Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Hoerner homers; Clifton dominates; Pelicans with power surge; Amaya starts Futures Game

Nico Hoerner (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Nico Hoerner (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Miguel Amaya started the Futures Game behind the plate for the World Team, batting 8th, and went 0-for-3

AAA

Iowa 2, Nashville 0

Game Recap

Trevor Clifton impressed over five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks. He was followed by 2.2 innings innings by Brad Markey and then after Craig Brooks encountered some control issues, walking three while recording three outs, Dillon Maples was tasked with recording the final out and preserving the shutout. He came through, marking his 14th consecutive scoreless outing and 6th save for Iowa this season.

Top Performers

  • Trevor Clifton: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K (W, 1-1, 3.58)
  • Brad Markey: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R (5.40)
  • Craig Brooks: 1 IP, 0 R, 3 BB ()
  • Dillon Maples: 0.1 IP, 0 R (S, 6, 2.89)
  • Bijan Rademacher: 2-3, 2B, R
  • Jacob Hannemann: 2-3, R, 2 SB (15, 16)
  • Ryan Court: 1-3, RBI

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Trevor Clifton

Trevor Clifton

The youngest player on the I-Cubs, Trevor Clifton is no longer the same power pitcher that broke out in the Carolina League in 2016. He now relies on the movement generated by his 89-91 (T93) fastball and his ability to change speeds, as he freely mixes in his low-80s change, big curve (70-74) and cutter. His control and command is improving as he morphs into a pitcher rather than thrower. He works with pace and confidence in all parts of the zone. His underlying numbers still indicate a regression is forthcoming but his work in AAA (3.58) has actually been more impressive to me than his 12 AA starts (2.86 ERA)

Brad Markey has fired 7.2 consecutive scoreless innings over his last 4 appearances. He's been knocked around in a pair of emergency starts (11.57) but has been solid as a reliever (4.58) as he has walked only 5 batters in 35.1 innings.

AA

Tennessee 7, Birmingham 6

Game Recap

Birmingham got to Thomas Hatch (5 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K) early and often but the Smokies fought back with a five-run 5th highlighted by back-to-back doubles by Zack Short and Yasiel Balaguert, to tie the game at 6-6. The score remained until the bottom of the 9th when Trent Giambrone singled home Charcer Burks to walk it off and complete the six-run comeback.

Top Performers

  • Ian Rice: 3-3, RBI, BB
  • Zack Short: 2-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
  • Trent Giambrone: 2-5, R, RBI
  • Charcer Burks: 2-5, 2 R
  • Yasiel Balaguert: 1-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI
  • Preston Morrison: 1.2 IP, K (5.62)
  • Daury Torrez: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 2 K (W, 3-1, 3.41)

Advanced A

Myrtle Beach 9, Down East 2

Game Recap

An uncommon power surge from the Pelicans offense led the team to their 5th consecutive victory. The team hit three home runs in support of another strong outing by Tyson Miller.

Top Performers

  • Tyson Miller: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K (W, 8-6, 3.62)
  • Erick Leal: 2.1 IP, 2 K (0.83)
  • Jhonny Pereda: 2-5, HR (7), R, 3 RBI
  • Aramis Ademan: 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB
  • Jared Young: 1-4, HR (1), R, 2 RBI, HBP
  • Wladimir Galindo: 1-4, HR (5), R, RBI, BB
  • Andruw Monasterio: 2-5, R, RBI

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Tyson Miller (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Tyson Miller (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Jared Young (.267/.378/.367 with MB) is growing more comfortable with Carolina League pitching. Not only did he jack his first homer with the club on Sunday, he extended his hitting streak to 4 games. Young hit .313/.368/.525 with 53 RBI in 69 games with South Bend.

One of the few truly consistent workhorses in the Cubs system this season, Tyson Miller has thrown at least 5 innings in 14 consecutive starts and 15 of his 16 overall. He has shown efficiency in doing so as well, as he has not been allowed to exceed 100 and is often pulled near 85-90, as that is the target the Cubs have chosen for pitchers at this level.

A

Wisconsin 11, South Bend 7

Game Recap

Nico Hoerner launched his first homer with the club and the offense came ready for action as most of the team ended up reaching base multiple times and scoring in the game, but the pitching staff had no answers for the Timber Rattlers attack as four different pitchers allowed them to score. Utility man Christian Donahue was called upon in the 9th and tossed a scoreless frame, allowing just one hit.

Top Performers

  • Nico Hoerner: 2-4, HR (1), R, 3 RBI, BB
  • Christian Donahue: 3-5, R
  • Delvin Zinn: 2-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI
  • Michael Cruz: 2-4, 2B, 2 R, BB
  • Zach Davis: 2-5, R
  • Austin Upshaw: 1-3, RBI, BB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Christian Donahue... pitching? (Photo by Rikk Carlson)

Christian Donahue... pitching? (Photo by Rikk Carlson)

Nico Hoerner (.327/.450/.571): 14 career games, reached safely in all of them. He already has 6 SBs (in 7 attempts), 6 XBHs (2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR) and 9 walks, compared to just 4 strikeouts.

Not only did he make his professional pitching debut, but Christian Donahue collected his 3rd straight multi-hit game to raise his batting line to .277/.347/.387. He is hitting .389 over his last 10 games.

A-

Spokane 7, Eugene 2

Top Performers

  • Luis Vazquez: 2-4, HR (3), R, RBI
  • Nelson Velazquez: 2-4, 2B, RBI

AZL

Padres 2, Cubs1 0

Top Performers

  • Jesus Tejada: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K (3.80)
  • Maikel Aguiar: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, BB, K (L, 3-2, 0.48)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Andy Weber collected the Cubs1 squad's only hit in the game.

