walked three, allowed three hits, and struck out three. First inning troubles have been the hallmark of Concepcion’s starts, but in this game he breezed through the opening frame without incident. All in all, it was a very encouraging outing for a badly beleaguered pitcher. Even better, a recent scouting report claims that his fastball has been clocked in the low nineties in a recent game.

Ben Wells finished off the game with a three strikeout performance of his own, and collected his first save.

Zeke DeVoss was two for two with two walks, two runs scored, and an amazing four stolen bases. Taylor Davis also had two hits, including a triple.



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