Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Pitching, pitching and more pitching; Thompson and Peyton combine on 1-hitter and affiliates post 3 shutouts while allowing just one run in total

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

I feel as if I could just copy and paste my post from Thursday and just change the names involved. Another amazing night for starting pitchers in the Cubs system. Uelmen, Thompson, De La Cruz, and Mills combine to give up 1 run over 24 innings. 17 hits, 3 walks. They struck out 27. The bullpens did their part as well. No runs over 12 innings. 3 hits, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts. In all, the four affiliates allowed just one run in four games, coming off a one-run performance over 3.5 games (Tennessee was suspended mid-game due to rain) on Thursday.

AAA

Iowa 2, New Orleans 1

Game Recap

Although he had the audacity to allow a run, the only run allowed by any pitcher in the system the entire night, you still need to give Alec Mills credit. The PCL is not any easy place to pitch and his offense wasn't giving him much rope. In fact, Mills exited the game down 1-0 as New Orleans starter Trevor Richards absolutely dominated the Cubs lineup through six. The Cubs finally broke through in the 7th as David Bote smashed a two-run homer to give them the lead. From there, Iowa relied on Anthony Bass to carry them the rest of the way, and the veteran responded with three strikeouts over two perfect innings.

Top Performers

  • Alec Mills: 6 IP, 8 H, R, 2 BB, 4 K
  • Shae Simmons: IP, H, BB, 2 K (W, 1-0, 1.93)
  • Anthony Bass: 2 IP, 3 K (S, 3, 1.96)
  • David Bote: 1-3, HR (7), R, 2 RBI
  • Ryan Court: 2-3
  • Taylor Davis: 1-3, BB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Alec Mills

Alec Mills

Alec Mills (2-4, 3.93) has allowed just 9 runs over his last five starts (29.2 IP) which equates to a 2.73 ERA while average just a hair under six innings per start. He has gone at least five innings his last seven times out.

Bote bombs are becoming a regular occurrence for Iowa. Although he failed to homer in 20 plate appearances during his call up to Chicago, it has been a different story for David Bote in the Minors. He hit his 7th HR in just 28 games with the I-Cubs to raise his SLG to .536 on the year.

Strikeouts are still a gigantic issue for Ryan Court (.225/.312/.348), but at least he is beginning to produce in spite of them. After a brutal April that saw him hit .117/.232/.233 while striking out in nearly 50% of his plate appearances, Court has turned it around in May with a .308/.375/.436 line, although his K rate is still near 33% for the month.

AA

Tennessee 5, Pensacola 0

Game Recap

Oscar De La Cruz tossed seven dominant shutout innings while his catcher Ian Rice launched a two-run home run to lead the Smokies to victory. De La Cruz worked quickly and filled the strike zone with his three pitch mix. The highlight of the night for him was his final inning when he struck out the side on 13 pitches.

Top Performers

  • Oscar De La Cruz: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K (W, 5-5, 4.99)
  • Jesse Hodges: 3-4, 2B, HR (1), R, 2 RBI
  • Ian Rice: 1-3, HR (2), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB
  • Trent Giambrone: 2-4, R, SB (11)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Oscar De La Cruz (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Oscar De La Cruz (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Oscar De La Cruz has continued to mix in a few stinkers throughout the season, but he has also continued to toss some gems as well. This was the 3rd time this year he has held the opposition scoreless and the second time he has worked seven innings. In his last 8 starts he is 5-3 with a 3.38 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 42.2 innings. He has been even better over his past six: 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 34 innings.

Advanced A

Myrtle Beach 1, Carolina 0

Game Recap

A single in the 1st by top Brewers prospect (and constant thorn in Myrtle Beach's side) Keston Hiura is all that stood between Pelicans starter Keegan Thompson and relief ace Tyler Peyton from tossing a perfect game. The pair retired the final 25 men in order as Thompson pounded the outside and inside corners of the zone with multiple pitches on his way to a career-high eight strikeouts. Peyton received a bit of help from his defense, as he failed to retire a batter on his own in his three innings of work, but was effective enough to preserve the one-hitter and the Pelicans precious one-run lead. Jhonny Pereda's RBI single in the 3rd was the only scoring in the game.

