Things I have learned so far on vacation:
There really is a Pink Cadillac Diner somewhere along I-81 in Virginia, and they make pretty good biscuits. And it has a statue of King Kong out front, because why wouldn’t you have a statue of King Kong out front?
I am really bad at pool.
Gatlingburg traffic is worse than Washington D.C. traffic – and that is not a comparison I make lightly.
Chris Rusin shutting down the Cardinals might just be the best possible way to start a five a day weekend. Every road trip should open with a game like that one. Especially when that road trip includes meeting up with family members who happen to be Cardinal fans.
Because I am on vacation right now this weekly look at the organization is going to be a little shorter than usual. There is still some good info here, though, starting with a recap of the playoff races.
Iowa Cubs : 56-65
The horrors of that Western road trip are over, and Iowa is only four games behind Omaha for the division lead. The Cubs have a lot of home games coming up, and they have been a good home team all year. This division is still winnable, but they need to get hot right about now. They’ve won four in a row now; that is a good start.
Tennessee Smokies : 27-20
The first place Smokies have a two and a half game lead over Birmingham now and are tied with Jacksonville for the best record in the league. They also have the best road record in the division; that is a good sign should they hang onto their playoff slot. The loss of some key rotation arms could hurt them down the stretch, particularly work horses like Kyle Hendricks and Alberto Cabrera (both promoted to Iowa), but if Eric Jokisch keeps pitching like an ace this team should be good shape. That offense is more than potent enough to keep them in nearly every game.
Daytona Cubs : 24-15-1
The Cubs are three and a half games up in the North division, and by winning percentage are the best team in the league. The recent cluster of rain outs has not appeared to harm them at all. The key for the Cubs is likely to be their pitching, and so far it has been up to the task. Should they hang onto first place and make the playoffs, Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards could prove to be a particularly tough one-two punch in a short playoff series.
Kane County Cougars : 17-30
Kane County remains the doormat of the league, but they are only a game and a half away from being out of last place. In the meantime, this is still a great team for prospect watching. If an infield that includes Dan Vogelbach, Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, and Jeimer Candelario is not enough to get you excited, then addition of lefty Rob Zastryzny to the pitching staff might do the trick. The Cubs would love to see Zastryzny handle the Midwest League with ease and force the team to start him in Daytona next season.
Boise Hawks : 9-7
The second place Hawks are just one game behind Salem-Keizer for the second half lead. Unfortunately, so is the rest of their division. The Northwest League is very tight this year. The Hawks have the talent to carry off the title, but some of that talent is likely to be promoted away. Zastryzny is already gone, and first round pick Kris Bryant may not be too far behind.
Arizona AZL Cubs : 6-6
The AZL Cubs are back to .500 and are sitting in fourth place just two and a half back of the leading AZL Giants. That Giants team has been extremely good this season; two and a half games could be a tougher gap to close than the four game deficit facing Iowa.
Thanks to the advent of Twitter it has become much easier for anyone who is interested to keep up with more minor league information than ever before. The problem, though, is getting started. There are a lot of people on Twitter. Picking out those with good information from those without can been tough. This list is not all inclusive, not by any stretch, but it should be enough to get you started. All of these are people I follow personally, and I have found each of them be well worth reading. These accounts are listed unsolicited.
@BoiseHawksRadio – This is the account for the radio voice of the Boise Hawks. Not only does this feed provide you with the latest and best information on Hawks games, it also from time to time provides a nice behind the scenes look into the life of a minor league player. Want to know what a Short-Season A team does when their bus breaks down on the side of the road? This is the account for you.
@SmokiesOnRadio – The radio account for the Tennessee Smokies is also a very good source of information. The Smokies are currently one of the most prospect-heavy teams in the organization, and this account will tweet a lot of good in-game tidbits about those prospects. If you can’t listen to the games live, following this account is the next best thing.
@harrypav – Harry Pavlidis has appeared on the Bleacher Nation Podcast and remains one of the best minds on the internet when it comes to PitchFX data, the Cubs, and how those two things come together. He is also just a solid source for Cubs data in general.
@danmkirby – Dan Kirby knows his prospects, but more importantly he follows the amateur game as well. Getting good information on potential draft picks can be tough, particularly for players not in the early part of the first round, but following this account will put at least a slice of that information at your fingertips.
@dylan_heuer – You remember those awesome photographs of the Iowa Cubs that are linked from the Daily every now and then? If you follow this account you can see those pictures and more as soon as Dylan makes them available. On top of that, this guy is a great Cubs fan and an all-around good follow.
@keithlaw – Keith Law often gets a hard time from Cub fans, but he remains one of the best national writers on the prospect scene. If you are looking for good info on prospects in general, not just those with the Cubs, then this is a good place to start.
@jimcallisBA – Jim Callis is the Executive Editor of Baseball America, and he’s a Chicago guy. He is another excellent source on the national prospect scene and often offers a nice contrast to the take of Keith Law.
@benbadler – Also apart of Baseball America, Ben Badler is possibly the best mind on the internet regarding International Free Agents and prospects. As the Cubs become more active on the International scene, having an expert like this on your list can only be a good thing.
@BleacherNation – A former lawyer turned full-time blogger, this is not only the best Cubs account on Twitter, it also happens to be the best Cubs blog on the internet. Thanks to Brett and a phenomenal community you will never need to worry about missing Cubs information again. And if you are desperate to know when those addicting chocolate peppermint milk shakes go on sale at Chick-Fil-A, this account has you covered there as well. [Brett: *blush*]
@ltblaize – And last on this list is me. Not all the tidbits I pass on through Twitter make it into one of my articles here on Bleacher Nation, so even if you are a regular reader it probably won’t hurt to be a follower as well.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg. There are lot more names and accounts I could give you … and likely will in future articles … but this should be enough to get anyone started. Remember that interactivity is part of the utility of Twitter. If you toss a question at one of these people, including me or Brett, there is a chance you’ll get an answer (depending on how many others are tossing questions, whether or not the person in question is active on Twitter right then, and so forth).
If you have any favorite Cubs or prospect related Twitter follows of your own, feel free to share them with the rest of us in the comments. And if you run a Twitter account you think could have been listed, don’t be offended if I did not include you in this round. I intend to do lists like this with a few new accounts from time to time.[Brett: That awesomely appropriate picture there was, I believe, created by someone over at BCB. Unfortunately I’m not sure who, so, if you know, drop a comment so we can give some love. That’s the Twitter Fail Whale, if you didn’t know.]