Daily Cubs Minors Recap: I'm getting really tired of reporting on injury situations instead of game action and prospect development

Tyson Miller (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

MLB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

The Cubs won for the sixth straight day, but it sure seems like it was the sixth straight day the team lost a player to injury. This time it wasn’t a hamstring pull, but rather a shoulder injury. And of course it was another lost infielder, and it sure appeared as if David Bote is going to miss a while.

A 40-man move may not need to happen to replace Bote in the short term. Jason Heyward is eligible to return from his hamstring injury today. He’s been running the bases before games, and since he was not out for too long, it is unlikely he will require a rehab stint to regain his timing at the plate.

It isn’t ideal, but the Cubs can call upon former infielders Ian Happ and P.J. Higgins to fill in behind Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Eric Sogard. But that is only a temporary solution, contingent on whether Matt Duffy will be able to return from his injuries this week.

Duffy is eligible to come off the IL on Wednesday. His IL placement with a lower back strain was retroactive to May 23rd. David Ross described Duffy’s issues as bumps and bruises so hopefully some infield help is on the way soon.

Anthony Rizzo remains day-to-day with his own lower back issues. In the past his back has loosened up after several days off, so hopefully Rizzo can return at some point this weekend.

Although he’s been running the bases prior to games this weekend, it will likely be at least a week or even two before Jake Marisnick returns to the Cubs. He’s been out for long enough that a rehab stint in the Minors will almost certainly be required.

Alec Mills, Trevor Megill, and Rowan Wick are the two relievers closest to returning. Mills has made two starts in Iowa and Megill began his rehab there last night. The Cubs will need to make a 40-man roster move once Wick is ready to return to Chicago, but I would imagine he will need at least ten days in Iowa (or elsewhere) to regain his feel for game action. Justin Steele is working out, but has not begun throwing yet.

AAA

St. Paul 6, Iowa 5

Game Recap

Make it seven straight losses now for the I-Cubs. While the big club has been able to manage the organizational rash of injuries thanks in large part to major contributions from players recalled from Iowa, it has taken a huge toll on the ability of the I-Cubs to compete on a regular basis.

The lineup has struggled, but the pitching has been even more of an issue of late. The Iowa staff has given up no fewer than four runs in every game during the losing streak. A reliever has been tasked with covering up to three innings most days. There are still some talented arms on on the staff, despite the players lost to injury and Chicago, but as a whole they’ve hit a bit of a rough patch at the wrong time.

In a bit of good news, Tyson Miller was able to make his first start of the season. Slowed by Covid this spring, Miller only joined the I-Cubs on May 19th, making two relief appearances over the last week, before taking his first turn in the rotation last night.

Still not entirely stretched out, he lasted only three innings, but they were three good innings. He worked in the low-90s with his cutting four seamer and fading two seamer. The best sight was a few really good curveballs and changeups. Miller made it to the Majors last year on the back of the extension and late cutting action on his four seamer, but missing bats with his slider has proven to be an issue in AAA and MLB. The Cubs worked with him to change the grip on his curveball this year in the hopes of giving him a better weapon to put away hitters. The returns last night were positive.

Top Performers

  • Tyson Miller: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (5.06)
  • Andrew Romine: 2-3, 2B, R, BB (.179)
  • Trayce Thompson: 1-3, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB (.255)
  • Abiatal Avelino: 3-5, RBI (.299)
  • Taylor Gushue: 2-5, 3 RBI (.288)
  • Ian Miller: 1-4, 2 R, BB (.203)
  • Vance Vizcaino: 1-4, HBP (.400)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

If the Cubs do decide to add another infielder to the 40-man roster for a call up to Chicago, Dee Strange-Gordan did make his Iowa debut last night (0-5, 3 K). The veteran had been slashing .333/.378/.500 with Nashville prior to the Brewers granting his release earlier this week. Sergio Alcantara continues to play well in Iowa, but for such a temporary situation his lack of options and likelihood of being claimed on waivers means Strange-Gordon would probably be call upon first.

Additional reinforcements for Iowa also arrived in the form of another 30+ year old infielder, former Twins 2nd rounder (2008) and Park Ridge native Tyler Ladendorf.

AA

Chattanooga 5, Tennessee 4 (10 Innings)

Game Recap

Another quality start by Matt Swarmer kept the Smokies in the game while they waited for their bats to wake up. A two-run single by Erick Castillo drove in a pair in the 7th and then a double by Grayson Byrd the following inning gave Tennessee a short-lived 4-3 lead. The Lookouts pushed across a run in the bottom of the frame to tie it.

One of the most impressive new arms in the Cubs system has been reliever Ben Leeper. One of the handful of hard throwing UDFAs the Cubs signed after the abbreviated 2020 draft, Leeper jumped directly into AA this year and his stuff flashes plus in just about every outing. His fastball/slider combo is very impressive. He’s allowed just one unearned run in 11 innings this year (14 K, 0.82 WHIP and .125 AVG against) but unfortunately he’s been tasked with extra inning work in his last two outings and has been unable to strand the inherited runner in either, taking the loss in both games.

Top Performers

  • Matt Swarmer: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K (3.13)
  • Grayson Byrd: 2-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI (.268)
  • Erick Castillo: 2-4, 2 RBI (.226)
  • Darius Hill: 2-5, R (.333)
  • Zach Davis: 1-4, R, HBP, SB (4) (.303)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

A pair of guys who opened the year in Myrtle Beach but have found themselves in Tennessee to cover for injuries deserve a call out.

  1. Utility man Grayson Byrd (son of longtime MLB hurler Paul Byrd) filled in for Matt Mervis at 1B for the Pelicans and then was needed to fill in for Jared Young for the Smokies. Since then he’s also filled in at 3B, and then over the last two games at 2B. He’s an opposite field hitter without much power, but he doesn’t try to do too much and he’s been a capable hitter (.273/.355/.424 this year) wherever called upon. Byrd has now reached base in 11 straight games.
  2. Outfielder Darius Hill opened 2021 as the Pelicans leadoff man before being summoned to AA. He’s a contact hitter who rarely walks or Ks. Better suited in a corner than CF, but he can fill in wherever needed, and even more so than Byrd, Hill just never seems overwhelmed by whatever type of pitcher he faces. Throw him heat or offspeed stuff, he puts the bat on the ball. He just contributes solid AB after solid AB (.347/.380/.432 this year).

The Smokies finished Friday’s game with just 9 healthy players (3 catchers). Erick Castillo started at 3B and Miguel Amaya at DH, while Tyler Payne was behind the dish last night.

The Cubs signed 22-year old infielder Bryan Serra last fall, I can only assume to provide some veteran presence in the DSL this year, but thanks to the number of infielders unavailable throughout the system they were forced to send him up to Tennessee last night.

The Smokies also added outfielder D.J. Artis to the bench, and lucky they did, because Zach Davis was hit by a pitch and needed to exit the game. Sigh.

Serra and Artis were the only two healthy players on the Tennessee bench. If Davis is out today, they’ll be down to 10 healthy position players.

High-A

Fort Wayne 3, South Bend 1

Game Recap

A three run 3rd off starter Chris Kachmar was all Fort Wayne needed. Kachmar and the bullpen held the TinCaps to just three hits, but two of them came in the 3rd, along with a walk and hit batter. Meanwhile the Cubs weren’t lighting it up on offense, but they did double the Fort Wayne hit total. Unfortunately they didn’t draw near the number of free passes, and their hits were spread across multiple innings, as they finished just 1-for-9 with RISP.

Top Performers

  • Chris Kachmar: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 7 K (L, 0-2, 4.94)
  • Graham Lawson: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K (3.38)
  • Burl Carraway: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (3.68)
  • Delvin Zinn: 1-3, BB, SB (18) (.268)
  • Bradlee Beesley: 1-3, 2B, R (.333)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Burl Carraway (1-0, 3.68) gave me a scare a couple weeks back when he walked all five batters he faced, while throwing just 2 strikes in 22 pitches, but he hasn’t given up a run since. He still walked 5 batters over his next 3 outings, but he also K’d 6 without surrendering a hit. He’s seems fully recovered from his bout of wildness now. Over his last two outings he’s faced 7 batters and struck out 6. He struck out all 3 he faced last night, and finished just two pitches short of an immaculate inning.

The young lefty has yet to allow a hit over 7.1 innings this season. The stuff is as impressive as advertised. A high spin rate fastball in the mid-90s (T97-98) and a devastating curve. He hasn’t used the curve as much in High-A as he will once he moves up. It seems like they have him working on fastball command thus far.

Low-A

Myrtle Beach PPD

Comments

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  • Great article Michael !
    This must be a record year for injuries throughout all the American and National teams.
    With the fans in the stands again, it feels like baseball is finally back.

  • Gotta say, this is the most fun I've had watching the Cubs in a few years. Even with guys out, there is confidence that the guys that aren't will be able to give the team a good shot at winning every day. Ross and co have done and amazing job of changing the team's philosophy and baseball has been fun again. Let's hope it continues!

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Let's go with "identity" instead of "philosophy".

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Agreed,
    The Cubs look like they have a pulse with the emergence of Nico Hoerner, bringing in Joc Peterson and other free agents. This is a far cry from previous years when it wasn't fun to watch the Cubs.
    Adding, playing small ball is exciting and fun to watch.

  • DFA-ing T. Miller????? Tell me there's a decent trade in place!

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    That’s what I am hoping for or at least hoping he clears waivers. I think Mills, Abbott & Marquez, amongst some others are maybe ahead of him on the starter callup depth chart as well as a few relievers on that chart. We’ll see.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    My guess is the 4th overall pick in the '13 draft Kohl Stewart. He's been pretty good so far. Abbott and Mils just pitched. Marquez has yet to see game action.

    No idea if they've worked with him at their Pitch Lab. But he has 1 TC and 3 ARB years with 2 options remaining. If he rises to the occasion there's a good chance he'll be in the rotation next year. The odds of Arrieta's $10 mil option being picked up are probably long. Just too much for a #5.

    4 days rest and he's on the 40 man. Logical conclusion if he's healthy......I do feel for the I-Cubs faithful though. They had a good team until the Mothership started strip mining it.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    After DFA-ing, trade sure should happen..... Not for equal value.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Is this 1 of those situations where the Cubs could change their mind if they can't find a good trade in the next few days, pull him back, and move Bote to the 60-day?

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    No, Designated for assignment-Cubs have 10 days to trade, release, or place player on waivers.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Prayerfully they'll get something decent in return for Tyson, really like him; or God-willing he'll clear waivers?

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Bummer now that T. Williams is hurt now too. This looks like a real questionable decision right now.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Dang, I think Williams has some potential; but he if can't God-willing figure it out, maybe Abbott could be an option? Praying Tyson clears waivers, but we'd have to wait 10 days to find out?

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    T. Miller was a prospect at AAA. I don't think the Cubs wanted to lose him.

    Michael Ernst I think said something about Cubs pitchers breaking through already this season, and some younger pitchers pushing from lower levels.

    Cubs must have some confidence in their younger pitchers that they can DFA a prospect like T. Miller? Who would have thought that just a few months ago?

    I was hoping T. Miller, C. Abbott, or someone else will break through to be penciled in as the #5/6 starter for next season. Cubs now have one less guy.

  • Joe West is at his best, screwing the Cubs with his expanded strike zone.
    I've seen a couple of games Joe West expanded the zone to screw the Cubs.
    On a Sunday night contest at Wrigley field , Cubs vs. Boston about five years ago Joe West kept the Cub batters off guard with
    a moving zone.
    MLB will be better when this jerk retires.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Happ rung up on three balls off the plate called strikes.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    The Cubs second baseman was called out twice on pitches outside the zone.
    After the Reds plated the 5th run, Mighty Joe decided to change the strike zone again.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    I agree Sogard was called out on ball four twice but if you look at the pitch sequence in both at bats Joe call two strikes in the zone balls. If they were called correctly there would not have been the lousy strike calls. More reason to either delete the zone from TV or start using it instead of letting the umpires call balls/strikes.

