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Cubs' Baker senses excitement in minors

Cubs right-hander Scott Baker rejoined the Cougars Thursday and is set to start tonight's series finale against Beloit at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

Baker, mending from April 2012 Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, began his rehab assignment with three shaky outings with the Cougars last month before pitching twice with Advanced-A Daytona.

A series of rainouts on his scheduled turns to pitch halted Baker's progress and prompted his return to the Cougars. Before he left, though, Baker took stock of the emerging excitement in the Daytona clubhouse, which welcomed the recent promotions of 2013 Cubs first-round draft pick Kris Bryant (third base) and former Cougars first baseman Dan Vogelbach.

"You know what, they've got a good little ballclub there. They're gearing up for a run at the playoffs right now," Baker said. "They've got some decent pitching and they added a couple big boppers with Bryant and Vogie. I think they'll do really well. The coaching staff is great. They seem to be playing the game the right way, making the good defensive plays and manufacturing runs, and now that they've added the two big guys, I think they'll do really well."

Several players who began the season or spent time with the Cougars in 2013 are with Daytona, including righty Pierce Johnson, whose replica travel mug is the giveaway at tonight's game at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

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