iowa cubs mascot[Brett: I’m running around this morning with The Little Boy to various doctor things, so Bullets and morning posting will likely be delayed for a little bit.]

There is as much interest and excitement surrounding the Cubs farm system this spring as there has been in a long time, and it does not all revolve around Baez and Bryant. If you want to tap into the awesomeness that is minor league baseball first hand, then take a look at this map to find a minor league team near you. Even if it isn’t a team that plays for the Cubs, or that plays against a Cubs affiliate, minor league baseball is still an absolutely wonderful (and rather affordable) time.

If you want to follow along with the Cubs’ organization, though, you can always listen to the radio broadcasts of all the games via the Internet for free (and legally). Each day the audio feed is linked from the home page for each team, and the home page for each team is linked each morning here in the Minor League Daily (in the “Scores From Yesterday” section below). Alternatively, you can pull up this website which lists all the line scores for a day’s worth of games along with the MiLB.TV (if available) and radio feeds.

The best way to enjoy a game is at the ballpark, but joining Twitter is fun as well. I’ll have more recommendations on who to follow as the season progresses, but here are six to get you started: me (@ltblaize), Brett (@BleacherNation), the Iowa Cubs (@iowacubs), the Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball), the Daytona Cubs (@daytonacubs), and the Kane County Cougars (@kccougars).

You can also find plenty of minor league watchers here on Bleacher Nation most evenings, both on the main page and over on the Message Boards.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa picked up their second win of the year, 4-1.
Tennessee – The Smokies rallied late, but came up short. They lost 3-2.
Daytona – An early lead did not last as Daytona fell 5-4.
Kane County – Kane County had the day off.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Tsuyoshi Wada had the standout performance of the night. Over 6.2 innings he allowed one run on 3 hits (including a solo homer) and a walk while striking out 8. Neil Ramirez and Blake Parker each fanned a pair in relief.
  • [Iowa] Brett Jackson lined a hit into the right field corner for a triple, and later on reached on an infield single and stole second. He also walked. It’s only one game, but it was good to see.
  • [Iowa] Christian Villanueva hit a three run homer, his first of the year.
  • [Tennessee] Dustin Geiger singled and homered, his second. Jeudy Valdez also had two hits, including a double.
  • [Tennessee] Even though he limited the damage to three runs, Matt Loosen was not particularly effective in his start. Ryan Searle, Hunter Cervenka, and Tony Zych combined to throw three hitless innings of relief behind him.
  • [Daytona] Two hit games came from Jeimer Candelario, who included a triple in his, and Rock Shoulders, who had a double.
  • [Daytona] Rob Zastryzny struck out 6 in his 4 innings of work, but he also allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks.

Other News

  • On the scoresheet Javier Baez did not have a great day. He finished 0 for 3 with a walk and no strikeouts. On film, though, he made very hard contact on a couple of pitches, including one that he took to the backside of the warning track in dead center. On a different day that ball would have been gone. The walk came late in the game and basically consisted of Baez refusing to chase pitches low and on the corners. As 0 for 3 days go, it was a good day.
  • There are two stories in the Daytona bullpen worth highlighting. One, of course, is Arodys Vizcaino. Once a pitching prospect ranked among the best in the game, now he is coming back from two years of arm problems. So far his stint in the warm weather of Florida is going very well, and he tacked on a hitless inning with a strikeout yesterday. The other story is Zach Cates. Cates, you’ve probably forgotten, was the other guy in the Rizzo trade. He’s always been a power pitcher, but he has also been held back by his control. It’s early yet, but including his performance yesterday he’s up to three scoreless innings with three strikeouts, no walks, and two hits. That sample is so small it barely qualifies as a trend, but it is something to keep a close eye on over the coming weeks. If he has tamed his control issues, he could have an impact at the back of a bullpen.
  • CubsFaninMS

    Javier Baez is like the exact opposite of Tony Campana. Instead of not being able to hit the ball OUT of the infield, he can’t seem to hit the ball as short as the infield. Obviously a good thing.

  • mdavis

    is Ramirez coming out of the bullpen then? I was hoping they’d give him a good look in the rotation…

    • Edwin

      Me too. Ramirez is the prospect that I’m irrationally hoping for great things from this year.

