Aaron Brooks faced off against recent friend Casey Kelly and both put their best foot forward. Brooks pounded the edges of the zone and if it wasn't for the one constant enemy he has faced all year, an unsustainable HR/FB ratio, his day could have been even more solid. He even chipped in an RBI single, his first run batted in of the year. Kelly mixed his pitch types and speeds and kept Sacramento within striking distance. The game came down to the bullpens late and David Garner proved the most effective on the afternoon, finishing the game off with 1.2 perfect innings. Meanwhile Mark Zagunis blasted a two run homer in the seventh, his team-leading 13th on the season, to put the Cubs in the lead for good.
- Aaron Brooks: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, BB, 6 K (W, 7-9, 5.97)
- David Garner: 1.2 IP, K, (S, 1, 0.00)
- Mark Zagunis: 2-4, HR (13), R, 3 RBI, BB
- Victor Caratini: 2-3, 2 2B, R, RBI, BB
- Mike Freeman: 2-5, 2 R
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Aaron Brooks is big (6'4" 235) with a live arm and solid breaking ball. It is easy to see what the front office liked when they acquired him two years ago in exchange for Chris Coghlan. His 2016 was ruined by injury, but he has been nothing short of a workhorse for Iowa this season. Brooks is currently 2nd in the PCL in innings pitched (132.2) and 4th in strikeouts (103). His unsightly 5.97 ERA is clouded by a fluky HR/FB that has led to him being the league leader in home runs allowed, but it also means his xFIP is nearly two runs lower than his ERA on the year. Brooks is out of options after this year, so his long term future with the club is in doubt. If they need a 40 man roster space before the year is out Brooks makes sense as a player to be a designated for assignment. I don't think the 27 year old will pass through waivers unclaimed, so his Cubs career may come to a close without him ever donning a uniform in Chicago, but I can certainly see him carving out a swing man role for a less competitive team over the next few years.
Another live arm that hasn't received as much coverage from me that he has probably been due is David Garner. He missed most of April, then returned to Tennessee where he had spent an up-and-down 2016 season. The slightly built Garner doesn't strike an imposing figure on the mound, but he can run the ball up there as high as 95, and compliment it with a pretty good breaking ball best described as a slurve. Like most of the Cubs relief prospects in the upper levels control is the stumbling block for Garner. When he limits free passes he is effective and looks like a future middle relief option. Still just 24 years old, the former 7th rounder out of Michigan State has one more year to prove himself worthy of 40 man roster consideration before he will become a free agent post-2018.
For those concerned about the injury to Willson Contreras yesterday, just know that this is why they picked up a proven vet like Alex Avila, and Victor Caratini is continuing to do all he can offensively to provide additional depth should he be called upon. In 7 games since returning to Iowa Caratini is hitting .357/.419/.714 with 6 extra base hits.
One bad inning is sometimes all it takes. A wild pitch by Thomas Hatch in the bottom of the fourth allowed one run to score, then a triple later in the inning brought in two more, turning a 1-0 lead into a 3-1 deficit. The Pelicans called on the big guns to keep the Nationals at bay after Hatch's exit and Dakota Mekkes and Pedro Araujo responded with three shutout innings. Trent Giambrone homered in the sixth to halve the Potomac lead but the Myrtle Beach comeback attempt ended there.
- Trent Giambrone: 2-4, HR (12), 2 R, RBI
- Tyler Alamo: 2-4
- Thomas Hatch: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K (L, 4-10, 4.20)
- Dakota Mekkes: 2 IP, H, K (0.90)
- Pedro Araujo: IP, H, K (1.80)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Consistency is the main issue holding back Thomas Hatch at this point. Don't let his 4-10 record and 4.20 ERA fool you, Hatch is having a very strong season, but the big inning has been an issue at times for the first year hurler. His 13.1 SwStr% and 47.3 GB% both place him Top 10 in the Carolina League among qualified starters. The defense behind Hatch has been spotty, and for a pitcher that generates a lot of ground balls that is a big problem, leading to a .354 BABIP (3rd highest in the CL). One thing that has gone Hatch's way is his HR/FB ratio of 2.3% is insanely low, the best in the CL, and despite having the type of stuff that should limit home runs better than most pitchers, that seems like a number due for regression in the opposite direction.
The game began well enough. Chris Singleton and Jared Young walked to leadoff the game and Jhonny Bethencourt followed with an RBI single to stake the Emeralds and starting pitcher Alex Lange to an early lead. Making his second pro start, Lange breezed through the first, but according to Emeralds announcer Pat Zajac he lost his fastball command in the second and it lead to four runs on four hits and a pair of walks. Lange (1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) was lifted after recording just two outs. Eugene looked like to have a chance to get back in it. Jesus Camargo was strong closing out the second in place of Lange, and then again in the following two innings, but the wheels came off for him in the fifth. Another crooked number posted by Boise put the game out of reach.
- Luis Aquino: IP, 3 K (0.81 ERA)
- Jared Young: 1-4, BB, SB (6)
- Zach Davis: 2-3, BB
- Gustavo Polanco: 2-4, 2B
- Cam Balego: 1-3, 2B, R, BB
- Jeffrey Passantino: 2 IP, 2 H, K
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Jeffrey Baez started in RF and leadoff. It was his first game action in nearly two months.
We don't get a lot of video out of the AZL so it is always nice when it happens. Bobby DeMuro (@BobbyDeMuro) from Baseball Census posted video and scouting reports of raw Cubs slugger prospect Jonathan Sierra and sleeper relief prospect Mitch Stophel. Be sure to check them out. Lots of great info on both. We've discussed Sierra quite a bit around here. He is an impressive and powerful athlete, but has a long way to go. There are several issues with the load and upper body mechanics of his swing in the video provided. He is still just 18 with plenty of time to correct those flaws. Stophel is the Cubs 25th round pick out of King University, a small enough school that I have never heard of it. The intriguing thing about Stophel, beyond his impressive size and strength, is that he did not begin pitching until he was a senior in high school. The power slider (85-87) we see in the video is a strong building block for him in the future.
Reds 2, Cubs2 1 (8 Innings)
Fernando Kelli just can't be stopped on the base paths right now. Five more steals in the double header gives him 54 SB in 54 games on the year, including an incredible 22 in his past 12 contests.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap