Trey McNutt, perhaps the top pitching prospect in the system and the reason the Cubs felt comfortable trading Chris Archer in the Matt Garza deal, left his first start on April 10th after just 2.2 no hit innings of work due to a blister issue. Blisters scare the crap out of me partly because they’re flat out gross, but mainly because they always seem to be an issue that will rear it’s ugly head over and over. Hopefully this is an isolated issue for McNutt because we’re counting on him to be ready to make an impact on the big team sooner rather than later. We’ll have to see if he makes his next scheduled start and go from there.


Pictured Above: Trey McNutt

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America had an article the other day that pointed out the youngest players at each level of baseball. Not surprisingly, Starlin Castro made the list for the National League and is the overall youngest in the Majors. Also on the list was Josh Vitters, who ranked as the 10th youngest player in the AA Southern League. We toss a lot of pressure and criticism Vitters way, but the fact remains that while he hasn’t shown as much promise we had hoped when we picked him in the first round early, he has time on his side still. So far his AA numbers are encouraging:

PA   R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
28   5 9  4  0  1   6  3  2 .360 .429 .640 1.069

Those numbers have turned heads a little so far. Jim Callis answered a question about the hot start in his April 13th chat:

Ead (Chicago): Encouraged by Josh Vitters so far? Or is it too soon to tell?

Jim Callis: Too few games to read much into. But I did find myself looking at his stats the other day and think that maybe he is on the way to the breakout year the Cubs swear is coming in 2011.

Just for reference, Jae-Hoon Ha also made the list as a RF for the Daytona Cubs in the Florida State League.

Some notable pitching performances this week on the farm:

  • Ramon Ortiz made his debut on Monday since signing a minor league deal, going 5.2 innings with 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 5 Hits. There has been talk that he could make a start for the Cubs when James Russell’s spot comes around. Other options would be to use Russell again or even give Jeff Samardzija a shot at starting.
  • Thomas Diamond, another name on the 40 man roster that could push for a start real soon, was shelled in his outing on Tuesday giving up 9 ER in just over 3 innings of work. I seem to remember someone on Twitter fussing at me saying that Diamond should be in there over Russell. I’m gonna go with….NO.
  • Robert Whitenack, which I think would be more fun if it was spelled Whitesack, tossed a gem for Daytona on Tuesday, going 6 innings and striking out 12.
  • Hayden Simpson was highlighted last week for his debut. Start number two wasn’t as good, but wasn’t bad.

What They’re Saying

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus on Michael Burgess

“A supplemental first-round pick in 2007, Burgess was acquired from the Nationals for Tom Gorzelanny, and while he has well above-average raw power, it’s his pure hitting ability that has him starting his third consecutive year at High-A. With four home runs in five games, he seems to be tapping into that power, but to prove the small sample size issue, his on-base percentage still matches his batting average (.313) and he’s struck out in one-fourth of his at-bats. There’s no answer here yet, but it’s better than him starting off with zero home runs, no?”

Staff Reporters from Baseball America on Brett Jackson

“Jackson’s well-rounded skill set helps him do a bit of everything. The Cubs’ No. 1 prospect has a solid swing, works the count and can drive the ball, while his plus speed is a weapon on the base paths and in the outfield. He’s been an on-base machine early for Tennessee, including a 3-for-3 showing with a walk to help chase Rays lefty Matt Moore from the game early on Wednesday.”

Ben Badler of Baseball America on Darwin Barney

“I think he’s bound to come back to Earth soon. Not a guy who’s going to strike out too much so he could hit .300, but he’s not a power guy and he hits the ball on the ground a ton, so he has to rely on a lot of those balls sneaking through the infield for hits. More of a bottom of the order hitter, for me.”

    Ead (Chicago): Encouraged by Josh Vitters so far? Or is it too soon to tell?

Jim Callis: Too few games to read much into. But I did find myself looking at his stats the other day and think that maybe he is on the way to the breakout year the Cubs swear is coming in 2011.

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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