Minor League Notebook: May 11

Have no fear, Cubs fans, for an off day in the majors does not mean the same for the minors. There was still plenty of action Monday while the parent club traveled to the City of Angels. Featured inside: LHP Justin Jones makes 2004 debut; the red hot West Tenn Diamond Jaxx; former first round pick demoted.

The minor league teams went 4-0 on the day, and are now 67-58 on the year for a season-best nine games over .500.

AAA-Iowa Cubs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Break out the lumber; its time for a good old fashion slugfest. That was the story in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Monday night when the Cubs took on the Colorado Rockies minor league affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. The Cubs were down early, trailing 6-1 in the fifth when the Iowa offense decided it was time to kick it into high gear.

The Cubs would cut the deficit in the fifth, seventh and eighth before plating the tying and eventual winning runs in the ninth to take the victory, 10-8. RHP Jon Leicester had a rough outing, only going four innings and giving up six runs on eight hits and three walks.

LHPs Will Ohman and Nate Bland shut out the Sky Sox for three innings in relief before right-hander Giovanni Carrara came in to work the eighth and gave up a pair of runs. Thanks to a couple of Colorado errors in the ninth, though, Carrara and the Cubs escaped with the victory.

RHP Mike Wuertz worked the ninth, giving up one hit, while striking out all three batters he saw in the inning for his third save of the year.

Hot-hitting first baseman Jason Dubois continues to pound the ball, going 2-for-4 on the day with a pair of walks and RBIs. Dubois now has a seven-game hitting streak with 12 hits, three homeruns, eight RBIs and two doubles in that span.

Struggling infielder Brendan Harris began the night at short and scored a pair of runs to aid in the Cubs' offense attack, while outfielder Calvin Murray also had a trio of hits, extending his hitting streak to four games.

PROSPECT WATCH: Jason Dubois has been on fire as of late. After his 2-for-4 night Monday, Dubois improved his average to .321 on the year with 11 homeruns. He has raised his batting average 45 points during his current hitting streak. Dubois is second in the Pacific Coast League in homeruns and RBIs, trailing only Omaha's Calvin Pickering.

ON DECK: Iowa heads back home on Tuesday for a four-game series with the Fresno Grizzlies. LHP John Koronka is set to face Giants prospect Noah Lowry beginning at 7:05 CT. The Cubs are now 18-14 on the year, still one game ahead of the Albuquerque Isotopes for first place in the PCL's Central Division.

AA-West Tennessee

JACKSON, Tenn. - Following a sweep of the Montgomery Biscuits, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' AA affiliate, the Jaxx decided to keep the winning rolling against Tennessee Monday, defeating the Smokies, 2-1. Rain delayed the start of game one of the series, but eventually LHP Carmen Pignatiello took the mound and pitched a gem for West Tenn.

Pignatiello allowed only one run in seven innings to end the Jaxx shutout streak at 20.1 innings. After catcher Geovany Soto's second inning homerun to tie the game, the Jaxx took the lead for good in the fifth on a Dwaine Bacon RBI groundout.

Pignatiello would allow only two hits on the night. RHP Jermaine Van Buren worked the ninth, striking out two for his fifth save of the season. Van Buren still maintains a 0.00 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched this year, to go with a stellar 0.39 WHIP and 14 strikeouts. The Jaxx hitting wasn't much to write home about, as they only managed five hits on the night, one of which belonged to Pignatiello.

Shortstop Ronny Cedeno had a pair of hits on the day, and scored one of the Jaxx two runs. Cedeno is fifth on the Jaxx in batting average with a .296 mark in 81 at-bats.

PROSPECT WATCH: OF Aron Weston has been lighting up the scoreboard lately with his .305 average this season. Weston's 10 extra base hits out of 28 total on the year equal a .442 slugging percentage and a 34.4 XBH in 95 at-bnats. He also has nine RBIs despite only three walks on the year.

