It’s Monday morning, and here is your weekly look at the Cubs’ minor league system. This past week rosters were announced and games got underway in all four full season leagues. So how did the farm system do in the first weekend, and what can we expect in the week ahead?
Iowa Cubs (3-1) Pacific Coast League (AAA) North: 1st place (tie)
Robert Coello struggled in his first start in Iowa, but Thomas Diamond, J.R. Mathes and Austin Bibens-Dirkx have pitched well. Unfortunately, the Cubs pitching as a whole has given up eleven home runs already. Meanwhile, the offense is among the top two or three in the league in almost every key offensive category. Led by Lou Montanez (OF) with eight RBIs, there are good things to see at almost every slot in the Cubs lineup.
This week the Cubs head to Alabama for four games. On Friday the finally get their home opener against Memphis. Keep an eye on the home runs allowed by this staff in the upcoming week. If they keep giving up lots of long balls after leaving Round Rock, it could quickly become an area of concern.
Tennessee Smokies (3-1) Southern League (AA) North: 1st place
The Tennessee offense is off to a great start. They are the only team in the Southern League to be slugging more than .500. If that wasn’t enough, they are dead last in strike outs. Among the regulars, Rebel Ridling’s (1B) batting average of .308 is the second lowest on the team. That definitely qualifies as a good start. Meanwhile, Tennessee has struck out 36 (tied for second in the league) and only given up a single home run. Rafael Dolis, in particular was effective in his first start, and Alberto Cabrera struck out seven in his first outing.
This week the Smokies finish up their opening five game series with Chattanooga, and then head home to face Montgomery. Keep an eye on top prospects Josh Vitters (3B) and Brett Jackson (OF). Both are off to very good starts, and the longer they keep it up the faster we’ll see them in Wrigley.
Daytona Cubs (4-0) Florida State League (High A) North: 1st place (tie)
Led by Wellington Castillo, temporarily serving as a DH in Daytona until his finger heals enough that he can catch for Iowa again, the Cubs offense is off to a good start. They lead the league in home runs, slugging percentage, and steals, which is nice for a Cub system weak on speed. With an ERA of 2.75 and WHIP of 1.000, the biggest story might just be the pitching staff. Nick Struck leads the staff in the early going, with five Ks in five innings in his first start.
This week Daytona gets undefeated Clearwater at home, then travels to Lakeland. So far this season Michael Burgess is showing the power that led to the Cubs to acquire him, but also the strikeouts that have hindered his progression. Keep eye on both as he settles in. If he can make more consistent contact, this guy could be pretty good.
Peoria Chiefs (2-2) Midwest League (Low A) Western: 2nd place (tie)
With seven strikeouts in just three and two thirds innings, the best story for Peoria so far as been Hayden Simpson. Austin Kirk threw four innings of no hit ball in his first start. Offensively, Pierre LePage has put on a show with an OPS of 1.254 so far. In four games he has paired seven hits with four walks.
This week Peoria goes on the road to Burlington and Wisconsin. The story for Peoria will continue to be the pitching, especially Simpson. If he keeps dominating, he won’t be in Peoria for long. Keep an eye on Szczur and Silva in the outfield, as well as LePage at second. All three are off to good starts, and all three could be playing in Daytona by year’s end.
And be sure to check back on Wednesday for the Minor League Line of the Week.