Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Happ homers twice; Rea, Abbott, Uelmen and Little all impress on the mound

Ian Happ (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Ian Happ (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

AAA

Iowa 5, Oklahoma City 2

Game Recap

Iowa scored twice in the bottom of the 1st and would not relinquish the lead the whole game. Colin Rea was as good as he's been all season, tossing eight innings of two-run ball. Ian Happ homered in the 5th to make the game 3-1, then hit another in the 7th as part of back-to-back jacks with Dixon Machado.

Top Performers

  • Colin Rea: 8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K (W, 11-2, 3.17)
  • Rowan Wick: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (S, 5, 1.91)
  • Ian Happ: 3-4, 2 HR (14, 15), 3 R, 2 RBI (.240)
  • Dixon Machado: 1-4, HR (11), R, RBI (.255)
  • Jim Adduci: 2-4, RBI, SB (7) (.314)
  • Mark Zagunis: 1-3, R, BB (.316)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Colin Rea has been not just the I-Cub most effective starter all season, but he's been one of the best in the entire PCL. He's been gaining velocity as the season progresses and he gets further removed from his TJS two years ago. He's now sitting 91-93 (T94) and backing it up with a sharp 12-to-6 curve in the low-80s that is a plus pitch right now. Rea has certainly put himself back on the map as a big league option and there is a good chance the Cubs add him to the 40-man roster in the offseason to prevent Rea from becoming a free agent. That is if they don't add him before then.

This was the second two-homer game for Ian Happ (.240/.359/.429) over his last 8 contests.

AA

Mobile 6, Tennessee 3

Game Recap

The bullpen collapsed over the final two innings, wiping out an impressive bounceback performance by Cory Abbott. The right-hander has struggled with his control a bit over the last month or so, but he was in full command and mowing down BayBears hitters through the first seven innings of the game.

Top Performers

  • Cory Abbott: 7 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 6 K (3.87)
  • Connor Myers: 1-2, HR (3), R, RBI, SB (12) (.273)
  • Charcer Burks: 2-3, R, BB, HBP, CS (4) (.232)
  • Vimael Machin: 1-3, 2B, RBI, BB (.303)
  • Nico Hoerner: 1-3, 2B, HBP (.264)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Connor Myers (.273/.318/.437) has at least one hit in 12 of his last 13 games. After batting .302 in June, he is off to a .310 average so far in July.

Advanced A

Myrtle Beach 10, Lynchburg 0

Game Recap

Tyler Durna (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Tyler Durna (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Tyler Durna singled home a run in the 1st to stake the Pelicans to a 1-0 lead. It was all the offense Erich Uelmen and the Myrtle Beach bullpen would need but Durna and his offensive brethren were not done. They had one big inning left in them. With one out in the 3rd Durna notched another RBI single as the last of four straight batters to reach base, extending the lead to 3-0. One out later Aramis Ademan hit a two-run triple into the RCF gap. Four walks and two more singles would follow, culminating in a nine run inning that only ended with the third out being made at home plate. Miguel Amaya had hit a bases loaded single to left, scoring Delvin Zinn, but Cam Balego was cut down trying to score the tenth run.

Top Performers

  • Tyler Durna: 3-5, R, 3 RBI (.250)
  • Cam Balego: 2-3, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB (.260)
  • Carlos Sepulveda: 1-3, 2 R, 2 BB. SB (9) (.245)
  • Delvin Zinn: 0-2, 2 R, RBI, BB, 2 HBP (.256)
  • Miguel Amaya: 2-5, R, RBI (.230)
  • Aramis Ademan: 1-5, 3B, R, 2 RBI (.233)
  • Erich Uelmen: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K (W, 4-2, 2.88)
  • Chad Hockin: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (0.00)
  • Manuel Rodriguez: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (4.15)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Erich Uelmen (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Erich Uelmen (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Rounding into midseason form, Erich Uelmen used his low-90s two-seamer to great effect (7-2 GO-AO), while showing the command and willingness to elevate his four-seamer (T94) for whiffs. His slider was sharp, with both vertical and horizontal break, and he mixed his changeup effectively. I'm not sure any are true plus pitches, but all are average or better, and when he is commanding them like he was last night in combination with the deception in his delivery... Uelmen can mow through  lineup. He's been at his best the last 3 times out (16.2 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 15 K, 26-6 GO-AO).

Returning from TJS which ended his 2018 season with Myrtle Beach after just a handful of April appearances, Chad Hockin struck out 2 in his first game back.

A

Quad Citties 4, South Bend 3 (10 Innings)

Game Recap

This is the Brendon Little we hoped to see shine through more frequently this season. We saw it in fits and starts last year, but never with any consistency. A lat injury similar to the one that ruined Adbert Alzolay's 2018, held Little back in EXST in the 1st half of this season, but now in his third start since returning to South Bend he showed the complete package. He got bigger and stronger over the offseason, altered his delivery a bit to create more deception, moved to the 3rd base side of the rubber, and looks to be throwing free and easy at this point.

Brendon Little (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Brendon Little (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Little established his fastball (89-92) early, working it to both sides of the plate, but more importantly up and down in order to set up both his offspeed pitches. His curve was downright filthy in this game, and his changeup got better and better as the afternoon went along. At its best that pitch gets excellent downward movement and creates almost 10 mph separation off his fastball. He mixed all three pitches with great success and better command than I've ever seen from him.

Still on a pitch and innings limit as he comes back from the injury, the Cubs lifted him after five innings, but what a five innings they were. Little punched out eight batters, while allowing just three base runners. It would have been awesome to get him the win, but the bullpen couldn't hold a 2-0 lead.

Top Performers

  • Brendon Little: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K (67 P - 47 Str) (2.08)
  • Andy Weber: 1-3, HR (3), R, RBI, 2 BB (.265)
  • Jonathan Sierra: 1-3, R, BB (.244)
  • Brennen Davis: 1-3, 2B, R (.296)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Andy Weber (.265/.318/.388) is batting .300/.429/.500 over his last 8 games.

Over his last 20 MWL starts, Brendon Little has pitched 5 or more shutout innings 5 times. He's also given up 5 or more runs 5 times. Which is obviously the inconsistency he needs to overcome. He hasn't had one of those disastrous outings yet this year, though, so hopefully he is moving beyond it.

As great as the news on Little was, the game ended on a down note. Not only did the Cubs lose in extras, but...

A-

Boise 4, Eugene 2

Prospect Profile

Top Performers

  • Zac Taylor: 2-4, 3B, SB (3) (.381)
  • Jonathan Soto: 3-4, 2B, R, RBI (.208)
  • Edmond americaan: 2-5, 2B, RBI (.245)
  • Zach Mort: 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (L, 1-3, 4.71)

AZL

GiantsO 13, Cubs1 3

Top Performers

  • Oswaldo Pina: 1-3, 3B, 2 RBI, BB (.286)
  • Ethan Hearn: 1-3, 2 R, BB (.333)
  • Yovanny Cuevas: 1-2, BB, HBP (.211)
  • Ervis Marchan: 1-3, RBI, HBP (.340)
  • Johnny Field: 1-3 (.333)

Royals 6, Cubs2 4

Top Performers

  • D.J. Artis: 1-3, R, RBI, BB, SB (1) (.200)
  • Bryce Windham: 1-2, R, 2 BB (.313)
  • Rochest Cruz: 1-2, R, 2 BB, SB (5) (.294)
  • Richard Nunez: 2-4 (.250)
  • Julio Guante: 4 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 2 K (5.09)

DSL

Cubs1 4, Pirates1 0

Cubs2 6, CardinalsR 5 (10 Innings)

Comments

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  • I'm most intrigued by Happ. Leads the Iowa team in RBIs and strikeouts, still whiffing 33% of the time. BA is .240, but he walks enough to make his OBP respectable. Outside of his recent hot streak, is he learning anything? He seems to be finding his stroke, but the K's are still an issue - any chance he could help the MLB club this year? Or - is he trade bait?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    My guess is the Cubs don't want to give up on his potential yet, especially with his value probably at a low point. They were/are making changes to his swing and approach from the left side, so I don't put a lot of weight in the average or K's right now. If he can stay hot and keep showing he has implemented the changes, he could be a significant add for the end of the year. My guess is Almora is the more likely piece to be moved in a trade.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    The opposite field power he showed in this game was certainly encouraging. I haven't studied minutely the changes the Cubs are implementing with him, but he looks a little different in his stance and swing. I still have hope. Remember, there will be the extra bench spot next season as the rosters expand to 26. Happ would be a very versatile option (switch-hitter, IF/OF, power/patience).

  • I kind of think Happ has gotten hot at the right time, but I figure he goes in the next trade, along with Carat for ???

  • Michael, what is the "he's leaving the game " mean?

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Brennan Davis tried to bunt and he got hit in the finger and left the game soon there after. No word yet on whether he needs more time off. Listening to the broadcast yesterday, they had no updates post game. I bet we learn today.

    Ultimately, he needs better bunting form. (Yes I am for proper bunting for hits - I am not here for sac bunting)

  • I love to see Miguel Amaya turn it on of late. He was under the Mendoza line in late June and then it all started clicking again. I hope he is able to keep it up.

    Were there any injuries he was dealing with at the start of the season?

  • In reply to Gator:

    He's just a young guy in a pitcher's league playing in a park that suppresses power. He did get a little pull happy for a stretch. Rolled over on a lot. Looking better of late.

  • 2.5 years of Montgomery for a back up catcher rental? Let the head scratchers begin.

  • In reply to good4you:

    More of a no-brainer than a head scratcher. Montgomery wasn't helping the Cubs at all but can fill a big need for a rebuilding KC. The Cubs get a solid defensive catcher that makes their entire pitching staff better and save $2.5 million from the 2020 budget they can use to resign Maldonado or towards another team need. In the meantime, they can get Willson's bat in the lineup at another position and they're set up for another trade.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    another reason for the trade is Willson is going on the 10 day DL for strained arch in his foot. Malsonado is a great fill in. He is good defensively. Like you said a no-brainer.

  • In reply to John57:

    It doesn't hurt, but I don't believe there's any way they make this trade just to fill in for Contreras for 10 days. I really think there's another move coming...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You’re right in that Montgomery is the biggest winner in the trade. And it’s not that I don’t appreciate Maldanado’s defensive prowess but I struggle to see how they use him to create any value. You say he makes our entire pitching staff better but that’s only when he’s behind the plate. How much better is the staff with a catcher playing left field? And doesn’t playing both catchers at the same time create a level of risk or do you lose another roster spot by carrying 3 catchers over an extra bullpen arm? Is that a net gain for the staff?

    But what makes it really a head scratcher for me is that they gave up 2.5 years of a left handed pitching for 2.5 months of a back up catcher. Maybe I overvalue Montgomery but that equation just doesn’t balance out for me. And $2.5M can be found in the organization’s proverbial couch cushions and couldn’t sign anything more than a back up catcher in 2020 so there no net gain there.

    I have been and still relatively am a big fan of the decisions Theo & Co. have made for the team but they just really love to overpay for rentals and it makes me cringe every time.

  • In reply to good4you:

    David Ross and Miguel Montero are two players with abilities similar to Maldonado's. I think it's pretty safe to say the Cubs were better with them on the roster, and they've been trying to find a similar catcher since Montero left. IMO, you're undervaluing what he brings to the Cubs. As for overpaying, what value did you think Montgomery would bring? He's not an effective reliever, he's not going to start for a contender, and a rebuilding team isn't giving up a good prospect for him. He's basically the "Descalso" of the bullpen. So, I'm not seeing how the Cubs "overpaid" for Maldonado.

  • Mike Montgomery trade, Cubs love to sell low. Last offseason a package built around Montgomery would of gotten more than a rental? Looking like 2017. Cubs should try selling a few players when they have higher value. The Cubs have some great players, and this front office needs to get bolder. If the Cubs are so hamstrung by payroll limitations, you need to trade some players making some bucks. Try building a package around Quintana to get a CF, or a younger bullpen power arm. A combination of Chatwood, AAA guys, & use an opener. I'm not a fan of this, but if the Cubs are going to trade another catcher trade the one with the most value Contreras! Take a real chance Caratini, Maldonado, and what you get for Contreras will help the team more than Contreras alone.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I'm sure Theo would be fascinated by your insights. Have you contacted him yet?

  • The Cubs should fire Joe, Jed and Theo. Trade KB, Javy and Contreras while they still have value. We all know they strike out way to much. We need a .400 obp CF, dig up Ty Cobb and create a clone from his DNA. Rickets has got the money to make it happen, if not he should just sell them team.
    Oh wait we are in first place, nevermind! ;)

  • In reply to d0a0v0e:

    I can see why you might think I'm a knucklehead. I think Theo, and the rest of the front office are superstars! The Cubs should be in first place. They have four offensive stars, plus a massive revenue, and payroll advantage over the rest of the NL Central. I look at trades like everyone else you win some Arrieta/Strop. Get lucky-Dempster refused to go to ATL and we end up with Hendricks, and of course lose some-Lemahieu. The Cubs are paying 6 starting pitchers around $93 million in 2019. I would love to see them build a trade around Quintana and his $10.5 million payroll to add something to help this season. Plus some additional rentals to help this team, and maybe clean up the 40 man roster. I like seeing the Cubs win!

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Not picking on you at all. I am guilty of the doom and gloom myself. I like this site because it has different opinions and those opinions help you think through things a more clearly.
    I think the are in a good spot position player wise. My worry is for the starting pitching in the next few seasons, but today we are in first place. There’s not a real good move to make. Just gotta ride it out. I am trying to enjoy this ride, see if Joe and the boys have a little magic left.

  • In reply to d0a0v0e:

    It was obvious to me you guys were being sarcastic. I was not offended at all. Trust me my 2 cents when it comes to baseball, isn't even worth two cents to me.

    I'm not worried about Cubs pitching. I believe Theo and company when they first came here tried to draft, sign, and develop a different type of pitching prospect. It didn't pan out, but I'm glad they tried something different. They made some adjustments.
    Michael has made it clear that most of the upper level pitchers are not stars. Might be #5 starter/middle relief types, maybe develop into something more. Really it looks like to me this is the most pitching depth the Cubs have had since Theo been the GM. I think the Cubs are in a great spot. Rental players seem to cost less in trades when compared to the past. Free agents prices are level or down, and length of contracts are getting shorter. I look at both of those things, it plays right into the Cubs massive advantage over the NL Central.

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    Has some of the prospect shine worn off Aramis Ademan? I get that he was young for High-A last year, but this year he isn't hitting alot better despite repeating the level. He's still a prospect, but are we less sure about the bat now?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    He did get a little bigger and stronger this season, and has improved his plate discipline again (its gotten better every year). But my concerns regarding his ability to hold up under the grind of being an everyday player at his size are growing. I just don't think he has the frame to hold more weight and think it will limit his upside. I still think there is MLB potential, but more likely as a utility man now. Can still be useful as a left-hand hitting MI, who helps defensively, and at least in a minimized role can hit for some average, draw some walks, and flash some pull power.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, what’s the deal with Mekkes? He was killin’ it in ST?

  • Thanks Michael, any update on Hultzen?

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