A Trip Around the Minors

IOWA CUBS
Kevin Hart: Hart was drilled in the face by a line drive in his Wednesday start for Iowa. Yeah, that's right. In the face. By a line drive. Other than the concussion he suffered as a result, Hart is doing fine. He was taken to and subsequently released from an Iowa hospital and was back in the clubhouse on Thursday. Hart is expected to miss some time recovering. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? In the 2.2 IPs before taking the shot to the noggin Hart had given up 4 hits and 1 run while walking 2 and striking out 1.

Felix Pie:
Is Pie finally starting to put things back together? Over the last 10 games, Pie is 12-36, hitting .333 with a HR and only 4 Ks. On the 16th, Pie drove in 4 runs all by hims self. The run as pushed is Iowa season average above the Mendoza line, finally, to .225. Nothing great, still, but the K numbers are down and he seems to be hitting the ball a bit better. Per this article in the Des Moines Register, Pie says he's feeling much more comfortable at the plate. I'm still rooting for this kid, let's hope he keeps it up.

Rich Hill: Hill hasn't had a go since 6/11 when he only lasted 4 innings, giving up 3 runs, and walking 6. Hill will look to bounce back tonight against the New Orleans Zephyrs. Wondering what the hell a Zephyr is like I was? Well, apparently they're named after some "famous" train called the Denver Zephyr. The name is a holdover from the club's days in Denver, CO. That's why you log in to Towel Drills every day, folks. Hard-hittin' stuff like that.

Eric Patterson: Tough luck prospect EPat has now played 2 games since being sent down for Matt Murton a couple days ago. Patterson went oh-fur in his first game, but bounced back Thursday with a 2 for 4 with a homer performance.

Sean Marshall: The Cubs current 6th starter Sean Marshall has made 2 starts since coming off the DL on June 9th. Marshall went 5 innings his first time out, giving up 2 runs, stiking out 3, and walking 1. On Thursday, Marshall lasted a full 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits, 1 run, and 1 BB, while K-ing 4. Pretty impressive work from Marshall, all MarshallFans would be proud. For his efforts it looks like Marshall will be getting at least one start with the Cubs in place of Carlos Zambrano on Tuesday.

Bonus: In case you missed it, check out this article about the crazy Iowa Cubs game on the 14th. Due to the flooding and subsquent warnings in Des Moines, no fans were admitted to the ballpark to watch the game. The game was played in front of only the teams, the staffs, and some scattered scouts and maembers of the media.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES
Tyler Colvin: Time for Tyler to get a late, and extended, Spring Break in Dirt-tona Beach. The hitting woes have continued for the young Cubs prospect. Over the last 10 days, Colvin is rocking out with his .175 BA out with no HRs and 5 Ks in 40 ABs. That leaves his season BA at .233 with 5 dongs and 61 Ks in 279 ABs. Colvin is only 22 (about the same age as Pie), but I really had to resist the urge not to type "suspect" instead of "prospect" just now.

Donnie Veal: First off, his name bugs me. Donnie Veal sounds like some sort of Jersey low-rent mobster. Donald Veal. Fine. Don Veal. Fine. But Donnie? Seriously? Anyway, Donald Tyrone Veal (yep, that's his real middle name) had a hell of a start last time out on the 17th. 7 IP. 2 Hs. 0 ERs. Well done. Throw in only 2 BBs to 6 Ks and Tyrone is on to something. On the season's 15 starts, Veal now has an ERA of 2.82 with 65 Ks in 79.2 innings. He has walked 42, but most young pitchers tend to do so. Once they start eliminating those, that's when the put it all together. Tyrone looks like he could be a good one.

Jeff Samardzija: Jeff ND had a pretty good week over 2, well, 1 and a half, starts. On 6/13 ND went 3 IPs before being interrupted by an hour long rain delay. He didn't come back out after the delay. Over the 3 innings, ND didn't allow any runs, gave up a single hit, walked 2 and struck out 1. In his 2nd start of the week, Samardzija built on his shortened success from the previous start. A full 7 IPs, 2 Ernies, 3 walks, 2 Ks. The run has dropped ND's ERA to 4.86.

Jose Ceda: Ceda has been moved from starting to relieving, possibly permanently. The Cubs see Ceda as a full-time reliever and, possibly, a closer down the road (but what full-time minor league reliever isn't looked at as the future Dennis Eckersly?) Ceda made 2 relief appearances with the Smokies since being bumped up from Daytona. Over a total of 3.1 IPs, Ceda allowed only 1 R while walking nobody and K-ing 6.

Wellington Castillo: Catching prospect Wellington Castillo is absolutely ripping things up in Tennessee. Over the past 10 games, homeboy is hitting .353 with 6 Ribs, a HR, and 3 doubles. This after Castillo was bumped up to the Smokies after playing his first 33 games with Daytona.

Bonus: The Smokies have a lot of "Oh yeah...that guy"'s on their squad. Not necessarily "prospects," but just guys I haven't thought about in a while. Let's see how a couple of them are doing this year: Sam Fuld, hitting a lowly .227 with a terrible .620 OPS in 119 ABs; Doug Deeds, the PTBNL from the Craig Monroe deal is raking-hitting .302 with an .864 OPS in 189 ABs and is tied for the team lead with 5 HRs.

DAYTONA CUBS
Tony Thomas: Thomas continues to roll-he's hitting .311 over the past 10 games and is working on an 11 game hitting streak. He has struck out 12 times in 45 ABs though. He really needs to cut down on that. Thomas now has 60 Ks over 248 ABs on the year.

Bonus: Italian Stallion (sorry) Alex Maestri struck out 10 in only 6 innings of work on the 18th. Even better? He didn't walk any. Maestri did give up 2 runs, but the the win helped the Daytona Cubs finish the first half of their season at an even .500 (which is apparently big news). Maestri was pitching in his first outing since the Florida State League All-Star Game last Saturday. Joining Alex at the All-Star Game from Daytona were OF Jim Adduci, C Wellington Castillo, IF Tony Thomas, and P Casey Lambert.

PEORIA CHIEFS
Josh Donaldson: The Chiefs just wrapped up the first half of their season and had a few days off. As a result, Donaldson only played 1 game since Lionel's last ATAtM, going 1-3. He's hitting .204 on the year with 5 HRs in 186 ABs.

Bonus: With the half-season break, not much going on here. So check out these sweet ass 1908 replica Cubs jersies that the Chiefs will be wearing on 6/20.

BOISE HAWKS
Josh Vitters: The "Boys of Boise" (Trademark-Jumbo-2008) got their season rolling this week. I hear that Lionel is going to whip up a nice little column for us all about the start of the Hawks season and the roster they were assigned, etc., but he's currently being very selfish by spending an entire week on his honeymoon instead of posting that. Vitters is off to a 2 for 7 start over his 2 games. Also of note, Vitters is the highest drafted player assigned to Boise in the 8 years they've been affiliated with the Cubs. The reason for this seems to be the tendinitis Vitters has been battling in his left hand while playing earlier in the year with Peoria.

Bonus: As covered in this week's Minor League Movers, Hawks SS Jake Opitz had one hell of a professional debut. Coming in as a pinch runner late in the Hawks' first game, Opitz had his first professional AB in the bottom of the 9th inning with the score tied. Opitz wasted no time ingraining himself in Boise Hawks lore as he belted a walk-off HR with his first pro AB. Not bad.

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