Moving Day Comes Early

Maybe the Cubs didn't envision top prospect Starlin Castro getting off to such a blistering start at Double-A Tennessee and leading the organization in hitting. Or maybe they didn't anticipate being swept by the hapless Pirates. Whatever the case, "Moving Day," as it's often called throughout the system, came early this season when Chicago promoted three of its top five prospects Friday.

The Cubs promoted its top pitching prospect, right-hander Andrew Cashner, to Triple-A and its top third base prospect, Josh Vitters, to Double-A.

Those moves are reason enough to make for an exciting day in the Cubs' system, but the biggest move of all was the club's decision to bring up top prospect Castro from Double-A to Chicago. Castro batted .376 in 26 games at Tennessee.

There were some who felt the Cubs would not bring up Castro until later in the season, possibly not until September. But Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Bush said that the club had no specific timetable in mind for bringing up Castro.

"He still has a lot to learn about how to play the game," Bush said. "We'll just let his growth and his maturity as a player tell us when its time to move him along."

It didn't take the Cubs long to decide the time to move was now. The 20-year-old Castro, who signed at age 16 in the Dominican Republic, was informed he was being called up for his major league debut around 7 a.m. Friday morning, he said.

And what a debut it was.

Castro hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat and later added a three-run triple. He drove in six runs -- a new modern-day major league record for a player making his debut -- in the Cubs' 14-7 victory over Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.

The Cubs said their decision to bring Castro up had nothing to do with hoping to provide a spark for the team, but forgive one for having a hard time believing that after the club managed just five runs in a three-game sweep at Pittsburgh.

Even should Castro struggle, it's hard to imagine him not being an upgrade over Chad Tracy, who was optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move. If nothing else, Castro certainly brings a level of excitement to the club that has been missing.

"We're excited to have him and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure he's comfortable, to make sure his transition is a smooth and easy one for him – the same way guys did for me," Ryan Theriot, who will move to second base to accommodate Castro at short, told reporters on Friday.

Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry said there was no pressure on Castro.

"Hopefully (Castro) gets off to a good start," he said. "We're certainly not going to put a lot of pressure on him to do that. We just want him to come up and play defense and let the offense take care of itself."


Andrew Cashner's big league debut is not really a matter of if but when at this point. The hard-throwing right-hander -- the Cubs' first-round pick in 2008 -- was promoted to Iowa after going 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA in six starts at Tennessee.

"Usually what happens with a very talented guy like him, a lot of times the need of the major league club will dictate what your role in the big leagues is initially," Bush said.

"He has some experience in college as a closer, so he's not unfamiliar if he had to go up in some type of a bullpen role. But whatever the needs of the big league club are and who's performing well will dictate what role that is."

Cashner had 42 strikeouts in 36 innings at Tennessee. In his last start Thursday against Mobile, Cashner struck out eight over 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

"He is throwing the ball great," Bush said. "Since his first start, he's been lights out. He's thrown a lot of quality strikes and his walks are down. He's doing a great job for us."


The Cubs promoted their top third base prospect and the expected heir apparent to Aramis Ramirez to Double-A Friday. The first-round pick in the 2007 draft batted .291 with three home runs and eight doubles in 28 games for High A Daytona and hit safely in eight straight games prior to the promotion.

He was 1-for-2 with a single in his Double-A debut Friday.

"Daytona is known as a pitcher's league and Josh (hit well)," Bush said. "He's starting to drive the ball and is doing a real solid job. He's right on schedule progressing through the system and learning what it takes to be successful. We're pleased with his progress."

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