A Trip Around the Minors

Posted by Lionel on April 17, 2009.

ATAtM's back...with the minor league season underway, it's time to once again see what's happening among the top prospects according to BA and BP.

Iowa

Jeff ND-The big question for Samardzija was whether he'd be starting or relieving in Iowa. Week one of the season hasn't provided any answers, because he started and relieved. He came in in relief on Opening Day, giving up 3 runs on 2 HR's in 2 innings pitched. His start 4 days later was more promising. 4 innings pitched, 2 hits and a walk, 4 K's, no runs allowed.

Kevin Hart-Hart is off to a bad start. He pitched two scoreless relief appearances before Wednesday, but yielded a hit in each and a walk in one. Things unraveled on Wednesday...5 earnies in 1/3 of an inning on 4 hits and 2 walks. A 4-2 Iowa lead became 7-4 in a "Hart"beat (sorry, it was too easy). If you are looking for silver lining, his one out was recent MLB demotee Blake DeWitt.

Bonus-When Micah Hoffpauir broke camp with the Cubs, he must've handed his Iowa magic bat to Jake Fox. Granted, it's only been 8 games, but Fox is currently hitting .516 with a 1.676 OPS, thanks in large part to his 4 HR's, but I should also mention he's tripled. Not only has he started the year on an 8 game hitting streak, he's started the year on an 8 game streak of scoring at least one run. He has at least one extra base hit in 6 of the 8 games he's played in.

Tennessee

Welington Castillo-Castillo is off to a slow start with the bat, hitting just .143 in 4 games. Right now, he's splitting time with Steve Clevenger, the 11th best prospect in the organization according to BA, so we'll have to see what the Cubs do to get both enough PT.

Jay Jackson-Jay Jackson struggled in his season debut, allowing nearly every batter would reached first base to score. In 4 innnings of work, he yielded 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 earned. The 7 hits result in a .438 BAA to start the season.

Bonus-After a solid '08 campaign landed him on TD's top 25 pitchers (at #24), Hung-Wen Chen has come out of the gates on fire. He is 2-0 in his two starts with a 2.31 ERA. He has struck out 9 in 11 and 2/3, but most impressively, he has walked only one batter.

Daytona

Tyler Colvin-When I got through the Iowa and Tennessee stats, I went back to milb.com to find out why I'd missed Tyler Colvin, because I figured he was definitely going to be in either AA or AAA to start the season. Instead, he's in Daytona. While that seems odd, it may be more a matter of letting him play everyday in warm weather rather than dealing with the unpredictable spring weather in Tennessee or Iowa. In any case, Colvin is off to a slow start. Usually a hot/not hitter, he's not right now, batting .182 in 7 games. He has managed to coax 7 walks, so his OBP is a solid .379, leading the team. I think once the weather warms up a little, he'll be playing for Ryne Sandberg in Tennessee.

Starlin Castro-Castro is a SS who just turned 19 and is already playing in Daytona. He is a potential 5 tool player (I know, we've all heard that before). He impressed enough this spring to leapfrog over Ryan Flaherty (see below) and start the season in Daytona. He's hitting .304 with 2 stolen bases in 3 attempts in his 7 games. It would seem to me that he'd be a little out of his league, going from rookie ball to advanced A ball, but we'll see. The Cubs SS logjam is probably the reason you see him at Daytona.

Bonus-Dan McDaniel started the third game of the year for the D-Cubs, and it was quite a performance. 6 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk. Drafted last year, McDaniel was making his first professional start after 22 relief appearances last year.

Peoria Chiefs

Josh Vitters-Vitters picked up where he left off last year. In 5 games, Vitters has 7 hits, giving him a BA of .368, with only one K in 19 AB's. So far, all 7 have been singles.

Ryan Flaherty-The second of the three SS's on the Cubs Top 10 list, Flaherty was a supplemental 1st rounder from last year. Flaherty is off to a great start, one upping his Chief teammate Vitters by hitting .391 with a .491 OBP and an OPS over 1.000.

Bonus-Aaron Shafer, the Cubs 2nd round pick from last year, is another pitcher off to a great '09 campaign. 2 starts, 12 innings pitched, 2 earned runs (a 1.50 ERA), 9 K's, 1 walk. On Wednesday night, he threw 7 innings and struck out 7. So much for bringing guys along slowly to start the season.

The Rest

Hak-Ju Lee (the third of the SS triumvirate) is still in Arizona. Andrew Cashner and Dae Eun Rhee have started the season on the D.L.

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