Top Performers

  • Keegan Thompson: 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K (W, 2-3, 3.61)
  • Tyler Peyton: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (S, 3, 1.40)
  • Connor Myers: 2-3, 2B, BB, CS (5)
  • Andruw Monasterio: 2-4, R

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Keegan Thompson appeared to have a bit extra on his fastball in this one. Usually, Thompson fluctuates between the upper-80s and low-90s but he seemed to sit in the higher end of that range in this game and even touch above it at times. This is one of the reasons that I project Thompson to be better in relief than as a starter in the Majors, but it must be said that if he can regularly pitch with the command he showed in this and in a few of his other starts than he could certainly stick in the rotation. He may not have a big upside, but like Jen-Ho Tseng and Javier Assad, Keegan Thompson knows how to pitch and get the most out of his limited stuff. One advantage he possesses over the others though is an above average curve and he has two different fastballs to keep hitters guessing. If his fastballs prove good enough to set up the breaker properly Thompson can have plenty of success with it.

Jhonny Pereda (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Jhonny Pereda (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

The leader of the Pelicans offense throughout the season has without a doubt been Jhonny Pereda (.302/.386/.424). The strong-armed catcher just turned 22 a few weeks ago and was coming off a rough season at the plate in South Bend in which he failed to show even limited extra base power. It was easy to forget, though, that Pereda was only 21 and had skipped the NWL after a strong season in the AZL back in 2016.

He added strength and filled out his previously lean frame this offseason and it has paid off with greater ability to drive the ball through a hole in the right side of the infield or into the gap in right center (his preferred route). Besides the added strength he also has shown an increased willingness to turn on pitches over the inner half and he is now capable of smoking hard line drives to left and has even managed to park several over the wall although he does it without much lift, but that only shows off the type of bat speed he generates.

A

South Bend 11, West Michigan 0

Game Recap

Erich Uelmen (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Erich Uelmen (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Pitching wasn't the only story in South Bend as the offense got in on the party as well, but a career-best start by Erich Uelmen was definitely the headliner.  Uelmen had his sinker working to not only generate ground balls, but his command of the pitch helped him get ahead of nearly every hitter during his outing, which set up his slider away. He would set a career-high with eight strikeouts.

On offense, Jhonny Bethencourt drove in five runs on a pair of doubles and a single. Christian Donahue (.340/.392/.447) extended his hitting streak to seven games with an impressive 4-for-5 night.

Top Performers

  • Erich Uelmen: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K (W, 3-4, 4.62)
  • Yapson Gomez: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Jhonny Bethencourt: 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI
  • Christian Donahue: 4-5, 2B, 3 R
  • Rafael Narea: 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, SF
  • Zach Davis: 1-3, R, RBI, 2 BB
  • Jared Young: 1-3, R, 2 RBI, BB, SF
  • Miguel Amaya: 2-5

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Over his first four starts Erich Uelmen struggled with command of his sinker and with the feel for his slider. His ERA was 10.20 as he worked just 15 combined innings. It has been a completely different story since. His 5-inning, 2-run performance his next time out on May 8th was just a taste of what was to come. In his past three starts? How about 0 runs on just 10 hits and 4 walks in 17 innings? Left handed hitters are still a concern (.348) as he continues to refine his change up, but his funky delivery and sinker/slider combo are extremely tough for righties to pick up.

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    Think the Cubs will call-up Duane Underwood to start tomorrow? Mills and Alzolay don't line up, and I would rather roll with Monty than go back to the Jen Ho experience.

    Monty, or Duane?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Honestly hadn't thought about it. I'd love to see it. He has a good report with Gimenez going so it would be favorable conditions for him to make his debut.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Looks like Ferrell has been scratched from his start and is back on his way up. Probably some combo of him and Monty tomorrow. I haven't seen a corresponding move yet.

  • ODLC!!!!! Best line of the night? 0 BB. He had given up a boatload of BB and HBP in his limited innings.

    Do you have any data on his velocity? Is he starting to top out in the mid-90’s again?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I don't have consistent radar gun readings obviously, but yes I know he has touched mid-90s.

  • Uelmen still needs to work on his change-up. Of his 90 pitches last night, only 13 were changes, with a 76-81 MPH range. It was enough to keep the hitters from sitting on his fastball, but he rarely threw the change in a fastball count. The one time I remember that he did, the hitter was way out in front of it.

  • In reply to Tom U:

    Definitely still a work in progress

  • fb_avatar

    When you consider that this is the 2nd time within a week that the system's pitchers have allowed only 1 run is it that something has turned around for them? We could be seeing a wave of pitchers coming through the system in the next year or two. I especially like
    that ODLC is putting things together, Underwood and Swarmer, and Little and Hatch are too. It certainly is a pleasure to read these reports in the morning Michael when we have these results.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I like Thompson and Abbott too. They seem to know how to pitch and not just throw.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'm eagerly anticipating a wave (glad I'm in AZ and not MD today!)

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