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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap