Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Rea dominates over 7 shutout innings; Russell homers for 2nd straight day; McAvene impresses

Colin Rea (photo by Dylan Heuer)

Colin Rea (photo by Dylan Heuer)

AAA

Iowa 6, Salt Lake 0

Game Recap

A two-run double by Mark Zagunis in the 1st gave Colin Rea an early cushion, and from there he took command. By the time Addison Russell hit a two-run homer in the 5th to make it 5-0, Rea was cruising. Salt Lake never sent more than four men to the plate in any of Rea's seven innings and they didn't even manage to put a runner into scoring position until his final inning. Dakota Mekkes and James Norwood capped off the shutout, with Mekkes punching out two of the three batters he faced.

Top Performers

  • Colin Rea: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K (W, 12-3, 3.50)
  • Dakota Mekkes: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (5.27)
  • James Norwood: IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (4.71)
  • Addison Russell: 2-3, HR (6), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB (.289)
  • Dixon Machado: 2-3, 2 R, RBI, BB (.270)
  • Mark Zagunis: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI (.307)
  • Jim Adduci: 2-4 (.308)
  • P.J. Higgins: 1-3, R, BB (.278)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Addison Russell

Addison Russell

Addison Russell (.289/.387/.556) homered for the 2nd consecutive game, and for the 3rd times in 9 games, during which time he has batted .367 with 10 runs scored and 11 driven in.

He doesn't light up a radar gun, but Colin Rea knows how to work the edges of the strike zone with his low-90s fastball. He can also elevate it at around 93-94 at times. He mixes speeds well with a mid-80s straight change, and then will drop a high-70s curve in the zone to freeze hitters and keep their eye level moving. Rea will issue some walks, but it is often because he refuses to give in to a hitter. He tends to miss out of the zone rather than in the heart of the plate.

There is a good chance the Cubs choose to add Rea to the 40-man for September, and he could even provide a spot start or two if they need to rest their starters. Even if they don't add him in September, Rea has sown up a roster spot in the offseason. The Cubs will not allow him to walk as a free agent, and Rea still has two option years remaining so they will not need to force him on to the 25-man next spring, and instead can function as a reliable veteran shuttle player, if he fails to win a job outright in the spring.


A

Fort Wayne 3, South Bend 1

Game Recap

South Bend got on the board first, when a Yonathan Perlaza single drove home Nelson Velazquez in the bottom of the 4th. Carlos Vega had pitched four scoreless in a spot start, but once the game was handed over to the bullpen Fort Wayne quickly took the lead and never looked back.

Top Performers

  • Jake Slaughter: 3-4, 2B (.382)
  • Luis Vazquez: 2-3 (.286)
  • Carlos Vega: 4 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, K (2.21)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Jake Slaughter (photo by Jared Ravich at MiLB.com)

Jake Slaughter (photo by Jared Ravich at MiLB.com)

He doesn't get mentioned a ton because he doesn't hit for much power, but Jake Slaughter (.321/.396/.446 in 52 G between A-/A) has been one of the better hitters for Eugene, and now again in South Bend. He's got good size (6'3" 200) but Slaughter relies more on his athleticism. He's a good defender at both corners, but is also capable of filling in at 2B. Slaughter was not only a prep baseball star, but a good football player as well before being a prized recruit to LSU. The Cubs drafted him out of high school, and though they were unable to sign him they kept an interest, so when his college career didn't come together as expected, the Cubs redrafted the infielder and convinced him that a change of scenery and pro coaching might help get his career back on track.

A-

Vancouver 3, Eugene 2

Game Recap

A big game by Edmond Americaan helped the Emeralds build a 2-0 lead, but some defensive miscues in the middle innings helped Vancouver tie game and eventually move ahead.

Top Performers

  • Edmond Americaan: 3-4, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI
  • Caleb Knight: 1-4, 2 R, SB (1) (.259)
  • Chase Strumpf: 1-3, BB, SB (2) (.300)
  • Michael McAvene: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (0.00)
  • Didier Vargas: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (5.14)
  • Riley McCauley: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (2.96)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends


AZL

Reds 6, Cubs1 4

Top Performers

  • Flemin Bautista: 1-4, HR (1), R, 3 RBI (.171)
  • Carlos Pacheco: 2-3, R, HBP (.303)
  • Brailin Pena: 2-4, 2 2B, R (.214)
  • Oswaldo Pina: 2-4, R (.279)
  • Ryan Reynolds: 2-4, CS (3) (.252)
  • Benjamin Rodriguez: 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, ER, BB, 0 K (L, 2-3, 3.54)
  • Cayne Ueckert: 2 IP, 2 H, R, 0 ER, BB, K (1.37)

BrewersB 2, Cubs2 1

Top Performers

  • Richard Nunez: 2-4, 2B, R (.277)
  • Orian Nunez: 1-3, RBI (.193)
  • Francisco Fermin: 3 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (1.11)

DSL

Ranger1 16, Cubs1 7

Rangers2 6, Cubs2 5

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    Chris Clarke is looking like he is putting together a good season too at Eugene. It seems like our system is finally getting some talent that is producing and should be helping within a year or two.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Yes, Clarke has been impressive.
    92-95 with the FB.
    His CV and SL are both effective.
    Kind of a slinging, unorthodox arm path.

