News in the System
- With a lack of depth at the major league level, the Cubs signed Carlos González to a Minor League contract. After struggling during his time in Cleveland, the team figured it wouldn’t hurt to bring in the former All-Star to see if he can recapture some of his former self. He homered in his second game with the Iowa Cubs on Saturday.
- This is a huge week for the Cubs system, which will see a big influx of players from 40 rounds of the draft. Todd Johnson recently profiled Kameron Misner, a potential pick for the Cubs at the number 27 slot in the first round.
- I made my way over the the South Bend Cubs games against the Dayton Dragons over the weekend and I was able to sit down with a few of the players. Be on the lookout for those interviews right here at CI in the coming weeks.
- Luis Vazquez has had one of the strangest seasons I have ever seen from a Cubs prospect. He is just 19 years old, has one of the best gloves at shortstop in the whole system, and has been used as a rover. He started the year in extended spring training before spending a few weeks in Double-A Tennessee and was then promoted up to Triple-A Iowa last week. He is getting the same treatment David Bote got in 2016, but Bote was a 23-year-old infielder who hadn’t received consistent plate appearances in his life. Vazquez could probably benefit from stability, but he has held his own at the plate at each level so far this year.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- The I-Cubs finished with a record of 4-3 last week and pushed their season record up to 34-24, seven games ahead of the second-place Omaha Storm Chasers. They will be home all week this week as they face off with the El Paso Chihuahuas for three games before the Albuquerque Isotopes comes to town for the first three of four games.
- Duane Underwood Jr.appears to have been moved to the bullpen. I expected this to happen at some point this season and it isn’t surprising after getting off to a rough start to the year. He came in relief of Trevor Clifton on Friday and gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in his inning of work.
- Adbert Alzolay is officially back. He put up an absolutely ludicrous 17:2 K/BB while only allowing one run on three hits in his two starts. There is a very real possibility we see him in the majors this season, likely as a member of the bullpen.
- Michael Rucker got the call to Triple-A last week, which was interesting considering he had a 7.43 ERA and 1.61 WHIP this season in Double-A. It has been a strange year for Rucker all around as he has been used entirely out of the bullpen after the expectation was that he would be a starter.
- Phillip Evans just keeps chugging along and is ready for a promotion to Wrigley once the need is there. Last week he put up an OPS of 1.073 in his 29 plate appearances with a couple home runs and a double to go along with six RBI.
- Robel Garcia should be the story of the year in the Cubs organization, major league team included. The 26-year-old played in Italy last year and he just hit another three home runs last week. He is striking out 36.2% of the time in Triple-A but it doesn’t even matter when you hit seven home runs in 84 at-bats.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- The Smokies went 3-3 last week and are still just above .500 this year with a record of 28-27, four games out of first place. They have a full week coming up with four games in Montgomery against the Biscuits before they travel back home for the first three games of a classic five-game series with the Chattanooga Lookouts.
- Tyson Miller was back to wheeling and dealing last week. He only threw in one game but went six innings, giving up a run on five hits and striking out six without walking anyone.
- Justin Steele has had a rough season so far. Coming into this year the hope was for him to make an impact in Chicago in the bullpen by September as he is a member of the 40-man roster. But after going four innings and giving up three runs in his start this week, he sports a season ERA of 7.57 and opposing hitters are batting .342 against him.
- Please just make room for Craig Brooks in Iowa already. Last week saw four more innings without giving up a run and his season-long ERA is 0.40. That is still not a typo.
- Jake Stinnett looked even better than Brooks last week. He also pitched four innings in relief but he was perfect. No hits, no runs, no walks, and he even struck out seven guys.
- Roberto Caro is old for his level (25), but he has followed up his system-best OPS in 2018 with a decent performance this year as well. His slash line is up to .289/.394/.392 and was aided by a five-hit day on Sunday. He also doubled and tripled in that one.
High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- The birds went 2-4 last week, their second straight week below .500 and remain in last place in the division with a record of 20-37. They wrap up their series with Wilmington for two games and then get an off day as they travel to Winston-Salem for a four game series with the Dash.
- Erich Uelmen made his second start back from injury last week and looked brilliant. He only gave up two hits and two walks without allowing a run in his six innings.
- Ben Hecht struck out 61.5% of the batters he faced last week. Four innings, eight strikeouts, and one hit in his relief work.
- Jesus Camargo only threw two innings last week but he didn’t allow a run to cross the plate off the two hits he allowed. His season stats are very impressive: 2.23 ERA, 0.96 WHP, and .172 average against.
- Jimmy Herron is hopefully turning a corner now that he’s a full calendar year removed from being drafted. He slashed .294/.368/.588 while homering once and doubling twice.
Low-A South Bend Cubs
- South Bend had a disappointing week against the last-place Dragons, going 3-4 including dropping two of three to Dayton. They now sit at 30-25 this season and are just 5.5 games back of the Great Lakes Loons for first place in the Midwest League Eastern. The Cubs will have an off day on Monday as they come back home for a quick three-game set with the Bowling Green Hot Rods and then hit the road for the first three games of four against the Loons.
- I just can’t talk highly enough of Brennen Davis. In addition to his .381/.519/.619 slash line in his first full week in South Bend, he made multiple incredible plays while roaming the outfield in Dayton and hit his first home run. I sat just a few feet away as I watched the righty pepper the right-center gap during batting practice on Saturday afternoon. There will be more on Davis to come here at CI in the coming days.
- There is a new name for everyone who has been reading these reports. Rafelin Lorenzo looked terrific both at the plate and behind the dish last week. He homered and doubled en route to a 1.117 OPS and also showcased his arm on a beautiful Willson Contreras-like back pick at first base.
- Derek Casey put together a start on Saturday night that would have been a season-best performance if not for his no-hitter earlier in the year. He only gave up one hit in this one, a home run, in his six innings of work.
- Jack Patterson worked out of the bullpen twice last week, giving up only one run on four hits in 5.1 innings. He struck out three and walked one. The lefty’s strikeout rate this season sits at 26.9%.
- Jose Albertos is working his way back from last season, when he seemed to suffer from a case of the yips. Last week he did not allow any runs working out of the bullpen with his fastball in the mid-90’s. He walked two of the 14 batters he faced.
- Edmond Americaan made his way up to South Bend from Extended Spring Training. The 35th rounder from a season ago will help out in the outfield with the squad’s entire Opening Day starting outfield on the Injured List (Cole Roederer, Nelson Velazquez, D.J. Artis).