  • fb_avatar

    When will MLB realize that fans can see where the balls are thrown? We see balls and strikes and it's not just one or two a game, but one or two (at least) and inning. Tennis just went to a digitized system to call whether the balls are in or out and eliminated side and back judges. Baseball should do the same--robo umps but keep the umps to judge other calls. Enough is enough.

  • Has there been any discussion on stretching out Thompson?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Why don't you ask your higher power?

  • The Cubs have played excellent ball in May. This stinker was probably coming.
    The Padres are going to be a handful ! Go Cubs !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Baseball happened today and it'll happen again. I doubt there's fan base out there that hasn't seen enough of Joe West and Angel Hernandez.

    Between the injuries and the schedule the Cubs have got a real challenge in front of them.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    Joe West has screwed up several baseball games that has generated many complaints to no avail. To Rob Manfred , Joe West is untouchable. What does tell the fan about the state of MLB? Does MLB want to improve or correct their screw-ups ? I don't think so !

  • Good grief. Now Williams is down with an appendectomy. Right after his best performance to date. This is becoming a theme.

    With Abbott having pitched today might we see Kohl Stewart tomorrow? Mills just went on the 28th. Stewart on the 26th. He still has options. Place your bets!!!

  • The news on Bote is as good as can be expected. He should be back in early July if he is a pretty fast healer. June could be a problem for the Cubs. It's better to have any injuries in the first half of the season and be at full strength for August and September. Keep a close eye on Contreras and our young pitchers.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    To win this thing will require a team effort. A handful of key guys can't do it all. The Cubs roster is deep and versatile, structured to keep all players fresh and healthy. We shall see.

  • Rizzo - day to day, missed last 5 games
    IL
    Hoerner
    Duffy
    Bote
    Marisnick
    Heyward

    Never seen anything like it with position players. The only bright side I can find is to date we're not watching the entire rotation go down circa 1985. Probably shouldn't have said that out loud.

    Some are speculating Thompson may take the bump today. Can't say I like that idea with 2 more trips through the rotation before a scheduled day off. They're going to need everyone in the pen. Including Maples. Who did nice job eating up 2 innings yesterday.

  • I'm looking for two of three against the Friars in Wrigley and three of seven out West and I'll take my chances with the rest of June, which is a near make or break month. Go Cubs!

  • In reply to 44slug:

    It's going to be a test for sure. Just unfortunate to be missing some of their best contact bats as they run into a whole lot of very good pitching.

    Padres have a very good rotation and an even better pen.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    Still baffled by the wisdom decision?lol.

  • Good job running up the Padres pitch count !

  • Steward, what a great pick-up ! 5 innings w/0 earned runs ! Where are the Cubs finding these gems ?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    I remember someone saying we hired a new system wide pitching director (or something like that) like 2 years ago? Whoever they are, I give God the glory, the honor, and the praise we hired them!

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    You're an idiot!

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I wanted to thank you for seeing my posts, and taking the time out of your day to reply to them; you seemingly spend time reading articles and posts on this site, but only my posts inspire you to reply. Thanks 2016 Cubs! God bless you!

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    The Cubs a new person to oversee the draft. The Cubs then moved Jason McCloud to another position.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    That must've been what I saw............

  • Anybody for a Patric Wisdom extension ? Raise your hand !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    I'll second that! Where are we finding these guys?!? Thankfully they aren't Daniel Delasco 2.0! God-willing we continue to evaluate talent like we have this off-season............is this a product of having Hoyer in charge, instead of Epstein?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Didnt know anything about him so I looked him up. Looks like wisdom has hit 31-19-31 Home runs in 2017 thru 19. Could be surprise find?

  • Was that really a strike 3 to Wisdom there, or is it prayerfully time for Robert Manfred to break out Robo-ump?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    That was a ball way off the strike zone. Rob Manfred won't do any thing despite many complaints from players and fans alike. If I was the Baseball commissioner and not a rubber stamp, I would investigate a couple of these clowns who continue to smear the
    game with bad calls at times when momentum could change. It appears these clowns are bulletproof from criticism. This needs
    to change.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    I couldn't agree more.......

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