      • FullCountTommy

        If he’s in the bullpen, that hope all of a sudden doesn’t look so irrational haha

        • Edwin

          Except I was hoping he’d break out as a surprise starter. I just want the Cubs to have a starter with a nasty Fastball/Curveball combo.

          • FullCountTommy

            I agree, had a convo on twitter yesterday w/ Sahadev and a couple others about how it would be nice if they gave Ramirez and Grimm a chance to start

            • C. Steadman

              I agree I wish Ramirez was starting at Iowa, but who would you not start? Wada and Rusin are emergency starters at the MLB level right now, Hendricks, Jokisch and Pimentel all had good years as AA starters last year. I wish Rusin would just be groomed as a bullpen guy and see if he can turn out to be a poor man’s Sean Marshall giving Ramirez a rotation spot…too bad Rusin doesn’t have Sean’s curveball…

              • FullCountTommy

                Ya it’s definitely a crowded rotation. They can always get him to the bigs in the pen this year and try to stretch him out later

                • C. Steadman

                  I wish they’d drop either Wada or Rusin to long relief duty and insert Ramirez though. I think what you said will be true or after a trade/injury Wada/Rusin/Hendricks(maybe,hopefully) gets called up and Ramirez is the first guy into the rotation.

                  • willis

                    I agree here. I like Ramirez’ stuff and think it’s a mistake to not let him start at AAA. The rotation is crowded, and will be more so when Piniero gets there, so I’m afraild Ramirez is a reliever for awhile yet. We definitely want to see Hendricks, Jokisch aand Pimentel as starters, I’m over Rusin and was hoping Ramirez would get a shot.

                    • C. Steadman

                      Yeah, at this point Rusin is still starting to be used emergency option if an MLB guy goes down so they don’t have to rush Hendricks, Jokisch, and Pimentel. I forgot about the Piniero signing…why Theo why…We already have Wada…

                    • Jason P

                      I don’t think Pimental’s a starter in the bigs. If he makes it, I think he’ll be a middle reliever.

                    • C. Steadman

                      The FO must think there’s still MLB starting potential though if he’s in the AAA rotation, especially over Ramirez. But I do think Pimentel is the last man out when Joel Piniero joins the I-Cubs…which in my mind is a stupid signing but we’ll see…I defer to the better scouting reports and judgment of the FO on that one.

            • On The Farm

              I heard Mark Gonzales on the radio yesterday saying that he wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the year if Grimm isn’t the closer, over Strop.

              • C. Steadman

                I said that yesterday that I wished it wasn’t just the Strop/Veras conversation and that Grimm was included in that.

                • willis

                  Well Strop will get the looks early if Veras continues to suck. But…if Grimm keeps looking lights out, his chance will come. Imagine if Vizcaino can stay healthy? The future of the pen is very bright.

  • ssckelley

    As always Luke good stuff. It was nice to see BJax have a good game, the guy has got to know the clock is ticking on his time as a Cub. I know a few of us were dogging on him yesterday but I would love to see this guy break out and have a great season and translate all those skills into a MLB player. I still doubt this will ever happen but stranger things have happened.

  • Austin

    So has anyone played MLB The Show 14 yet? Good or bad? Also has anyone got a good roster for the majors and minors with most of the top prospects?

    • Edwin

      I have. I buy it every other year, so the last game I bought was 12, and I just got 14. I really like it so far, it’s much more polished than 12. As far as rosters go, if you wait a little bit, there are some dedicated people at Operation Sports who put out a pretty good custom roster.

    • Spoda17

      Austin, I have… it’s better than 2013, but not as good as 2012. I have the same frustrations. The game has an updated roster coming out today.

      • Edwin

        I really enjoy the Quick Counts feature they have.

  • ced landrum

    Vitters get hurt?

    • Jon

      Death, Taxes, and a Vitters injury.

    • hansman

      Luke said that he walked into the clubhouse with the trainer. Hopefully precautionary.

    • Luke

      Yeah, I forgot to note that in the Daily. Not that we have much info.

      He left shortly after making a stumbling catch on the warning track, but the manager later said it was unrelated to that. No word on the severity, but the sense of things from the beat writers last night was that it wasn’t serious.

  • Required
  • CubsFaninMS

    We’re really beginning to manufacture some talent with these high-upside, power-arm fringe starting pitchers like Arrieta, Ramirez, Grimm, and Vizcaino. If just one of those pans out as a starting pitcher and two of them become solid bullpen pieces, keep in mind what we got back from the Marshall trade (Travis Wood). I believe that is a realistic outcome. We’ll either have some very solid bullpen pieces to compete with… or some very interesting trade chips. They’re all four capable of being lights out.

    • Required

      I wouldn’t want Tanaka at the price the Yankees paid for him. Give up Baez and Bryant for pitching!? That guys crazy. We may not be able to shut out a team but, no reason to think with those two in the lineup we can’t average 20-30 runs a game!

      • Required

        Not to mention Alcantara, Almora, and Soler. I’ll push it up to 40 runs per game.

      • CubsFaninMS

        I agree with your stance on Tanaka. The Cubs front office are doing what I would do. “What is the value of this person?” Once that is determined, you develop a range of what you’re willing to pay for someone. If it exceeds that range it is no longer a good investment.

        • Alan Griffin

          Exactly. It’s like going to an auction. Even though you really think that antique hutch would compliment your dining room set perfectly, you set a limit on what you’re willing to pay for it. If the bidding exceeds that, you bow out. The Yanks obviously had a higher limit. Nothing wrong with that.

      • terencemann

        I totally agree that you don’t give up elite hitting talent for pitching if you’re the Cubs at this point. Pitchers are a lot more volatile than hitters and playing whack-a-mole when it comes to trading out hitters for pitchers isn’t a great idea at this stage. The Cubs’ rotation may not be the best in the league but it may be good enough in the end.

  • Rudy N

    I was at the Iowa game last night. A couple notes: Vitters did get hurt after making a play in the outfield. He tweaked something but I don’t know what. Baez hit two bombs to center in his first two ABs. I believe both would have been out on a normal night (wind was blowing in and it was cold). His hardest hit was his third AB when he hit an absolute rope right at 3B.

    Also, my buddy who is not a Cubs fan, gave B-Jax some shit after he didn’t dive for a ball in RF saying: “that’s why you are in Des Moines” and B-Jax came back yelling at him. The ushers then told us to be careful as he has been really pissy this year, Apparently he got into it with some guys over the weekend as well. It’s probably not a big deal but he probably should let that get to him. He did triple, single and steal a base after that so maybe it lit a fire under him, haha.

    • CubsFaninMS

      BJax is most likely suffering from a case of washedupprospectitis.

    • miggy80

      By far the hardest ball hit by Baez was that line drive to third in the 6th. I think maybe on a warmer one of those fly balls goes over but the wind wasn’t really a factor it was more of a breeze. It was nice to see Baez go head to head with a pure power pitcher.

      Christian Villanueva is looking really good. If Olt looks good the first half of the year and if there is a sell off I can see Olt being traded because of how good Villanueva is. To truly admire Villanueva’s homer you have to go back to his previous at bat where he struck out after nearly getting his head taken off by a guy throwing 90+ with ease. I thought to myself how do you get back in the box after that as he took two pretty weak swings. Then the lefty reliever unintentionally intentional walked Coghlan to get the Righty lefty match up, so Villanueva made him pay by hitting a 3 run 2 out blast.

    • Funn Dave

      Wow. I hope BJax gets a good talking-to by his manager. These things need to be nipped in the bud *before* they lead to bat-wielding, etc.

  • carmelo

    Baez—two flyball outs to fence in CF with wind blowing in, and a line-out to 3b. Plus a walk. Good game, good to see. BJax—let’s see if this gets him going. Rameriz with plus outing.

  • Rebuilding

    Rotoworld: “Cubs third-base prospect Christian Villanueva is hitting .308/.400/.615 with a home run and a double through four games in Triple-A.”

    “Villanueva is the forgotten third base prospect in the Cubs system, as he is blocked at the major league level by Mike Olt and Luis Valbuena, with Kris Bryant lurking in Double-A. However, Olt is hitting .077/.077/.308 and Valbuena is hitting .250/.471/.250, which could open the door for Villanueva. Originally signed by the Rangers out of Mexico in 2008, he was acquired as part of the Ryan Depster trade in 2012. Villanueva is considered a substantially above-average defensive third baseman, which could hasten his ascent.”

  • TimBeam

    Love that BA for Almora

  • hoopsnut

    Heading to Geneva tonight for the home opener. Will be right behind the plate. What do we know about Tseng? Anything else to really watch tonight? So many new faces and names this season.