After slow starts in the first week for all but the Cougars (who remained red hot) most of the system has started to pick it up and win some games. Just don’t look at Daytona. The biggest headline of the week was the Javier Baez sprained ankle, which sent a collective chill through the fan base. Other notes include Albert Almora‘s first High A home run and Kris Bryant‘s third AA home run. This week has been marked by splendid pitching, however. Starting with Tsuyoshi Wada on Saturday night with his ten strike out performance and capped off by the minor flirtation with a perfect game from Daury Torres on Thursday night for Kane County, the most maligned portion of the Cubs’ system has been performing admirably through the first two weeks.
Kane County Cougars
Record This Week: 6-0; Record This season: 11-3
The Cougars have been absolutely on fire in the early going this season, highlighted by a 6-0 mark this week. Tonight’s game saw Daury Torres not allow a base-runner until the sixth inning, and give up a run on two hits in a 13-1 Kane County win at Dayton (CIN). He hasn’t been alone in excellent pitching performances, either. Paul Blackburn worked an impressive six inning, one hit game at Bowling Green (TB) in one game of a doubleheader and Jen-Ho Tseng worked 5.1 scoreless in the other half on April 15th. Gerardo Concepcion threw 4.1 innings of scoreless relief this week, and hasn’t allowed a run since a rough season debut on April 5th. The Cougars are loaded with pitching prospects. At least in the early going, they are showing off their talents and propelling Kane County to an early two game lead over Wisconsin (MIL) in the MWL West.
Record This Week: 1-5, Record This Season: 2-12
Things are rough down in Daytona. Another one win week has the D-Cubs sitting at two wins on the season. Albert Almora had a tough week, with a two hit game on April 12 that included his first home run of the year and then was shut out until a 1-5 game on Thursday. As you would expect from a 2-12 team, there are not many bright spots in the early going. One such exception is Arodys Vizcaino, who struck out the side in an outing on Thursday night, and has only allowed one run thus far. The best news is that there have been no reports of arm trouble for him, meaning whenever spring decides to show up, Vizcaino should make the trip north to Iowa. RHP Felix Pena deserves a special note here after making his third start of working at least six innings, allowing exactly one run in each, and taking a loss in all three starts. On the year, Pena is 0-3 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 20 innings. Talk about tough luck…
Record This Week: 4-2; Record This Season: 7-7
The Smokies recovered from a slow start in the first week to bring their record back to .500 on the early season. Prized pitching prospect C.J. Edwards took the hill on April 14th, allowing three earned in five innings of work, including the ultra rare (for him) home run allowed. Overall, he has a 2.45 ERA in 14.2 innings, so he is off to a nice start in spite of a shaky outing this week. Jake Arrieta made his third rehab start, throwing 82 pitches. There has not been any indication that he has suffered any setbacks, so he may make one more rehab start before returning to the Cubs. Kris Bryant brought his batting average up on the back of a five game hitting streak, and he now stands at .270/.438/.595, going with 3 HRs and 5 RBI. Armando Rivero picked up his third save on Thursday night, working a scoreless inning, and has only allowed two runs in 7.1 innings for the year.
Record This Week: 4-1; Record This Season: 8-6
In the absence of Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara has taken over at SS, and he has not disappointed with his performance. The highlight of the week came with a 3-5, 2 RBI day against New Orleans on Wednesday, where he came up a home run short of hitting for the cycle. Brian Schlitter returned to the I-Cubs on Saturday, when he finished off Memphis and he picked up his first AAA save on against New Orleans on Wednesday. Tsuyoshi Wada has been outstanding in two starts so far. Saturday night at Memphis was a brilliant performance, throwing 6.2 shut out innings, allowing only four hits, striking out ten, and walking none. Alberto Cabrera gave up four hits and a walk in 4.1 this week in relief. Overall, he’s allowed one run in 7.2 relief innings after clearing outright waivers and being sent down. The I-Cubs capped off the week by winning a game 5-4 against New Orleans (MIA) where they had more errors (6) than New Orleans had hits (5).
* Major League Affiliations in parenthesis after opposing MiLB teams*