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The Chicago Cubs are in mired in a bit of a funk right now. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the last such bad stretch the Cubs suffer this season. It may not even be the worst one. So, what’s a frustrated Cub fan to do after suffering through another dismal loss?

Why not listen to a minor league game? All the radio broadcasts for all of the Cubs’ full season farm teams are free over the internet, and I promise you that all of the radio crews make for a more pleasant listening experience than those guys who call the games for the White Sox.

If you want hope for the future, I suggest taking in an Iowa game. Iowa has a losing record, but an Anthony Rizzo long ball is bound to the make your day a little brighter. And he is hitting a lot of long balls. Just listening to the Iowa broadcasters talk about this guy in awestruck tones is enough to make a Cub fan’s day a little bit brighter.

Your best shot at listening to a win for the Cubs’ franchise (without checking individual pitching match ups) would likely come from either Tennessee or Peoria right now. Both teams have their issues, but both have been playing fairly well lately. The Smokies currently star Junior Lake, but Peoria probably has more overall raw talent.

If the Cubs’ pitching has you depressed, give a Daytona game a listen. There are several good starting pitchers on the Daytona Cubs’ roster, and their natural talents are only enhanced by the pitching friendly nature of the Florida State League. Wins are harder to come by from Daytona games, but we usually can’t blame that on the starting pitching.

Of course, nothing washes away a Cubs’ loss quite like a thirty or forty game winning streak, but until that happens the minor leagues will be ready and waiting to soothe the frustration and disappointment.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 18 – 24
The Cubs out hit the Bees 5 to 3, but lost the game 2-1.

Rodrigo Lopez and Jeff Beliveau combined to throw eight innings of one hit baseball, but yet another bad inning from Nate Robertson cost the Cubs the game. Lopez’s season ERA is now down to 1.35. I know Cub fans are leery of this guy after his mediocre (at best) performance in the majors last season, but given the way he has been pitching lately I think he could get another shot in the bullpen.

Brett Jackson doubled for the Cubs, and Josh Vitters both doubled and scored the team’s only run.

Minor league veteran catcher Brian Esposito signed with the Iowa Cubs and made his first appearance on Sunday. If Koyie Hill or Blake Lalli wind up on the disabled list before any of the current crop of injured catchers are ready to play, we could see Esposito in the majors.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 20 – 24
The Tennessee Smokies became the first team in the farm system to reach twenty wins with their 6-3 win on Sunday.

Trey McNutt pitched five pretty good innings and won his second game of the season. Casey Weathers had another encouragingly accurate inning of work before passing the ball to Kevin Rhoderick for two nearly flawless innings. Frank Batista pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

Junior Lake (playing third base in this game) doubled in five at bats. Jae-Hoon Ha had two hits, both singles. The big star of the game was Rebel Ridling, who exploded out of his slump with a two home run, three RBI performance. If Ridling and Justin Bour ever get hot at the same time, the Smokies could have an offense capable of putting up some impressive power numbers. James Adduci can also play long ball; he hit his third of the season in this game.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 16 – 25
Daytona got a bad start from a usually good pitcher, and the result was an 8-4 loss.

Austin Kirk has had a run of good starts lately; he was probably due for a bad outing. Kirk did not make it out of the third inning as he allowed six runs on eight hits and took his first loss of the season. Eduardo Figueroa had an odd inning and two third of work. All five of his outs were strike outs, but he also allowed four hits and a run to score. Joseph Zeller allowed a run on two hits in his two innings of work. Tony Zych was flawless over the final two innings, lowering his ERA to 3.22.

Daytona tried to rally and scored all four of their runs in the seventh inning, but they could not close the entire gap. Micah Gibbs hit his first triple of the season and drove in two runs. Nelson Perez doubled as part of his two hit game. Elieser Bonne also had two hits for the Cubs.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 20 – 24
Peoria tied Tennessee in the race to twenty wins thanks to their 9-6 win in ten innings on Sunday.

The wind was blowing hard (23 MPH) to right field, but despite that Gerardo Concepcion pitched a decent game. He pitched five innings and allowed four runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Ben Wells blew Concepcion’s shot at a win, but picked up a win of his own. Wells also threw five innings, allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. All in all, not a bad game in some very tough conditions for two pretty good pitching prospects.

Offense was plentiful for the Chiefs in this one. Zeke DeVoss, batting lead off, reached twice on a hit and a walk. Taiwan Easterling was batting second and reached three times on a hit and two walks. Rafael Lopez had two hits, including a double. He was one-upped by Paul Hoilman who had a triple as part of his two hit day. Taylor Davis out did them both with a three hit performance that included a two bagger. Anthony Giansanti collected two hits of his own in addition to a walk. Also joining the two hit club was Oliver Zapata. The big blow of the night, though, was a two run double smacked by Pin-Chieh Chen in the top of the tenth inning.

Chen also collected an outfield assist by bagging a runner at second base.

  • Zach R.

    Didn’t Peoria play in Cedar Rapids?

    If so, they played in my home town.

    • Chris S

      Oh no kidding? I’m in CR..

  • ETS

    It was announced that Clevenger and Marmol are to join Iowa, though Marmol is unlikely to throw until their next series.

    • Fishin Phil

      Yeah! er um boo! This is mixed news, I’m very conflicted.

  • King Jeff

    I’ve been thinking that Lopez’ numbers have been good for a while now and he should probably be getting the call soon. I know a lot of people are going to blow up and declare a state of emergency if the Cubs call up another veteran, but I think Lopez would fill a pretty big hole on this team.

    Thanks for the updates Luke, the minor league coverage has been unbelievable this year.

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah Lopez and Beliveau should be up soon, can’t get worse… Right?