ON DECK: The Jaxx moved into a first place tie with the Birmingham Barons courtesy of their win Monday night. West Tenn will again face the Smokies in game two of the series on Tuesday night. RHP Ricky Nolasco will go for his first win of the season beginning at 6:35 CT at Pringles Park. The Jaxx are currently 16-14, tied for first and a half game ahead of third place Huntsville and Mobile in the tight Southern League standings.

Class-A Daytona Cubs

MELBOURNE, Fla. - There's nothing quite like the thrill of free baseball, and both the Cubs and Brevard County Manatees decided to provide a little on Monday night (sort of). With the score tied at 2-2 in the ninth, the game went into extra innings with the Cubs taking advantage of their first opportunity by scoring four runs in the 10th inning off Manatees pitcher Alex Moralez to down Brevard County, 6-3.

The four-run 10th started with Felix Pie's walk with a 3-2 count to put the go-ahead run on base. The Cubs then loaded the bases with one out before Adam Greenberg singled in a pair of runs to make it a 4-2 game.

Outfielders Keith Butler and J.J. Johnson then tacked on two more runs for the Cubs, while LHP Ryan O'Malley pitched the last of the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth to earn the victory for Daytona.

Errors would victimize the Cubs on the night, as all three Brevard County runs scored were unearned. Left-handed starter Andy Sisco went five innings, giving up a pair of unearned runs following a wild pickoff throw that opened the inning. Shortstop Buck Coats also had an error in the bottom of the 10th that caused the Manatees' third run of the night to score. It was Coats ninth of the year.

PROSPECT WATCH: So far this season, Brandon Sing might be considered Daytona's version of Jose Hernandez--hitting the heck out of the ball when he makes contact but only air when he doesn't. Sing has a .264 average on the year with eight homeruns to lead the Florida State League. His 16 extra base hits make for a .566 slugging percentage.

ON DECK: The Cubs will take on the Manatees again Tuesday night as RHP Rocky Cherry goes for his third win of the year. Game time is set for 6:06 CT. Daytona is now 15-17 on the year, 3.5 games behind the Palm Beach Cardinals.

Class-A Lansing Lugnuts

LANSING, Mich. - Welcome back. Justin Jones. The 19-year-old Jones, who spent much of 2003 with Lansing, began his season on Monday night after starting the year at extended spring training with a dead arm. The Lugnut hitters broke out the whooping sticks, scoring 14 runs on the morning in an early 9:30 AM start.

Jones, on a pitch count, went five innings, only allowing three hits and an unearned run on a passed ball while striking out three and walking one.

Offensively, every Lansing starter except center fielder and leadoff man Chris Walker recorded a hit Monday. DH Brian Dopirak, first baseman Kevin Collins, and catch Jake Fox each recorded multi-hit games for the Lugnuts. Dopirak was a perfect 4-for-4 with a pair of homeruns, six RBIs, and three runs scored.

Meanwhile, Collins also added a homerun and four RBIs. The Lugnuts totaled 14 hits on the day, and scored in every inning except for the first, second and eighth. RHP Randy Wells, who had been used previously as a starter, got his first save of the year by pitching the final four innings in relief.

PROSPECT WATCH: Brian Dopirak has been heating up like the weather in the Midwest lately. Dopirak and Kevin Collins have been going blast for blast to be one and two in the Midwest Leauge homerun race, with Dopirak currently leading with 10 and Collins at nine. Both sluggers are tied for the league lead in RBIs (25). The only problem is they both play first base primarly for the Lugnuts, so only one man could move up at a time. Collins is older and possibly the more likely choice, although the 20-year-old Dopirak will make the decision a close one.

ON DECK: After taking a sweet three of four from previously first place Peoria over the weekends, the Lugnuts now take to the road for eight straight games. First, they head south to Burlington, North Carolina to take on the Burlington Bees, as LHP Sean Marshall goes to the mound for Lansing. Game time is set for 7:00 CT on Tuesday. The Lugnuts are now 18-13 on the year, four games behind the South Bend Silver Hawks.

NOTES The Cubs sent infielder Luis Montanez down to the Arizona league in hopes that the former first round draft pick can redeem his career. IF Ryan Theriot will be taking over the second base duties in Daytona until further notice.

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