Of all the 2017 minor league pitching debuts we have seen, yesterday’s start by Duane Underwood might be the most significant.

Underwood, at this point in his career, is a giant question mark. When he is pitching well, he has the stuff. He has the velocity. He has the talent he needs to be a very good pitcher. But he also has a lengthy list of injuries that have kept him off the diamond for large portions of his career. And when he has been healthy, he has not always been effective.

He was effective last night. Officially, Underwood needed 75 pitches in his 5 innings of work. His eight strikeouts matched his career high (last seen in 2014), and his four groundouts were a good sign from a guy who historically does a good job getting groundouts when he is pitching.


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One start is just that, one start. But had Underwood opened on the DL, or had he struggled in this outing, our outlook on Underwood’s next outing would probably be very different. After this game, though, I’m inching towards cautiously optimistic as opposed to just plain cautious. I can’t wait to see him on the mound again.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Oklahoma City 5, Iowa 2
Despite the loss, Iowa completes a winning road trip and heads home with a 3-2 record.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Pensacola 3, Tennessee 2
Underwood needed a good start to his season, and that is exactly what he got.


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High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Buies Creek 3, Myrtle Beach 2
Once again, the pitching for the Pelicans was pretty solid.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 5, Fort Wayne 3
The Paredes and Mineo show was back for encore performance.

Other Notes

  • Ian Happ did not homer. In fact, he didn’t have a hit. Neither did Jeimer Candelario, for that matter. I doubt we see too many games in which both of those guys are held hitless.
  • The Pelicans scored twice yesterday, and they did it despite having just two hits and striking out sixteen times. Trent Giambrone scored the first by walking, advancing to second on a walk, to third on an error, and scoring on a wild pitch. The second run was provided by Tyler Pearson; he reached on an error, went to second on a walk, then scored on an error.

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  • Jeffrey Baez picked up another outfield assist. That’s already his third, and the season isn’t a week old yet.
  • There are all kinds of interesting things about yesterday’s performance by Dakota Mekkes. First off, he only walked one in three innings. Last season as a college pitcher, walks were his weakness. Second, he struck out five. He was a strikeout guy pre-draft; looks like that part of his game is still rolling along. Third, the Cubs sent out him there for forty pitches over three innings. In his previous outting onĀ April 7 he tossed 32 pitches over 2.1 innings. The Cubs are definitely working him in multiple inning roles. Whether that is because they are developing him as a super utility pitcher or with an eye towards a future move into the rotation remains to be seen.

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