Chicago Cubs Weekly Farm Report (8/16/21): Complex League Teenagers Not System’s Only Bright Spots

The Chicago Cubs are a very bad baseball team providing a wildly frustrating product for fans to tune into every night. Fortunately, the Cubs’ player development pipeline is ridiculously entertaining right now and there is an incredible performance on the farm just about every day.

Coming from someone who used to struggle to find a worthwhile product on MiLB.TV on a nightly basis, I feel like I’m 7 years old again and my mom just dropped me off at Toys R Us and said, “You can take home one thing.”

News in the System

  • The South Bend Cubs threw a no-hitter on Thursday night, the FIFTH no-no this year for the Cubs organization (MLB Cubs, I-Cubs x2, Pelicans). New Cubs prospect Alexander Vizcaíno started the game with two strong innings, followed by Joe Nahas, who logged six innings as a piggybacker. Burl Carraway closed things out in the 9th inning.

  • I only focus on the full-season affiliates here in this weekly report, but it is absolutely worth pointing out that the Arizona Complex League version of the Cubs is loaded with some of the top bats in the system and they are performing admirably. Owen Caissie leads the league in OPS (1.129) while Reggie Preciado sports a .370/.420/.537 slash line. Kevin Alcantara (part of the Rizzo deal) is still basically brand new to the league but is already has two homers and 11 hits in just eight games.

Triple-A Iowa Cubs

  • It was a big, big week from the I-Cubs as they ran to a record of 5-1 while putting up three separate outings of double-digit runs. They are 40-48 this season.
  • Jared Young received a well-deserved promotion up to Iowa after tearing it up in Double-A. Michael Hermosillo was also back in the lineup after a leg injury kept him out for nearly three weeks. Hermosillo picked up right where he left off with a double and two homers in just 11 at-bats.

  • Nick Martini continues to mash as he has been as productive as any bat in the system over the last month. His double and two homers this week puts his OPS at 1.066 since July 13.

  • Alfonso Rivas also stayed hot this week as he went 11-for-22 at the plate. No player in the system has a better on-base percentage than Rivas (.411) in as many plate appearances (192).
  • Keegan Thompson continues to dominate in his return to the rotation. He made two more starts totaling 8.1 innings and gave up no runs on three hits and a walk while striking out nine.
  • Tony Cingrani is a member of the Chicago Cubs organization. Yes, that happened this year. And don’t look now, but he is kind of tearing it up. His 2.2 scoreless innings with five strikeouts puts him at 7.2 innings with no earned runs and 10 strikeouts this year.
  • Iowa now travels up to St. Paul for a series with the Saints, with whom they split a six-game set back in early July.

Double-A Tennessee Smokies

  • Speaking of splits, the Smokies went 3-3 in their series with Rocket City this week. While they clearly have the most talented roster in the system, Tennessee also has the worst record at 38-48.
  • Eury Ramos got the promotion up to Tennessee this week after recording a .149 average against while in South Bend. Alex Katz also made his return to Kodak after spending the last several weeks pitching for Israel’s national team in the Olympics.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Brennen Davis, Nelson Maldonado, and Nelson Velazquez had huge weeks.
  • Davis, the top prospect in the system, slashed .333/.478/.444 and dramatically cut down on the strikeouts, posting a 17.4% K-rate this week.
  • Maldonado doubled twice and homered in his 21 at-bats, mostly out of the designated hitter position.

  • Velazquez earned my non-existent award for player of the week because he hit four bombs. He leads the system with 17 homers and six of his eight hits this week were of the extra-base variety.
  • The Smokies wrap up their two-week homestand with a series against the Birmingham Barons. Look for plenty of offense from a lineup that features a middle of the order of Maldonado-Davis-Velazquez-Strumpf-Balego. Stacked.

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High-A South Bend Cubs

  • Let’s hope the South Bend Cubs don’t follow in the footsteps of their parent club as they dropped the final three games in the series following their no-hitter on Thursday night. They would have to go on a truly brutal stretch to mimic the Chicago team’s output following their combined no-hitter. After splitting three wins and three losses this week, they are now 40-49 this season.
  • Look at that! We have a 2021 draft pick playing at a full-season affiliate. Fifth rounder Liam Spence suited up for the Cubs at both shortstop and second base this week and recorded two singles in his first game with the club.
  • Luis Vazquez returned to the lineup on Sunday afternoon, his first action since going down with an arm injury the very first week of the season. He got two hits in his first game back.
  • Add Yonathan Perlaza to the group of incredibly hot hitters right now. He doubled, homered, stole a base, and walked as much as he struck out.

  • Beyond the no-hitter, South Bend got some stellar performances on the bump. Ryan Jensen came back from the development list to go four innings of one-hit ball. Matteo Bocchi also gave up only one hit in his 5.2 innings of piggyback work. Max Bain gave up three hits in six innings but no runs, his second straight great start since returning from the development list.
  • Danis Correa received the promotion up from the beach, where he finished with stats of a 1.73 ERA, .128 opponent batting average, and ridiculous 41.5% strikeout rate.
  • South Bend now returns home for a series against Quad Cities. The River Bandits are a strong 59-29 this year to lead the division by a solid eleven games.

Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans

  • The Pelicans split their series with the best team in minor league baseball, the first time Charleston hadn’t won a series since early June. I consider that a major win for a Myrtle Beach team that saw two of their games this week featured on Marquee Sports Network.
  • The Birds have had just 53 players suit up for them this season, by far the fewest of any affiliate in the system. For reference, South Bend has had 66 non-rehabbing players take the field for them.
  • It really wasn’t a huge week for either the bats or the arms in Myrtle, but Matt Warkentin put together a good performance thanks to a triple and a homer that elevated his OPS to 1.140 on the week.
  • Jarod Wright worked as the piggyback reliever on Marquee Thursday night. He went four strong innings and gave up just one run on a home run. The Riverdogs added another hit but Wright struck out six in the outing.
  • The Birds hit the road to face Fayetteville for the first time this year. The Woodpeckers are a Houston affiliate and have a record of 39-50 this year compared to Myrtle Beach’s 45-45 mark.
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