If the first few games are any indication of what the season holds, follow Iowa for runs scored and all four affiliates for pitching prospects The best battle will be in Iowa for the #6 spot in Wrigley. Eddie Butler, Alec Mills, Aaron Brooks, Rob Zastryzny and Jake Buchanan are all on 40-man roster and depending on their performance, may be the one called to Wrigley when another starter is needed. This may not happen until May but there’s plenty on the line with each start in Iowa.
With Eloy Jimenez still in Mesa, a majority of the hitting prospects are in Iowa— Ian Happ, Jeimer Candelario, Mark Zagunis, Victor Caratini, and Chesny Young. Look for Iowa to rack up runs and wins in the PCL.
Trevor Clifton (Tennessee), Oscar De La Cruz (Myrtle Beach) and Dylan Cease (South Bend) are three of the top arms to keep an eye on at the lower levels but don’t forget about Preston Morrison (Tennessee), Duane Underwood (Tennessee), Zach Hedges (Tennessee), Thomas Hatch (Myrtle Beach), Erling Moreno (South Bend) and Manuel Rondon (South Bend)
Pacific Coast League—AAA—Oklahoma City (Dodgers) 12, Iowa 1
Ian Happ homered for the third straight day but Oklahoma City (1-3) handed Iowa (3-1) their first loss.
Hitting Recap: 2B Ian Happ continues to light up Oklahoma City pitching as the Cubs first-round pick in 2015 homered for the third straight day, a long drive to center, and his third from the left side. Iowa was held to three hits as John Andreoli doubled and Osvaldo Martinez added a single.
Pitching Chart: Jake Buchanan got tagged for 11 runs in 5.2 innings, allowing eight runs. The right-hander surrendered three homers and walked two in the 82-pitch outing. Dylan Floro faced 13 hitters in his 1.2 innings—seven of them got hits and four scored. David Rollins allowed two inherited runners to score in the eighth before getting the final two outs.
I-Cubs Notes: Ryan Williams makes his first start at Iowa since an injury ended his season last May. Game starts on Monday morning.
Southern League—AA—Pensacola (Reds) 4, Tennessee 3
Pensacola (2-2) scored twice in the eight and added two more in the ninth for the walk-off win against Tennessee (2-2).
Hitting Recap: Smokies took a 2-0 lead in the first when Charcer Burks homered to leadoff the game and Jason Vosler walked and eventually scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Trey Martin walked, stole second, went to third on a ground out and scored on a ground out by pitcher Preston Morrison to make 3-0 in the second. David Bote went 4-for-5 to raise his average to .471 and Jeffrey Baez was 2-for-4 with a double.
Pitching Chart: Preston Morrison only allowed pair of walks and a single through the first four innings and only needed 57 pitches, recording six ground ball outs. The Wahoos drew a walk and a single to start the fifth and another walk loaded the bases. Morrison coaxed a 5-4-3 double play grounder and runner interference was called, sending the runners back to second and third. Morrison fanned the next hitter to end the jam unscathed. The right-hander threw 75 pitches, 40 for strikes, and had a game score of 61 over five innings. Brad Markey worked around a walk and a single in a scoreless sixth and followed that up with another shutout frame. Daniel Corcino only got two outs in the eighth as a hit batter, a double and a single scored two runs. After a walk, Ryan McNeil entered the game and got a pop out to end the threat. In the ninth, McNeil surrendered a walk and a single to open the frame. After a strikeout, McNeil got a grounder to first but Yasiel Balaguert threw the ball into left field, allowing a run to score and runner to advance to third. The next hitter single to end the game.
Smokies News: Duane Underwood gets his first start of the year in the series finale at Pensacola.
Carolina League—High A—Myrtle Beach 4, Lynchburg (Indians) 3
Hitting Recap: Matt Rose slugged a solo homer in the second and added a two-run double in the fifth to lead the offense. The Cubs 11th round pick in 2015 finished 3-for-4 and was a triple shy of the cycle. Daniel Spingola and Tyler Alamo had two hits each while Carlos Sepulveda went 1-for-5 with a RBI.
Pitching Chart: Oscar De La Cruz worked his way through five scoreless innings in his Carolina League debut, sporting a fastball in the mid-90s. The right-hander allowed five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in the 86-pitch outing. Game score 61……LH Tommy Thorpe fired two perfect innings but ran into trouble in the eighth with two singles and a walk to load the bases. Scott Effross gave up a RBI single to the first hitter he faced but got the next two hitters to get out of the jam. The right-hander surrendered two runs in the ninth on a walk and two hits but got the final hitter to line out to center to preserve the win, his second save
Pelicans News: Casey Bloomquist is scheduled to start as the Pelicans head to Buies Creek to face the Astros.
Midwest League—Low A—South Bend 7, West Michigan (Tigers) 1
South Bend (1-3) broke their scoreless drought and notched their first win of the season over West Michigan (3-1).
Hitting Recap: After not scoring for the first 32 innings of the season, South Bend wasted no time in the first scoring twice when the second baseman misplayed a grounder off the bat of Alberto Mineo, allowing Zack Short and Isaac Paredes to score. Short finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk and four runs scored while Paredes was 3-4 with two doubles, a RBI and three runs. Mineo went 2-for-4 and finished with five RBI. The top three hitters in the order scored all seven runs and had eight of the 11 hits.
Pitching Chart: Manuel Rondon fanned seven over 5.2 innings and earned the win in his MWL debut. The left-hander held the Whitecaps to three hits and two walks in the efficient 79-pitch outing. He threw a wild pitch and finished with a game score of 68. Michael Knighton made his season debut and allowed an inherited runner to score in the sixth and worked a scoreless seventh. Wyatt Short tossed the final two frames, fanning two while allowing a hit and a walk.
SB-Cubs News: Erling Moreno makes his MWL debut on Monday night as the Cubs travel to Fort Wayne to face the Padres Low-A affiliate.
Prospect killed in motorcycle wreck
Cubs prospect @Vincente King was killed in a motorcycle wreck recently in the Dominican Republic, according to reports. King, who was set to make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in June, was part of the Cubs 2016 IFA class and received a $50,000 signing bonus. King was scouted and signed by Jose Serra last September.
Back in Mesa
Not all the prospects broke spring training with one of the four full-season affiliates. Eloy Jimenez is expected to miss a few weeks and then report to Myrtle Beach as he recovers from a right-shoulder bone bruise. A third-round pick in 2015, left-hander Bryan Hudson didn't earn a promotion to South Bend and may be back in Eugene for a second season. Jake Stinnett (2nd round-2014) is still in Mesa as well as hard-throng reliever Juan Paniagua. Other prospects who played at full-season affiliates still in Mesa include pitchers Andury Acevedo, Jose Paulino, Mark Malave and Erick Leal as well as shortstop Andruw Monasterio.
C Gioskar Amaya had knee surgery during the off-season and is rehabbing. Corey Black will miss the 2017 season after having Tommy John surgery and LHP Carson Sands had bone chips removed from his elbow and is expected to miss the first two months of the season. Right-hander Jose Albertos, signed out of Mexico in 2015 and inured last year during his debut in the Arizona Rookie League, continues to rehab.