The Cubs’ minor league teams kicked off a new season last week just a few days behind the big league club. There are plenty of expectations surrounding the Cubs’ farm system this year. One is to show that this is in fact an improving system that is capable of producing Major League talent. Overall, the system is pitching strong and the hitting is improving. This is the first week report and the warning label should read, these are small sample sizes. IOWA CUBS (2-3) – 3rd place – PCL American North
Poor pitching in Iowa has doomed the team. Andy Cavazo (21.80 ERA) and Juan Mateo (27.00 ERA) are fighting for the worst ERA on the team with the “winner” is likely headed down to Tennessee. Sean Marshall received the call on Tuesday that means the team will lose a key starter and gain another reliever. Hopefully someone will step up and fill this void and succeed. The season is young but no one wants to play on a losing minor league team and Iowa needs to turn it around pitching wise.
Sean Gallagher is doing his best and had a good start to his season. I’m rather high on this kid but he has a proven track record and just a few innings at the big league level are not going to change my mind. If we unload a starter or injuries pile up, he will get the call. Neal Cotts wants that same opportunity to pitch in the bigs again and I am a little surprised he did not get recalled instead of Sean Marshall….who has been a starter for his career. I don’t know how he fits into the plans for this year but I expect him to contribute at some point.
Eric Patterson and Matt Murton continued where they left off last year and once again are pounding AAA pitching. I believe Murton will end up stuck in Iowa until something happens. Tough luck for him because he is a proven MLB hitter. It’s nice to see Patterson continue to hit. He gives us options at 2B and CF in the future. Hopefully Iowa can improve on this record and have another successful season.
TENNESSEE SMOKIES (3-2) – 3rd place – Southern League North
The Smokies are the opposite of the Iowa Cubs….they do not have an offense. This is especially evident in highly touted prospect Tyler Colvin. He is posting Soriano-like numbers so far, and that isn’t a compliment this season. As a team, the Smokies are hitting just .161/.247/.213 and that’s good for dead last in their league. At least their pitching is top 3 in ERA (1st) and WHIP (3rd), but this was expected going into the season.
No starter has an ERA over 2.53 and this trend should continue for the duration of the year, albeit not as strong but solid. Donald Veal has reared his Jekyll and Hyde routine again. He was great in his start minus the 4 walks. He needs to tighten up his release point and keep it instead of reverting back to his bad habits while on the mound. I don’t know how Carlos Zambrano has success with all of the walks he issues….he is the exception and Veal needs to cut down on those. Nothing to complain really about Jeff Samardzija’s outing other than his lack of strikeouts. I think it’s only a matter of time before those come but it’s better for him to develop solid secondary pitches than shoot for Ks. This staff is due for a good season, especially when Jose Ceda gets here, assuming he does.
DAYTONA CUBS (3-3) 3rd place – Florida State Leage East
This team’s weakness has been its bullpen. As their record suggests, the team is quite average but that’s a good thing. It’s a balanced team that will no doubt getter as they mature. Right off the gate, Jose Ceda’s numbers look bad but anyone who has followed him knows his weaknesses and those are his mechanics and control issues. If you take away the 6 ERs, his numbers don’t look bad but it’s those walks that come back and hurt him.
Adam Harben is finally 100% healthy and ready to show us why the Cubs spent so much on him, especially since Robert Hernandez was suspended….right after I named him my new breakout candidate. Nice to see Tony Thomas and James Adduci on an offensive tear to start the year. Thomas’ bat should carry him through the organization quickly.
PEORIA CHIEFS (3-4) – 4th place – MID Western
Pitching is carrying this team and they have a talented group of youngsters, Led by Ryan Acosta and Dae-Eun Rhee, the staff is set for a solid season. I was surprised to see Dae-Eun Rhee made a full season team but he has shown electric stuff so far and Acosta is not far behind. I was expecting Robert Hernandez to anchor this rotation but he was suspended for 50 games for using illegal substances….and I don’t know what the Cubs will do once he gets back. More than likely, he’ll be in extended spring training then Boise. Both of these guys have not reached their 20th birthday yet and their future looks bright.
Lets hope they don’t get rushed.