If you have eyes to spare after keeping one focused on Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Schwarber, then don’t forget to monitor Addison Russell. After getting off to a slow start as a Smokie, the new Tennessee shortstop has hit six home runs in the last nine games. That sort of streak would be headline news for a week in any other farm system, but with the Cubs we have to be careful to not forget about the guy. After all, he’s only one of the ten/twenty best prospects in baseball and the Cubs arguably have four players worthy of that same title. Russell just sort of blends in.
Is the unprecedented absurdity of riches in the minor league sinking in yet? When a guy like Russell can almost fly under the radar, you know a farm system is pushing the boundaries of language to describe it. These next few years stand to be a whole lot of fun.
Iowa Cubs : 57-51
It was not a good week for the Cubs, but as the week draws to a close, they are still in sole possession of first place. Omaha still lurks just behind the Cubs, but as Oklahoma falls back, this is starting to look like a two team race to the finish. There is no first half winner in the Pacific Coast League; winning the division for the season is the only way to ensure a chance in the post season.
A trip to New Orleans takes up the majority of Iowa’s week, but, by the weekend, they are in Omaha. A good road trip could go a long way towards locking up the division title.
Tennessee Smokies : 19-17
The Smokies have regained first place, leading Birmingham by half a game. Tennessee also holds the best road record in the division as well as the most home wins. Now all they have to do is keep it up for another month and they’ll have a slot in the playoffs.
For the first part of the week the Smokies will be in Birmingham, but on Thursday they return home to face Pensacola. I’ll be in the stadium when the Smokies take the field on Thursday, and Friday as well. Look for the black Bleacher Nation shirt and the fedora, and be sure to drop by and say hi if you’re in the area.
Daytona Cubs : 21-12
Carried by the best road record in the league, the suddenly surging Cubs have shaken off their first half mediocrity and now hold a three game lead in first place. If they can keep this up, a chance to repeat as league champions is very much in the cards.
A home stand against St. Lucie and Bradenton begins the week, and a trip to Charlotte brings it to a close.
Kane County Cougars : 22-12
Still in possession of the best record, the most home wins, and the fewest road losses, Kane County holds a three game lead for first place in the division. Five teams have bunched up within four games of the Cougars, though, so even a short slide now could open the door for someone to take the top slot. On the other hand, so long as Kane County keeps winning they have nothing to worry about.
A home showdown with West Michigan this weekend gives way to a trip to Wisconsin and an opportunity to watch the Cubs play on MiLB.TV. They return home for a weekend set against Quad Cities.
Boise Hawks : 1-3
The Hawks first half quest for the a title came up just a little short, so now they turn their eyes to the second half. And, just like in the first half, they start by digging themselves into a bit of a hole. Hopefully this round their journey from last to first will have a happier ending.
A road series in Hillsboro and a home stand against Vancouver take up much of the Hawks week. Road or home, any wins are good wins this early in the half.
Arizona Cubs : 0-0
The first half came to a close with the Cubs four games back of first. The second half is about to get started.
This week features home and home series against the Angels and the Diamondbacks as well as the beginning of similar sets with the Giants and A’s.