Is anyone else ready for the Northwest League to finally begin? Even though I am already closely following six minor league teams, I am ready to add a couple more to the list and to see this talented Boise team in action. From the Boise Hawks website, it looks like Jose Arias will be pitching the season opener. Arias is a 6’5″ right hander who just turned twenty one in January. He has put up some impressive numbers in the Dominican Summer League; now we get to see what he can do against much tougher competition.

But before the Boise players can play a game, they need a place to sleep. That is where the Host Family Program comes into play. Local families in the Boise area take in the Cubs’ prospects for the season and provide them with a room, food, and a safe and comfortable place to rest up between days at the ballpark. After watching this quick interview, it sounds like a great program.

AAA – Iowa Cubs. 29 – 37
Iowa fell behind in the first inning and never managed to recover. The game ended as a 9-4 loss.

Chris Volstad gave up five runs in the first, but after that he pitched fairly well. That five run meltdown was enough to saddle him with his first Triple-A loss of the season.

Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched an inning of relief in which he allowed three more runs to score, but none of them were earned. Michael Bowden followed up with two scoreless frames, and Scott Maine pitched a scoreless ninth.

Anthony Rizzo was 0 for 2. He also gave Cub fans a scare when he was pulled from the game with an apparent knee injury after making a sliding catch near the dugout. Fortunately, all he has is a bruised knee. The Cubs may keep him out of the lineup for a day or so out of an abundance of caution, but it looks like he will be just fine.

Luis Valbuena hits his eighth home run of the season to lead the Cubs’ offense. Ty Wright had two hits, including a double, and the rehabbing Geovany Soto doubled in four at bats.

AA – Tennesse Smokies. 31 – 34
Tennessee was off on Tuesday night. They will be at home tonight as they continue their efforts to push their record back to .500.

High A – Daytona Cubs. 29 – 34
Daytona used a starter-by-committee approach in this game, and they still walked away with an 8-3 win.

Eduardo Figueroa pitched the first three innings. He allowed two runs on five hits while striking out four; that’s not too bad. Ryan Searle earned the win by pitching the next two innings in scoreless fashion. Joseph Zeller matched that accomplishment, and Jeffrey Lorrick finished the game off with a single run in the final two frames. Add it all up and you get four pitchers, eight strike outs, three runs, and one win.

Daytona got some big hits from Nelson Perez (his eleventh home run) and Chad Noble (his first triple), but offense really was not a problem in this game. Greg Rohan had another two hit night and John Andreoli hit two of his own while Perez finished the game with three. Bases were stolen by Rubi Silva (his fourth) and Andreoli (his eighteenth).

Low A – Peoria Chiefs. 32 – 33
Well, that didn’t last long. Peoria surged their way to .500 with a seven game winning streak, but they lost as soon as they got there. It was a close one, but Peoria fell on the road 5-4.

Michael Jensen‘s record fell to 6-3 on the season as he could not get out of the fifth inning. He did strike out five, but he also allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits. Larry Suarez and Felix Pena did not allow any runs in relief, but the Chief’s offense could not make up the lost ground.

Javier Baez led the team with two hits, both singles, and his sixth stolen base of the season. He did make three errors, though. Zeke DeVoss doubled and walked, and Yaniel Cabezas hit his first triple of the year. Peoria did well in scoring four runs given their limited chances. They just needed more chances.

  • Cubbie Blues

    In 13 games Baez has 6 stolen bases, 370 OBP, .468 SLG, 1 triple and 2 HR. Not a bad start.

    • Dougy D

      I am hoping that he’s still there when I make my trip out to Boise at the end of July.

      • Luke D

        He’s at Peoria right now though.

        • Tim

          im going to the kane county cougars and peoria game on september 2nd. im hoping baez and soler are both there. And it would be nice to see shawon dunston jr. get the call :)

        • Dougy D

          Oops! That’s right. I guess there is too many prospects for me to keep track of.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    If brett jackson and vitters just dont show they can put up better numbers up in Iowa this year could we technically keep them down there all of this year and bring them up next year at this time so we get another additional year of control of him when hes in his prime? I know would never happen but we are goin to suck this year anyways and hes not putting up big numbers, and we will probably suck next year too. so why don’t we just completely go for the future. Rizzo is a completely different case because he has consistently just killed the ball, and he cant do anymore to prove himself major league ready. But Brett jackson and vitters on the other hand could needs to improve his plate discipline and approach at the plate and really lower that strikeout rate before he get here. dont have his arbitration clock start by bringing him up and learning here. Plus if I hear someone tell me the cubs need to see what they have in him your crazy. What difference is it going to make? Who else are you going to call up? No one other OF in the minors are close to being called up, and the cubs arent going to get a big time free agent OF this winter. Sorry people Hamilton isn’t going to happen and andre either just got signed to an extension. Michael bourn will be 30, too old for cubs, Granderson will resign with the yankees, shane victorino to old and doesn’t make sense, Doubt we will get Melky Cabrera (too expensive after this season), nick swisher maybe short term contract (I’d like to sign him but he’ll go to a contending team who will pay him big$). We may get a decent FA starting pitcher but I doubt we get Grienke or Hamels just too expensive and doesn’t make sense because both will be starting to leave there prime when we get competitive again. Essentially we are going to suck for a while and there is no point in signing high priced free agents to do a patch job like we did in 07. So why not just hold the young guys down till they truly are crushing the ball like Rizzo and then bring them up. Its a smart financial decision

    • SoCal Cubs Fan

      I believe this is the plan the FO has in mind. Unless the light suddenly goes “on” and Vitters or Jackson start consistently making a good approach in the batters box we won’t see them at Wrigley this year.

