News in the System
- Nico Hoerner may be out of the lineup for the Tennessee Smokies as he returns from a hand/wrist injury, but he is still making news. MLB Pipeline updated their Top 100 Prospects List and the Cubs shortstop made a significant jump. He sat at No. 90 in the preseason rankings but now finds himself all the way up at 64 after proving he belongs in Double-A.
- Ethan Roberts is having a terrific year in his first full professional season. He has been coming out of the bullpen for the South Bend Cubs and currently has a season ERA of 2.08 to go along with a 1.15 WHIP. CI’s Todd Johnson recently caught up with Roberts for an interview.
- If the Cubs want to see their system improve as a whole and see the organization-wide prospect rankings rise, they will need to see breakout seasons from several players. There are several guys watching their stock soar upward and you can read up on Cole Roederer, Oscar De La Cruz, and others here at CI.
- This would typically be reserved for the affiliate sections, but Vimael Machin is going to get some big-time love today. He was my pick for a breakout season and he has been truly incredible so far. He is one of five players in the system to have walked as many times as he has struck out and he has doubled (12) almost as many times as he has struck out (13). He has a 181 wRC+ in Tennessee and is slashing .341/.429/.495 in his 91 Double-A at-bats.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- The I-Cubs had a tough week in between raindrops en route to a 2-5 record. Never fear, they still sit at an impressive 26-18 on the season. They wraps up their series with the New Orleans Babycakes on Monday before playing a four-game series with the Omaha Storm Chasers. They then will have to take on the Babycakes again for the first two games of a new series going into the weekend.
- It was the relievers that showed up for Iowa last week, with Rowan Wick throwing 4.2 innings of scoreless baseball and the recently optioned Randy Rosario throwing 3.2 innings scoreless.
- Phillip Evans and his 138 wRC+ has been the best hitter in Iowa this season and had another really good week at the plate. He homered twice on his way to a 1.129 OPS.
- Johnny Field had his fair share of strikeouts last week (38.5%) but also was able to slash .333/.385/.667.
- Adbert Alzolay made his debut in Triple-A after missing almost all of last season due to a lat injury. He made a single start in Myrtle Beach on rehab before putting together a four inning start for the I-Cubs last week. His stuff looked good as he featured a fastball in the mid-90’s and a curveball with plenty of bite on it, but the numbers were rough: four hits, five earned runs, three walks, and six strikeouts.
- The organization released Ryan Williams and Alberto Baldonado last week. Williams was a former Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year but has had a rough last couple of seasons after dealing with several injuries.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- The Smokies’ 4-4 record last week was pretty on par with their 21-22 season record. They will look to hop back over that .500 mark this week as they finish their series with the Jackson Generals before an off day followed by a five-game set with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
- Tennessee pitchers doing impressive things? Wow, I’m shocked. Cory Abbott went six innings in his start last week, only allowing four hits and a couple runs. He struck out four and walked one. He continues to put up quality start after quality start.
- Tyson Miller has been even better this season but had a “down” week, giving up two runs. But he also went a season high 7.2 innings and struck out eight batters without walking any. The two runs he gave up were off solo home runs and his season ERA now sits at 1.17.
- Jordan Minch was the man out of the pen last week in his 3.2 innings. He only gave up two hits and didn’t allow a run to cross the plate. He struck out four of the 14 batters he faced.
- The aforementioned Machin put together another solid week at the plate, smacking two doubles and a triple to slash .440/.481/.600.
- Connor Myers is on fire at the plate. The defense-first center fielder doubled and homered last week while driving in four runs and scoring five himself.
- Gioskar Amaya missed the entirety of the 2016 and 2017 seasons because of injuries. Now 26 years old, the former catcher finds himself in Tennessee and doubled for his first hit back. He is a little behind in his development now, but it is great to see him back on the field.
High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- The Birds went 4-3 last week, finishing above .500 for only the second time this season. They are up to a record of 16-28 this year and will start this week with four games against the Frederick Keys before traveling to Wilmington for the first three games of a four-game series with the Blue Rocks. The team is currently in the middle of a dreadful 11-game road trip.
- Javier Assad had the best start of his professional career last week, going seven innings with only one hit. The 21-year-old put together a 9:1 K:BB ratio without giving up a run and is knocking on the door for a promotion to Tennessee.
- Paul Richan, a member of the 2016 Danville Dans of the College Prospect League in downstate Illinois, had a rock solid performance on the mound. His outing consisted of 6.2 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks while he allowed a run on seven hits.
- Alexander Vargas was a draft pick out of the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. He made his organizational debut last week and looked good in doing so with five perfect innings of work. He did not strike any batters out, but facing the minimum is impressive nonetheless.
- Kevonte Mitchell needed a good week after getting off to a really slow start to the season and he might have saved his starting job for the time being after clobbering three homers last week. That contributed to his week-long OPS of 1.183.
- Aramis Ademan walked in 15.4% of his plate appearances last week and has now put together a walk rate of at least 14.3% in every week since the first week of the season.
Low-A South Bend Cubs
- South Bend is now just 1.5 games off the pace of the Iowa Cubs for the best record in the system. They went 5-2 last week, pulling their record to 24-17 on the year. They will now square off against the Fort Wayne TinCaps before coming back home for the first three games of their series with the West Michigan Whitecaps.
- Brailyn Marquez Watch was fun last week, as he made two starts of five innings a piece and was able to limit the walks. He handed out just three free passes while notching 12 strikeouts, posting a 1.80 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. But the most entertaining number was probably the 100 mph fastball he threw on Sunday. Triple digits from a three-quarters left-handed arm slot is devastating, especially if he can command it.
- The Cubs have failed to draft first basemen with a high-profile bat in recent years, and why would they need to with Anthony Rizzo in Chicago? Well, Tyler Durna might be filling some of that void in the minors. He had an impressive week with five doubles, also knocking in six runs and scoring four while only striking out 10.3% of the time.
- Andy Weber might be ready to take off for South Bend. In his 29 plate appearances, he doubled three times and slashed .407/.448/.519.
- Christopher Morel might just be a guy. He has Javy Báez qualities in the way he violently swings the bat and throws lasers across the diamond, and he had a heck of a week with three doubles, two triples, and a homer.
- Delvin Zinn popped a couple of home runs on Thursday night after hitting one home run in his previous three seasons combined.
- There are rumblings that Jose Albertos might be making his way to South Bend in the coming days. The big righty was once the most highly regarded starter in the Cubs system, but is looking to make his way back to full-season ball after dealing with a case of the yips, .