Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Swarmer with another great outing; Giambrone homers twice

Matt Swarmer (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Matt Swarmer (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

AAA

Round Rock 5, Iowa 4

Game Recap

Despite taking a no hitter into the 6th inning in two of his first three starts, the jump to AAA has not been smooth sailing for Adbert Alzolay (5 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K). Working up in the zone with his fastball (92-95, T97) has not been nearly as effective against better competition as it was against Carolina and Southern League batters. The command of his 1-to-7 curveball has been a bigger issue in my eye though. He was very good at keeping the pitch on the outer or inner third of the plate early in counts to get called strikes or weak contact, and then he would use it as a chase pitch to get hitters to expand once he got to two strikes. This year he is leaving too many in the middle of the zone but also missing outside the zone with it early in the count and thus falling behind at times. He has begun mixing in his changeup which has flashed as a solid pitch but is not yet where it needs to be.

Jacob Hannemann

Jacob Hannemann

This was again the case in Round Rock on Thursday. Alzolay (L, 2-4, 5.30) fell behind too frequently and then was forced to come with his fastball and hitters were ready for it. The Cubs fell behind 5-1 after five innings. They did manage to mount a comeback thanks to more solid middle relief work by veteran lefty Kyle Ryan who kept the Express in check while the offense kicked it into gear. Ryan has been quietly great for Iowa since joining the club out of EXST.

Efren Navarro, who had scored the clubs first run, drove in the next two with a sac fly and a single. Down two runs in the 9th, Jacob Hannemann walked to lead off the inning. He moved to third on a Taylor Davis single then scored on a sac fly by Bijan Rademacher. The I-Cubs were unable to get Davis home to complete the comeback.

Top Performers

  • Efren Navarro: 2-3, R, 2 RBI, SF
  • Jacob Hannemann: 2-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB
  • Ryan Court: 2-4
  • Kyle Ryan: 2 IP, H, K (0.71)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Keeping his red-hot month going, Jacob Hannemann (.264/.336/.336) collected his 5th multi-hit game in his ten contest, and has reached base safely in all but two of his starts this month. Since April 30th, Hannemann is hitting .358 (24-for-67).

AA

Tennessee 5, Pensacola 4 - 11 Innings (completion of SUSP game)

Pensacola 7, Tennessee 5 - 7 Innings

Game Recaps

This was a day of fierce comebacks by Pensacola. The Smokies appeared breezed through the early and middle innings in both games and appeared on their way to an easy sweep. Up 4-0 in the 9th of the opener, three homers against Ryan McNeil and Dakota Mekkes sent the game into extras. Trey Martin eventually singled home the winning run in the 11th, but the Blue Wahoos big comeback was harbinger of troubles to come in the second game.

Trent Giambrone

Trent Giambrone

It would be the Smokies turn to waste three home runs. Jason Vosler hit a two-run blast in the 1st to give Tennessee an early lead, then a pair of solo shots by Trent Giambrone in the middle innings helped extend their advantage to 5-1 heading to the 6th. Duncan Robinson (5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) had worked quickly through the first five innings but failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the 6th. It would turn into a big six-run inning for Pensacola as James Norwood (L, 0-2, 3.15) could not halt the bleeding after Robinson's exit.

Top Performers

  • Jason Vosler: 4-9, 2B, HR (8), 2 R, 2 RBI
  • Trent Giambrone: 3-8, 2 HR (4, 5), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB
  • Trey Martin: 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
  • Yasiel Balaguert: 2-8, HR (4), R, 2 RBI
  • Vimael Machin: 3-4, RBI
  • Trevor Clifton: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K (3.55)
  • Zach Hedges: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 K (0.98)
  • Jake Stinnett: 2 IP, 3 K (4.40)
  • Scott Effross: IP, 2 K (S, 1, 4.70)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Jason Vosler (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Jason Vosler (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Jason Vosler (.216/.323/.446) is beginning to heat up. He was already having a strong month but now has 2 doubles and 3 home runs among his 8 hits over the past 5 games.

The past few days has also seen a surge from Trent Giambrone (6-for-his-past-15) but this has been a reversal of his fortunes in May. After a strong April, Giambrone (.237/.321/.417) has seen a steep fall off in production this month, until the past four games, anyway.

Advanced A

Myrtle Beach 4, Lynchburg 3

Game Recap

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Aramis Ademan (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Matt Swarmer was rock solid again through 6 innings, allowing just one unearned run while striking out seven and not walking a single batter. As with Tennessee, the Pelicans victory would be hard-fought as Lynchburg mounted a comeback to tie the score at 3-3 in the top of the 8th, but Daniel Spingola would help Myrtle Beach retake the lead in the bottom half of the inning. He would score on a wild pitch after opening the inning with a walk. The Pelicans had built their early lead thanks in large part to a big effort from Aramis Ademan. He went 3-for-3 with an RBI double and reached base in all four of his plate appearances.

Top Performers

  • Matt Swarmer: 6 IP, 3 H, R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (2.38)
  • Jhon Romero: IP, H, 3 K (S, 3, 4.41)
  • Aramis Ademan: 3-3, 2B, RBI
  • Daniel Spingola: 1-1, 2B, 2 R, BB
  • Connor Myers: 2-5, SB (11)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Matt Swarmer (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Matt Swarmer (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

This was the 4th time in 8 starts in which Matt Swarmer (4-2, 2.38)did not walk a batter. He has struck out 53 batters and walked just 6 in 45.1 innings this year, an astounding 8.8-to-1 K-to-BB ratio. The control he exhibits of his low-90s fastball and mid-80s slider is remarkable. He occasional mixes in a change and curve, but works almost exclusively with those two pitches right now. Like with Alzolay last year, the two pitches is enough for Swarmer to dominate in the Carolina League but he will need to begin refining and incorporating the changeup as he moves through the system if he hopes to remain a starter, especially since lefties have had plenty of success against him this year, a problem Alzolay did not share.

A scary moment occurred in the 5th as Kevonte Mitchell and Aramis Ademan collided while chasing a fly ball. Mitchell left the game with a knee injury. He was limping noticeably but didn't require being carted off or anything, so hopefully it is not a serious injury. Mitchell was just beginning to swing the bat better.

A

Lansing 6, South Bend 4

Game Recap

Rollie Lacy (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Rollie Lacy (photo by Rikk Carlson)

An exciting comeback effort and a quality start by Rollie Lacy went to waste as the South Bend bullpen was unable to hold on to a one-run lead heading into the 9th inning. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th, Christian Donahue sparked a one-out rally with a double into the right field corner. A single and a walk by Rafael Narea and Jared Young loaded the bases. Austin Filiere and Miguel Amaya would deliver back-to-back singles, bringing home all three runners to give the Cubs a 4-3 advantage.

Manuel Rodriguez, who entered the season as the presumptive closer in South Bend, walked five men and gave up a double off the wall in straight away center field as he took the loss. The righty from Mexico has a fastball that touches the mid-90s and a pretty good curveball to go with it, but control has been a major issue all season long. This was already the third blown save on the year. You have to wonder how many more high leverage opportunities the Cubs will grant him as his struggles continue. His ERA has ballooned to 8.82 as he has now walked 12 in 15.1 innings this year. He was coming off a strong week but it might be time to take some of the pressure off and let him get right in some light middle inning work.

Top Performers

  • Rollie Lacy: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K
  • Christian Donahue: 3-5, 2B, R
  • Austin Filiere: 2-5, 2 RBI
  • Jared Young: 1-3, R, 2 BB
  • Michael Cruz: 1-3, 2B, R, BB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Undrafted Christian Donahue (.282/.349/.385) has given the Cubs offense a boost since rejoining the active roster when Yeiler Peguero was promoted to Myrtle Beach. The speedy second baseman extended his hitting streak to 5 games with the first 3-hit game of his career.

This 7-inning effort by Rollie Lacy (0-1, 2.82 ERA in 38.1 IP) was his first time pitching beyond the 5th since replacing Jose Albertos in the South Bend rotation a couple of weeks ago. He is still being limited to around 80 pitches as they continue to stretch him out, but I would imagine they will allow him to start extending further in the near future.

