The MLB trade deadline has come and gone and the big news on the farm is that the front office was able to acquire big league talent without having to give away any top prospects. But while guys like Miguel Amaya, Nico Hoerner, and Brennen Davis remain in the organization for the time being, there was still quite a bit of roster shuffling. Let’s get right into the shakeups in the system in a busy week,
News in the System
- The biggest news in the system last week revolved around the trade deadline. The front office sent away four prospects for a return of David Phelps, Nick Castellanos, and some international signing bonus money.
- Thomas Hatch will be hoping to call Canada home some day as he got sent to Toronto for Phelps. He had fallen off quite a bit over the past couple seasons and will probably look to make an impact in the bullpen in the future. Jimmy Herron was sent to Colorado for IFA money after spending the entire season in the Myrtle Beach outfield.
- Paul Richan and Alex Lange were sent to Detroit for Castellanos. It was a fair trade package for a player of that caliber and even the ultimate prospect hugger like myself happy. Richan profiles as a back-end starter and Lange, who I profiled as my first piece with CI and was pretty excited about as the 2019 season began, could be more of a reliever.
- The trades caused some chaos elsewhere in the system, where we saw plenty of promotions. The big names on the move were Jack Patterson and Erich Uelmen to Tennessee, Brailyn Marquez and DJ Artis to Myrtle Beach, Zac Taylor and Luis Vazquez to South Bend, and Alex Guerra and Pedro Martinez to Eugene.
- As always, there is a brand new Growing Cubs Podcast episode that you can listen to. If you like reading about the organization’s top prospects, you’re going to love listening to Greg and Jimmy talk about them!
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- The I-Cubs have been extremely mediocre as of late, falling to 3-3 over the last week. As has been the story across all of MiLB this year, the boys from Des Moines played plenty of shootouts. Their record now sits at 60-53 and they still occupy first place in the standings. They stay home all week this week as they face off with Las Vegas and Salt Lake.
- The exception to the Triple-A shootout rule was on Sunday when the I-Cubs were held to just one hit on the day, a double from Donnie Dewees in the 9th inning. They lost the game 5-0.
- With all the runs being scored, the bullpen has been pretty taxed over the past couple weeks. Outfielder Dewees came in to relieve the bullpen twice last week, raising his number of appearances on the mound to three this season.
- Colin Rea continued his pursuit of Chicago when September rolls around with another impressive outing. He only allowed one run on seven hits while striking out five in his six-inning start last week.
- Adbert Alzolay returned from his bicep soreness and made a short start of 2.1 innings. He only gave up one hit and did not allow a run.
- Dakota Mekkes left the game on Tuesday night with an apparent injury when he failed to record an out after facing five batters. Luckily it was just flu-like symptoms and he returned a couple days later in full force, even hitting as high as 96 mph on the gun, the hardest he has thrown all year long.
- Trent Giambrone was the big bat of the week, recording four doubles and tacking on a home run in his 20 at-bats.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- The Smokies played much better last week than they have over the majority of the second half of the season. Unfortunately, that still only put them at an even 3-3 to pull their record to 15-23. They sit in last place in the division and will be home all week for a series with Biloxi.
- The Smokies drew 10 walks as a team in Tuesday’s game. They were led by Vimael Machin and Zach Davis, who each walked three times in a 6-5 loss.
- Tyler Payne made his debut in Double-A and homered in his first game. Expect him to get the PJ Higgins treatment and get some playing time behind the dish as well as at first base and designated hitter.
- Cory Abbott is making a serious run at the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He had another lights-out start last week, going seven innings of three-hit ball while only allowing one run to score. He struck out nine batters without walking anyone.
- The relievers were out of this world last week, with Bailey Clark, Jordan Minch, Michael Rucker, Manuel Rondon, Wyatt Short, and Jake Stinnett all going at least one inning on the bump without giving up a run.
High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- The Birds went 2-4 last week, bringing their second half record to .500 (22-22). They are in a tight race and sit in third place in the division standings and are also home the entire week, playing host to Winston-Salem and Wilmington.
- DJ Artis made quite an impression in his first week in High-A, becoming the fourth player this year in the system to have a five-hit game when he did so in Friday’s 10-3 win.
- It wouldn’t be a weekly report without your fix of Jack Patterson. The June Pitcher of the Month is a surefire bet to receive the July Pitcher of the Month award after going the whole month without giving up a run. He just got the call to Tennessee, which means he will end his reign in Myrtle Beach having gone 23.2 innings of scoreless baseball. His streak as a whole is up to 34 innings and will be put to the test in his first start in Double-A.
- Jeff Passantino just keeps on showing out wherever he goes. He is in Myrtle Beach right now and last week he went six innings while only giving up one run on four hits. He struck out five and only walked one.
- It is good to see Miguel Amaya continuing to produce deep into the season after his numbers fell off toward the end of the 2018 season with South Bend. He doubled twice and homered on his way to a .923 OPS for the week.
Low-A South Bend Cubs
- South Bend was the team of the week, going 6-1 and continuing to climb in the standings in the Midwest League. They are now 24-18 this half and are only a half game out of first place. The team wraps up their series with Great Lakes at home before hitting the road in Lansing and then ending their week back at home against Fort Wayne.
- Monday’s game was one of the best offensive performances from a team this year. The Cubs combined for 17 runs on 20 hits and saw Cole Roederer, Andy Weber, and Clayton Daniel each reach base five times.
- Nelson Velazquez finally returned from injury after missing a significant portion of the year. He will look to pick up where he left off as he started off the season looking terrific.
- How does Brailyn Marquez follow up a 14-strikeout game that was quite possibly the best minor league pitching performance in years? How about by going six no-hit innings. Those back-to-back absurd performances showed the front office enough to earn the call up to High-A.
- Faustino Carrera has been under the radar this season, but some of us need to take notice. Last week he put up yet another terrific start of six innings and only one run on five hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
- Thanks in part to the explosion of runs on Monday night, five Cubs found themselves with an OPS over 1.000 by week’s end. Andy Weber (13 hits), Roederer (eight walks), Davis (two home runs), Marcus Mastrobuoni (four doubles), Luke Reynolds (six hits), and Clayton Daniel (a double and a triple) all showed up huge last week.
Short Season Eugene Emeralds
- The Ems were right behind South Bend in terms of success last week as they went 5-2, including a four-game winning streak to close out the week. The second half just started and they are now 8-5 overall and in second place. The Northwest League All-Star Game takes place on Tuesday night and the team gets an off day on Wednesday before returning to action starting on Thursday in Boise.
- A total of six arms were able to throw at least three innings on the mound without giving up a run last week. Zach Mort, Eduarniel Nunez, Blake Whitney, Chris Allen, Chris Clarke, and Hunter Bigge all fell into that category. Whitney led the way with 7.2 innings, giving up three hits and striking out six without walking anyone.
- Pedro Martinez is slashing .483/.571/.621 in his nine games in Eugene. The 18-year-old tripled twice on his way to a 1.144 OPS last week.
- Ryan Jensen looked absolutely electric again in his start last week. He struck out five of the seven batters he faced using a heater that touched triple digits and a truly devastating slider that generated his fair share of swords. This dude might just be a good draft pick after all.