Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Impressive pitching performances drive most of the narrative from Sunday's action

Matt Swarmer (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Matt Swarmer (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

AAA

Iowa 5, Salt Lake 2

Game Recap

Iowa received great pitching throughout the game. Matt Swarmer shut down the Bees over the first six innings before eventually yielding two runs in the 7th. Wyatt Short got the Cubs out of the inning and then pitched a scoreless 8th. The 9th belonged to Danny Hultzen, who struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Top Performers

  • Matt Swarmer: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K (W, 8-10, 5.88)
  • Wyatt Short: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K (0.00)
  • Danny Hultzen: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (S, 2, 1.42)
  • Addison Russell: 2-3, HR (5), 3 R, RBI, BB (.276)
  • Jim Adduci: 2-4, R, CS (4) (.306)
  • Johnny Field: 1-2, RBI, 2 BB (.244)
  • Mark Zagunis: 1-4, R, SB (4) (.304)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

It is very easy to overlook Matt Swarmer as a prospect this season given his 5.88 ERA, but you have to realize that number isn't particularly bad for the PCL, and also Swarmer has always been an extreme fly ball pitcher which makes navigating the league particularly difficult this season in light of the jump in home run rates as the MLB baseballs were introduced.

As of right now Swarmer has pitched the exact same number of innings (128.2) as he did in 2018, but has surrendered 21 more home runs (10 to 31). We are witnessing the same issue with Tyson Miller in the 2nd half. There have been times Swarmer has struggled to put guys away and finish off at bats quickly, which has led to a jump in his walk totals (21 in 2018 to 40 this year). His K-to-BB totals are still pretty good at a little under 3-to-1, but it is a dropoff from the 6-to-1 he pulled off last year.

I do believe we are seeing that Swarmer, despite having the size, command and stamina, may not be best suited for a starting role, or at least not one where he faces a lineup more than twice through. His low-90s fastball has late life, but I think hitters end up being able to time it better the second time through, and lefties in particular become more difficult for him to finish off. A move to the pen, where the fastball will play up a bit more, in combination with his solid slider and changeup could be a good role for him. In the meantime, he's needed in the rotation, but Swarmer will be Rule 5 eligible and pretty much MLB-ready, so I could see a team desperate for pitching taking a swing at him this offseason.

Wyatt Short (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Wyatt Short (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Speaking of MLB-ready with 40-man roster decisions this offseason, both of the lefties who followed Swarmer to the mound present interesting dilemmas as well. Twenty-four year old Wyatt Short made the jump from AA on Sunday and proceeded to do what he has done throughout his pro career, get batters out. Short is a bit of an anomaly in that he is a short sinkerball pitcher (5'8"), but the pitch is effective and along with his slider and changeup, he has three solid offerings which help him keep the ball on the ground and also miss enough bats to remain effective against hitters from both sides of the plate. His slider helps him hold lefties down more effectively, but his changeup has proven an effective ground ball pitch against righties. It will be interesting to see what decision the Cubs make with Short. He'll be unproven in AAA, but he's honestly a guy that is pretty polished and I don't think he has much left to learn. He should be an effective depth guy, capable of filling the Randy Rosario shuttle role the next couple of years, so I'm quite interested in holding on to him.

That shuttle role is not one that Danny Hultzen can fill, however. The former 2nd overall pick had all of his option seasons used up as a member of the Mariners, so once the Cubs add him to the 40-man, he'll need to stick with the big club. He'll turn 30 years old this November so the time is coming in the spring when he is going to need to make that leap (assuming the Cubs don't turn to him at some point this season).

Kyle Ryan has solidified one left-hander spot out of the Cubs bullpen, but the other will be up for grabs. The Cubs will not pick up Derek Holland's expensive 2020 option, although it is always possible they look to bring him back on a smaller deal. This leaves Hultzen in prime position to battle for that spot next spring. His fastball has been in the 92-95 range and both his slider and changeup are proving effective against all hitters. He's allowed just 4 hits in 12.2 innings (.098 average against) while striking out 20 batters. I can honestly envision a Ryan/Hultzen combo working well in the Chicago pen next year, with recent acquisition Brad Wieck providing an experienced power option (K% > 40% last 2 years) in AAA, along with Wyatt Short. That is pretty good depth.

AA

Biloxi 11, Tennessee 7

Game Recap

The offense did its job, as did starter Erick Leal, but some defensive miscues (Jhonny Pereda despite reaching four times, was called for CI and had two passed balls) and spotty bullpen work led to a difficult loss for the Smokies.

Top Performers

  • Nico Hoerner: 3-6, 2 R, RBI, SB (7) (.259)
  • Jhonny Pereda: 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB (.254)
  • Charcer Burks: 1-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB (.237)
  • Vimael Machin: 1-4, R, 2 BB, SB (7) (.291)
  • Erick Leal: 5 IP, 5 H, R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (5.45)
  • Oscar De La Cruz: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (4.42)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Two relievers (Tommy Nance, Jordan Minch) combined to allow 9 runs (6 earned) on 4 hits, 3 walks, 2 hit batters, a wild pitch, and a balk in just 2 innings.

Advanced A

Myrtle Beach 1, Wilmington 0 (10 innings)

Game Recap

Both pitching staffs dueled throughout the first nine innings, with neither allowing a run. Alexander Vargas had his sinker working through the first six innings before handing it off to Tyler Peyton who went two, and then Manny Rodriguez pitched a scoreless 9th and 10th. This set up Wladimir Galindo to be the walk-off hero in bottom of the frame:


Top Performers

  • Alexander Vargas: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (4.86)
  • Tyler Peyton: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (5.11)
  • Manuel Rodriguez: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (W, 1-3, 3.83)
  • Miguel Amaya: 1-3, 2B, BB (.237)
  • Delvin Zinn: 1-3, BB (.233)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Manuel Rodriguez (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Manuel Rodriguez (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

A modest 2016-17 IFA signing out of Mexico, 23-year old Manuel Rodriguez features a mid-90s fastball and high spin rate breaking ball which has allowed him to punch out 159 batters in his first 110 innings in the Cubs system. He entered last season expected to be South Bend's primary closer but control issues (36 BB in 40.1 IP) plagued him all season, leading to a 7.59 ERA. He's largely been able to put those problems behind him in 2019, allowing just 14 walks in 40.0 IP so far, putting him more squarely on the map as a potential power bullpen arm down the road.

A

South Bend 8, Fort Wayne 3

Game Recap

South Bend found themselves down 3-1 entering the bottom of the 6th, but from there they'd post three straight crooked numbers, and actually end up walking away with a fairly comfortable win in the final two innings.

Top Performers

  • Yonathan Perlaza: 2-4, 2B, HR (1), R, 2 RBI (.242)
  • Nelson Velazquez: 2-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI (.294)
  • Darius Hill: 2-5, 2 2B, 2 R (.292)
  • Nelson Maldonado: 2-3, R, RBI, BB (.294)
  • Fidel Mejia: 2-4, 22B, RBI (.239)
  • Marcus Mastrobuoni: 2-4, R, RBI (.264)
  • Ivan Medina: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (0.89)
  • Eugenio Palma: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, K (W, 4-3, 3.77)

A-

Eugene 3, Vancouver 2

Game Recap

The pitching staff combined to punch out twelve batters, and though the offense was sparse, they were able to get the big hit when runners did reach scoring position.

Top Performers

  • Chris Clarke: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (1.38)
  • Blake Whitney: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, BB, 6 K (2.91)
  • Hunter Bigge: 2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (W, 2-0 1.20)
  • Josue Huma: 1-3, R, RBI (.300)
  • Caleb Knight: 1-3, RBI, BB (.260)
  • Pedro Martinez: 1-4, 2B, R (.378)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Fourth round pick Chris Clarke is a huge righty with a good curveball who worked in relief for USC as he battled back from injury, but the Cubs figure to try him as a starter next year. He throws low-90s with his fastball and touches higher, but his delivery is a bit awkward. My first impression is that there may be more in there, and I am curious to see what the Cubs can unlock with him in the future.

A guy with plenty of present fastball that you need to be aware of is 12th round pick Hunter Bigge. I've mentioned him often, as he is a former two-way player at Harvard converting to the mound full-time as a pro, but also because he makes an impression every time out. Bigge is powerfully built at 6'0" 205 and regularly runs his fastball up into the upper-90s. It is the type of power arm the Cubs are placing more emphasis on drafting and I am all for it. If they can harness his control a bit, something that should come with more experience on the mound, they could really have something.


AZL

IndiansB 3, Cubs1 2

Top Performers

  • Luis Rodriguez: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, BB, 5 K (L, 2-4, 4.12)
  • Aneuris Rosario: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (1.42)
  • Carlos Pacheco: 1-4, HR (4), R, RBI (.294)
  • Ezequiel Pagan: 1-3, BB, SB (18) (.304)
  • Ryan Reynolds: 1-4, 2B, R (.244)

Cubs2 5, Padres1 3

Top Performers

  • Widimer Joaquin: 4-4, RBI, CS (2) (.292)
  • Luis Verdugo: 2-4, 3B, R, RBI (.276)
  • Ricardo Verenzuela: 2-4, 2B, 2 R, SB (2) (.235)
  • Jhonny Bethencourt: 2-3, 3 RBI, SF (.444)
  • Bryce Windham: 1-4, 3B, 2 R (.275)
  • D.J. Herz: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K (1.93)
  • Danny Zardon: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (W, 1-0, 0.00)
  • Jaime Galazin: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K (S, 4, 3.93)

Comments

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  • Great stuff as always Michael

    Hultzen has to be close to earning a shot with the big club. They are likely going to a roster spot for Zobrist sometime in the few weeks too (and maybe Morrow?). Whose 40 man slot are most in peril at this point?
    Any chance that Steele goes to the 60 day?
    Any update on Webster?

  • In reply to stv711:

    Most precarious 40-man spots are Rosario, Zagunis, Norwood, Davis, Descalso. Depending on health/performance of other players I can see scenarios where any of them could go. Don't think Steele will go to 60-man as it would start his clock and the Cubs would have to pay him MLB salary.
    Webster was pitching in rehab last month, but has been shelved again. I imagine he's done this year.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    As a Seattle resident who’s followed Hultzen’s career since he was drafted, I’d be thrilled for the guy to finally make it. I’m wary of the small sample size of 12 AAA innings, though, and if he pitches well, I’d hate to see him get Brandon Morrow-ed.

  • In reply to stv711:

    Good info from AZ Phil:

    Right now Hultzen is throwing one inning every three or four days (which is what he was doing at Extended Spring Training) and he is virtually unhittable when he does pitch, and while it's not really feasible for an MLB club to carry a one-inning bullpen arm who isn't available on consecutive days, there could be a role for him in September when active list rosters expand from 25 to 40, presuming the Cubs can find a slot on the 40.

  • Haha Short is short. Very good

  • Glad to see Addy taking advantage of regular ABs

  • I haven't been able to see Happ play much since he came back up, but I am curious as to what changed? Has he laid off certain pitches?

    His eye seems as good as its ever been, and his swing as a righty (at least on the homer yesterday) looked MUCH improved, although I don't have anything to compare it to. Any insight, and/or video of Happ swings?

  • Gleyber Torres hit his 26th homerun today and has 63 RBI while hitting .283. Can anyone say Lou Brock trade?

  • In reply to veteran:

    Didn't know we won the world series with Ernie Broglio.

  • In reply to veteran:

    I look at that and just think he obviously likes crab meat.....13 homers against the other 19 teams he’s played against.

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