The new season of Minor League Baseball has begun and here at Cubs Insider, that means the beginning of a new series of posts. We will be recapping the week that was throughout the Cubs’ system, so each Monday will allow you to catch up on everything you missed at each stop in the circuit, from the short-season Eugene Emeralds (once they start) all the way up to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
After several years of fostering a depleted system due to the success at the major league level, the pipeline is finally starting to show a little bit more life. But everyone is going to have reports on the big names, so we want to make sure we’re pointing out solid performances all over the board. Let’s get into it.
News in the System
- Rosters were announced early in the week with a few surprises. Most notably, Alex Lange is starting the year back at High-A Myrtle Beach, Nico Hoerner will be the man at shortstop for Double-A Tennessee, and Ian Happ was sent down to begin the season in Triple-A Iowa.
- Also of note were the guys that were not on a roster card to begin the year. Adbert Alzolay, Brailyn Marquez, Trevor Clifton, Alec Mills, and Erich Uelmen are all recovering from small injuries and being stretched out in Arizona to begin the year.
- Mark Zagunis is the only rookie on the Chicago Cubs roster to begin the 2019 season, proving they’re no longer the young team they once were.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- The Cubs started the season with a bang on their way to a 3-1 record against the Nashville Sounds. They will finish up their series with the Sounds on Monday before heading back to Des Moines for their home opening series against the New Orleans Babycakes. That’s followed by three games against Oklahoma City on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- They scored a total of 22 runs in their first four games of the season. This squad is headlined by several players that have had experience on big league rosters, which should help them throughout the season.
- Johnny Field is one of those guys with a taste of the MLB life and he was the best hitter on the team this week, slashing .333/.385/.667 while scoring 2 runs, driving in 2 runs, and doubling 2 times. He added in a triple for good measure.
- Donnie Dewees also impressed with 4 hits in his 11 at-bats. He did not strike out once and he homered and tripled en route to 3 runs scored and 3 runs batted in.
- The front office has talked about all the depth in the bullpen this organization has and it showed this week. Rowan Wick, Allen Webster, James Norwood, Dakota Mekkes, Brad Markey, and Ryan Williams combined for 9.2 innings while allowing no runs on only 5 hits. They struck out 8 batters and walked 5 men.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- The Smokies got their season started on the right note, going 3-1 in their first week against the Mississippi Braves. They will wrap up their series with the M-Braves on Monday, followed by a five-game set with the Birmingham Barons this week.
- It was all about the starting rotation coming into this year and they did not disappoint in their first week on the bump. While the starters didn’t earn a single win on the stat sheet, they each put together very impressive numbers.
- Cory Abbott started the party with a 5 inning outing where he only gave up 3 hits and 1 earned run while striking out 2 and walking a lone Brave in the effort.
- He was immediately followed by Thomas Hatch, who put up an even more impressive performance. He also went 5 innings, but gave up just 2 hits and no runs. He tossed in 7 punchouts to go along with no walks.
- Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Keegan Thompson joined in and gave up no hits in his 5 innings. He did not allow a run and struck out 8, giving up just a single walk.
- The highly anticipated start for Hoerner was not exactly spectacular, but was solid nonetheless. He showed a good eye at the plate, walking in 25% of his plate appearances and adding 3 hits and 3 RBI to boot.
- The big stick this week was being swung by Jared Young. The converted first baseman only had 4 hits on the week, but 2 of them were of the big fly variety and they aided him to 3 RBI and a weekly slugging percentage of .819.
High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- The Pelicans were the only team to finish the week with a losing record, dropping to 1-3 so far this year. With their first series against the Lynchburg Hillcats in the rearview mirror, they now look ahead to a three-game set with the Down East Wood Ducks and a four-gamer with the newly named Fayetteville Woodpeckers to finish out the week.
- There are big names carrying Myrtle Beach to start the season, with Miguel Amaya, Aramis Ademan, Alex Lange, and Paul Richan all calling South Carolina home to begin the year.
- Amaya got off to a hot start, smacking a double and a homer in the opening week. He also scored 2 runs and drove in 4.
- Javier Assad delivered the most dominant start of the first few days, going 5 innings of work while allowing only 1 run on 3 hits as he struck out 5 and walked 2 batters.
- Ryan Kellogg was the man out of the ‘pen going 3.3 innings of 3-hit ball. He did not allow a run to cross the plate and he had a very solid 4-0 strikeout to walk ratio.
Low-A South Bend Cubs
- The SB Cubs went 2-2 in their opening week, splitting their series with the West Michigan Whitecaps. They will face off against the Great Lakes Loons before coming home for their Four Winds Field opener against the Lansing Lugnuts this week.
- Whether due to the cold weather or early season jitters, but the bats got off to a really slow start. After putting up 5 runs in the opener, the Cubs put up 5 total runs in the three following games.
- Cam Sanders was lights-out in his one start, going 5 innings while only giving up 3 hits and no runs while striking out a couple and walking only 1 batter.
- Jeff Passantino and Ryan Lawlor took on their roles as piggyback pitchers this week and they each did well following their respective starting pitchers.
- Passantino went 3 innings and only gave up a single hit while striking out 6 of the 11 total batters he faced.
- Lawlor went 3.1 innings following Eury Ramos and gave up only 2 hits while striking out 4 men.