The Iowa Cubs had a better week and so did the Tennessee Smokies. The Daytona Cubs lost three in a row before beating the Palm Beach Cardinals in 10 innings on Thursday, 1-0. Sean Gallagher had a good week, despite losing on Thursday night to New Orleans, 5-1. Gallagher gave up 3 runs on 7 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The Smokies lost on Thursday as well but Tyler Colvin doubled and Ryan Harvey hit his second home run of the year in the loss.
Here is the latest from down on the farm….
This week there are updates on a couple rising prospects and maybe a falling one. As a whole, the system keeps improving, pitching wise. The hitting needs to step it up, but having a pitch rich system is better than a hitting one — and can put the Cubs in position to make trades. A mid-season deal can drastically improve a team (see the 2003 version of the Cubs) and give them the boost to make noise in the playoffs. Time will tell.
IOWA CUBS (6-6) – 2nd place – PCL American North
The Iowa Cubs have improved in the standings this past week by going 4-2. They’ve done this with a balance between hitting and pitching. The I-Cubs have had games rained out and already had to play a double-header. Two Iowa Cubs have already been called up to the big league club, Sean Marshall and Eric Patterson and it’s only the third week of April It was somewhat surprising to see Patterson get called up instead of Matt Murton but if they are going to play Mark DeRosa in left field the move makes some sense.
To this point in the season, Murton is a singles hitting machine but I believe he will get his slugging percentage in the 400s before long. Sean Gallagher has been throwing the ball well and has been keeping hitters off the base paths, evident by his .176 opponents batting average against. Most fans only remember him from his work out of the bullpen last year for the Cubs, but that has been his worst stint as a professional. Gallagher has bounced back this spring and is on track for a great AAA season.
Mark Holliman is an interesting prospect. He ranked number 27 on Baseball America’s list of top Cubsâ€™ prospects. He throws in the mid-80s and reminds me of Jamie Moyer, due to his craftiness on the mound, except he is right handed. Also, he has already thrown a no hitter in the minors. I doubt he will make an impact in the bigs but then again Moyer has been in the majors more than two decades.
TENNESSEE SMOKIES (8-6) – 3rd place – Southern League North
The Smokies have been relying on their pitching for wins. This is evident by them still being dead last in average, on-base percentage and slugging. The Smokies winning 5 of 8 games over the last week is a testament to their pitching strength.
The Shark has been keeping up his end of the bargain. Jeff Samardzija has been lights out this season. He had a great duel with the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw last week and came out on top. Seems like he is in line for a mid-season call up to Iowa.
Tyler Colvin has been improving so far but he still needs to work on his strike out to walk ratio in order to warrant a call up to AAA. His strike out to walk ratio has been dismal his whole career and that has always been his downside. Ryan Harvey has had an up and down career as a Cub but this season he has been improving and is showing signs of becoming a prospect again.
On the flip side, Donald Veal is still struggling to get a grasp on his command and has been getting hit pretty hard; opponents are hitting .283 against him. Veal needs a rebound year this season after struggling a year ago.
DAYTONA CUBS (6-7) – 4th place – Florida State League East
The Daytona Cubs are on a 3 game losing streak and are looking to turn things around soon. Adam Harben is showing why he is on the Cubs’ 40-man roster. Harben has looked good so far in his two outings this season. I think he will warrant a call to AA later on this season if he continues putting together good outings. Alessandro Maestri has been starting games but I think his future is in the bullpen. He features a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider that ranks high in the system but he needs to work on his off-speed stuff.
Tony Thomas is showing no signs of cooling down. Think of him as another version Eric Patterson with slightly better hitting skills and lesser defensive prowess at 2B. Welington Castillo made the update because he already has shown solid defensive skills but he is showing improvement with his offense. This bodes well for him and his future in the organization.
PEORIA CHIEFS (6-8) – 6th place – MID Western
Dae-Eun Rhee has been the talk of this team and rightfully so. He has been pitching great for a 19 year old but there should be no rush to send him up any higher than he is now. His strikeout to walk ratio is great for a pitcher his age — and so is everything else he does.
Ryan Acosta has been good too but not as good as Rhee. The opposition is still hitting for too high of an average against him but he will mature as the season goes along. This team needs to improve their offense if Ryne Sandberg wants to start winning games.