Notes: Pie Served Hot

Pie off to fast start at Iowa

Two years ago, a young outfielder named Matt Murton began his season in the minor leagues with a 15-game hitting streak. He went on to earn a promotion to Chicago and has stayed there ever since. In 2007, a far more exciting player in top Cubs prospect Felix Pie has a quaint little hitting streak of his own.

Through seven games, the 22-year-old Pie is batting .440. He has hit safely in all seven games and perhaps most telling is that he has struck out only twice in 25 at-bats, through which he has 11 hits.

When you factor in the last six games of Pie's 2006 season, the left-handed hitting consensus five-tool talent has hit safely in 13 consecutive games for Triple-A Iowa.

Entering Thursday's game at Albuquerque, Pie had reached base at an even .500 clip on the year and was sixth in the league in batting average. He still leads the league with 13 runs scored.

The long and short of it is that Felix Pie will not be in Triple-A (where he already finished second in the Pacific Coast League in hits at age 21 last year) for much longer at his current pace; nor should he be.

As everyone knew at the time Pie was optioned to Triple-A late in spring camp last month, it had nothing to do with performance; it had to do with the caliber of players in front of him.

Those players were not the Buck Coats' and the Angel Pagan's (who later were sent to Iowa to join Pie), but rather the Alfonso Soriano's and to an extent the Murton's and Jacque Jones'.

"That's the tough part of the business, having to send a guy like that down," Cubs Farm Director Oneri Fleita said. "He knows that things can change overnight, but that he has to go up and help the club in whatever way he can when he gets the call. Eventually, he'll get to that level."

* * *

Cubs INF/OF prospect Micah Hoffpauir entered his third season at Triple-A last week having just gone through his first genuine taste of Big League Spring Training.

"It was a very nice welcome surprise," said Hoffpauir.

So is Hoffpauir's performance thus far. The left-handed hitting first baseman has hit safely in seven of eight games thus far and leads the Pacific Coast League with 12 RBIs after one week of play. He's batting a team-best .448 (13-for-29).

"It was a lot of fun," Hoffpauir said of his experience in big league camp. "To be around the caliber of players that are walking around that locker room, you don't get to see guys that can play like that often. I learned a lot of things just being around them and I think it's paid off."

Through their first week of play, Iowa (3-4) is batting .237 as a unit and in spite of the hot starts by Pie and Hoffpauir, several of the Cubs' more well-known position prospects have struggled at the plate thus far.

Scott Moore went hitless in his first eight at-bats and is since 4-for-17 for a combined .160 average in eight games. A mainstay at third base in his first two seasons with the Cubs, the former Detroit prospect and a 2002 first-round draft pick, Moore has played six games in left field thus far with Casey McGehee getting the bulk of playing time at the hot corner.

McGehee (2-for-18) entered Big League Spring Training expecting to suit up behind the plate, but has made five starts at third for Iowa. He's been plagued recently by a wrist injury and is listed as day-to-day.

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