Jackson 8, Tennessee 7 (11 Innings)
This was a tough loss for the Smokies. They jumped out to an early 5-1 lead courtesy of an Andrew Ely solo homer in the 1st, a two-run single by Charcer Burks in the 2nd, and then a pair of RBI singles in the 3rd. Starter Zach Hedges was cruising along, allowing two runs through 5.1 before handing the game off to Steve Perakslis and Jake Stinnett who held the Generals off the board through the 8th. Unfortunately, closer Craig Brooks (BS, 2, 4.46) did not have it this night. He was tagged for four runs on four hits and two walks which put the Smokies behind by one. Brooks failed to get through the inning before being replaced by James Pugliese who ended the threat and then followed with a scoreless 10th. The Smokies were only able to get to the 10th because after loading the bases in the bottom of the 9th, David Bote was hit by a pitch to bring home the tying run. James Norwood (L, 1-3, 4.86) came on for the 11th, and like Brooks, he struggled, giving up two runs on three hits.
- Zach Hedges: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 5 K (3.49)
- Steve Perakslis: 1.2 IP, 2 K (3.10)
- Jake Stinnett: IP (0.71)
- James Pugliese: 1.1 IP, H, (1.89)
- Charcer Burks: 3-5, R, 2 RBI, HBP
- David Bote: 2-5, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI, HBP
- Andrew Ely: 2-5, HR (3), R, RBI, BB
- Trey Martin: 3-6, 2 R
- Carlos Penalver: 3-4, R, RBI
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Andrew Ely is hitting .440/.576/.600 over his last 9 games. I'll be honest, this run has gone completely under my radar. Not only is he riding a 9-game hit streak, he also has at least one walk in 8 of the 9 games. That's crazy. Shame on me for not calling this out earlier.
David Bote has scored 9 times and also driven in 9 runs over his last 10 games.
After a brutal July (.178/.276/.198) and a slow start to August, Charcer Burks got himself back on track and finished the month strong (.267/.375/.406), which is more in line with his season totals.
Myrtle Beach hasn't gotten as far as it has due to an explosive offense. They won the first half thanks to dominate pitching (both rotation and pen) and timely hitting. Injury, trade and promotion took its toll in the second half on both the staff and the lineup but things have been looking up as of late. The offense lacks traditional middle of the order bats but they do have a collection of solid players that are all capable of coming through at various times. Well, they pretty much all came through Thursday. The club plated nine runs without the help of a homer thanks to seventeen hits and eight walks. Zack Short led the way by reaching base a career-high six times (three hits and three walks). In all, the Pelicans finished with five different players reaching base at least three times.
On the mound Michael Rucker gave a performance reminiscent of what the Pelicans regularly received in the first half. He absolutely breezed through the first five innings, requiring just 55 pitches, while allowing only one hit. He was tagged for two runs in the sixth, but by then Myrtle Beach already had a commanding lead. Scott Effross and Marc Huberman took over from there, allowing only two base runners across the final three frames.
- Zack Short: 3-3, 2B, 2 R, 3 BB
- Jesse Hodges: 3-6, 2B, R, 3 RBI
- Eddy Martinez: 3-4, 2 R, RBI, BB
- Trent Giambrone: 2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI
- Vimael Machin: 3-4, R, BB
- Connor Myers: 1-2, RBI, 2 BB, SB (7)
- Adonis Paula: 2-6, RBI
- Michael Rucker: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K (W, 5-5, 2.51)
- Scott Effross: 2 IP, H, BB, K (3.45)
- Marc Huberman: IP, K (6.26)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
The Pelicans may have lost Justin Steele to Tommy John surgery and Adbert Alzolay to promotion but the rotation is still in good hands thanks to the return of Oscar De La Cruz from injury and the emergence of Michael Rucker and Duncan Robinson, each of whom spent parts of the early season in the South Bend bullpen. Both have proven adept in the rotation and are two of the more advanced pitchers in the lower levels when it comes to fastball command (De La Cruz also ranks highly in that regard). Those three, along with Thomas Hatch will be a formidable quartet come the Carolina League playoffs. I wouldn't be shocked to see the club promote a lefty from South Bend such as Jose Paulino, Bryan Hudson or Manny Rondon (or all three) if the Cubs come up short in their playoff bid in the Midwest League. The Pelicans will not want for rotation options come September.
