My second game in Iowa was a loss for the Cubs, but it was still a great experience. Or, it was once the sun dropped a little. Note to anyone considering a future trip to Iowa: the sun down that first baseline is intense for a few innings. The third base side, though, enjoys delightful shade all game long.
Once again I met about two dozen great Cubs fans and had a great time talking about the Cubs and the minors and all manner of basebally things with them. The best part of this trip to Iowa has been having a chance to talk with so many of our readers, and I cannot wait to head back to Iowa and do this again one day.
That trip is over now, and that means this column will be a little shorter than normal. Once again I have a very early flight to catch, and that results in less time to invest here. Rest assured, though, that I will have plenty to write about my observations of the Cubs prospects in the coming days.
Iowa Cubs : 37-36
Iowa is starting to repair the damage done by that rough road trip, and is back over .500. Their offense is very potent now, even by PCL standards, but it remains to be seen how much of their pitching staff remains intact when the Chicago Cubs begin dealing.
Tennessee Smokies : 2-1
Records have reset for the second half in the Southern League, and the Smokies are off to a good start. They are currently tied for first place. Like Iowa, though, there are questions about how much their roster will be affected as we enter trading season.
Daytona Cubs : 2-1
The second half is underway in the Florida State League as well, and that means that the huge deficit that faced the Daytona Cubs has evaporated. Their overall record still looks bad, but now at least they have a chance to make the playoffs and attempt to defend their 2013 Championship. Of course, no amount of resetting records will help if they don’t consistently play better baseball.
Kane County Cougars : 2-0
The start of the second half did not change much for the Cougars. Even after records reset they promptly went right back to first place. I suspect they will remain there the rest of the season and enter postseason as the prohibitive favorites to win the Midwest League title.
Boise Hawks : 4-5
Like we have seen in the past, a good home start does not mean things will go well on the road, particularly in the Northwest League. The Hawks find themselves just behind Hillsboro in the division thanks in large part to a four game road losing streak.
The AZL Cubs season is barely underway, so there isn’t a lot to talk about here. A quick glance at the roster would be in order, though, so…
First Look At The AZL Cubs
I’ll have more to say about this roster later, but for those fans interested in tracking the fortunes of the Rookie League Cubs, here is a quick run down of a few names to watch.
The big international prospects, Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres highlight the list, but they are not the only bats to watch. In particular, keep an eye on Tyler Alamo behind the plate. Roney Alcala, listed as a first baseman, and outfielder Ricardo Marcano are also on this team, and both guys have a chance to move up some prospect charts with a good showing.
On the mound, I think the 2014 draft class of Stinnett, Steele, Sands, and Norwood is a great place to start. I’ll be closely monitoring Luis Hernandez as well. This 6’7″ right hander put up good but not great results in the Caribbean last summer, and I did not necessarily expect him to come to the States this soon. The Cubs do seem to like tall pitching prospects, though, and 6’7″ certainly fits that mold.
You can see the entire Arizona roster here.