Marquee Sports Network’s transition to covering much more minor league baseball has been a pleasant surprise over the last couple of weeks. In a lost season for the big boy Cubs, shedding light on a potentially bright future seems like a no-brainer and something that would draw plenty more eyeballs to the channel every night.
This system is no joke, even if the national writers seem somewhat split on where the organization falls in the grand scheme of things. It seems clear as day to me that there is more talent in the Cubs farm system than we have seen in many years.
News in the System
- There was a ton of movement as far as promotions go this week. New to Triple-A were relievers Erich Uelmen, Blake Whitney, Luis Lugo, Brendon Little, and recent signing Marcus Walden. Up to Double-A were starter Ryan Jensen and reliever Scott Kobos. Appearing in their first full-season action with the Cubs were relievers Bailey Horn and Tyler Santana. Speaking of first full-season action, up to Low-A were catcher Casey Opitz, first baseman Peter Matt, and relievers Porter Hodge and Riley Martin.
- Owen Caissie has unofficially been promoted to Myrtle Beach, according to Cubs Insider’s Greg Zumach. The 19-year-old power-hitting outfielder was part of the teenager haul for Yu Darvish during the offseason and has put up the best numbers in all of the Arizona Complex League. His slash line down in Mesa reads .345/.474/.591//1.065 with a 174 wRC+ and made it impossible for the Cubs to keep him there any longer.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- The I-Cubs put together a seven-game series this week up in St. Paul against the Saints. They ran a record of 2-5 against the Twins affiliate and now sit with a season record of 41-54.
- Abiatal Avelino keeps chugging along, improving week over week and putting together quite the season. He walked six times and recorded seven hits, including a pair of doubles. Dating back to June 29, he has a slash line of .322/.408/.445 with a lowly 17.1% strikeout rate.
- Jared Young is in his second week up at the Triple-A level and he put together an impressive performance, hitting his first homer at the level with a batting average of .333 on the week.
- It doesn’t matter what level he is at, each week I get to use this article as an opportunity to sing the praises of Ethan Roberts. He went three more innings out of the ‘pen with three more strikeouts, no runs, one hit, and one walk.
- Iowa returns home for a series against Omaha. The two teams played just a week ago out in Nebraska and the Cubs went 4-2.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- Tennessee also played seven games this week and wrapped up a homestand that saw 13 games in 13 days down in Kodak. The Smokies went 4-3 against the Birmingham Barons, t.
- Chase Strumpf has continued to turn things around at the plate, popping two doubles and a homer en route to a 1.481 OPS. Since August 3, Strumpf has a .358/.452/.642//1.093 slash line.
- Four of the six hits Nelson Maldonado banged out this week were doubles and he struck out just once in 18 plate appearances.
Chase Strumpf is feeling it. Oppo bomb! pic.twitter.com/JIde2B6Buz
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) August 22, 2021
- Although Andy Weber has had a rough season up to this point, struggling to get in a groove thanks to the injury bug, he has continued to do what he does best: Put the ball in the gap for doubles. He had two more two-baggers this week to bring his season total up to 12, good for 11th best in the system (in just 131 at-bats).
- Both Javier Assad and Caleb Kilian put together good starts. Assad went 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, one walk, and four strikeouts. Kilian tossed five innings on Marquee Friday night, allowing one run on three hits, no walks, and five strikeouts.
- Brandon Hughes went 2.2 more scoreless innings with five strikeouts. Since June 24, Hughes has a 0.42 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. Opponents are hitting just .145 off the lefty and he is striking out 36% of the batters he is facing. The lone run he has given up came on a homer.
- After wrapping up a two-week homestand, the Smokies now hit the road for two weeks. They start off with the Chattanooga Lookouts, a team they went 4-2 against back in late July.
High-A South Bend Cubs
- It was a 2-4 series for South Bend this week, dropping their record to 42-53 this year and making it look more and more unlikely they reach the .500 mark by the end of the year.
- In a system full of prospects that have been red hot, Yonathan Perlaza might be the hottest of them all. He doubled twice and hit another tank, good for a 1.050 OPS week. In 98 plate appearances since July 20, Perlaza is rocking a slash line of .352/.418/.636//1.055.
Yonathan Perlaza HR off a lefty. A hefty shot that the camera doesn’t appear to do justice. pic.twitter.com/vY0zBYdIId
— Brad (@ballskwok) August 20, 2021
- In his return from injury, Bradlee Beesley logged just 12 at-bats but somehow still cranked out two bombs and a double with six RBI.
- Joe Nahas followed up his no-hitter performance last week with another outstanding outing this week, this time out of the rotation. He went another six innings and sat down six batters by strikeout. Nahas gave up just three hits and a run while walking two men.
- Anderson Espinoza had his best outing as a Cub since coming over in the Jake Marisnick deal. He went 81 pitches (a notable amount considering he is being stretched out as a starter) and logged five innings with no runs allowed on just one hit, three walks, and seven strikeouts.
Anderson Espinoza had his best outing in the Cubs system with 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K for South Bend.
Espinoza's mid-90s FB, "gyro" slider, and his CB led the way last night.
Here's a clip of all his strikeouts and a few other of my favorite pitches from his outing. pic.twitter.com/wjPB8ZqBFl
— Ivy Futures (@IvyFutures) August 22, 2021
- The Cubs hit the road for central Illinois as they prepare to face the Peoria Chiefs, a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- The Pelicans also went 2-4 this week against the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. They have a record of 47-49 this season, which actually sticks them in second place in the Low-A East, South Division. Unfortunately, that second place standing is still 20 games out from the first place Charleston RiverDogs.
- After getting off to a hot start this season, the young Yohendrick Pinango found himself slumping over the past several weeks. He flipped the script this week as he put together a .400 batting average and 1.130 OPS and walked more than he struck out in 25 plate appearances.
You think Yohendrick Pinango knew this one was gone? pic.twitter.com/mFXhK1ZSrE
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) August 21, 2021
- Centerfielder Ezequiel Pagan had seven hits in his 17 at-bats, doubling twice and picking up a triple as well. The 21-year-old has a better than league-average strikeout rate in 169 plate appearances this year.
- DJ Herz is the man. He made his homecoming appearance in Fayetteville and put together arguably his best professional performance in front of dozens of friends and family members. He went four innings and piled up a career-best 10 strikeouts compared to three walks. He gave up a lone hit and no runs on the night. His strikeout rate is now up to 41.7% on the season. According to the super sleuthing Bryan Smith of Bleacher Nation, that number is the best EVER for a pitcher with at least 10 starts in A-ball.
This is the absolute coolest https://t.co/UYZWMZyqyx
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) August 21, 2021
- Riley Martin, the Quincy University legend, made quite the first impression with the Birds. He went 2.2 innings working out of the ‘pen, striking out four and recording zeros besides a single hit.
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) August 19, 2021
- Myrtle Beach finishes the season with three of the last four series at home on the beach. They start off that stretch with a series against the Columbia Fireflies beginning Tuesday night.