Minor League Report: A-level All Stars


As we sort through the aftermath of Zambrano’s St Louis rant, we could use some good news. And as has been the case all season, there is plenty of good news coming out of the minors.

The Cubs farm system did not have a great week, but Tennessee and Daytona continue to hold onto first place in their divisions while Iowa is poised to fight to their way into the top slot themselves. In even better news, the All-Stars for both the Florida State and Midwest leagues have been announced, and Cub prospects appear all over both lists.

Iowa Cubs (27-30) Pacific Coast League (AAA) North: 2nd place
Iowa is hanging in there, just four games out of first place. They played well on the road this past week, winning three in Nashville on the way to a 5-2 week. They stay at home against Omaha and Round Rock through June 12, after which they hit the road and head to Omaha. Don’t go to sleep on these guys. Omaha is the team they are chasing. The Iowa Cubs could be the third first place team in the Cubs system within ten days.

On an individual level, there is some good news as well. Casey Coleman is pitching very well and could go back to Chicago at any time. Fernando Perez is finally starting to heat up, and it comes as no surprise that his batting average goes up as his strikeouts plummet. He had been striking out in about a third of his at bats… a terrible ratio for an on-base /speed guy. In the past ten games, however, he has struck out just five times, and is hitting .279 in that stretch. I’d love to see him start drawing walks more consistently, but if he can just starting making consistent contact he could be a valuable addition to the Cubs bench.

Tennessee Smokies (36-21) Southern League (AA) North: 1st place
The Tennessee Smokies are at home against Jacksonville, fighting for first place. The two teams have split the first two of of the five game series. The Smokies are just .500 on the week and are clinging to a two game lead over Jacksonville.

The bad news for the team this week came when Robert Whitenack was scheduled for surgery. The good news came when Nicholas Struck came up from Daytona and pitched like Whitenack. There is no doubt that Struck earned this promotion, and like Whitenack he is taking advantage of the opportunity to move up the Cubs pitching charts. Junior Lake, called up to fill in for DJ LeMahieu, has not fared quite so well yet. Brett Jackson is back from his time on the disabled list and is off to a very slow start in his return. Jackson will not be coming to Chicago until they are sure is back to normal, and it does not look like that will be the case in the next few weeks.

Daytona Cubs (41-16) Florida State League (High A) North: 1st place
Daytona actually lost three in a row and four of five before Dae-Eun Rhee and their offense broke out of the slump with some strong performances on Sunday. The Cubs are at home against Brevard County and Lakeland for much of the week, and then welcome second place Clearwater to town for the weekend.

Five Daytona Cubs have been named to the Florida State League All-Star team, and all the names but one should be very familiar to regular readers. Congratulations to 1B Justin Bour, OF Evan Crawford, SS Junior Lake (now with Tennessee), RHP Aaron Kurcz, and RHP Frank Batista. I have talked about all of these players before, except Frank Batista, Daytona’s very impressive closer. I was surprised that more Daytona pitchers did not make the team, I can’t argue with five All-Stars.

Peoria Chiefs (30-27) Midwest League (Low A) Western: 3rd place
Peoria had a very rough week, winning just two games and slipping into third place in the division. The good news is that they are heading home for ten games, and they have been playing very well at Peoria. If you have not yet taken a trip down to Peoria to see this team, give it some serious thought while they are at home.

Six Chiefs are on the Midwest League All-Star team, including three in the starting line up. OF Matt Szczur, 3B Greg Rohan, and 2B Pierre LePage are the starters, while C Micah Gibbs and 1B Richard Jones will play off the bench. That’s right, nearly the entire Peoria infield made the All-Star team. Joining them will be LHP Austin Kirk. Congratulations to all the Chief’s All-Stars.