It appears Cubs top prospect Javier Baez has turned a corner over the past few days, with Thursday night providing the most convincing evidence that he's back on track.
Baez, ranked No. 6 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, went 4-for-5 with two doubles and his sixth home run of the season as Triple-A Iowa beat Round Rock, 7-2. Baez's four-hit performance pulled his average above .200 and extended his hitting streak to seven games.
During that streak, the 21-year-old shortstop, who tore through two Minor League levels last season, has hit .429 (12-for-28) with three homers, five doubles and six RBIs while raising his average from .142 to to .201.
Meanwhile, third baseman Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 2 prospect and MLBPipeline.com's No. 8 overall prospect, continued to rake for Double-A Tennessee. Bryant reached base five times in the Smokies' 6-5 win over Mobile on Thursday, going 3-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and two walks.
Bryant, 22, has hit safely in eight straight games. Overall this season, he's hitting .335/.431/.623 with 12 homers, 12 doubles and 40 RBIs in 45 games.
Samardzija's tough luck reaching historic levels
SAN DIEGO -- The agonizing season of right-hander Jeff Samardzija is becoming historically painful.
The Elias Sports Bureau came up with a couple tidbits after Samardzija's winless streak stetched to 16 starts Wednesday despite a seven-inning shutout effort against the Yankees.
Samardzija's 1.46 ERA is the lowest in Major League history for a pitcher who is without a win through the first 10 starts of a season.
And Samardzija is the first pitcher to lead his league in ERA on May 22 or later without a win since Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter of the Cubs led the National League with a 0.89 ERA on June 7, 1977.
Samardzija is 0-4 with six no decisions this season and 0-6 with 10 no-decisions during the winless streak. He has a 2.99 ERA during the streak -- during which he has allowed zero runs in four starts, one earned run in three and two earned runs in three.
Samardzija's last win came last Aug. 24 in the ballpark where the Cubs are playing this weekend, Petco Park in San Diego. Of course, Samardzija, who faced the Yankees on Thursday, won't be pitching in the four-game series against the Padres. His next start is Monday in San Francisco.
Heavy workload takes toll on Cubs' relievers
SAN DIEGO -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he will try to stay away from several relievers Thursday night in San Diego.
The most notable name on the list is closer Hector Rondon, who has worked four straight games.
"We're going to stay away from a few guys tonight," said Renteria, who said the Cubs decided not to add an arm to the bullpen after Wednesday's 13-inning loss to the Yankees. "We might have to extend Jake [starter Jake Arrieta] a bit."