Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Clifton and Swarmer turn in outstanding performances but only one walks away with win


Memphis 7, Iowa 4

Game Recap

It has been a frustrating start to the season for Jen-Ho Tseng (L, 0-3, 7.63). His stuff looks pretty crisp. He has missed bats in each of his three starts, striking out 18 in 15.1 IP, while also limiting free passes (3). But he has also been hit hard (26 H, 4 HR) as he has often caught too much of the plate.

Mike Freeman (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Mike Freeman (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

A leadoff triple by Mike Freeman and RBI single by David Bote in the top of the 1st staked Tseng (5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, BB, 5 K) to a lead before he took the mound, but it took on a few batters before he gave it up. A leadoff homer, a double, and then another homer followed to the first three batters he faced. Tyler O'Neill, who hit one of the homers in the 1st, bit another in the 3rd, then singled and scored to lead off the 5th as the Redbirds extended their lead.

Top Performers

  • Mike Freeman: 1-3, 3B, R, 2 BB
  • Mark Zagunis: 2-4, RBI
  • Jacob Hannemann: 1-1, HR (1), R, RBI
  • Chris Gimenez: 2-4, 2B
  • Wynton Bernard: 1-3, 3B
  • Randy Rosario: 2 IP, 3 H, K

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Mike Freeman extended his hit streak to 6 games.

After beginning the year 1-for-17, Chesny Young has one hit in each of his last three games and reached base five times in total.


Tennessee 7, Montgomery 2

Game Recap

While Tseng's struggles continued, Trevor Clifton turned around his season with his best performance in quite some time. His first two starts were not as bad as the numbers appeared. He was strong in the early going of each before fading in the middle innings. Some bounces also didn't go his way. That was not the case in this game, however. He struck out five while allowing just one hit and one walk over five shutout innings.

Clifton left with a 1-0 lead. The Smokies extended it in the late innings on a two-run single by Zack Short and a steal of home by Trey Martin in the 7th, then two more run scoring singles and an RBI ground out in the 9th. THe Smokies also managed to run wild throughout the game, stealing a season-high five bags without being caught.

Top Performers

  • Trevor Clifton: 5 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 5 K (W, 1-2, 4.80)
  • Zack Short: 1-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB (1)
  • Charcer Burks: 2-4, R, RBI, BB, SB (1)
  • Ian Rice: 1-4, 2B, R, BB
  • Eddy Martinez: 1-4, R, BB, SB (1)
  • Trey Martin: 0-1, 2 R, 2 BB, SB (1)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Zack Short (.229/.400/.371) has reached base safely in all nine games this season. He has drawn at least one walk in eight of them. His transition to AA has not been all smooth though as he has also struck out 18 times already in 45 PAs.

Eddy Martinez (.267/.405/.300) has yet to tap into his above average power this season, but he has reached base quite regularly, including 7 times in the past three games. He has shown off his above average speed, stealing 4 bases without being caught so far.

Advanced A

Buies Creek 3, Myrtle Beach 0

Game Recap

Score 14 runs in two consecutive games, get one-hit and shutout in your next game. Sure, that's something that happens.

Baseball is weird.

Top Performers

  • Kevonte Mitchell: 1-3, SB (4)
  • Matt Swarmer: 5 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 8 K (L, 0-2, 2.79)
  • Jordan Minch: 2 IP, H, 3 K

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Matt Swarmer

Matt Swarmer

The offensive power outage spoiled a terrific outing by Matt Swarmer, In two starts Swarmer has now punched out 14 against just 1 walk over 9.2 innings.

A single by Kevonte Mitchell with one out in the 8th is all that prevented the Pelicans from being no-hit. This was already the second time that the opposition took a no-hitter deep into a game against Myrtle Beach this season. For Mitchell it marked his 7th hit over his last 4 games. He is still seeking his first extra base hit of the year, but has raised his average to .273 and has now stolen 4 bags without being caught.


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  • fb_avatar

    Michael, I can only hope that Clifton continues to pitch well. I encourage by Eddy Julio also. Can you tell us something about Swarmer? I saw his name last night in going over the scores and am not familiar with him. Thanks.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Swarmer is a small school guy they picked in the 19th round in 2016 draft. He is tall, lanky and uses a high leg kick which makes him look kind of all elbows and knees as he delivers a pitch.

    His fastball is average, generally in low-90s and can touch 93-94 at times. Throws a fringe-average slider and change as well. He is valuable because he is polished and rarely hurts himself with walks. Can mix and match enough to get low level hitters out and the Cubs have used him as both a starter and reliever throughout the entire org.

    Spent most of 2017 split between SB and Eugene, but also made a couple of emergency starts in TN and IA. He is filling a rotation spot in MB this year as Manny Rondon, Erick Leal and Erling Moreno begin the year on the DL. Seems like he is going to carve out a nice role as an org pitcher for a while.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    He knows how to pitch and tends to miss some bats, but when he catches too much plate he gets hit and is a bit homer prone, even at lower levels. Similar profile to Tseng, but his secondaries are not quite as good.

  • Michael—any reports on Clifton’s velocity last night?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I didn't see any official readings, but it looked low-90s to me. I didn't catch all five of his innings though.

  • Michael -- Have you been able to watch Clifton's starts? Your statement is correct that the numbers do not fully reflect his performances.

    On April 11th, he was perfect through 4 and ran into trouble in the 5th, though most didn't appear hard hit, and ran out of gas and gave up 5 runs.

    On April 5th, he gave up 1 hit (though 3 walks) through 5.1 IP, then fell apart.

    I have only seen snippets (and am not nearly the judge of talent you and others here are), but he looked great in the early going of those games. Assuming the later inning struggles were just getting tired early in the season, he might be having a break-out start. But that is a big assumption and wanted to see if you had more thoughts.

  • In reply to springs:

    I haven't really studied Clifton's starts in too much detail. The video quality in the Southern League is terrible. It is why I was so hesitant to comment extensively on him last year as well. There are few stadiums in the league that offer a decent look.

    There has definitely been some bad luck with sequencing and soft hit balls falling all in one inning for him this year. His stuff and control do look like they have bounced back, but again difficult to say for certain given my limited viewing capabilities. As for any concerns about him struggling a bit as he goes through the order multiple times it isn't a big deal to me as I project Clifton as a reliever anyway. I'm just happy he looks healthy and his velo/secondaries appear restored a bit.

  • fb_avatar

    Keeping me guessing with the headline. What's next? Click-bait?

    "Trevor Clifton pitched for AA Tennessee and you won't believe what happened next."


  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I didn't even realize. I honestly almost forgot to put a headline on this before I posted it (wouldn't be the first time I have had to go back and add a title) and just threw one on their at the last moment. I rarely spend much time on the title.

  • Can never have too much pitching. It’s encouraging to see Clifton on his way to bouncing back to be the guy he was before last year.

  • Alzolay on his way to Iowa. After ramping up to 75 pitches in EXST this past weekend he should make his debut later this week.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Awesome. Looking forward to it!

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