The minor league baseball season has finally wound down and we were happy to say we were able to make it to about eight Iowa Cubs games this year. While they didn't make the playoffs, we had the opportunity to see several up-and-coming Cubbies like Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. The team even finished 74-70, their first winning season since 2010.
While I'm not a huge Cub fan, it's a chance to watch professional baseball, see some decent AAA baseball talent and have an opportunity to watch San Diego's AAA affiliate play here every-other-year.
Traditionally, Iowa gives away autographed baseballs at their next-to-last home game of the season, and this year was no different. This year, however, the balls were sponsored by Hupy and Abraham, the personal injury lawyers whom William Shatner shills for.
Last year, fans were handed a plain brown paper bag with an autographed ball inside once you passed the turnstiles. This year, you had to go through the mezzanine, all the way by the outfield on the first base side, where your ticket and hand were marked. You were then handed a plastic bag with the ball, complete with Hupy and Abraham advertising (but no William Shatner).
This year, we received autographed balls from RHP Blake Parker and pitching coach Bruce Walton.
Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 16th round of the 2006 draft, Parker was a pitcher with the University of Arkansas. Chicago granted him Free Agency in Nov. 3, 2012, but resigned him four days later. He made his major league debut with the Cubs on May 17, 20212,
While he's been up and down between Iowa and Chicago several times this year, Chicago recalled him from Iowa on Sept. 1, where he's been serving as a middle reliever. He last pitched Sept. 18 against the Dodgers, giving up one hit in an inning of relief. He currently sports a 4.38 ERA while pitching 12.1 innings for the Cubbies, with 16 strikeouts and two walks.
Walton pitched in the majors from 1991-94 for Oakland, Montreal and Colorado. He compiled a 2-0 record over that time, with an 8.21 ERA, 18 strikeouts and a 1.76 WHIP.
He began his coaching career as Toronto's pitching coach from Oct. 2009 to Nov. 2012 and has served as Iowa's pitching coach since Dec. 18, 2013.
During last year's give-away, we received baseballs autographed by Brad Nelson (now a member of AAA Rochester -Twins), Ty Wright (Somerset, independent Atlantic League) and J.C. Boscan (Los Angeles Dodgers - September call-up).