Last night for the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate in Iowa, one of the less heralded potential superstar prospects in baseball had another good night.

Andrew Cashner, the Cubs first round draft pick in 2008, dominated for seven innings as the Iowa Cubs won 1-0. Cashner was an elite closer in college, but the Cubs are trying to make him into a starter.


Since being promoted to Triple-A, Cashner is putting up numbers that could easily be confused for those of super-prospect Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.

In three starts, Cashner is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. He has allowed only 13 hits and walked just two while striking out 14 in 19.0 innings pitched.

These numbers come after he earned a promotion in six starts, going 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 36.0 innings.

So far this year at two levels, Cashner’s allowed 35 hits and 15 walks while striking out 56 in 55.0 innings. In nine starts, he’s 6-1 with a 2.13 ERA.

Perhaps the only position group (infield, outfield, bullpen, starters) that’s exceeding expectations on almost a daily basis is the starting rotation for the Cubs. Despite his inability to get a win, Tom Gorzelanny has been solid and Carlos Silva’s five wins lead the staff.

With Ted Lilly returning to form from injury and Ryan Dempster continuing to post solid numbers, the rotation is almost too full to consider Cashner a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation. As it is, Randy Wells is fighting to keep that spot over Opening Day starter Carlos Zambrano right now.

My recommendation, and prayer, is that the Cubs do not screw up Cashner’s development the same way they did that of Jeff Samardzija. Do not bring the kid up and stick him back in the bullpen “for experience.” If he’s going to be a starter, leave him in the rotation in Iowa so he can get more innings on his arm.

The numbers Cashner’s putting up make it hard to imagine Wrigley Field is too far away for the 23-year-old. The Cubs pulled the trigger on bringing up 20-year-old shortstop phenom Starlin Castro, and he’s been fantastic. Could Cashner be next in line?

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