Cubs won't convert Cashner to bullpen

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs plan to keep Andrew Cashner, the organization's top pitching prospect, in the starting rotation at Triple-A Iowa rather than convert him back to the bullpen.

Cashner, who was drafted as a closer out of TCU in the first round of the 2008 draft, made his Triple-A debut on Wednesday for the Iowa Cubs, giving up one earned run in six innings while striking out six in a win over Las Vegas.

At one point before Cashner's promotion to Triple-A, the organization discussed converting him back to a relief pitcher, but Cubs vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita said on Sunday that the plan right now is to continue Cashner's development as a starter.

"It's all about throwing strikes for him and getting his second and third pitches over the plate," Fleita said. "So far he has been able to do that. He's been efficient with all of his pitches. I've said it many times, it's hard to come up with guys who can throw 200 inings-plus. With Andrew that has got to be the first goal."

Fleita said it will be up to the major league staff to decide how they will use Cashner, 23, if and when he is promoted to the major leagues.

"Obviously when a guy gets here, if [using him out of the bullpen] fits a need it does."

Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com.