Chicago Cubs Weekly Farm Report (9/3/19): Iowa and South Bend Clinch in Last Week of Season, Nico Hoerner Never Strikes Out

The minor league regular season has ended, so this will be the last of 21 of these Weekly Farm Reports. I have enjoyed bringing each and every one of them to the eyeballs of all of my fellow prospect-huggers out there and I hope you have loved following this system as much as I have.

This was my first season with Cubs Insider, and I am already itching for the craziness that will be the 2020 season. Let’s take one last look at the system in the final regular season edition of this series.

News in the System

  • The organization was fortunate enough to see two of their teams force their way into their respective postseasons, with the Iowa Cubs and South Bend Cubs each clinching last Friday night. It is the first time Iowa has made it to the playoffs since 2008 and first time for South Bend since 2016.
  • Arizona Fall League rosters were announced, with the Cubs sending quite the group down to Mesa to play with the Solar Sox. The squad will be led by top prospects Nico Hoerner and Miguel Amaya, with Keegan Thompson and Erich Uelmen making up for lost time due to injury. Jared Young and Jordan Minch round out the six attendees.
  • September call-ups meant plenty of roster shuffling throughout the organization. With Ben Zobrist, Daniel Descalso, Duane Underwood Jr., Brad Wieck, Taylor Davis, Robel Garcia, Albert Almora Jr., Alec Mills, and Adbert Alzolay all being taken away from Iowa, more players had to be bumped up for the playoff run.
  • Kendall Graveman is up and on his way back from injury, joined by Craig Brooks, Michael Rucker, Charcer Burks, Jordan Minch, and Vimael Machin.

Triple-A Iowa Cubs

  • In addition to clinching the division on Friday with a win, the I-Cubs went 5-3 over the course of the week. They finished the season with a record of 75-65 and face off against the Round Rock Express in the PCL semifinals this week. The festivities kick off on Wednesday night and will go through the weekend if all five games are necessary.
  • Randy Rosario proved last week that the Cubs choosing not to DFA him was the right decision. He struck out five of the nine batters he faced and did not allow a run on one hit.
  • The MLB roster is getting a couple of players riding hot streaks, with Alzolay going four no-hit innings with five strikeouts last week and Garcia smoking two homers and a triple en route to 10 RBI in just 24 plate appearances.

Double-A Tennessee Smokies

  • The Smokies finished the season on a positive note at 4-3 last week and, while the season was ultimately unsuccessful with a record of 58-81, there were still encouraging moments and players throughout the course of the season. The team will be infused with some top talent in 2020 as the high-upside players in the lower minors make their way up the ladder.
  • As if it isn’t the most appropriate ending to the season, Cory Abbott finished the year with yet another incredible start. Six innings, two hits, no runs, and 10 strikeouts. A perfect exclamation point to a Minor League Pitcher of the Year resume.
  • Jack Patterson also ended on a strong note and will get a least a little love in talk for the aforementioned award. He made a start back from off the IL and went three no-hit innings.
  • Hoerner prepped for his second straight appearance in the Arizona Fall League by going .391/.440/.435 and only striking out once in his 25 plate appearances.

High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans

  • The Birds reverted back to their first half ways last week, going 2-5 to put their second half record just below the .500 mark at 34-35. That was actually far better than their season-long record of 55-81, which should improve next season as the result of a roster filled with some more high-upside talent highlighted by some top pitching prospects. 
  • Jeff Passantino wrapped up his extremely strong season with one heck of a start. He was able to go six innings, giving up one run and striking out eight without walking anyone. Who knows where he could start out next season, but he has shown he can compete at each level in 2019.
  • Lefty Ryan Lawlor was strong out of the bullpen, going 4.2 innings without allowing a run on two hits. He struck out eight of the 18 batters he faced.
  • The big bat last week in a grouping of games that had little to choose from went to Kevonte Mitchell. He put up a 13.6% walk rate and had an OPS of .944 thanks to his eight hits.

Low-A South Bend Cubs

  • The even 4-4 record the Cubs put up last week was just enough for them to clinch their playoff berth. Thanks to their second half record of 39-30, they will face off in a best-of-three series with the Bowling Green Hot Rods starting at home on Wednesday night. Their 76-61 overall season record wasn’t too shabby.
  • Brendan King was as good as I have seen him all year, logging five total innings and striking out 10 batters without walking any. He did not give up a run on two hits.
  • Hot bats propelled the team last week, led by Nelson Maldonado. He had a ridiculous 14 hits including three doubles, a triple, and a homer.
  • I was able to make it to Fort Wayne for Friday night’s matchup with the TinCaps and the player that really stuck out to me was 5-foot-7 Clayton Daniel. The second baseman looks advanced at the plate, rock solid at the keystone, and just puts up numbers. His line last week read .433/.469/.600 and he had 13 hits.
  • Nelson Velazquez has killed it ever since he returned from an extended stay on the IL. Last week he tripled twice as well as homering and doubling, good for a 1.043 OPS.

Short Season Eugene Emeralds

  • The Ems limped to a 2-5 record last week, winning the last two games of the season and breaking up a six-game losing streak. The 17-21 record they put together in the second half was good for third best in the division, as was their 33-43 overall record. It was really a tale of three mini-seasons, as they got off to an awful start before the 2019 college draftees made their way to town. Once Chase Strumpf, Zac Taylor, and others arrived, the team went on a tear. Then those guys advanced up the organizational ladder and Eugene fell back down to earth to finish off the year.
  • Michael McAvene is a dude and he will be for years to come. Last week he worked four more innings and only gave up one hit and no runs, striking out six men while only walking one. I would love to see him converted to the bullpen but every indication is that the Cubs plan on keeping him in the rotation for as long as possible.
  • Edmond Americaan remained hot as ever last week, homering twice in addition to a double and triple. He was the best hitter for Eugene over the course of the season and it was great to see him really turn it on as the season wore on.

Thank you for reading this year and be on the lookout for plenty of work here at CI regarding the minor league system during the offseason. As always, you will be able to find player profiles, special pieces, and information on top prospects in the months to come.

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Greg Huss

Greg has spent the last eight years immersed in the Cubs farm system and covers everything you need to know about the team's top prospects. When he isn't watching a baseball game, you can typically find him holding on to the false hope that is Illinois basketball or watching countless hours of mid-major basketball. He is a recent graduate of Ball State University and calls Columbus, Ohio home.

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