King of the Hill

Say hello to 24-year-old left-hander Richard Hill. Hill, a fourth round pick from the University of Michigan in 2002, trails only fellow southpaw Renyel Pinto at AA-West Tenn for the most strikeouts in the Cubs' farm system this year. And, as one insider with the Cubs' Class-A affiliate puts it, this particular Hill most certainly <I>is</I> right, I tell you what.

AAA-Iowa Cubs

DES MOINES, Iowa – Jason Dubois hit a pair of two-run homeruns but it was not enough to help the Iowa Cubs overcome a shaky start from right-hander Todd Wellemeyer in his third rehab start Monday. Wellemeyer (0-1) gave up four runs in two innings as the Albuquerque Isotopes defeated the Cubs, 7-5. He left after allowing the first three men in the Albuquerque third to reach base, including Joe Dillon's RBI double to left center. Drew Niles added a 3-run homer off right-hander Hansel Izquierdo after Wellemeyer had departed, giving the Isotopes an early 4-0 lead.

Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez started and went 0-for-2 in a rehab stint. Gonzalez made only two plate appearances and struck out in both. He struck out looking in the first against Isotopes starter Michael Tejera (7-1), and again swinging in the third.

Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster also joined the Cubs on Monday to begin rehab starts. Wood will start game three of Iowa's four-game series with Albuquerque on Tuesday night at 7:05 CT.

Wood says he will remain cautious of returning to the big league club in time for Sunday night's first half finale with St. Louis.

"I think it's a possibility," Wood said of making the start against the Cardinals. "But I don't have a definite answer. If I go out in Iowa and throw 40 pitches in the first inning and don't get out of the second inning, I'll have to do another one (rehab game)."

Dubois' homers were his 17th and 18th of the year, respectively. He has reached base in five consecutive games, but was just 1 for his last 16 before play began Sunday night. He has since gone five for his last six with five RBI since the Cubs returned home from a seven-day road stand.

AA-West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx

KODAK, Tenn. – Rain postponed play between the Diamond Jaxx and Tennessee Smokies Monday. The Jaxx will play their second doubleheader in a week Tuesday beginning at 5:15 CT.

On the injury wire, first baseman Micah Hoffpauir is out with a torn wrist ligament. Top prospect Angel Guzman strained his shoulder on Friday night, tossing four innings in a sweep of the Montgomery Biscuits. He is not on the DL but could miss his next start.

Class-A Daytona Cubs

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Rich Hill struck out six and escaped control problems often and on as the Daytona Cubs topped the Clearwater Thrashers Monday, 5-2. Hill (7-4) walked six, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and balked but still managed to carry a no-hit bid into the sixth inning en route to his team best seventh win this season. He allowed a single to Ryan Barthelemy after walking outfielder Mike Floyd to open the sixth.

In a recent interview with Bo Fulginiti, the Daytona Cubs broadcaster had this say of Hill: "His knack for a strikeout is very tough to find. He has that Barry Zito curve that nobody in this league has been able to figure out."

"He's a good player and he's an even better human being," added the voice of the Cubs.

Buck Coats hit his fifth homerun and Felix Pie hit a run-scoring double to highlight the Cubs' offense. Right-hander Andrew Shipman made his Daytona debut and gave up a homerun to center fielder Miguel Quintana before striking out the side.

J.J. Johnson started in right field for the Cubs and went 1-for-4. Johnson has hit safely in 17 of his last 20 games.

Class Mid-A Lansing Lugnuts

LANSING, Mich. – Justin Jones tossed five scoreless innings and the Lansing Lugnuts rallied for three runs in their final three innings to top the West Michigan Whitecaps Monday, 3-2. Alberto Garcia homered and Brian Dopirak ripped an RBI double in the seventh to give the Lugnuts a 2-0 lead. The Whitecaps tied it in the eighth on a Kurt Piantek two-run homer off right-hander Juan Mateo (1-1) before Dopirak stepped up again and delivered the game-winning run on an RBI sac fly in the bottom of the inning. Carlos Rojas and Robinson Chirinos singled before back-to-back wild pitches by Kenon Ronz (1-4) allowed Dopirak to drive in his league best 65th RBI of the year.

Dopirak has hit safely in 34 of 35 games.

Class Low-A Boise Hawks

BOISE, Id. – Ryan Harvey homered and drove in two runs but the Boise Hawks lost their third straight Tuesday, 6-5 to the Tri City Dust Devils. Trailing 6-3 heading into the ninth, the Hawks rallied for two runs off Devils closer Jim Miller before Jasha Balcom grounded out with the bases loaded to give Tri City their 10th win in 18 tries. The Hawks fell to 8-10 on the year.

Yorkin Ferreras started and pitched five innings for the Hawks, giving up three earned runs on seven hits. Ferreras (0-2) struck out five and walked only one.

Two Cub picks in the 2004 draft tossed an inning in relief. 6'9" right-hander Jonathan Hunton out of Lamar University, also home to Cubs prospect Thomas Atlee, struck out and walked two while 6'7" left-hander Christopher Shaver out of William & Mary, also home to Brendan Harris, struck out one in an inning of work. It was the second inning pitched for both men this year.

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