I had the privilege of taking in plenty of Iowa Cubs action this week as the Triple-A squad traveled to my stomping grounds in Columbus to take on the Clippers. Apparently, this (big-time) blogging gig is enough to get a guy credentialed these days, so I took in the action from the press box for most of the week. I was able to make my way down to the field for BP and interviewed a few players, some of which will be turned into articles here at CI in the coming weeks.
While I was able to watch the Iowa offense go crazy, the rest of the system followed suit as the summer heat is really allowing the ball to fly all over the ballpark.
News in the System
- It appears the draft class is finally being put together as nearly all of the players that are expected to sign contracts have done so. Second-rounder James Triantos inked his deal earlier in the week and the class is looking awfully pretty. In fact, several of the early-round draft picks have already made their way down to Mesa for an introduction to pro ball.
— John Antonoff (@baseballinfocus) July 24, 2021
Several @cubs 2021 draft picks were sighted at the ACL game tonight, including @CaseyOpitz @CF13_ @pchavers14 Liam Spencer and Matt Peters. @Riley_Martin16 and Drew Grey. Didn't get a picture of 1st rounder Jordan Wicks, but he did sign a ball for me! pic.twitter.com/bFYAOMOWdV
— Rich Biesterfeld (@biest22) July 23, 2021
- This might be quite the update next week as the MLB trade deadline will have come and gone. With that, we could see an influx of new prospects that could force some major reconfiguring at each of the four affiliates as players are promoted and re-assigned.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- Iowa wrapped up their two-week road trip with a 3-3 series split against the aforementioned Columbus Clippers. Runs were pretty easy to come by against the brutal Clippers pitching staff as the Cubs averaged 7.5 per game including a 15-run outburst on Tuesday night.
- Arguably the hottest hitter in the Cubs system and a shoo-in for an MLB roster spot post-deadline, Michael Hermosillo went down with an injury on Wednesday night and hit the IL two days later. Hermosillo was slashing .313/.436/.575/1.011 up to that point.
- Five different hitters put up an OPS over 1.000 over the course of at least 15 plate appearances this week: Nick Martini, Andrew Romine, Sergio Alcántara, Trayce Thompson, and Alfonso Rivas.
- Martini hit three tanks this week, one of which went over the scoreboard in right-center. I’ve been to dozens of games in that ballpark and never seen that happen before.
Nick Martini just hit one over this scoreboard. Over it. The entire god damn thing. Mammoth blast. https://t.co/mQopkivtlS
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) July 25, 2021
- Romine doubled twice and tripled while playing really good defense at shortstop. The same could be said for Alcántara, who doubled and homered in his return down to Iowa. Even the outs he made were hit hard on a line to all three outfield positions.
- Rivas walked 10 times over 28 plate appearances, including a night where he went 1-for-1 with a double and FOUR walks. He raised his BB%+ (league-adjusted, 100 is average) from 87 before this week to 149 when the series came to a close.
Just enough to clear the wall. pic.twitter.com/MwvoZ2W6mB
— Brad (@ballskwok) July 24, 2021
- The pitching was overshadowed a bit by all that impressive hitting (I forgot to mention Thompson homered thrice), but it is worth mentioning another good week from the underrated Jake Jewell. The righty went 3.1 innings with only one hit allowed and no walks, no runs. He struck out four.
- The Cubs finally head back home for a series with the Louisville Bats, their first of the year.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- Tennesse got just five games in this week, with Sunday’s action postponed to a future date. They went 2-3 against Rocket City to bring their record to 29-38 this year.
- Brennen Davis hit three more home runs this week because he can. He is up to 11 bombs this year and leads the system with 14 doubles.
BRENNEN DAVIS 🍪 pic.twitter.com/AnPN66i5LK
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) July 22, 2021
- Nelson Maldonado continued his hot stretch, recording seven hits with a double and a homer on his way to a 1.008 OPS.
- Christopher Morel rounds out the red-hot trio, posting a 1.154 OPS this week thanks to his two-homer night and adding a double later in the week.
- Dakota Chalmers again showcased his filthy curveball on the mound when he made a five inning start. He didn’t allow a run on just one hit and three walks while setting five down on strikes.
- The Smokies head back home for a series with the Chattanooga Lookouts. They handled the Reds affiliate for three out of four games in another shortened series back in early July.
High-A South Bend Cubs
- It was a bit of a rough week for South Bend, going 2-4 against Wisconsin and pulling their record this season to 32-39. With the Myrtle Beach roster loaded up with young prospects that aren’t yet ready for the push to the next level, you might start to see some draft picks make their way to Indiana at some point in the coming weeks. That means guys like Casey Opitz, Christian Franklin, and Chase Watkins.
- I’ll lead off by saying I made a pledge this week to donate $10 to Bleacher Nation’s trade deadline blog-a-thon for every Delvin Zinn stolen base in the series. Brett Taylor and the gang do a great thing every year by teaming up with Make-A-Wish and Zinn did his thing, too. He stole four bases over the course of the week.
- Dean Nevarez made quite the impression in his first couple games in the system, homering in his first at-bat with South Bend. Game two, at-bat number one? Another bomb.
- Yonathan Perlaza was the star of the South Bend hitters this week, hitting two bombs and three doubles in just 15 plate appearances. That’s good for an absurd 1.676 OPS.
- We got the good version of Burl Carraway this week, especially in his first game out of the ‘pen when he went two innings and struck out five without allowing a hit, walk, or run.
- Chris Clarke made his long-awaited full-season debut on Sunday. After being delayed in Arizona for the first few months of the season, he came out as a starter and threw an impressive four innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out three.
- The Cubs continue this road trip over to the Quad Cities for a date with the Kansas City affiliate. The River Bandits are the best team in the High-A Central this season with a record of 46-24.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- Myrtle Beach saw a bit of everything this week, going 2-4 in their series with Charleston. They scored 15 runs in one game, were shut out twice, gave up 11 runs, and finished on a three-game losing skid.
- Another good week from Jordan Nwogu as the big outfielder doubled, tripled, and homered. His OPS+ is all the way up to 95 this season after a brutal first couple months.
- The same kind of turnaround is happening for Ethan Hearn, who homered twice this week and recorded slash line of .294/.333/.647.
- Pablo Aliendo walked five times while doubling twice and sending a homer out to left field. He has been arguably the biggest breakout player in the system this year and has 13 extra-base hits despite playing in a bad hitting environment in Myrtle.
- DJ Herz, rocking a new #7 jersey, set down seven batters via the strikeout in his 4.1 inning start. One run crossed the plate and he walked three while throwing 79 pitches.
- It’s back on the road for the Pelicans for a two-week trip beginning in Augusta against the GreenJackets. The Birds hold an 8-10 record against Augusta this season.