Opening day for Minor League baseball was Thursday. Each week, it’s my goal to try to comment on some of the things that caught my eye on the farm that week. It may be highlighting things I read about a prospect or talking about how they’ve done so far this year. The one thing that’s sure is that it will run on Sunday. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Hayden Simpson made the opening day start for Peoria on Thursday. He was on a low pitch count, which is the norm early in the year, but managed to go 3.2 IP while striking out seven. Simpson was picked in the first round by the Cubs out of Southern Arkansas, a Division II school. A lot of people thought it was a silly pick, but if he can develop into the type of pitcher that the Cubs see him as, Tim Wilken will look like a genius. He missed any chance of playing out of college last year because of a rough bout with mono.

Staying on the topic of high draft picks, the Cubs released Chris Huseby and Aaron Shafer. Huseby wasn’t necessarily a high pick, selected in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, but he did net a $1.3 million signing bonus in the same draft that could go down as one of the worst drafts in Jim Hendry’s tenure. They appear to have hit with Tyler Colvin in the 1st round, but beyond that there is not a single names that appears to have any chance at making a meaningful contribution to the big league team. This was the draft that the Cubs also game Jeff Samardzija a Major League deal that included major money to skip football.

Shafer was selected in the 2nd round in 2008. When you look at the combined stats between High-A and AA for Shafer, you’d wonder what Hendry was thinking. Then you take a look at the fact that Shafer is 24 and the numbers were drastically different based on each league. Look at the difference and you’ll see why the Cubs were OK with dropping Shafer.

Tm            Lev W L  ERA SV   IP  H HR SO  WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2 Teams     A+-AA 4 3 2.68  7 80.2 63  4 77 1.029 7.0  0.4  2.2  8.6  3.85
Daytona        A+ 2 1 0.96  5 46.2 29  1 47 0.836 5.6  0.2  1.9  9.1  4.70
Tennessee      AA 2 2 5.03  2 34.0 34  3 30 1.294 9.0  0.8  2.6  7.9  3.00

All the numbers for Shafer were drastically higher once he pitched in AA. He padded the stats with those High-A numbers.

Ryan Flaherty, one of my favorite prospects in the system, has surprised me a little this year. Coming into this season, he played exclusively in the infield. This year he’s played in all four games, but has split time in a few different places. He’s seen two games at 2B, one at SS, and one in LF. It will be interesting to see if the OF position will be something that becomes a trend for him. Personally, I’d like to see him continue to get the bulk of his time in the middle infield to eventually make this team and replace Blake DeWitt.

Staying in the infield, Bobby Scales is off to a hot start with Iowa. He’s getting to the point now where age is not on his side, but perhaps if Dewitt continues to suck, Scales gets a shot at showing something for the big club. His biggest obsticle is the fact that he doesn’t play SS. If he did, I think he would have made this team out of spring training. So far for Iowa he’s hitting .462 / .563 / .846 in three games with five of his six hits being doubles.

Baseball America recently posted a handy guide to where each of the top 30 prospects in each organization were starting the year. Here is the summary for the Cubs. Keep in mind that we traded quite a few of our top 30 in the Garza trade.

CHC 23 Reggie Golden AZL Cubs Arizona 10/10/91
CHC 12 Darwin Barney Chicago Cubs National 11/08/85
CHC 18 Marcos Mateo Chicago Cubs National 04/18/84
CHC 17 Welington Castillo Daytona Cubs Florida State 04/24/87
CHC 19 Michael Burgess Daytona Cubs Florida State 10/20/88
CHC 21 Logan Watkins Daytona Cubs Florida State 08/29/89
CHC 25 Aaron Kurcz Daytona Cubs Florida State 08/08/90
CHC 27 Junior Lake Daytona Cubs Florida State 03/27/90
CHC 28 Jae-Hoon Ha Daytona Cubs Florida State 10/29/90
CHC 30 Dae-Eun Rhee Daytona Cubs Florida State 03/23/89
CHC 6 Chris Carpenter Iowa Cubs Pacific Coast 12/26/85
CHC 14 Scott Maine Iowa Cubs Pacific Coast 02/02/85
CHC 29 Esmailin Caridad Iowa Cubs Pacific Coast 10/28/83
CHC 7 Matt Szczur Peoria Chiefs Midwest 07/20/89
CHC 8 Hayden Simpson Peoria Chiefs Midwest 05/20/89
CHC 19 Robinson Lopez Peoria Chiefs Midwest 03/02/91
CHC 2 Brett Jackson Tennessee Smokies Southern 08/02/88
CHC 3 Trey McNutt Tennessee Smokies Southern 08/02/89
CHC 5 Josh Vitters Tennessee Smokies Southern 08/27/89
CHC 9 Rafael Dolis Tennessee Smokies Southern 01/10/88
CHC 13 D.J. Lemahieu Tennessee Smokies Southern 07/13/88
CHC 22 Ryan Flaherty Tennessee Smokies Southern 07/27/86
CHC 26 Brooks Raley Tennessee Smokies Southern 06/29/88

Finally, with the two injuries to the Cubs rotation, the Iowa Cubs have signed Ramon Ortiz to pitch out of the rotation. Ortiz is 37 years old and has never been good…ever.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail