The Cubs minor league affiliates began play on Thursday April 7. Myrtle Beach and Tennessee put up opening night wins while South Bend and Iowa lost. Friday night saw the entire system lose. On Saturday, South Bend and Tennessee got wins while Myrtle Beach and Iowa lost. The teams were consistently inconsistent in their play.
I spent Thursday afternoon looking forward to watching Eloy Jimenez, Ian Happ, Eddy Martinez, and Preston Morrison. I was also excited to see how Ryan Williams, Willson Contreras, Dan Vogelbach, and Albert Almora would do in AAA. On Friday, I couldn’t wait to see Justin Steele pitch, then for Trevor Clifton and Brad Markey to do the same on Saturday. But not all went as planned.
Snow storms and cool temperatures did not help the Cubs prospects as they struggled to hit, pitch, catch, and throw the ball. Three games in April is a very small sample size, though, and a hitter can go 4-4 tomorrow and everything changes. A pitcher can overhaul his ERA with just one start. In other words, don’t get caught up in stats for just three games. Remember that two of South Bend’s games were played in the white stuff – not your normal conditions for baseball.
Combined, the affiliates have gone 4-8 so far. I would not be alarmed too much at this point. There were several performances to look at positively from opening week and some other performances that were not that great. For today, we take a look at who was hot and who was not in the opening three games of the MiLB season.
Hot: Willson Contreras, Dan Vogelbach, and Albert Almora are doing well in their AAA debuts, hitting .364, .364, and .333 respectively. The problem is no one at the top of the order has really gotten on base for them to hit in.
Not: The starting pitching has an ERA of 16+ for the first three games. Yikes!
Hot: Chesny Young is hitting .500 with an insane OBP of .636 and a home run. Starting pitchers Brad Markey was outstanding in his first start, as was Paul Blackburn.
Not: Corey Black took the loss in his only outing – 1 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, and a walk.
Myrtle Beach (1-2)
Hot: Rashad Crawford was very hot until his collision with Shawon Dunston, Jr. Crawford hit .375 in two games in the leadoff spot. Pitchers Jonathan Martinez (5 IP, 1 run), James Pugliese (2 IP, 0 Runs), and Dave Berg (2 IP, 1 Save, 0 Runs) were all excellent this week.
Not: Gleyber Torres is struggling at the plate — again, very small sample — with a .182 average.
South Bend (1-2)
Hot: Eddy Martinez, PJ Higgins, and Donnie Dewees all look like the real deal at the plate. Ryan Kellogg looked very good changing speeds and locations to baffle West Michigan. Greyfer Eregua looked very good in relief on Saturday as well.
Not: This team struggled to field the ball. Six errors Friday night lead to as many unearned runs. Eloy Jimenez seems to be anxious at the plate and is trying to pull the ball violently every time. It shows in his .182 average.
One more time, you can’t put much stock in the numbers at this early juncture, but it gives us a nice jumping-off point for the season. Those players who did not do well have a chance to redeem themselves as temps will be back in the 70s by next weekend in Iowa and South making baseball a little more conducive to play and watch.