tennessee smokies logoNot only has the draft crept on us, so has the middle of the minor league season. A sure sign of that is the release of All-Star teams for the various leagues across the minors. And since the Cubs still have a very deep, very talented farm system, it comes as no surprise that Cubs’ prospects are appearing frequently. The Double A Southern League and the Low A Midwest League have announced their All Stars, and the Cubs appear six times on each.

We’ll start with the All Star Smokies. Believe it or not, two of the six are starting pitchers. Paul Blackburn (2.09 ERA) has been the Smokies’ best starter all season. Even though he hasn’t been striking out a lot of batters, naming him to the team was probably pretty easy. Joining Blackburn will be rotation mate Brad Markey (2.41 ERA). Markey has been very effective as a starter for the Smokies this season, and really that effectiveness goes back to his conversion back into a starter in the second half of last year with Myrtle Beach.

The other side of the Tennessee battery is also represented by catcher Victor Caratini. This is the second year in a row the Smokies have provided an All Star catcher, and Caratini is the third catcher in two years to hold that title (joining Schwarber and Contreras in 2015). He’ll be joined on the infield by Jeimer Candelario at third and Chesny Young at second. Candelario makes the list despite his lowish batting average, and deservedly so. A lot of those hits have gone for extra bases, and a lot of his plate appearances end in walks. Young is full blown breakout candidate at this point, adding some unexpected power and more stolen bases to the excellent hit tool we already knew he had.

Wrapping up the Smokies’ All Stars is outfield Mark Zagunis. Zagunis has done pretty much everything right with the Smokies, as he has at pretty much every stop in the minors. This will actually be the third straight year in which he makes an All Star team.



Meanwhile, over in the Midwest League, two more Cubs’ pitchers made the All Star team. Carson Sands (3.30 ERA), one of the better left handed starting pitchers in the organization, and Adbert Alzolay (3.72 ERA), one of many young pitchers with a ton of potential in the lower levels of the system, will be available to take the mound for the Eastern Division.

Backing them up will be third baseman Jesse Hodges and second baseman Andrew Ely. In the outfield, slugging outfielder Eloy Jimenez will join Donnie Dewees. Hodges (undrafted) and Ely (32nd round) are interesting in that they were not seen as significant prospects coming into the draft, but are performing pretty well in the low levels of the organization anyway. By contrast, Jimenez was one of the best in his international free agent class, and Dewees was drafted 47th overall.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa 6, Memphis 5
The dawn of a new winning streak?

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Mississippi 5, Tennessee 1
The Smokies scored in the first, but were actually being no hit at the start of the ninth.

  • Paul Blackburn: 5.2 IP, 5 R (4 ER), 9 H, 1 BB, 3 K
  • Jose Rosario: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 K
  • David Berg: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 K
  • Victor Caratini: 1 for 3, BB. Caratini broke up the no hitter.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Myrtle Beach 4, Potomac 3
Myrtle Beach 4, Potomac 3
It is rare to see a doubleheader swept by identical scores.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 4, Dayton 3 in twelve innings.
The Cubs had no shortage of chances in this one; they finished with eleven hits and nine walks.

Other Notes

  • Between the two games of the doubleheader the Pelicans stole six total bases, and the steals came from six different Pelicans. They also did quite a bit of walking, drawing a total of ten free passes.
  • Iowa faced off against Alex Reyes, one of the better pitching prospects in the Cardinal organization, yesterday. They chased him off the mound at 62 pitches, partway through the second inning. Highlights of that four run outburst feature prominently in the I-Cubs highlight package below.




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