If you are new to the Bleacher Nation brand of minor league coverage, or if you forgot a few things during your long winter nap, then let’s start with a bit of background. Monday through Friday during minor league baseball season, the “Cubs Minor League Daily” will appear on Bleacher Nation every morning to provide you with coverage from all the games in the Cubs farm system the previous day. On Monday, the Daily will also include coverage from Friday and Saturday as well as Sunday. The Daily does not run on Saturday or Sunday.
On Sunday we feature “This Week In The Minors”. These weekly pieces will both offer a high level survey of the system broadly, including a check on how each of the active teams fair in the standings (something that becomes a big deal a lot faster than you think in the leagues that name both a first half and a second half champion), as well a place to take a more in depth look at some aspect of the system. That could be a particular prospect, or a team wide trend, or even a breakdown of a particular stat that is useful when studying minor league baseball.
Unfortunately, all those things require numbers. Useful, meaningful numbers. And with just three games in the minor league books, we are facing a lack of useful numbers of any kind. Sure, we could talk about how many times Albert Almora has walked already this year (2), or the awesome season debut by Ryan McNeil (3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 5 K in relief), or how Addison Russell looks like he is completely comfortable playing in Triple A (he does, by the way), but without a few more games to look at, none of the interesting analytical calculations I rely on are even close to being statistically significant.
In short, this edition of “This Week In The Minors” is going to look a little different than what you can expect the rest of the season. Consider this article your primer to maximizing your minor league season enjoyment.
If you haven’t subscribed to MiLB.tv before, this is the year to do it. All four full season league teams will have all their home games broadcast, and most of the Iowa and Tennessee road games will be as well. Even better, the new camera setups for South Bend and Myrtle Beach are providing us with some of the best A-ball videos to be found anywhere. This year minor league video is going to provide us with an abundance of riches and turn us into the most spoiled fan base around. Not only do we have the best farm system to watch, we have the best video to watch them on. It is every bit as awesome as it sounds.
But if you don’t want to subscribe, never fear. Brett and I will do our best to link the best of the highlight videos to you in the Daily, the Bullets, or anywhere else we can find a spot.
Pretty much every minor league game at every level above Rookie ball is on the radio, and pretty much all of those radio broadcasts can be heard for free online. All you need to do is visit the home page for the team in question at game time and look for the link towards the top of the page. To help make that easy, the website for each team is linked in every edition of the Minor League Daily.
There is a smartphone app for minor league baseball that allows you to customize what teams you want to follow and will provide you notifications for pretty much every game related event you would want to be notified of. Or not, if you prefer to keep notifications off. The app, called MiLB First Pitch, is available in the relative app stores for both Apple and Android devices.
There a lot of good Twitter follow for the Cubs farm system, and unfortunately I will not remember them all. Consider this list the bare essentials; you’ll discover more as the season unfolds.
The teams, which include some of the best team-run accounts in minor league baseball:
@iowacubs – Iowa (AAA)
@smokiesbaseball – Tennessee (AA)
@pelicanbaseball – Myrtle Beach (High A)
@sbcubs – South Bend (Low A)
@eugeneemeralds – Eugene (Short Season Low A – Starts in June)
The radio folks and other related accounts, in no particular order:
@RandyWehofer – Broadcaster for the Iowa Cubs.
@IowaCubsGameDay – A good account for tracking Iowa games.
@SmokiesonRadio – The account for the Smokies Radio network.
@BroadcasterMick – Mick Gillispie is the play by play voice for the Smokies as well as the Cubs’ spring training games.
@AndruwGreen – Media Relations guy for the Smokies.
@NathanBarnett – Broadcaster and Media Relations guy for the Pelicans.
@SBCubsRadio – The South Bend Cubs radio network.
The absolute best way to enjoy Minor League baseball is to take in a game or two yourself, and if you are in the Des Moines area you have a great opportunity coming up. Brett and I will be in Iowa to watch the I-Cubs on Saturday April 18 and Sunday April 19, and there will very probably be at least one meet-up at one of the many fantastic local joints near the Cubs’ stadium. There are still tickets available for those games, but you may not want to procrastinate too long on buying if you plan to go. The Iowa Cubs are loaded with talent, and that is weekend of their home opener. Those games could sell out before the weekend arrives.