With the win last night, the I-Cubs sit a game below .500. Maybe that's why Willson Contreras is still on their roster. I agree with Myles. It's time to question whether or not the Cubs are really fielding their best 25-man roster. That's a pretty cool thing to be questioning when you've got the best record in baseball and the best record the organization has had since 1907.
Contreras did Contreras things. He was 2-3 with a double and a couple runs batted in. Dan Vogelbach was 2-4 with a double, triple and two runs scored. What these two teammates are doing to PCL pitching is impressive. I'm not sure either have much left to prove in the minor leagues. A stronger case can be made that Vogelbach does, but he's also got nowhere to play on the Chicago Cubs. Contreras does.
The Smokies fell to 23-39 in this rain-shortened game. They only completed the mandatory 5 innings. The Smokies had 9 hits in these 5 innings, but only 1 of them was an extra base hit. Mark Zagunis was 3-3 with a HR and he drove in all 3 runs. Chesny Young was 2-3 and Billy McKinney was 1-2.
Duane Underwood has not gotten off to a great start this year. Prior to the start last night, Underwood has struckout 6.2 batters per 9 and walked 4.9. He'd given up quite a few home runs and his ERA was 5.19 while his FIP was 5.69. Both of those are going up after this start.
Underwood threw all 5 innings, so he technically had a complete game. He allowed 7 hits and 4 runs on 2 walks and 7 strikeouts. That's about the best strikeout rate he's had, but he also allowed a home run. He doesn't turn 22 until the end of July so he's very young and hopefully there's still considerable room for improvement. The scouts have liked him despite subpar strikeout and walk rates. To be fair, his walk rate last season in High A was decent (2.95).
Rashad Crawford led off and was 4-5 with a triple and a strikeout. He drove in 2 and scored 2. Gleyber Torres was 1-4 and so was Ian Happ. Happ also took a walk. Yasiel Balaguert doubled in a run and scored a run. He was 1-5. Jason Vosler also drove in a run and scored a run. He was 1-4. Gioskar Amaya got on base 3 times. He was 1-2 with a couple of walks.
Erick Leal got the win and improved to 7-2. he threw 5 innings, allowed 3 hits and a run. He walked 1 and struckout 1. The run was unearned.
Leal is just 21 years old and back in 2013 rookie league, he struckout 9.6 batters per 9 and
struckout walked 1.5 per 9. It was only 48.2 innings, but the year before with the rookie league in the Diamondbacks organization he threw 73 innings, struckout 8.8 and walked 1.5. This liked like a promising pitching prospect. Then in 2014 short-season A ball that strikeout rate fell to 4.5 and walk rate increased to 2.6. Last year at South Bend the strikeout rate improved to 6.0 and walk rate also improved to 2.2, but so far this year the strikeout rate is just under 5 and walk rate just over 2. Like Underwood, he's young so hopefully he'll improve. I'm a little tired of saying that though.
Tommy Thorpe threw 3 very good relief innings. He allowed 2 hits, no runs, walked nobody and struckout 3.
There were a lot of 0-fers in the the South Bend lineup. P.J. Higgins was 2-4 with a strikeout. Donnie Dewees was also 2-4. He tripled. Eloy Jimenez doubled and was 1-4. Dewees and Jimenez scored the only runs. Ian Rice had the only official RBI. He was 1-4. That's it. Everyone else went hitless. It's difficult to score a lot of runs without home runs and without several players up and down the lineup contributing.
Adbert Alzolay got the loss and dropped to 4-2 on the season. He lasted only 4 innings, allowed 5 hits and 5 runs. He walked 4 and struckout 3. Pedro Araujo threw 3 hitless innings. he walked 1 and struckout 5.