    • djriz

      I’d like to think that the Front Office has two priorities at this point.
      1). Obtain as much talent as possibly for the future.
      2). Do what’s best for the prospects you have.

      So, if they promote Bjax or Vitters, lets trust them and assume it’s because they think it will help their development.

  • Jp

    Texas Looks like they could be in the market for a new starting pitcher with derek Holland’s replacement Ogando going down for 6 weeks. I like as many markets as possible. I would think that’d be a good spot for Garza. What’s their minor league system looking like?

    • Norm

      Texas’ farm system is about as good as any.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Yeah they are really talented. But I would only want curtain guys in their farm system. I would want Jurickson Profar a extremely talented SS (they won’t trade him), or Martin Perez a LHP who is one of the best pitchers in the minors at AAA (another guy they won’t trade). There next best prospect is Michael Olt 3rd baseman with good power, but I don’t like him that much because there is a lot of swing and miss in his swing. He will never be a big time star. But still a very good prospect. They have a lot of high upside guys in their system but if we were trading Garza to them which I doubt we will because they went out to get Roy Oswalt. But if we did trade Garza I would be very disappointed if we didn’t get one of either Profar or Perez but I wouldn’t except us to get them. the deal would probably include Olt which has a limited ceiling. He could may have a ceiling of a few all-star games but he will never be a perennial every year consistent allstar. I’m no expert but I’ve heard a lot of people that they think he’s a little overrated but still a great talent.

        • Jp

          They did go out and get Oswalt but that was before they lost another starter. They’re still a man down and I would take Profar, Perez or even Holt if they’d throw in another top 15 prospect with high upside. Let’s face it Garza isn’t a number one and we’re trying to leverage him for number 1 material prospects, if we can pry a couple top 15 prospects from a good system let the rebuilding continue on.

          • Kyle

            They aren’t giving up Profar. They just aren’t.

            • Norm

              “They aren’t giving up Profar. They just aren’t.”

              I really hope we don’t have to sit through a month of people saying they will be upset if the Cubs don’t get a guy like Profar for Garza

              • Jp

                I wont be upset mainly because Garza isn’t a number one starter. On a side note he may be the worst pitcher in baseball.. At throwing to 1st base on routine plays:)

              • Serious Cubs Fan

                I would be ecstatic if we could trade Garza to the tigers for 3rd base prospect nick castellanos the guy is a flat out stud, very projectable power, not much swing and miss, really good bat speed. Could be a top 30 prospect by the end of this season. And then also Jacob Turner, or 2 other high upside prospects. Turner gets a bad rap bc he will never be a true ace but he could still turn out to be a good #2. Has good stuff and is starting to pitch better of late. I’m not sure tigers would give that much up but I think it be a win for the cubs

              • djriz

                So I shouldn’t hope to get Bryce Harper for Carlos Marmol? Dang.

  • Rizzofanclub

    They could leave Jackson down in AAA until Sept but I am one of the fans that want to see what he has at the major league level. There is no guarantee that Jackson will be anything more then a 4th outfielder. See what you got in him when the pressure is low on the whole team and if he can’t cut it then know they need to find another outfielder. You are right there are points from both sides, I just don’t think Jackson is really going to be that special at the next level. But I hope i am wrong.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Yes I agree as a fan I want to see Jackson to give me something to get excited about but are you really going to learn that much about Jackson and see if he’s going to be the guy we think he could be in 25-35 games? That is a small sample and you really couldn’t fairly evaluate him. He isn’t hitting all that impressive in a hitting friendly league which is the Pacific Coast League. If he struggles when he got his cup tea on a really bad experience you don’t want that to ruin his confidence. So why not just have him stay day in the majors till this time next year or till he consistently can hit for avg, OBP, lower his strike outs and develop his plate approach. Its better to have him learn down there then up hear because he is more likely to just struggle against tougher competition. Also then we’d get an addition year of control in his prime, which could be huge 5 years from now when the cubs get competitive again.

      • djriz

        I think (hope?) Jackson is coming out of his funk. I think the plan all along was his call-up happening at midseason. Stay with the plan.

        Don’t forget, Rizzo had a call-up last year that went poorly. He used that as motivation to work and get better. He learned what his weakness was. He became better because of it.

        If BJax has the makeup we’ve been told about, the same could (stress on the could) happen with him.

      • Diesel

        Yeah and we know what small sample sizes got us in the past…..Mike Quade

  • Jp

    Looks like the blue jays lost a starting pitcher last night as well, this could be a great year to be sellers IMO. This reminds me of the old saying that when the world gives you lemons, make lemonade

  • Carew

    Would Valbuena be a call-up after some moves?

    • Luke

      If those moves resulted in the Cubs needing an infielder off the bench, it is possible.

  • Kevin

    I hear a lot about possible trades on this site but not a whole lot elsewhere. Is it wishful thinking as a Cubs fan or are trades going to happen?

    • Brett

      Some trades are going to happen. But there will always, always be more rumors than actually completed trades. For every deal a team puts together, it has discussed – at least superficially – 20+ deals that never happen. Teams are constantly exploring possible deals, especially in internal discussions.

  • JY

    Has anyone ready where Soler will land on the Cubs top 20 prospect list?

    • Kyle

      Between 2 and 4, along with Almora and Baez. Above Jackson but below Rizzo.