On March 26, 1903, the Pacific Coast League began its first ever season. The inaugural season of the PCL featured 200 games between six teams. The league's founding members included teams in San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, Sacramento and Oakland. One hundred ten years later the league is comprised of 16 teams, including the Sky Sox, located throughout the western and mid-western United States. In honor of the league's anniversary season the Sky Sox will take an in-depth look at each of their 2013 opponents, beginning with the American Northern Conference and the Iowa Cubs.
Before the 1997 season, Iowa spent 38 years as a member of the American Association. After the 1997 season the league disbanded and the Cubs joined the PCL. The I-Cubs enjoyed immediate success in their new league by winning the PCL Central Division title in their first season. Iowa has gone on to win three more division crowns and in 2005 advanced to the PCL Championship game against the Sacramento River Cats.
Last season the Cubs finished in last place in the American Conference's Northern Division with a record of 53-87, but featured future Chicago Cub's call-ups Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.
In last year's four-game series against the Sox, Jackson and Vitters each had a successful home stand. The two top prospects combined for 13 hits, two home runs, and five RBIs.
This year the I-Cubs are re-tooling, but possibly joining the team this year is top shortstop prospect Junior Lake. In 103 games with the Cubs Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies, Lake hit .279 while hitting 10 home runs and recording 21 stolen bases. Even though Lake is only 22 years old the shortstop is hoping to add his speed to the Iowa Cubs lineup at some point in 2013.
Also new to the Cubs this year is their manager. On January 18th, the Cubs announced that former Peoria Chiefs manager Marty Pevey will become the 29th manager for the team and their seventh in seven seasons.
In 2013, Pevey will bring his new look squad to Security Service Field on May 7th for a four-game series against the Sky Sox. Historically the Sox have played well against the Cubs at home, posting a 39-33 record, but have struggled on the road, posting a 29-42 record.
Games between these two teams are usually high scoring affairs. The winning team has scored 10 or more runs in 29% of the games these two teams have played and each team has scored 20 runs in a game at least once.
Last year the Sky Sox took three out of four from the Cubs and outscored Iowa 23-16 over that span. Sky Sox centerfielder Charlie Blackmon fueled the team during that series with four hits, one home run, three RBIs and four runs. In his eight career games against the Cubs, Blackmon has a .286 batting average with two home runs and nine RBIs.
The four-game series against the Cubs will mark the beginning of an eight-game home stand for the Sky Sox. The team's series against Iowa begins on Tuesday, May 7th and culminates on Friday, May 10th. This will be the only time the Sky Sox and the Cubs play this season so make sure to come out to the ballpark to watch some of the game's best prospects.
Next Tuesday the Sky Sox series, "Around the PCL", will take a look at the I-Cubs' division rival the Memphis Redbirds. Last year the Redbirds featured one of the game's top pitching prospects, Shelby Miller, so check back next week to see which top Cardinals prospects will be making their appearances at Security Service Field this season.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.