Believe it or not, there was more to the Cubs minor league system this week than just the benches-clearing brawl in South Bend. While the performance by the Iowa Cubs this week also makes me want to sucker punch someone, it was the upstart Myrtle Beach Pelicans that allowed me to fully enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend. Let’s dig right in this week.
News in the System
- Now four weeks into the season, the roster shuffle at each affiliate has continued throughout the system. Thanks to multiple injuries in Chicago to go along with plenty in the minors, Iowa looks completely different from opening day and the Pelicans continue to churn through dudes that aren’t even legally drinking yet.
- Josue Huma, Vance Vizcaino, Tony Wolters, Dee Strange-Gordon, and Tyler Ladendorf were all newcomers to the Iowa lineup this week, and I guess you can immediately call them starters in the everyday lineup.
- Fabian Pertuz and Kevin Made were the freshmen on the Myrtle Beach roster, joining Yohendrick Pinango, Pablo Aliendo, Ethan Hearn, and Flemin Baustista as active hitters in the 21-and-under club.
- Top 20 pitching prospect Tyson Miller was the most recent Cub to be designated for assignment. With a 40-man roster crunch, he was the odd man out to make room for Sergio Alcántara in Chicago.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- Being swept in a series isn’t particularly surprising at any level of baseball, but going oh-fer is startling when teams play six-game series over the course of a week. Iowa “accomplished” that feat against the St. Paul Saints this week, dropping their overall record to 9-13 on the season.
- You can’t really blame the I-Cubs as they have seen their roster farmed like some Iowa crops. Rafael Ortega, P.J. Higgins, Sergio Alcantara, and Patrick Wisdom now all find themselves in Chicago after impressive runs in Des Moines.
- Abiatal Avelino is turning himself into the team’s best option at the plate and he put up an impressive week, hitting three of his five doubles on the season and recording a .933 OPS. After a brutal start to the season, Avelino is all the way up to a .296 batting average this year.
- The Cubs accomplished something I have never seen before. All 13 pitchers that threw in a game this week allowed a run to score. Every single one. The winner from all that madness is Jake Jewell, who gets the honor of being the only pitcher to not allow an earned run.
- It is worth pointing out that Cory Abbott recorded a career-best 13 strikeouts in his start on Sunday afternoon. While he allowed four runs to score on a couple of homers, he continues to miss bats at an impressive rate.
Cory Abbott missed bats all day for the @IowaCubs.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 30, 2021
- Iowa will now hit the road for a series against the Omaha Storm Chasers, a Kansas City Royals affiliate.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- It was a 2-4 week from Tennessee in a tightly fought series against the Chattanooga Lookouts. The final four games in the set ended in a one-run final score.
- We finally saw a ball off the bat of Miguel Amaya leave the yard this week, and while the power numbers have fallen shy of the marks you would like to see from the top prospect, he has still put up eye-popping results in the plate discipline department. The backstop is only striking out in 19.4% of his plate appearances while walking a career-best 20.4% of the time.
— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) May 27, 2021
- We already mentioned how Iowa was 13-for-13 in terms of pitchers giving up runs on the week, but Tennessee struggled in the same department. The Smokies were an outrageous 12-for-14 in pitchers giving up runs in their outings.
- One of the guys to not give up a run was Ethan Roberts. In fact, he didn’t give up a single hit in his three innings of work. After a rough couple of outings to start of the year, he is down to a 1.00 WHIP in 10 innings this season, while opposing hitters are mustering just a .179 average against him.
- Former fifth-round draft pick Bailey Clark announced his retirement from baseball this week. The reliever just couldn’t ever seem to stay healthy enough to make use of his big fastball. He finishes his minor league career with a 3.31 ERA and struck out more than a batter per inning.
- The Smokies will round out their two-week road trip with a trip to Birmingham to take on the Barons, a White Sox affiliate.
High-A South Bend Cubs
- South Bend put together a week of .500 baseball, going 3-3 against the Fort Wayne Tin Caps. They are now 11-12 on the very young season.
- Tyler Durna strolled to the plate 23 times this week and struck out once. The guy played a full week’s worth of games and had more extra-base hits than strikeouts. Absurd. He is one of only two players in the system to have more walks than strikeouts this season (Alcántara).
- I think we could see a promotion to Tennessee coming soon for Delvin Zinn. In addition to the tremendous defense we have seen at shortstop and the 19 straight successful stolen base attempts, he looked great at the plate over the course of the week. He hit .304 with a .360 on-base percentage.
The batter was called safe, but man is Delvin Zinn playing some really impressive defensive shortstop right now pic.twitter.com/HLZWnI4dLm
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) May 27, 2021
- You know I love to cherry-pick relievers and compile them into one giant super reliever. Today seems like a perfect opportunity thanks to the performances of Burl Carraway, Brandon Hughes, Eury Ramos, and Graham Lawson. They combined for 10.1 innings, one hit, zero earned runs, two walks, and 15 strikeouts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of these guys promoted to Tennessee very soon.
Brandon Hughes is no longer a former outfielder who now pitches. He is a PITCHER
On the season: 11.1 IP, 1.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .167 AVG, 37% K pic.twitter.com/ExHG4t3KfQ
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) May 30, 2021
- South Bend hits the road for the first time in a couple of weeks to take on the Lansing Lugnuts in a battle against the Oakland A’s farm team.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- Myrtle Beach is now the only team in the Cubs system with a record over .500 thanks to a stellar 5-1 week against the Salem Red Sox. The team is putting the ball in play a lot more and that has translated to more runs on the board. They averaged 5.7 runs per game this week.
- I promise you, not a single national publication had 19-year-old Pablo Aliendo on their radar prior to this season. But after a week where he OPS’d 1.303, he has now raised his season average to .280 with a .368 on-base percentage. He’ll pop onto more radars if he keeps this up.
- Edmond Americaan smacked a double and two triples this week and I swear he might be the fastest human being I’ve ever seen. He is still striking out too much (31.6%), but I’ve seen about enough of him in Low-A. It’s time for him to get some run in South Bend.
This literally looks like it’s being played in fast forward https://t.co/h26gvXq47W
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) May 28, 2021
- You know by now that DJ Herz is a dude. He made another start this week, going 3.2 hitless innings while striking out five and only walking one. His ERA is down to 0.75 and hitters are averaging just .079 off him.
- After three more innings of zeroes that included five strikeouts, lefty Scott Kobos has a season ERA that still reads 0.00 and has increased the K-rate to a cool 44.2%.
- The Birds are finally back home for a week after spending three of their first four on the road. They will take on a Columbia Fireflies team that is 15-9 so far this season as a member of the Kansas City Royals farm system.