Where are the Samardzijas and Cashners?

The Eugene Emeralds won their 13th consecutive game last night.

The Cub system is solid–first-place solid–at the lower levels (Eugene, South Bend, Myrtle Beach) while Tennessee and Iowa are second-worst in their respective leagues.

Go figure. All I would say is that to win at the upper levels, you need starting pitching. For example, Myrtle Beach won the Carolina League last year, but they did it with a corps of relief pitchers–Garner, Markey, Berg, Farris and others–that kept them in games every night. But you cannot build success around minor-league relievers. At some point they will re-acquaint you with the reasons you didn’t consider them starting prospects to begin with. Only Farris (still a reliever) has pitched well at Tennessee. With Pierce Johnson, Tyler Skulina and Duane Underwood having fizzled, there is a dearth of pitching talent at double- and triple-A. Blackburn was pitching decently at Tennessee, but he went to Seattle with Vogelbach for relief pitcher Mike Montgomery. Unless Johnson or Underwood comes back strong, Zastryzny might be our only shot at promoting a starter to the majors next year.

The situation might be improving. Myrtle Beach is finishing strong, but this time they are doing it with two starters, Trevor Clifton and Jake Stinnett, who should begin next season at Tennessee, and a third, Preston Morrison, who will not be far behind. There are four interesting starters I could name at South Bend. That organization has a won-lost record (75-46) almost as good as the big-league club’s.

The Cub brass knows how to obtain what it needs. The organizational void in pitching prospects, therefore, though glaring, is probably temporary. There is enough non-pitching talent to bring back more arms like Hendricks and Edwards. (I hope Jeimer Candelario makes the expanded roster in September, so he can have a sort of farewell tour of Wrigley.) Check back here in January, by which time the starting rotations in Chicago and certainly in the high minors will have gotten a little younger.

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