I'm pretty sure every player in the minors wasn't wearing #42 today. That actually made it hard to watch games today. The announcers aren't any help. As I write this, Jon Miller is telling me that "a right-handed #42 is warming up in the bullpen" and that's all he knows.
I've also made my reasons clear why I don't want to turn MLW into "Prospect Watch" several times and again today, but I promise you--there's a Josh Vitters update today!
The I-Cubs were atomized by the Albuquerque Isotopes, 7-4.
The first seven innings of tonight's game was actually a pitcher's duel, but then Isotopes Park reasserted itself in the eighth inning. But the good news is that Jose Ascanio had his second straight strong, albeit short, start. Ascanio threw four shutout innings, allowing only three hits and a walk. He struck out four.
Jesse Estrada struggled a bit in relief, as he got touched for two runs on three hits and a walk. But not nearly as bad as Kevin Hart, who entered the game in the eighth inning and had trouble getting anyone out. By the time the carnage was over and he got taken out, Hart had allowed five runs on four hits and two walks over a third of an inning. One of the hits was a solo home run that started the damage. In Hart's defense, it was Albuquerque. But that's still pretty bad even for Albuquerque.
The Jake Fox express train continued tonight. The first baseman was 2 for 4 with his fourth home run of the season, a two-run homer in the top of the eighth. If the season ended today, one, it would be an awfully short season, but two, Fox would win the PCL triple crown. It's really impossible to tell anything from seven games, especially with three of them in Albuquerque, but I will admit Fox is off to a hot start.
Third baseman Luis Rivas also homered in the eighth inning. In addition, Rivas was 2 for 3 on the evening with a double and the one RBI. He also walked once.
The Smokies got vassalized by the Birmingham Barons, 6-2.
Starter James Russell continues to struggle in AA. Russell lasted only four innings tonight. He gave up five runs on six hits, including one home run. He walked two and struck out only one. Normally I wouldn't be worried about two starts at the beginning of the season, but Russell had 17 starts in the Southern League last year and was pretty bad then too.
Alex Maestri threw 2.2 shutout innings of relief, which is marred only by the fact that he walked three and struck out only one. He also allowed one hit. Brian Schlitter tossed the ninth inning and didn't give up a run. He gave up one hit, struck out one and walked nobody.
DH Richie Robnett was 1 for 4 with a triple. He scored one run and had the only Smokie RBI.
The D-Cubs were grounded by the Dunedin Blue Jays, 3-1.
Marcos Mateo had another very strong but short start. Mateo three three shutout innings, allowed one hit and one walk. He struck out five. It's clear at this point that the Cubs are limiting Mateo's pitches at the start of the season.
Henry Williamson pitched 2.1 innings without allowing a run either. He gave up two hits and a walk while fanning one.
Jake Muyco took the loss in relief. He allowed two runs on two hits over an inning and a third. One of the runs was unearned. Muyco struck out two and walked one.
The D-Cubs only managed three hits this evening. DH Tyler Colvin was 0 for 2 with two walks, a stolen base and the only Cub run scored.
The Chiefs were the only team in the system to win tonight, slaying the Dayton Dragons, 3-2.
A very impressive seven-innings start tonight for Aaron Shafer. He allowed only one run on a solo home run. He gave up six hits total, walked only one and struck out seven. Chris Huseby got back on track tonight with a scoreless inning of relief. He allowed one hit, but struck out two and walked no one.
Erik Hamren got his second save of the year with a perfect ninth inning.
Second baseman David Macias was 2 for 3 with two doubles and a run scored. First baseman (and fan favorite around here) Rebel Ridling was also 2 for 3 with two doubles. Ridling added to that with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI.
Now for what you've all been waiting for: The Josh Vitters update! Vitters had his best game of the year with a 3 for 4 night with one RBI.