Chicago Cubs Weekly Farm Reports (7/5/21): Morel Has Career Week, Hermosillo and Leeper Take Home Awards

Cubs Insider took over Indianapolis this week with the Iowa Cubs in town and apparently brought the good guys some luck. EIC Evan took in a few games at Victory Field this week while Growing Cubs Podcast host Jimmy was in the house for the first three days of action. Even I got in on the action for Thursday’s extra inning loss. All three of us had the honor of hopping on the Iowa broadcast with broadcaster Alex Cohen for a bit because apparently he trusts us to not say completely ridiculous things live and on the air. 

News in the System

  • The four affiliates went a combined 14-10 this week, good for one of the best weeks of results this entire year long. It culminated on Sunday’s July 4th action with all four affiliates pulling down W’s. With the Independence Day baseball festivities being an all-time vibe, it makes me wonder about the home team’s records on the holiday over the course of baseball history.
  • By this time next week, we will be seeing new prospects injected into this farm system. The MLB Draft takes place beginning this upcoming Sunday night at 7:00 pm ET. It will continue on Monday at 1:00 pm ET and Tuesday at 12:00 pm ET.
  • Michael Hermosillo and Ben Leeper were named the Cubs’ minor league hitter and pitcher of the month respectively. Hermosillo recorded a .324 batting average and smacked four bombs. Leeper, the very rare relief pitcher award winner, put up numbers that were too hard to ignore. He had a 1.32 ERA and logged 26 strikeouts in just 13.2 innings.
  • They are not yet in full-season ball so you won’t typically see a blurb about these guys, but two of the Cubs’ top five hitting prospects went yard last week and they are worth taking a look at. Cristian Hernandez and Reggie Preciado ladies and gentlemen.

Triple-A Iowa Cubs

  • Iowa rocked it to a 4-2 record in Indy this week and it was thanks to the offense. They scored nearly six runs per game and had plenty of strong individual performances.
  • Alfonso Rivas just needed some time to get acclimated to his new assignment in Triple-A and he seems to have it figured out. The plus-contact first baseman actually showed some pop with two homers and a double. He only struck out three times in his 26 plate appearances.

  • Abiatal Avelino only struck out twice in 23 strolls to the plate while recording nine hits. One was a triple and he finished the week with a 1.002 OPS.
  • Michael Hermosillo is ready for Chicago. It was two more doubles and a homer to go along with a hard-hit ball in nearly every single at-bat. His 1.062 OPS this week was actually just barely higher than his season OPS of 1.022.
  • Another guy that is positioning himself well for another call-up to Chicago is Tony Wolters. He homered twice and doubled twice while working as the team’s primary backstop.
  • I have said it all season long, the dominance out of the Iowa bullpen mirrors what the Chicago bullpen has been doing this year. Let’s take a look at the efforts of Jake Jewell, Tommy Nance, Ben Leeper, Ryan Lawlor, and Manny Rodriguez this week. Those five men recorded 10.1 innings, giving up just two hits with no runs, three walks, and 14 strikeouts. That is absurd.

  • Mike Hauschild had a lights-out start this week, going six strong innings of three-hit ball. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out five in his shutout innings.
  • It is back to Principal Park for the I-Cubs as they take on the St. Paul Saints. The two teams are becoming awfully familiar with each other as this will already be the fourth series they have played in the young season.

Double-A Tennessee Smokies

  • Tennessee had their best week of the season, logging a 5-1 record against the Rocket City Trash Pandas at home. That props up their record to 21-31 this season.
  • Brennen Davis struck out more than you would like to see (40%) but you’ll take it when he clocks three doubles and two homers in just 20 plate appearances.
  • Chris Morel had the best week of any prospect so far this season. He banged three homers in a doubleheader on Friday and then tacked on another one for good measure. He was the definition of an all-around player, seeing time at multiple positions, notching five extra-base hits, stealing two bags, and recording an outfield assist from right field.

  • 2018 minor league player of the year, Jared Young came back from injury this week and picked up ten hits right away. He is a doubles machine and proved that with four of them in addition to a homer. His slash line this week looked absolutely silly at .556/.600/.944/1.544.
  • A couple of starters led the way on the mound with Javier Assad going for six innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, and three strikeouts and Erich Uelmen going six innings, three hits, no runs, two walks, and four strikeouts.
  • Ethan Roberts went two more no-hit innings. Call him up to Iowa already.
  • The Smokies head back out on the road for a series against the Chattanooga Lookouts. They split their last series with the Cincinnati Reds affiliate.

High-A South Bend Cubs

  • South Bend had the worst week of the four affiliates at 2-4 but it came in the form of plenty of close games. Each of their first three losses this week were one-run games.
  • Nelson Velazquez was the standout at the plate because of course he was. Two more homers now puts him as the system leader in that category with ten. Another outfield assist also has him atop that leaderboard, with six.
  • Ryan Jensen had the start of the week on the farm, going six no-hit innings. He didn’t walk a soul and recorded three punchouts. It is flashes of dominance like this that mask the rough outings we see from Jensen on occasion.
  • Matteo Bocchi also put together another dominating start. He only gave up one hit in his five innings of work and didn’t allow a run. He had four strikeouts and no walks.
  • Bradford Deppermann was moved into the bullpen to let his high-90s heat play better and he went for two innings with zeros across the board except for a strikeout.
  • Hunter Bigge also worked out of the pen and went 2.1 innings. He rocked it with five strikeouts with a whole bunch of zeros besides that.
  • The Cubs are back home at Four Winds Field for a series against the Beloit Snappers. It is the first series between the two teams since the second week of the season.

Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans

  • The young Pelicans went an even 3-3 last week and are really just one great week away from pushing their 24-29 record up close to .500.
  • Ed Howard had his best performance as a professional this week, going 4-5 with a double and a triple on Friday night. It is easy to forget this kid has only 99 plate appearances since basically his junior year of high school. I have a feeling he will be just fine.

  • Ethan Hearn is another guy that has struggled so far this season but put together a great week in what hopes to be a sign of good things to come. He had an OPS of 1.422 this week thanks to a bases-clearing double, an opposite field home run, and four walks in 17 plate appearances.
  • I think it is time for Ryan Reynolds to bump up to South Bend. He hit another four doubles this week and has a season slash of .275/.383/.538/.922.
  • DJ Herz. Five innings, three hits, one run, two walks, eight strikeouts. He is good.
  • Didier Vargas had an awfully strange week. He made two starts, going ten total innings. He gave up 13 hits – not good. He allowed four runs to cross – not ideal. But his strikeout to walk ratio? Try 15:0 on for size.
  • Carlos Ocampo continues to fly under the radar. This week he saw 3.2 innings and didn’t allow a run on one hit. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. His season WHIP is now 0.84 and opponents are hitting just .180 off of him.
  • The Birds are back on the road, playing the Augusta GreenJackets down in southern South Carolina as they face off for the third time this year.
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