Minor League IPA: Kilian Whets Our Appetites, Davis Has Back Surgery, García Joins KBO, PCA Stays Hot at South Bend
Now that Caleb Kilian has made his big league debut, it’s fair to wonder who’s next in the pipeline. It could be Kilian himself since the Cubs sent him back to Iowa on Sunday, but that’s not what I had in mind. Of the team’s top prospects, Brennen Davis and Brailyn Márquez were closest to the majors prior to injury concerns derailing their trajectories.
Kilian whetted our appetites, though the decision not to keep him up feels a little unfulfilling. Like many of our staff and readers, I felt the young righty looked pretty polished on Saturday night and I don’t think he has anything left to prove in the minor leagues. I know the organization wants to take the conservative approach, Kilian would be better off facing major league hitters as a starter or reliever at this point in his career.
On top of that, Kilian is surrounded by so much filler at Iowa that it’s almost concerning. A staff that includes Mark Leiter Jr., Stephen Gonsalves, Robert Gsellman, and Steven Brault probably can’t help the young man much while they’re fighting to keep their careers alive. One of those pitchers will probably be the next to get the call to Chicago and Cubs fans will have to wait patiently on the rest of the team’s exciting prospects.
The first wave should start storming Wrigley Field next season, with the players most likely to join Kilian, Christopher Morel, and Nelson Velázquez in Chicago including Davis, Márquez , and Miguel Amaya. The team may look to DJ Herz or Jordan Wicks for a spot start in a doubleheader next year, and Alexander Canario could be a September 2023 callup.
The Cubs are setting themselves up nicely to potentially contend in 2025, so fans will just have to be a little more patient. Though Jed Hoyer refuses to say the team is rebuilding, the fact of the matter remains that, at least by intent, Chicago is still at Stage 1 of what is a six-benchmark plan to get back to playing competitive baseball. Kilian’s debut was a nice indication of what’s to come, yet still so very far away.
Affiliate News & Notes
- Davis had back surgery on Thursday to relieve pressure on a nerve that was caused by a vascular malformation. A full recovery is expected.
- Robel García, one of the hottest hitters in the Cubs organization, has been released to pursue an opportunity overseas. García will head to Korea, where he’ll play for the LG Twins on a deal worth $180,000
- Kilian has been the talk of the organization but rookie Matt Swarmer is a solid addition to the rotation and has been dynamite in his two starts.
- The two hurlers represent Chicago’s future.
- Myrtle Beach fell 2-1 to Delmarva on Saturday night. Though Kevin Made had a good game at the plate, the Pelicans were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
- At South Bend, outfield prospect Yohendrick Pinango launched his eighth home run of the season on Saturday. Pinango’s hitting streak ended at 17 games after he was held hitless on Sunday.
- Daniel Palencia, Riley Martin, and Didier Vargas combined to strike out 16 batters in South Bend’s 6-2 loss to Dayton Sunday afternoon. Martin was lights out in 3.1 innings of work, notching seven punchouts.
- Bailey Horn — the left-handed pitcher the Cubs received from the White Sox in the Ryan Tepera deal — has a 0.00 ERA through his first 12.1 innings out of the bullpen with South Bend and Tennessee.
When you think to yourself that Pete Crow-Armstrong still has some projection left, you start looking forward to seeing which front office Hoyer will bamboozle at this year’s deadline. I loved Javier Báez, and though it may be sacrilege to say so, I think we’re all going to love PCA even more. Someone had to say it first.
PCA to CF.
Third-ranked @Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong went dead center off the batter's eye for his first High-A homer with the @SBCubs. pic.twitter.com/FcrtmDYt4C
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 5, 2022
Craft Beer of the Day
Kentucky Tangerine Cream Ale by Alltech’s Lexington Brewery – It’s a Dreamsicle in a bottle with a 5.5% ABV kick. I enjoyed my Kentucky Tangerine Cream Ale with some spicy beef fried rice from a new Asian Fusion joint in Milwaukee and the pairing was fantastic. The aroma bursts with vanilla and tangerine and a hint of malt, which slightly reduces the citrus notes at the first sip. I’m not one to drink fruit-flavored beers, but it beats the hell out of Summer Shandy, though I’ll take some serious crap from my fellow Milwaukeeans for saying so. Most craft beer geeks won’t like this cream ale as much as I do, or at least they’ll say so publicly. Beer Advocate scored it an 87, it’s a great summer beer, and I think you’ll agree if you give it a try.
950 Miles to Chicago
Wicks is a left-handed strike-thrower with a solid frame and when you add the fact that he strikes out about 10.2 batters per nine innings, the profile screams Jon Lester. The 22-year-old from Kansas State has an above-average fastball that has spin and late life in the upper portion of the strike zone. Wicks also has a plus changeup with very good late arm side fade and decent sink. He needs to improve his curveball and slider, though both are on the come.
Jordan Wicks at his best @cubprospects pic.twitter.com/YPBV8wxOYK
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) June 1, 2022
His four-pitch arsenal and plus changeup should make him a future mainstay in Chicago’s rotation. If he can properly develop the breaking stuff, he’ll make a solid No. 2-3 starter when the Cubs are ready to make their next postseason run.
Children of the Corn
Orioles’ top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 right lat strain and his season could be over.
Nearly a year after being drafted and then not signed by the Mets, former Vanderbilt ace Kumar Rocker made his debut with the independent Tri-City Valley Cats of the Frontier League. Rocker will be eligible for this year’s draft.
Twins No. 9 prospect Spencer Steer hit three home runs on Sunday, giving him a total of four over the weekend.
Rays’ starter Shane Baz notched 10 strikeouts over 4.1 innings in a rehab outing for Durham.
- “Coolest ballpark ever. What a place to debut. It was so cool. I got to at least get [to Wrigley Field] early and check out the place, get comfortable. It was breathtaking when I first walked out there, to see this place.” – Kilian
- “You gotta give a lot of credit to [Swarmer and Kilian] and the guys [being able] to handle the excitement of playing at Wrigley Field. When I went to bring (David Robertson in — bases loaded, and we got a doubleheader — [it] felt like a playoff atmosphere. I look around, and this is what we do this for. This is fun. And they’re handling that so well. I’m just super proud of our group today. We’re coming along.” – David Ross
Midnight City by M83 – I really thought this shoegaze outfit from Antibes, France had what it took to break into the mainstream when this Grammy-nominated single dropped in 2011. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, as that whole Portlandia ambient-pop vibe quickly became a caricature of itself.