Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Guerra hits 3 homers for second time in 11 days; Franklin with another stellar outing; Cruz makes 2019 debut

Duane Underwood

Duane Underwood

AAA

Oklahoma City 13, Iowa 4

Game Recap

Oklahoma jumped all over Trevor Clifton (3 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 3 HR allowed) in the early going, and pretty much put the game out of reach.

Top Performers

  • Zack Short: 1-3, HR (2), 2 R, RBI, BB (.306)
  • Donnie Dewees: 1-4, HR (13), R, RBI (.249)
  • Dixon Machado: 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI (.256)
  • Mark Zagunis: 2-4, 2B (.321)
  • Craig Brooks: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (4.05)
  • Carl Edwards, Jr.: IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K (1.54)
  • Duane Underwood, Jr.: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (5.35)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Hopefully it won't get lost in the shuffle over an overall poor pitching performance, but a pair of relievers shined in this one. Craig Brooks extended his scoreless streak to 7.1 innings (5 H, 3 BB, 9 K). And then there is Duane Underwood, Jr., who struck out the side in 9th, and in 20 IP since moving to the pen has amassed 25 K and a 2.70 ERA. He's been even better over his last 10: 13.2 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 18 K (1.32 ERA)

AA

Mobile 8, Tennessee 3

Game Recap

The game got out of hand late. Not only did the Smokies give up seven runs in the 6th and 7th innings, but there was also a bench clearing incident after Oscar De La Cruz hit a batter in the 9th.

The game did begin on the right foot for Tennessee though. Nico Hoerner doubled and scored in the bottom of the first and Erick Leal recorded his first five outs via the strikeout. The Smokies held a 2-1 lead heading into the 6th, when Mobile finally managed to get to Leal a bit to take a 3-2 lead. The game broke open the following inning with five runs off Jake Stinnett.

Top Performers

  • Jhonny Pereda: 3-4, 2B, R, RBI (.276)
  • Roberto Caro: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB (.270)
  • Nico Hoerner: 2-5, 2B, R (.270)
  • Gioskar Amaya: 1-3, RBI, BB (.261)
  • Erick Leal: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K (L, 1-1, 2.53)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

A-

Eugene 8, Boise 1

Game Recap

Another stellar outing by Kohl Franklin, the first professional win by 17th round pick Tanner Dalton, and a four-inning save by Chris Allen. The Emeralds scored four in the top of the 4th on a walk and four hits. Luis Vazquez singled home the first run of the frame and Jacob Olson followed with the first of his two run-scoring doubles to lead the offense.

Top Performers

  • Kohl Franklin: 4 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 5 K (1.40)
  • Tanner Dalton: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (W, 1-0, 0.00)
  • Chris Allen: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (S, 1, 2.70)
  • Luis Vazquez: 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, SF, SB (2) (.239)
  • Jacob Olson: 2-5, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI (.286)
  • Nelson Maldonado: 1-2, R, 3 BB (.500)
  • Luis Diaz: 1-4, R, RBI, BB, SB (6) (.125)
  • Jake Slaughter: 1-4, RBI, BB, SB (5) (.307)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Nelson Maldonado (.367/.418/.567 in 14 games between R/A-) reached base four more times. He's reached safely in all six of his games with Eugene (.500/.536/.667 with 9 RBI), and at least twice in five of them.

Kohl Franklin (25.2 IP, 21 H, 4 R, 9 BB, 31 K) has given up no more than one earned run in any of his six starts this season. His last four starts have come on the road, so they've not been broadcast, but in the early going, Franklin featured a plus changeup that he used to baffle both right and left-handed batters. His fastball was in the low-90s and topping out around 94. The 19-year old was working on a new curveball, but had yet to have much success with it. I will be curious to see if he's made some progress since the last time I saw him.

He has been quite as dominant, but fellow second year man Chris Allen (20 IP, 24 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 16 K) has not allowed not allowed more than two earned runs in his 6 appearances.

AZL

Cubs2 16, Cubs1 6

Top Performers

  • Alexander Guerra: 4-5, 3B, 3 HR (7, 8, 9), 4 R, 10 RBI (.273)
  • Luis Verdugo: 2-5, 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, SB (2) (.215)
  • Pedro Martinez: 1-2, 2B, R, RBI, 3 BB (.333)
  • Abraham Rodriguez: 2-4, R, BB (.254)
  • Brandon Vicens: 1-4, 3B, R, 2 RBI (.188)
  • D.J. Artis: 1-4, 2 R, BB, 2 SB (2, 3) (.222)
  • Fabian Pertuz: 2-3, HBP (.351)
  • Carlos Pacheco: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB (.254)
  • Ervis Marchan: 2-4, R, RBI (.351)
  • Omar Ventura: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (3.14)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Three homers, 10 RBI, oh and he added a triple for good measure. For 22-year old Cuban catcher Alexander Guerra (.273/.355/.855), it was the second time in 11 games he accomplished hitting 3 homers in a single game. His extra-base stats this season are absurd. In 15 games, he has hit 9 homers, 2 triples, and a double. He has hit just 3 singles so far. It seems the 5'11" 240 pounder is taking an all or nothing approach to earn his way out of the AZL. His strikeout rate has spiked, but you can't say it hasn't been paying off. His AVG and OBP are pretty much the same as they were last season, but he's added over 400 points to his SLG and tripled his HR total in less than a third of the number of games.

Making his first appearance of the season, 2018 breakout performer Yovanny Cruz walked two batters, but managed a scoreless frame to open the game.

DSL

Pirates1 5, Cubs1 2

Cubs2 5, CardinalsR 3

Comments

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  • Guerra needs to move -- a 22 year old against 16-19 year olds is a mis-match. Excited there is in-game power, but he should be challenged more.

    What happened to one of my favs -- Nelson Velasquez? He has not played before Memorial Day. Is he done for the season? I missed reading about his injury.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Guerra played in the Cuban pro league as a teenager, so at 22 he shouldn't be playing against high school and juco kids in AZL. I can think of a few reasons he hasn't made the jump. First is the Cubs just may not think highly of him as a prospect anymore, or the college draftees are just more polished. At his size, I an imagine he maybe doesn't move great, so I don't know what type 0of defender we're talking about. Another might be that he is having difficulty with English and communicating with pitchers, as I'm not sure what his language skills were when they signed him last year. This level of power is new, and he seems to be taking a new approach, so it might just be a matter of them needing to see if it worked. He has been striking out a lot, and his average was in the low-200s a couple of days ago.

    Don't know what Velazquez's injury is, I have heard no news.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I think that Nelson Velasquez is still suffering from the May 26th
    initial injury, which was to the lateral oblique muscle . That can be a nasty, painful injury which can take a long time to heal. It might be the same injury that sidelined Adbert Alzolay almost the entire 2018 season, ditto Cole Hamel recently for the 2nd time in his career and hopefully a much shorter time than his first.
    https://www.cubsinsider.com/2019/05/26/second-round-pick-brennen-davis-shines-in-south-bend-cubs-debut/

  • In reply to shalin:

    Thanks, shalin.

    It is difficult to keep track of what specific injuries are at the minor league level. They are rarely reported, so unless you are watching as something happens it is easy to miss.

  • In reply to shalin:

    Thanks Dude!!! I kept looking for updates and then saw "IL". Thanks for the link too.

  • Is Zagunis stuck forever in AAAA mode? His BA and OPS remain high but he strikes out at Happ-like frequency and doesn't have a lot of power. At 26, I'm guessing he pretty much is what he is, but it seems like he'd make the jump to MLB at some point...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Zagunis could play in the Majors for a bad team, and probably put up okay numbers. I mean he is more talented than guys like Joe Mather and Nate Schierholtz and others that got plenty of PAs during the rebuild. Zagunis's issue is he developed while the Cubs are in a window of contention, and he just doesn't do quite enough to justify a role on a WS contender. With a different org or at a different time, he would have gotten more of a shot by now.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    If only Zagunis could play 2B even to a passable level, he would have been up. This is why I love to see the Cubs move guys around at the minor league level to get as much experience at other positions as possible. I do not expect a guy like Happ to be a gold glove 2B but if he can play there at a 1.0 dWAR level, you take that compared to what they have now. Maybe Robel can remain hot until the league figures him out.

  • Had been a proponent of getting Underwood to the pen in spring training. Glad to see the results are good. Would like to see him get a chance again in Chicago sometime soon to see if it is real or not. I believe they have a decision coming on him at the end of the season.

  • If Jhonny Peresa continues to impress, the front office has another trade chip to offer. Whoever the scout or scouts that evaluate catchers should receive lockdown offers as they are incredibly good at their job.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    I wish he had power. You have to love his Arm & OBP.

  • I love the approach with Kohl Franklin so far by the FO. Keep it simple for him. Let him learn to throw a better percentage of strikes at Eugene. The results are there so far. I hope that with a healthy season and a good offseason strength training program we could see him in South Bend next year going 6IP/game.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Because of his age and what he has done so far, Franklin might be the pitching prospect with the highest ceiling in the Cubs system right now. The dog days of summer have arrived and prospects have to continue to improve, otherwise they can quickly become former prospects

  • In reply to shalin:

    I totally agree. I would love to see him in South Bend next year having to deal with the April weather, getting more used to being a Cub player. I would imagine the off season prospect rankings have him move up significantly if he continues on this path.

  • In reply to Gator:

    A small handful of truly talented players are able to progress quickly and overcome all challenges, to succeed in the majors. But everyone but the very top guys are walking a tightrope between success and failure, and are affected greatly by confidence, or lack of it.

    In my opinion, the chances of a talented player permanently losing self confidence when confronted with difficulties he is too young or inexperienced to overcome is just not worth the small gain of quick progression through the system.

    What is gained by promoting a player too quickly? Not only is there the risk of destroying his career, but also even the very best players tend to peak in performance in the years 26 - 30. But a team only has control over a player for 6 major league seasons, so you are deliberately choosing to waste a player's most productive seasons if you bring him up as a 22 year old.

    I think Happ is a great example. He was rushed through the system because of a perceived need at the MLB level. They got one decent year out of him, and one so-so year, and he is now struggling to perform well at the AAA level. The time to work on his inability to hit the high fastball, or recognize the outside slider is in the minors, not the majors. Every player, no matter how talented, is going to go through periods of challenge that he must overcome. Some, like Baez or Maddux, can overcome these challenges at the major league level. But most are much better off doing it at the minor league level, against talent and experience equal to their own.

    In my opinion, there is little reason to take a chance of destroying your most talented players. Let them actually dominate a particular level for most of a season before moving them up. A player like Happ, who never truly dominated at ANY minor league level for a substantial period of time should be moved up very slowly. You have control of them for nine year before you risk losing them. Little is to be gained by putting them in a position where they are likely to fail.

    For a player with the talent to be a productive MLB player, success or failure often rests on the razor sharp edge of self confidence. And that is a fragile thing for most players.

  • I love to see Nelson Maldonado have success. Being a Gator Alum, he was always a professional hitter as soon as he walked on campus at Florida. Great off the field and a team leader. He is only an OK athlete with a below average arm. So he is limited to a OF/1B/DH type of 4th OF role. He has good ability to pinch hit. It's an uphill road for him to make it to the majors. The hope is if he can add a little loft to his swing to add a 2nd tool to his game.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Heck, if Justin Turner can make a mid-career change, then anyone can. LOL!!!! I kid, but I think with the coaching and technology available, guys are able to adjust and change quicker.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The equipment alone that is available even at the Youth level is scary good. I can only imagine what these teams have at their disposal.

  • Jacob Olson played on a very good South Carolina team and rotated between 3B & OF this past year. He looks to only have seen OF time so far at Eugene. It will be interesting to see if he will get some INF time as well.

  • Roberto Caro is 25, switch hitting, getting on base, and stealing. The cubs need a leadoff man long-term. What's holding him back?

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    He's old for the level and his numbers are good, but not great, consider TN is one of the hitter's parks in the SL. Probably ends up a AAA depth or maybe AAAA player. Little power, and isn't a great CF. Better suited for corner. Just one of those guys that comes up a little short in terms of potential impact.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks. That role's a big concern of mine.

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    I saw that Kelli was removed for pr in Eugene. I wonder if he re-injured himself. He's been doing so well there too.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Got hit by a pitch.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks Michael.

  • I hope Brennan Davis is alright he was in a lot of pain after getting hit on the hand by a pitch. He’s out for tonight’s game and I hope nothing is broken. He was really fun to watch thus far and looked like an obvious prospect on the rise. Hopefully it’s minor because I hate seeing his development halted, as he needs the ABs given his inexperience as a multi sport athlete

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