Comments

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    Free Matt Swarmer! Seriously, seems like Cubs need to move him up, because he's dominating High-A, and is also 24....time to get moving age-wise. It's only his 2nd full pro season, but probably time to sink or swim higher-up soon, don't you think?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree Zonk. He needs to be challenged. I won’t get too excited until he can pitch well in AA. Optimistic for sure, but want to see if his raw stuff plays up.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Agreed he needs to be challenged, especially as a way to force the issue with a third pitch. I just don't know how you fit him in AA right now. Hatch, Rucker, De La Cruz, Clifton and Robinson are all performing well and I'm not sure any are ready for AAA just yet. I still think Clifton ends up in the pen eventually, but getting him as many innings as possible now in order to get back on track is important.

    If injury does not open up a spot before, at some point I think they consider moving Farrell to the pen in Iowa to open a spot for one of Hatch, Rucker or Clifton in AAA rotation, then Swarmer can bump up to AA.

  • Good morning, Michael! I love your work following the minor leaguers. Thanks for the faithful write ups.

    What is Kyle Ryan's upside? Could he be a future rotation piece should injuries occur? Could he be a Montgomery type of 6th man?

    Thanks.

  • In reply to bwitty:

    Ryan isn't a prospect. He's a 26-year old with 86 games (7 starts) of MLB experience with Detroit. He was signed as a MiLB free agent this past offseason and was competing with Butler for the final bullpen spot, but also with lefties Rob Zastryzny, waiver wire pickups Randy Rosario and Dario Alvarez as well as fellow MiLB free agents Alberto Baldanado and Michael Roth for jobs in Iowa. Z, Rosario and Baldanado grabbed the relief jobs, Roth filled in as the swing man in the early going as he was already stretched out during spring training.

    Since Ryan had been competing for a pen role originally, they sent him to EXST to get stretched out so that he could serve as a depth for both the rotation and the pen in Iowa. He had a couple of good years in Detroit but fell apart last season as his control deteriorated. He had always been a pitcher that threw strikes prior to that, so the Cubs were hoping for a rebound, and it appears to be paying off. Ryan doesn't possess great stuff, but he can get guys out and is solid MLB depth. Unfortunately for him the Cubs already have 3 lefties in Chicago and Randy Rosario is establishing himself as the 1st option for a call up should a need arise. Rob Zastryzny would also be ahead of him in the pecking order so I don't see Ryan surfacing in Chicago this season. Don't be shocked if he finds his way back to the Majors with a different org in the future though.

  • Michael thanks and have a great Memorial Day Weekend and the same to all Cubs-Denzions Have a Great Holiday Weekend. Go Cubs Go!!!

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    You too, sir

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    Any word on Swarmer's injury?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    No. Minor League teams don't really release injury info. Will likely not have any clue until he makes his next start and even if he doesn't make it we may not know why specifically. Swarmer was in the dugout after exiting so I doubt it was something major. Hudson apparently had some issues with a blister that contributed to his terrible outing earlier this week. Could have been the same for Swarmer or maybe cramping/dehydration issue.

    Sometimes the only way we know if a guy even ends up having surgery is when he posts on his twitter or facebook account. That is how we found out Chad Hockin had TJS earlier this year. As far as I know there has never been any official announcement from the Cubs or Myrtle Beach regarding his injury.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The Cubs still have not officially commented on Hayden Simpson’s shoulder injury.

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    Thanks again Michael for all the work you do. I don't remember reading about Rollie Lacy or Christian Donahue before. His numbers look good (WHIP, SO to BB, etc.) so maybe we have something there. I can't find much about Donahue except he's a smallish SS/2nd and maybe can run a bit.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Lacy is a finesse guy with good control. His sinker, change and breaking ball all have solid downhill movement so he has proven tough to square up so far and generates a lot of ground balls. But his velo is only upper-80s and while his control is very good, his command is not as precise. Will be one of those guys that has to prove it at every level.

    Donahue is a guy the Cubs signed as an undrafted free agent last fall. He could have been overshadowed a bit at Oregon State by Nick Madrigal who is projected to become a top 3 pick in next week's draft. Both are 2B. I have only seen him a handful of times so far, but he is certainly a good enough athlete that he absolutely deserved to be drafted, at least as a late round flyer, so I am not really sure what happened there.

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