Comments

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  • It's nice to see Dillon Maples keeping it together at the AAA level. Hoerner's hot start is encouraging, despite being at a low level. Maybe the Cubs caught a good one here!

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    Hoerner seems really locked in. Is there a chance he will move up another level this year? Could he possibly be up in the majors sometime next year?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    He seems pretty advanced. Wouldn't shock me to see him in MB this year. MLB next year would be really aggressive, especially since the Cubs are not going to have a need for him barring several injuries. They'll have Bote, Short, Giambrone biding their time in Iowa as it is.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I was out of the country for the past two-three weeks and haven't seen any of bote.

    How much of the love that bote has received is worthy? Is he a potential trade chip?

  • In reply to 2Toes:

    Bote is a solid, potential starting caliber talent at 2B or 3B. He also draws raves for his character.

    That said, he is also playing above his head a bit right now. His .387 BABIP is unsustainable, as is his 15.1% BB rate. There is also some swing-and-miss in his game that he has managed to sidestep so far. He rarely expands the zone, but only Happ has contact rates inside the zone that are worse right now. There is regression coming. I think he is more 260-270 hitter with 320-330 OBP and 20-25 HR power than the 300 hitter with 400 OBP guy we've seen so far in the Majors.

  • I think we're all excited about Hoerners play thus far and he's moving up quickly. I've been most encouraged about the slugging he's getting extra base hits he already has 2 home runs which is more than many expected and he's walking a ton. He's showing off his speed stealing bases and as far as I've seen he's playing a clean SS although I haven't really gotten a chance to see him out there. Michael what are your thoughts on his play at SS I know he's not making errors but does he look like a SS out there with his arm and fluidity?

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    No errors so far. He has range and he does have explosive athleticism as far as speed, leaping/diving ability. He isn't the most fluid guy though. Athletically he is closer to Happ than he is to Javy, but he is a far more experienced and polished IF option than Happ, with better range. Not sure he can contort his body the way Javy does and I don't have a great read on his arm yet. Hasn't stood out to me that it is insufficient but I haven't seen a 'wow' throw yet either.

    Therefore my assessment is he can certainly play SS but his best position will likely end up as 2B. He could certainly fall into the Zo/Javy super utility role where SS is not primary position, but fully capable there, as well as being able to move anywhere on the diamond if needed. I haven't seen him in OF but with his speed and instincts I think he could probably pick it up in relatively short order.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks Michael he sounds a little like Ryan Theriot although Theriot to me was a 2B misplaced at SS so maybe Hoerner is a bit stronger defensively and range wise. Either way with Baez and Russell in place Hoerner seems like an ideal replacement for Ben Zobrist plus maybe play some SS. He also seems to have a solid leadoff hitter skillset which is interesting for this roster makeup.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    He is a stronger and more explosive athlete than Theriot. Riot always got a worse rap for his D than I think he deserved, but that said, I think Hoerner is better than that anyway.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I, for one, would be thrilled if he can be a starting caliber 2B, occasionally OF and able to cover SS to give the "regular guy" a day off or cover for an injury for a week or so or even just shifting around late in the game with "double-switches." Is that a reasonable scenario for using Hoerner?

    In the OF does he have the range/speed to cover CF or would he be defensively limited to corner, maybe only LF?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I would be completely disappointed if that is his place. I would not be thrilled with a #1 draft pick being an all purpose guy. A draft pick of a 2B is not my hopeful view. I guess if you feel Javy moves over, then I could see that.

    I would think he was drafted to stick at SS. And force a Russell trade as all the hitters can’t get paid at the same time. Someone is going to go at some point.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    An all-purpose guy with the Cubs is handled differently than on most clubs. Cubs move guys around because they can and it allows them to chase favorable matchups.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Can't answer for Michael but he's really fast probably would immediately become our fastest baserunner he's a 60-70 grade runner according to Michael and many websites so I think it's safe to say that he has the athleticism to play CF and be an overall versatile player.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Would absolutely have the speed for CF. Instincts would be the question.

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    I was wondering because if Russell gets traded who is the best to replace him? It's assumed that Javy might, but then we'd have to have a 2nd baseman which right now seems to be Happ. Bote seems to fit at 3rd although I don't know about a full time player. If Theo determines that we need pitching this year it might be someone off the ML roster and right now Happ might be the player to go.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Zo would be primary 2B, with Bote spelling him regularly and then Happ on occasion as well.

    Bote is fine at 2B. He has played 3B better in the Majors than he did in the Minors, but it might just be a matter of him getting more comfortable there. He was playing mostly 2B the past couple of seasons, and then they started giving him more time at 3B and SS

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think Theo said they are not trading someone off the ML roster so Happ is safe as are a few others. :-)

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I have wondered who has more value to opposing teams, Russell or Happ. Happ has more control and more power, Russell is one of the best defensive shortstops.

    Happ has more control so that might swing it in his favor.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    It also depends on what the other team wants. If they want/need a SS then they will ask for Russell first. If they want a guy with more speed they might want Happ.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Agreed. It is dependent on the other team. Russell has certainly brought up his value this season with a nice output so far.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Last year when all of us were talking about trading anyone off the ML roster we were saying that Russell and Schwarber were at their low points and no one wants to sell low--now everyone on the club is at their high point (I'm excluding Bryzzo because I would be shocked if they were traded.) I'm not advocating trading anyone, but look at Happ and Russell and Schwarbs and everyone--they've hit their stride going into the break and I look forward to the 2nd half.
    Going to watch the HR contest tonight. I watched last year with Stanton and Judge and that was the first time in years. Go Javy and Go Schwarbs.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I would argue that none of the players you mentioned have reached their high points. I think there is ceiling yet to come with all them.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That has to be scary to the rest of the majors. We have to realize how young all these players are.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Amen!

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