  • fb_avatar

    On the bright side, the Smokies finally didn't lose....

  • Nice call out, Michael on the huge velocity arms the Cubs are going after.

    Marquez and Albertos with Jensen, McAvene, and Bigge give the Cubs some firepower on the way.

  • fb_avatar

    Many have said they have had it with Addison Russell. Whether it is frustration with lack of offensive performance we were hoping for when he was acquired or fury over his baserunning gaffes (he has a propensity for TOOTBLANs), or troubles in his personal life. I am not here to try to defend him or say, "Maybe he's not that bad." I am wondering, however, if he might actually have NEEDED this time in AAA. Going into this season he had around 260 PAs in AA between the A's and Cubs. He had about 60 PAs in AAA. He came to the major leagues as an athletic 21 year old on a hungry squad. Was he maybe not ready to be exposed to MLB pitching. Maybe spending a few months at AAA will help him. He may not become a superstar. But might he become at least "effective"?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    "If you're hitting .320/.410/.590 with 25 HRs in the PCL right now....
    Sorry, you don't qualify for the Top 10 in any of those categories."

    Russell's #'s have been helped greatly by the PCL apparently

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Oneear:

    I'm not quite saying "WOW! Look at those numbers!" I get what you are saying and it is an important point and I agree with it. Also, with Happ there isn't a huge hole at 2B currently.

    What I am talking about is he has very little time at the upper minor leagues. He is 25. He is really competing against other 25 year olds. Maybe he needs to get 150-250 PAs. Maybe start next season in AAA and "earn" his way back onto the MLB roster.

    I am not convinced he has seen his last days as a Chicago Cub. To me he still has value to the team, particularly since he has minor league options left. I am not saying "They won't trade him" but I don't think they will try to get rid of him and get him out of town.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I have wondered if Russell's demotion to AAA was to help him improve or merely a way to stash him, out of the MLB limelight, until he can be traded or released this offseason. I guess there's always the chance he'll learn and grow at AAA - at least in his baseball skills, and you're probably right about the rush to MLB not helping his development. He may very well become an "effective" infielder but I'm convinced that a change of scenery will be necessary for a career in baseball to continue.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Several youngsters were rushed. Including Russell. Bryant being the lone individual who didn't experience one difficulty or another because of it. On or off the field that fans know of.

    Would a complete season at AAA have made a difference for Russell, Happ or Schwarber? We'll never know. But we do know handling real life at the MLB level for a 21 year old isn't as simple as it sounds. All you had to do was hear him an interview and he was obviously still a kid. It also became clear over time his life outside of baseball had gone off the tracks. There's no way someone of that maturity level is going to keep one from affecting the other.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    I, for one, am excited to see who he becomes after some time to develop out of the spotlight. Too many cubs fans have made up their minds about the kid though, unfortunately, so he'll most likely have to try making it back in another organization. If he keeps his numbers up he might bring the cubs back a piece in a trade though. I hope he does.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Russell was a very effective player in 2016. I think he was ready for MLB but pitchers do adjust and then up to the player to adjust. Hasn't his personal life settled down without trouble for awhile.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I was high on Russell early on, I actually thought we'd see an MVP season eventually, but even in 2016 he was a below average hitter with a 95 wRC+. I think I always figured with that defense that he would only need to get to be a 120 wRC+/.800 OPS player to be an absolute star. He never got there posting 85, 80 and 89 wRC+ season after that. That said if he could ever figure out how to turn it around offensively he'll be an asset to a club. I just don't think it will ever be here and the promise of Barry Larkin type numbers is, sadly, long gone.

  • fb_avatar

    Pretty sure those aren't Russell's numbers...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Davis:

    If you are commenting on Oneear's comment to me I think he was quoting from Michael's comment (also a quote from Twitter).

  • Hey Michael, just following up on if you think you might be able to look into my first cousin Damon Jones, who's pitching for the Phillies AAA Lehigh team, if you have a chance? I'd be very interested to get your opinion/evaluation of him............

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    He looks to be pitching very well. At AAA so he seems to be getting close. Big kid. 1 of my nieces is dating a kid in the Nationals system at A level currently.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Thanks, he's a little bit taller than I am (I'm 6'4"), and his Dad (football) and Mom (basketball) played at a very high level collegiately at Boise State; was surprised he slipped into the 18th round, but glad he was blessed with the opportunity.......that's cool about your niece, it's pretty interesting to hear about the experience of being a young player in the minor leagues............

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