Chicago Cubs Weekly Farm Report (6/21/21): Brennen Davis Incredible, Results Showing Up For Chris Morel
Although this is a weekly report for all the happenings of Cubs minor leaguers, I usually use this introduction to give my thoughts on, well, whatever the heck I want. This week, I wanted to take a moment to point out the fact that the men’s baseball College World Series began this past weekend and will continue for the next week or so. The atmosphere of the crowd, energy from the players, and passion by everyone involved make college baseball feel almost completely different than any form of pro ball and I would absolutely recommend tuning in for at least a couple games this week.
If you want a rooting interest, I can point you in the direction of schools that were once home to some Cubs players: Virginia (Andy Weber, Derek Casey, Caleb Knight), Texas (Ryan Reynolds, Matteo Bocchi), Stanford (Nico Hoerner), Arizona (Alfonso Rivas), and Tennessee (Vance Vizcaino).
Speaking of college players, the word is officially out that my Growing Cubs Pod co-host Jimmy Nelligan and I will be back for our second annual live draft show on The Rant Live. This year we will be joined by Greg Zumach as we cover the entire first round of the draft leading up to the Cubs selection at No. 21. We will also be joined by several guests along the way. For more information on the draft, be sure to check out CI’s primer!
News in the System
- A couple players returning to the lineup headline the big news in the system. After missing a few weeks due to a lower body injury, Ed Howard was back hitting second and playing shortstop for the Pelicans this week. The time off might have served as a good breather for one of the Cubs’ top prospects after a rough start to the season.
- Trent Giambrone is also back and manning shortstop. He missed the early portion of the season tending to family matters and, after some fine-tuning in Mesa, he is back to Iowa where he serves as important utilityman depth for the Cubs.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- Thanks to a rainout on Sunday’s game that actually got kicked off but was never completed, Iowa finished the week at 3-2 and above .500 for the week for the first time since the third series of the year. They are 14-25 this season.
- Would this be a farm report without mentioning Michael Hermosillo? The answer is no. The MiLB vet hit two more doubles and a homer this week. His OPS is now a whopping 46% better than league average this year and he is both striking out and walking at better rates than the rest of the Triple-A East.
- There seems to be a revolving door at backup catcher in Chicago these days and Tony Wolters is making his case for a second go-round. He hit a mammoth home run on his way to a 1.063 OPS this week.
Right back in it! Tony Wolters CRUSHES this three-run shot to put us down one in the seventh. pic.twitter.com/ilFKtEMiYX
— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) June 19, 2021
- Jake Jewell continues to impress on the mound, going four more scoreless frames. He gave up a hit and a walk while striking out six batters.
- Matt Swarmer has been super streaky this year but this week’s start was a success, going six innings of four-hit ball, giving up a run on a homer, and striking out three without allowing a walk.
- The I-Cubs are at home this week against the Omaha Storm Chasers, a team they are 4-7 against in the early going this year.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- It was an even 3-3 week for Tennessee, improving their record to 14-26 on the season. Their season run differential sits at -31.
- Chris Morel had been on a streak of drawing more walks than strikeouts over the past few weeks, something that showed tremendous development progress from the exciting utilityman. But that hadn’t generated actual statistical success until this week. He logged three doubles and a homer en route to a .304/.385/.565 week.
My goodness, what a night Morel had. Shows off the arm from the hole at SS here: pic.twitter.com/uRQAar3eSq
— Brad (@ballskwok) June 18, 2021
- Brennen Davis, DJ Artis, Nelson Maldonado, and Carlos Sepulveda all logged consistent at-bats and scored a weekly OPS over the 1.000 mark. The quartet combined for 32 hits including seven doubles and four bombs.
.@DJArtis0 MURDERS this ball! Holy Hannah! Score tied at 6! #CubTogether pic.twitter.com/LnkmweZCY8
— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) June 18, 2021
- Manny Rodriguez returned from the injured list and was lights out in the bullpen. He and former starter Bryan Hudson make for a pretty dominant pairing late in games and they combined for a solid 7.2 innings this week, giving up just four hits and no walks with eight strikeouts on the ledger.
- The Smokies hit the road to play against the Mississippi Braves for the first time this year. They are an affiliate of, you guessed it, the Atlanta Braves. The M-Braves have an impressive 25-17 record this year.
High-A South Bend Cubs
- After hovering around the .500 mark for much of the season, South Bend took a real step back this week, going 1-5 against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The bullpen was a real problem and the staff as a whole gave up 7.5 runs per game.
- As you could guess, there wasn’t anyone to write home about from a statistical perspective on the mound this week. But while Ryan Jensen’s final line of 5.1 innings, five hits, and six earned runs doesn’t look pretty, the performance actually tells a different story. He actually made it through five full innings and then struck out the first batter he faced in the 6th. That put him at an incomplete line of 5.1 innings, one hit (HR), five strikeouts, and a walk. He followed that up by going triple, hit-by-pitch, single, single, homer, walk. It was a really strong outing…until it wasn’t.
- Yonathan Perlaza was the big bat this week, thanks mostly to his two giant homers and his ability to draw free passes (seven walks and an HBP in 25 plate appearances). The converted outfielder is quietly putting together a .804 OPS season.
Mr. June is Yonathan Perlaza pic.twitter.com/KSwOIYQZDC
— Todd ⚾️🐻 (@CubsCentral08) June 18, 2021
- South Bend is back home for a series against the same Fort Wayne TinCaps team they got into a massive brawl with just a few short weeks ago. Tune in for some potential fireworks.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- Much like their South Bend friends, the Pelicans were sitting pretty around .500 coming into this week. They wrap up their most recent series with an 18-23 record thanks to a 1-5 week against Charleston in which they had to steal away a rain-shortened game on Sunday to salvage their lone victory.
- Outfielders Jacob Wetzel and Jonathan Sierra both recorded an OPS over 1.000 thanks to Wetzel’s homer and Sierra’s three doubles.
I love when Jacob Wetzel goes yard because I get to tag him with the best Twitter handle of all time @wetzhispants #CubTogether pic.twitter.com/oMIlQJwveR
— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) June 19, 2021
- Jose Miguel Gonzalez was on piggyback duty this week and threw 4.1 innings out of the pen. It was a really strong outing, too. He didn’t give up a run or a walk, recorded just one hit allowed, and registered five punchies.
- 2021 MiLB signings Tyler Sullentrop and Gabriel Jamarillo were also impressive out of the bullpen this week. Combined, they went six innings of work, allowing no earned runs on three hits while putting together an 11:2 strikeout to walk ratio.
- The young Birds are back on the road coming up for six games as they travel to Columbia to try to capture those Fireflies.