09/27/12 7:47 PM ET
Watkins, Struck named top Minor League players
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Watkins, 23, hit .281 with 93 runs scored, 20 doubles, 11 triples, nine home runs and 52 RBIs in 133 games for Double-A Tennessee. He led the Southern League in runs scored, was second in triples and walks (76) and was fourth in on-base percentage (.383).
A 21st round pick in the 2008 Draft, Watkins has a .285 batting average in 475 career Minor League games.
Struck, 22, went 14-10 with a 3.18 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) for Tennessee. He led the Southern League in victories, ranked third with 155 2/3 innings pitched and fourth in ERA. He led the club with 123 strikeouts and 44 walks, and limited opposing hitters to a .238 batting average.
From May 29 through the end of the season, Struck went 10-5 with a 2.29 ERA in 18 games (16 starts). He allowed three or fewer earned runs in 20 of his 26 starts while giving up two or fewer walks in 21 starts.
A 39th-round selection in the 2009 Draft, Struck is 32-27 with a 3.50 ERA in 84 career Minor League games, including 73 starts. He has struck out 330 batters, walked 134, and surrendered 28 home runs in 431 2/3 innings pitched.
Castro going the distance in breakout season
DENVER -- As of Thursday, Starlin Castro had played in all 156 of the Cubs' games this season. Manager Dale Sveum doesn't plan on giving his shortstop a day off.
"That's what you want," Sveum said of Castro's durability. "When you get to a point and you have young players capable of doing it health wise, you want them to play every day."
Castro has set career highs with 12 triples and 25 stolen bases, and is the only player in the Major Leagues with at least 10 home runs, 10 triples, 25 stolen bases and 75 RBIs. He's the first National League player to do so since Jimmy Rollins in 2007. Since Castro's debut in May 2010, he leads all NL players in hits.
But Sveum wants Castro to get better, especially on his defense. Among the things he'd like the shortstop to work on is to not rely on his arm as much. Sveum likes to call such infielders "grass huggers" because they don't want to leave the grass, since their arms are so strong.
"There's a lot you can't work on and just stuff you have to be aware of," Sveum said.
What about Castro's habit of reaching for sunflower seeds before his at-bats? Sveum wasn't too worried about that.
"Some people dip and chew gum, and he chews seeds," Sveum said. "Everybody has their nervous habits."
Barney's second base errorless streak ties record
DENVER -- Darwin Barney tucked another souvenir ball into his gear bag on Thursday. The Cubs second baseman is hoping for at least one more.
Barney played in his 141st consecutive errorless game to tie the single-season Major League record by a second baseman, set in 2007 by the Tigers' Placido Polanco.
Barney is rewriting the National League mark each game, as he has long surpassed the old record of 123 games, held by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who was Barney's former Minor League manager. Barney saved a ball from his 124th game, and now has one from Thursday's contest.
"They're good mementos, and a sign of the hard work we've done on the defensive side," Barney said.
Barney leads all NL second basemen in fielding percentage [.999] and has made one error this season. His errorless streak is now 1,147 1/3 innings.
His streak survived rainy weather in the first two games of the Cubs' series against the Rockies. On Thursday, he turned a nifty double play in the second without fear.
"None of that is on my mind until it happens I guess," Barney said of the streak. "With [first baseman Anthony] Rizzo over there, you feel comfortable making throws no matter what. It's not really on my mind."
Adam Greenberg, who was hit by a pitch in his only big league at-bat with the Cubs in 2005, signed a one-day contract with the Marlins and will get another at-bat on Tuesday.
"It's nice for him," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Thursday of Greenberg, whose only Major League appearance was July 7, 2005, against the Marlins in Miami. "I wish him the best. It'll be a pretty cool thing for him. It'll be a fitting day for him and wish him all the best."
In his 30 years in the game, Sveum had not seen a baserunner get thrown out at third trying to advance on a sacrifice fly to left, but the Cubs have made the gaffe twice in two weeks. Joe Mather did so Wednesday.
"If you brought it up in a group session, there would be a lot of eyes rolled, but unfortunately, it's been a reality the last couple weeks," Sveum said. "It's almost a learning tool -- it's like, 'All right, don't be rolling your eyes, this actually happened the last two weeks.'"
Travis Wood will open the Cubs series on Friday at Arizona, and said he's ignoring his record, and focusing on what he's learned this season.
"Forget the numbers," said Wood, who is 6-12 with a 4.23 ERA. "The experience is the key part. Everybody tries to finish strong, and you want to take that into the offseason and get ready for the next season."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.