A little late as I was watching the Blackhawks last night. In between that and a disappointing Cubs finale, I did get a chance to see Myrtle Beach, Duane Underwood, and Billy McKinney. We also have video from the crew @PelicansBaseball and an interview with Billy McKinney via Chasing the Dream, who also supplied the photo above.
Meanwhile at Iowa, Arismendy Alcantara could be nearing a call-up for a couple of different reasons (see below) and the Tennessee Smokies outfield, perhaps the best defensively at any level in the Cubs organization, flashed some leather again today. ICYMI it yesterday, Jacob Hannemann fooled the umpire with a catch against the wall...
Today it was Bijan Rademacher, which you will see in the Smokies portion of the recap.
- A lot of familiar names on the mound today starting with Tsuyoshi Wada who had his second strong outing in a row since his session with Chris Bosio, going 5.2 innings and allowing just a solo HR. He walked 2 and struck out 6. Wada tends to live high in zone and has been prone to the occasional HR, but he also gets some swings and misses up there with a fastball that tops out around 92-93, but usually sits high 89-91.
- Gonzales Germen retired all 4 batters he faced, 2 via strikeout and moved to -30. He has yet to allow an earned run at Iowa.
- At 27 years with average stuff, and a rather maxed out 5'11" frame, Blake Cooper isn't your classic pitching prospect, but in the tradition of Frank Batista, he just gets people out. He worked a perfect inning of his own with one strikeout to lower his ERA to 1.84 on the year.
- Brian Schlitter continued the streak, working a perfect 9th, striking out 2 to earn his first save at Iowa.
- Arismendy Alcantara has shown a few signs of being his old self lately but I think the Cubs will try to be patient and get him those 500 AAA PAs. The good news? He currently has 434 of them over the past two years. Alcantara did what he does best, showing a little plate discipline (walk), speed (his 2nd SB of the year), and surprising power (his 4th HR). He drove in two and scored a run.
- Veterans Jonathan Mota and Mike Baxter each went 2 for 4 with a runs scored. Both have had strong season with Mota hitting .315 and playing just about every position but catcher and CF. Baxter is hitting .314 with a .415 OBP.
- Corey Black had some command issues today, walking 4 batters in 5 innings, allowing 3 runs. It seems to me Black has cleaned up his delivery as I haven't seen him overthrow all that much this year, but he continues to struggle to harness his mid 90s (in short spurts and early in games) fastball and hard slider. He's almost certainly destined for the bullpen where he can let loose and the lack of plus command isn't quite as big an issue. Black has a respectable 3.82 ERA and has allowed hitters to bat just .213 while striking out 30 in 30.2 innings. The only blemish is the 15 walks.
- Pitcher wins, losses, and saves don't always tells us about his performance. Fernando Cruz pitched 3 innings of one-hit baseball, walking none and striking out 4 without allowing an earned run. However, that unearned run was costly as it tied the game and Cruz was charged with a blown save. He did, however, create some of his own issues in the 6th with a hit batsmen and a wild pitch that brought the run home.
- Stephen Perakslis allowed 3 hits in just 2/3 of anning to take the walk-off loss.
- Not much offense for the Smokies despite the 4 runs. Albert Almora (.310/.342/.352) went 1 for 4 with a run scored but committed a rare error in the field, his first of the year. Kyle Schwarber (.329/.450/.608) also had a hit and a run scored.
- Three of those runs were driven home on a bases-loaded double by Bijan Rademacher, who also made the great catch below. But the one blemish to an otherwise great game was the error in the 6th that eventually scored the tying run.
Rademacher's sliding catch...
- Duane Underwood was masterful with a fastball that touched 95 and a sharp-breaking curveball that he located well. He was engaged in a pitcher's duel with Daniel McGrath, who took a no-hitter into the 6th, but it was Underwood who was far more impressive between the two. He walked just one batter in 7 efficient innings but it was one mistake that cost him, leaving a pitch up that was crushed for a solo HR and ultimately gave Underwood a no-decision. He is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA, but this may have been his best performance of the year based on stuff and command.
- Juan Paniagua pitched 2 scoreless innings and was slinging 95 mph FBs, though he may add a few more ticks as the season goes on. He also threw a change which was about 15 mph slower than the FB, which has helped keep hitters honest. The 25 year old will likely work out of the pen in an effort to speed up his progress through the system. He has pitched 5 innings this year without giving up a hit or a walk and striking out 7. If he keeps this up, he should reach AA before midseason.
- LHP Michael Heesch throws in the high 80s to low 90s, but at 6'5", 265 lbs LHP and natural plane -- and with a 3/4 motion that can make it difficult on lefties. He pitched a scoreless innings, striking out one and earning the win. He is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 8 innings, walking 3 and striking out 8.
- The Pelicans drew 6 walks off starter McGrath but no hits until Jacob Rogers drove home the first run with a single up the middle to break up the no-no and the shutout in one fell swoop.
- The Pelicans drew 10 walks in all and Billy McKinney drew 4 of them, but he saved his best for last, pulling a pitch on the inner half for a high fly in the corner that just barely cleared the RF wall for the walk-off HR in the 10th. McKinney is hitting .313/.431/.518 with 4 HRs. The Pelicans should enjoy him while they can.
We'll throw you a curveball on Support Cubs Blogs and do it right here on the minor league recaps today. We'll highlight Scott Sypien (@CTD_Sypien) from Chasing the Dream. Scott does great interviews on his website of farmhands all-around baseball, including the Cubs. He has also done an interview with Josh Conway and James Pugliese, among others. Here is his interview with Billy McKinney with my favorite excerpt below...
My approach really depends on the scenario I am in whether it’s guys on base, the count i’m in, or how many outs there are. I try to do whatever I can to help my team win. If that means giving myself up i’ll do so. I just want to help the team get runs on the board and ultimately I want us to get the W at the end of the night.
That sounds a lot of what he have talked about recently in the series with the Cardinals. He sure seems like a fit for what the Cubs want to do at the plate and yesterday's game was a great example of that.
Video highlights from Nathan Barnett, whom you should also follow @nathanbarnett....
- Despite a dropped pop-up, Jeimer Candelario has shown great improvement on defense, making two brilliant plays on defense and playing very well all season
- Zach Hedges pitched 5 shutout innings walking 2 and striking out 4. The 22 year old RHP was a 26th round draft pick last year and moved to 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA.
- The middle relief staff pitched pretty well but it was a little tense as they gave up a couple of runs but did enough to hold the lead. 2012 3rd round pick Ryan McNeil allowed one run on two hits in 2 innings (no walks, 2 Ks) while LHP Jordan Minch gave up the second run on a hit and walk in 1.2 winnings. James Farris came on with a runner on and got the last out of the game for his 3rd save.
- The SB Cubs spread the offense around with everyone but Cael Brockmeyer getting one hit, Brockmeyer had a game he'd like to forget, going 0 for 5 with 4 Ks.
- The best offensive player was Charcer Burks who went 1 for 3 with 2 walks. The one hit was a base-loaded single that gave the SB Cubs the lead that they would precariously hold over the next 8 innings.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap