Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Assad brilliant in 6 innings of 1-hit relief as Emeralds even series

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Eugene 4, Vancouver 2

Game Recap

The Eugene Emeralds struggled to jump start their offense in game one of the NWL Championship series, but got it going right off the bat in game two. In the bottom of the first, with Jared Young on base, Austin Filiere got a fastball over the heart of the plate and drove it out over the left field wall to give the club a quick 2-0 advantage. The Ems weren't done in the inning however. With two down Jhonny Bethencourt singled, proceeded to steal second base and then came home on a Gustavo Polanco single to extend the lead to three.

Starter Brendon Little (2 IP, H, 2 R, 4 BB, 4 K) nearly gave it all back as control issues continue to plague him. After getting away with walking two men in the first, he walked two more in the second before surrendering a two-out triple that cut the lead to one. Thankfully, Javier Assad came on in relief in the third and from then on the Emeralds found themselves in very capable hands. He punched out nine while allowing just three men to reach base (one hit, two walks). Eugene plated an insurance run in the fifth and the Canadians could climb no closer as Assad remained strong through the eighth then handed the reigns over to Jake Steffens who tossed a scoreless ninth for the save.

Top Performers

  • Javier Assad: 6 IP, H, 2 BB, 9 K (W)
  • Jake Steffens: IP, H (S)
  • Austin Filiere: 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
  • Jared Young: 2-4, R, RBI
  • Gustavo Polanco: 2-4, RBI
  • Zach Davis: 1-3, R, SB, SAC
  • Jhonny Bethencourt: 1-4, R, SB
  • Chris Singleton: 0-1, 2 BB, SB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Consistency remains an issue for Javier Assad. He mixes in dominant efforts such as this along with games in which he finds himself getting hit hard. His last 8 outings are a perfect example of this. He has shutout his opponent on 4 occasions but then also has allowed 3, 4 or 5 runs in shorter appearances. Just in his last 3 outings, he has two identical 6 IP/H/0 R/2 BB/9 K performances sandwiched around a 5 IP/8 H/4 ER/2 BB/5 K outing on 9/1. Still just 20 years old, there is plenty of time to refine his game, and the highs that he has experienced give a glimpse into the type of starter he can become. Including the postseason Assad has nearly a 4-1 K-BB ratio (81 K-23 BB) and has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched while surrendering just two homers in 72 innings.

Brendon Little / Photo by Darin Spangler

Brendon Little / Photo by Darin Spangler

In 18.1 professional innings 1st round pick Brendon Little has walked 13 batters. He also has 16 strikeouts though and the big, slow curve he features is a legitimate out pitch. It is the end of the season and Little is just getting his feet wet so there is no reason to panic. It is also important to keep in mind that curveball pitchers can often struggle with walks in the low minors. Not only because it is a difficult pitch to master, but also because Minor League umps, especially at the lower tier levels struggle to identify the big break break and call the pitch accurately when it crosses home plate. That is not that Little has been a victim of much so far, he has simply been wild, but I have noticed it working against him on occasion.

Jake Steffens has not allowed a run in 9 straight appearances.

Jared Young has now reached base multiple times in 7 of his 9 games.

Zach Davis

Zach Davis

After closing out the regular season with 10 stolen bases over his final 14 games. Zach Davis has 2 more in 4 playoff starts out of the leadoff spot. He has been caught just 1 time since July 17th. The Cubs may found an interesting prospect in the 32nd round of the 2016 draft. A gifted athlete with plus speed, Davis struggled with the bat at Texas Tech, but since being picked in the late rounds by the Cubs he took up switch-hitting (he is a natural righty) in the offseason and has shown flashes as the season has progressed. His walk rate was solid (10.5%) and his swinging strike rate was as well (8.6%) despite a slightly higher K rate than you would like to see (24.5%). But he also kept the ball on the ground a lot which can help him utilize his speed. If he can further refine his approach a bit and eliminate some of the easy outs he makes via infield pop ups there is a chance that Davis could become a factor down the road.

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    Thanks Michael for this recap. I have to savor these as we have I think only 1 more until next year. I love the prospects, following them from before we even approach the draft or IFA signings and then on to the minors. It looks like Assad could be special and Zach Davis, with his speed, is an asset for the Cubs organization. Brendon Little is just getting used to pitching professionally and I think you're right about possibly the minor league umpires can't really judge the + curve ball and where it passes over the plate.
    Thanks again, I look for the last recap.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    You still got at least two more. Its a best-of-five series.

    I am planning to continue with minor league coverage throughout the offseason. Will do some reviews as well as lookaheads, etc. Still finalizing plans, it won't be daily, but I am hoping to do something more than a once a week thing. We'll see.

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    Thank you. I know that we'll get reports now and then, but I really like staying up late or getting up in the morning and seeing what each club did and who did what.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I look forward to a little break. I've been sick on and off the last month or so and the late nights/early mornings have been difficult. Getting a bit more relaxed writing schedule will help. I'll also be starting to play hockey a couple of nights a week soon. I just need to make sure I don't let any self-imposed deadlines slide during the offseason. Discipline!

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, I'm a big Blackhawks fan. Where do you write your hockey columns? You deserve a break too--everyone needs a break and vacation too.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I don't write hockey columns. I will just be playing in a rec league a couple of times a week. I do love the Hawks as much as I love the Cubs, but I try to keep hockey set aside for pure enjoyment rather than hobby/work. I'm not sure that I would be 100% against writing about it, if someone approached me about it I would consider it, but as of now I don't see it on the horizon.

    I'll just try to keep up with writing about the Cubs year-round for now and see. After the minor league season ended last year I took a lot of time off from Cubs Den. I only posted a couple of times. I just wanted to experience the Cubs playoff run and enjoy the games as a fan and not as a writer/analyst/etc. Just tried to shut my brain off for a while. I don't get to do that with baseball very often anymore and I didn't want to miss what I was very confident would be a Cubs World Series Championship. But what that meant was that I was more emotionally invested (and subsequently drained) and it affected my output as a writer. It took a while to restore my desire and commitment to it. Even as the season began this year I wasn't 100% ready for it.

    Without the safety net of John constantly providing quality work for all of us to enjoy on a near daily basis throughout the year it is a challenge that I and the other writers here need to step up and take on. For me it means that I am going to, at least mentally, not going to approach the winter as the "offseason" rather than just as a time to invest in deeper dives and more varied material than just providing daily coverage of the previous days action. I'll try to get back to doing some statistical dives, but I want to go back and review certain prospects over the course of the season and track progress/regression and so forth as well. One of the things that I miss when doing the recaps is that it forces me to bounce around and observe so many games/teams/players at once and never get to concentrate on observing a player on a consistent basis without breaks so changes in approach/mechanics/health/etc are more difficult to track.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Wow, Michael. I've needled you in the past for your dry sense of humor, which is different than mine. I stay quite "wet". I have stated that I love your passion when something gets under your skin. I know it's there, you just have more control than most of us morons.

    I can't begin to thank you enough for what you, and all the Cubs Den writers, are doing. These are hard times for all of us, and we readers appreciate your efforts. Ya'll have no idea how much you mean to so many people, and how many people look forward to the writing that you put so much effort into providing us. A big, heart-felt THANK YOU to all.

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Ha, thanks. Patience and not overreacting are couple of things that I consider strengths of mine, but just like any character traits they can be a weakness at times as well. I would actually say the one thing that I have the least patience with is when dealing with people who have no patience.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I've got to second what BarleyPop said. Thanks so much to you, Michael, and all the other Cubs Den writers! We look forward to reading the blog every day, and I know it's harder for all of you without John. Those are mighty big shoes to fill, and you all have been doing yeoman's work. I can't begin to express how much it means to us. Thank you!

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    Thanks for letting all of us know about how life is for you and for the others. It must be a huge adjustment to be without as you said John as a "safety net" for you. Enjoy your hockey--I hope we have as much fun watching the Hawks as you have playing, and that we raise another banner next June.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks. I will enjoy it, win or lose, I find I actually enjoy watching hockey more than baseball games. But I find the strategy/varying skills/matchups/numbers/etc of baseball more fascinating.

  • fb_avatar

    Thanks for all the recaps. Hope the Em's can finish them off.

    Can you guys believe it, the Pirates already scored 2 runs in the 1st in Milwaukee?

    We only scored 2 runs in the blow out game right?

  • fb_avatar

    On a completely different note, in the 7th inning Pitts leading Milwaukee 6-0. C'mon Bucs.
    Go Cubs!

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