The Pelicans bullpen was nothing short of phenomenal in the first half of the season. To think that at one point the club boasted a guy currently on the cusp of the majors (Dillon Maples), three more (Craig Brooks, James Norwood and Tommy Thorpe) who have gone on to success at the AA level, along with Michael Rucker who has since moved into the rotation. It is no surprise the club has not managed to maintain the same level of consistency in the second half without any of those arms available.
However, the pen has begun to stabilize once again. The one constant throughout the season has been Pedro Araujo. The big righty has been rewarded with a brief AA stint as well as an opportunity in the AFL come October. He hasn't been the biggest story however. That would of course be an even bigger righty, 6'7" Dakota Mekkes. The former Michigan State closer has put up insane numbers since replacing Maples in early June. One guy who was lost in the shuffle throughout the season, but has since reemerged is Scott Effross. It is easy to forget that he was sharing the closer role with Maples and Brooks in April but some struggles, along with the emergence of so many other candidates, pushed him to lower leverage situations and even to a short stint as an emergency starter. Another Big Ten alum (Indiana), Effross has righted the ship in the second half (2-1, 2.08, 5 SV) and regained a key role at the back of the Pelican's pen. That trio, along with David Berg, Marc Huberman, Kyle Miller and Jordan Minch may not form a group as deep and dominant as what we witnessed on the way to the first half crown, but there is still plenty of talent there to get the job done. And just as with the rotation, should South Bend fail to secure a playoff berth, additional reinforcements (Chad Hockin, Wyatt Short, Jhon Romero, Mark Malave) may become available.
It took a career-best 7.2 inning performance from Bryan Hudson, who outdueled a rehabbing big leaguer (Anibal Sanchez), but the South Bend Cubs won their 21st game of the month. They still sit one game back in the second half wild card race though with four to play as Bowling Green snapped a 10-game skid with a victory over Dayton. The Cubs pushed all of their runs across early with Aramis Ademan, Kevonte Mitchell and Austin Upshaw each driving a man home against Sanchez. After that, it was all Hudson (with a little help for Yapson Gomez and Wyatt Short). The three lefties combined on a three-hitter. The lone run Hudson allowed was unearned.
- Bryan Hudson: 7.2 IP, 3 H, R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (W, 9-3, 3.91)
- Wyatt Short: IP (S, 16, 3.19)
- Kevonte Mitchell: 2-4, RBI, SB (21)
- D.J. Wilson: 0-2, R, 2 BB, SB (15)
- Aramis Ademan: 1-4, 2B, R, RBI
- Luis Ayala: 2-4, R
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Bryan Hudson really had his stuff working, not only getting 4 strikeouts, but also inducing a 13-3 GO-AO ratio. He leads the MWL with a 66.2% GB%. The next best qualified pitcher sits at 56.4%. Teammate Jose Paulino is 5th at 52.3%. In fact, his GB% is the second best in all of the full-season leagues among qualified pitchers behind only Cardinals prospect Connor Jones (68.4%). The big lefty has now won his last 7 decisions.
This win was big in more than one way. Not only was it a seven-run trouncing, but it came against the team that entered the day in a first-place tie with the Cubs. The Cubs now sit one game ahead of the Angels with one game to play.
- Luis Hidalgo: 4-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
- Marcus Mastrobuoni: 1-3, 3 R, 2 BB
- Nelson Velazquez: 1-2, 3B, 2 R, RBI, 3 BB
- Carlos Sepulveda: 2-4, 2 RBI, BB
- Jonathan Sierra: 1-4, 2B, R, BB
- Brailyn Marquez: 2.1 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 3 K (5.52)
- Jeffrey Passatino: 2.2 IP, 5 H, R, 4 K (3.10)
- Eugenio Palma: 3 IP, H, BB, 2 K (W, 5-1, 2.40)
- Nathan Sweeney: IP, H, BB (5.91)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
If Zack Short hadn't gone a perfect 6-for-6 reaching base for Myrtle Beach, Luis Hidalgo going 5-for-5 for the AZL Cubs would sound more impressive. It has certainly been an impressive turnaround year for the first baseman. After injuries ruined his last two years in the VSL/DSL Hidalgo broke out in the big way this season (.353/.419/.521) at age 21, earning a promotion to the AZL where he hasn't missed a beat (.345/.367/.517). He will be an interesting follow next year. It seems possible that Hidalgo could open next season as the 1B in South Bend.
I have to believe Carlos Sepulveda will be ready to rejoin Myrtle Beach (or perhaps South Bend) shortly. He has hit .313/.389/.344 in 8 rehab games in Mesa.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap