The minor league season, at least for the four full-season league teams, begins today. That means the Minor League Daily comes out of hibernation and looks for the Shadow. Or something.
Thanks to that thing that happened in Cleveland, most of you have probably forgotten that last year was was a very, very good one for the farm system.
There were a lot of injuries among the high level pitching prospects (again) that slowed their development and raised additional questions (again), but other than that, things went relatively smoothly. We saw multiple pitchers break out in the low levels and start surging up the system, several mid and high level bats took significant steps forward, and two Cubs’ affiliates picked up a Championship. Myrtle Beach won the Carolina League for the second straight year, and Eugene broke a drought of their own when they claimed the Northwest League title.
I don’t know if 2017 can quite match all the awesome that was packed into last year, but there are plenty of good story lines to follow as the season gets underway.
Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Had there been a game yesterday, you would see the score and a link to the box score here. But there wasn’t. Sorry.
- And since there was no game, there are no player performances to call out here.
- Instead, I’ll mention that the Iowa roster, featuring four catchers and four second basemen, can be found here.
- Iowa’s home opener is on Tuesday, April 11. In the meantime they will be playing in Oklahoma City.
Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Again, no game, so no box score.
- The Smokies open in Pensacola. Their home opener will be Wednesday, April 12.
- The Smokies have guaranteed that it will be at least 60 degrees for the home opener. If it isn’t, fans will get a ticket for another game for free. Keep an eye on the weather in east Tennessee. This might be your chance to get two games for the price of one.
- Here is the roster for the Smokies. There is a lot to talk about on that pitching staff; we’ll get into that as the season gets underway.
High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
And another Cubs’ affiliate opens on the road. This time in Lynchburg.
- The Pelicans do not return home until next Thursday, April 13. After leaving Lynchburg, they play in Buies Creek.
- Buies Creek is a new team in the Carolina League this season and is part of the Astros organization. Also joining the league is Down East (Texas system); the Pelicans visit that stadium later this month.
- Here is the roster for the Pelicans. There is talent all over this lineup, but the starting pitching and outfield particularly stand out.
Low A: South Bend Cubs
How do you like that. Not one team in the Cubs’ organization gets to open the season at home.
- The Cubs are in West Michigan for only a short time. They play at home this Saturday.
- The South Bend roster features a really interesting group of pitchers headlined by Dylan Cease, but there is plenty of high end talent all over the diamond. Shortstop and centerfield in particular should be well worth watching this season.
- Don’t forget – the radio feed for every minor league game is streamed over the internet for free from the homepage for that team. If you want to listen to Iowa, for example, then just head over to Iowa’s website (linked above) at around 7 PM Central Time and look for the button near the top of the page.
- If you want to watch all the games, then MiLB.tv is for you. It is a subscriptions service, but for Cubs fans it is a particularly good value. All four of the Cubs full season affiliates are hooked into MiLB.tv, and so is Eugene when they begin play in a few months. And in the case of South Bend and Myrtle Beach, the video quality is among the best in the minors. I do not recommend trying to watch all four teams at once, though. Down that road lies madness. Trust me. I know.
- There is a new residential development going in beside the stadium in South Bend that is modeled in part after the residential areas around Wrigley Field. One notable feature – rooftop seating.