It's been a long, wet series already for the Cubs at AutoZone Park in Memphis. Tuesday's game was rained out and rescheduled for a doubleheader on Friday. That's because yesterday was already a scheduled doubleheader with the two teams making up a rainout from April. That doubleheader didn't start until around 9 p.m. local time last night because of a four-hour rain delay. Then the second game got suspended after six innings because of the Pacific Coast League curfew and it had to be finished earlier today. (For those of you just tuning in to the minor leagues, doubleheader games in the minors are only seven innings each.)
Tonight's game is going to be televised on the CBS Sports Network, which is why we're doing this game preview today. Interest in the minor leagues has exploded over the past few years, and CBS Sports is trying to get on board with a minor league game of the week every Thursday night. Iowa and Memphis are two teams loaded with prospects, so this game was an obvious choice for them.
If you don't know where the CBS Sports Network is on your TV, you can go to their channel finder. On Comcast in Chicago, it's channel 232 for HD and channel 418 in regular definition. On DirecTV, it's channel 221. For Dish Network, you can find it on channel 158. Dick Gabriel and former Reds, Mets and Expos infielder Doug Flynn will handle the broadcasting duties.
If you don't get the CBS Sports Network and you want to follow along anyway, this link should take you to the Gameday coverage. You can also listen to the Iowa Cubs radio broadcast for this game (or any other Iowa Cubs game) for free at this link. Randy Wehofer and Deene Ehlis are the I-Cubs regular broadcast team.
Iowa is in first place in their division with a 27-23 record, percentage points ahead of Oklahoma City. Memphis is 26-27 and a game and a half back of first place Nashville in their division.
But you probably aren't interested in the Pacific Coast League pennant races. The minor leagues are all about prospects, and the Cubs and the Cardinals have two of the strongest farm systems in the game. For the Iowa Cubs, shortstop Javier Baez and second baseman Arismendy Alcantara are both Top-100 prospects coming into the season, according to Baseball America. You're probably already familiar with them, as well as third baseman Christian Villanueva and outfielder Matt Szczur, who both were listed in BA's Top 30 Cubs prospects.
For Memphis, their big prospect in this game is Oscar Taveras, a slugging outfielder who is likely to be a thorn in the side of Cubs side for many years to come. In fact, the entire Redbirds outfield could end up starting in St. Louis, as Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk are also top ten prospects in the Cardinals system. First baseman Xavier Scruggs and shortstop Greg Garcia made St. Louis' Top 30 list. Grichuk and Garcia played against the Cubs for the big-league Cardinals earlier this year.
Former Cubs infielder Scott Moore is on the Redbirds roster as well.
Tonight's starters are Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2, 2.35 ERA) for Iowa and Tim Cooney (4-4, 4.42 ERA) for Memphis. Here are photos and links to more info about these two starters:
Today's Starting Pitchers
There's a 40% chance of rain tonight, so keep your fingers crossed.
Discuss among yourselves. I'll set up an overflow thread if one becomes necessary.