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    For Lopez to come up, I believe someone would have to be released. Maybe when the catchers come back, Hill gets released and that move can happen.

    • King Jeff

      Yeah, I actually think with all the moves going on lately, the Cubs have a good deal of flexibility in that regard.

  • Bleacher Nation Fan

    Go Cubs

  • RoughRiider

    Luke:
    You could have said that Tennesse was the first to win 20 games in the Cubs organization not just the minor leagues. Anyone want to guess who gets to 30 games won first ?
    The organization is now 89 – 123. I really looking forward to the season start in Boise. They can’t be this bad. With the draft last year and the players that will be drafted this year they should have a pretty good team.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      All the Cubs’ farm teams got off to slow starts, but I don’t think any of them except Daytona are really as bad as their record indicates.  Tennessee and Peoria have been creeping back towards .500 all this month.  I’d not be surprised to see either team with their division in the second half.

      I still think the Cubs could see three minor league playoff teams this season: Tennessee, Peoria, and Boise.

  • djriz

    Luke,
    Any way Peoria can find a spot for Baez? I know he had a bit of a bad spell at ExST, but even with that, he still has an OPS of 1.050. I’m just afraid he won’t be pushed enough at Boise. Same with Candelario and Batista.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I have no problems with starting a guy right out of high school in extended spring training.

      Baez could go to Peoria, but for that happen either Darvill or Hernandez would need to go to Boise or back to Arizona.  Hernandez has been playing much better lately, but a demotion to Boise would not be a complete shock.  I don’t think moving Darvill makes any sense at all.

      I actually think, now, that the best thing for Baez would be to start in Boise.  If he isn’t challenged in Boise then the Cubs address the issue, but I suspect he’ll be challenged.  Reports out of Arizona seem to indicate that he still isn’t sure how to go about not swinging at pitches.  Northwest League pitching will eat him alive if he can’t make that adjustment.  In the long run, that will be a good thing.  If he makes the adjustment quickly, that will be a better thing.

      I’d love to see Candelario in Peoria, but only when he’s ready.  A year ago he was playing in the Dominican Summer League.  He’s one of the youngest players in camp anyway; if the Cubs keep him in the Rookie League this season they won’t be harming his development.

      Really, the only guy in Arizona now that I really want to see pushed this summer is Vogelbach.  I hope he gets 100+ ABs in Peoria this summer at some point.

      Edit:  Also, Extended Spring Training stats are even more worthless than regular spring training stats.  Without the context in which set the player performances, I would not read anything into spring numbers.  Remember how Soriano was sending balls into orbit this spring?  And how LaHair started out looking lost at the plate?  Exactly.  Until the games count, be wary of the stats.

      • When the Music’s Over

        “Reports out of Arizona seem to indicate that he still isn’t sure how to go about not swinging at pitches.”

        Different person, same story. Old Cubs regime just couldn’t pass on these guys. It’s like me making the decision on whether to continue the party at the late night bars. I know it’s highly unlikely it’s going to be worth it when all said and done, but I just can’t say no.

      • djriz

        Can’t agree with your assessment of Northwest League pitching. Isn’t it just made up the best of other teams ExST pitchers? So you may have a few less ‘cookies’ out there, but it’s not like he’ll be facing the Phillies rotation.

        And, of course, ExSt stats mean very little on their own, but when compared to others playing in the same league, Baez and Candelario’s stats are in the top 2 %. That does mean something.

        And only BAD organizations hold back highly ranked (and performing) talent to accomidate a mediocre talent like Wes Darvill.

  • JulioZuleta

    AZPhil just posted updated EXST stats. http://www.thecubreporter.com/2012/05/20/cubs-2012-extended-spring-training-stats-update-520

    Bright spots: Javier Baez, Candelario, Dunston Jr, Amaya (great BB rate) Xavier Batista, Balaguert, Gretzky, Whitenack (rehab), Tayler Scott, James Pugliese, Jin-Young Kim

    Disappointments: Vogelbach (sorry Cheryl), Danny Lockhart (waste of a draft pick), Rosario.

    Keep an eye on Yasiel Balaguer(t??). Cuban defector who was always known for his defense. If he can hit, he could be a real find.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for sharing that, JZ. Always very interesting (even if all appropriate cautions about the value of extended spring training stats are offered).

      • JulioZuleta

        Yeah, they definitely don’t mean a whole lot. If Baez’s walk rate goes up as he moves on (I’m sure it will, at least marginally) I think he is going to be a star. As an 18 year old senior in high school he hit 22 HRs in 82 ABs, that’s absurd power, regardless of the competition. That’s more than 1:4 HR to AB ratio, most pros can’t do that in batting practice. I wish they would send him to Peoria already.

        Speaking of promotions, Francescon was moved to Daytona today.

        • ari gold

          Baez hit two more bombs today. 2 run homer and a grand slam.

          • Mrp

            Peoria please. I think the fact that he is dominating right now is only keeping him from buying into the “grinding out at bats” approach. He is a young guy that has a reputation for having an attitude so he might think he is “too good” for that.

            I think by bumping him up, you do one of two things. You either humble him and possible get him to buy into your approach which could end up making him a much more complete hitter, or he continues beating the crap out of the ball. Both positives if you ask me.

            Now there is certainly a chance that his attitude is such a problem that he can’t be broken, either way this is a big step towards finding that out. In other words, he needs to be tested so we can find out who he really is.

  • JulioZuleta

    Ugh, Golden ACL surgery, done for year

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Figured it couldn’t be good news. Damn. Hopefully it’s a full recovery.

  • Jimmy james

    Seems like vitters has been picking it up a little lately, I,ve noticed some doubles and a hr or two recently…..would be really nice if he gets on track

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