Cubs top picks delivering

CHICAGO — Updates on Colvin, Cashner and Vitters below, but first a look at the hottest team in Triple-A.

Triple-A Iowa: PCL’s best can pitch, too

Guzman.jpgShame on the Cubs farm report for not giving enough credit to the I-Cubs’ pitching staff in recent weeks, though it has been tough to avoid the exploits of bash brothers 1B Micah Hoffpauir (23 HRs, 86 RBIs) and OF Jason Dubois (.312, 23 HRs).

We have no choice but to highlight the hurlers following this recent string of opponents’ scores: 1, 3, 0, 2, 2, 1. Of course, the Cubs are on a seven-game winning streak and have the top record in the Pacific Coast League at 77-52. LHP J.R. Mathes held New Orleans to one unearned run and four hits in seven innings to improve to 8-5 on Monday. RHP Angel Guzman (pictured), on rehab and hoping to be in Chicago in September, threw three shutout innings on Sunday and struck out three. RHP Mike Burns, who is a substitute teacher in the offseason, tossed eight shutout innings on Friday, taking New Orleans to school (OK, that line might have worked ten years ago).

Double-A Tennessee: Colvin (’06 No. 1 pick) continues his surge

OF Tyler Colvin has nine multi-hit games out of his last 11, hitting .408 and raising his average to .256 with the Smokies. The rest of the team joined in on the hit parade in Monday’s 11-2 win against the vaunted Montgomery Biscuits, whose logo mascot has a pad of butter for a tongue. C Welington Castillo and OF Sam Fuld each went 5-for-6. Simply put, the Biscuits were toast.

Class A Daytona: Papelbon takes Pitcher of the Week award

RHP Jeremy Papelbon is trying his hand as a starter, and it’s working out pretty well. Papelbon didn’t give up a run in two starts last week, earning Florida State League Player of the Week honors. In 11 innings, he allowed three hits and one walk while striking out five, running his scoreless innings streak to 32 2/3. If you recall, brother Jonathan came up through the Minors as a starter before becoming a dominant closer in Boston, just a thought for the future…

Class A Peoria: Runnin’ Rebel

1B Rebel Ridling homered again on Monday, going deep for the fourth straight day. Ridling was drafted in the 25th round two months ago, hit .366 in 19 games for Boise, then moved up to Peoria and has hit .198 in 35 games in the Midwest League.

Class A Boise: Cashner (’08 No. 1 pick), Vitters (’07 No. 1 pick) updates

RHP Andrew Cashner no-hit Spokane in four innings in arguably his first encouraging outing for the Hawks on Wednesday. In his fourth start, he pitched more than three innings for the first time, though the Cubs may just be stretching out his arm since he was a closer for Texas Christian last season.

3B Josh Vitters has a 16-game hitting streak since returning from an ankle injury and is hitting .386 in his last 10 games. Is a return trip to Peoria in his near future? 

Cashner (0-1, 7.45 ERA), Vitters (.345, 4 HRs, 28 RBIs) and C Michael Brenly (.320, 13 RBIs), the three most recognizable players on the roster, will be sent to the Cubs’ Arizona Instructional League after the season.

Notes: The Cubs signed 27 of their top 29 picks from the First-Year Player Draft by Friday’s deadline before losing negotiating rights. Only RHP William Wilson (10th round) and RHP Sonny Gray (27th round) did not come to terms as of late Friday. Gray, touted by some as the next David Price, is beginning his freshman year at Vanderbilt and was so set on going to college that he told teams not to draft him, despite his top-100 talent. … Two Cubs Dominican League players, RHP Jesse Lebron and OF Alexander Mejia, have been suspended 50 games each for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.   

— Nick Zaccardi

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