A pair of early solo homers by right fielder Rafael Ortega (who made a good impression during Spring Training), and another by Nick Martini, put Iowa up by one heading into the late innings. But Indianapolis managed to do the same off Jake Jewell in the 8th to pull even.
The I-Cubs responded in a big way in the bottom half of the frame, however. Pinch hitter Taylor Gushue singled home a run to regain the lead. As the inning continued, Iowa managed to load the bases, and then Abiatal Avelino unloaded them:
Grand Slam! Abiatal Avelino pads the I-Cubs lead 8-3 pic.twitter.com/d6I5Wxj5xQ— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) May 6, 2021
- Rafael Ortega: 2-4, 2 HR (1, 2), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB
- Abiatal Avelino: 2-5, HR (1), R, 4 RBI
- Nick Martini: 1-3, HR (1), 2 R, RBI, BB
- Sergio Alcantara: 2-2, R, 2 BB, SB (1)
- Ian Miller: 1-3, R, 2 BB,
- Ben Holmes: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 K
- Adam Morgan: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
It is still really early, but shortstop Sergio Alcantara has made a positive impression on me in the first two games. Visa issues kept him from competing for a MLB job in Spring Training, but the one-time top prospect in the Arizona and Detroit systems is still just 24-years old. He’s a smaller guy, so there is never going to be much power in his game, but as a switch hitter with a solid eye, its possible he can still carve out a bench role in the future.
The Cubs already have decent left-handed depth at the MLB level, and now former Phillies reliever Adam Morgan, who holds a 4.84 career ERA in 199 MLB games (36 starts), is throwing his hat in the ring as well. Morgan made his first appearance since minor elbow surgery last fall, throwing 1.1 shutout innings. After struggling as a starter when he first came up, Morgan found a niche in the Phillies pen during the 2018-19 seasons, pitching to a sub-4.00 ERA across 107 appearances, while striking out more than a batter per inning. The Cubs signed him this winter to a MiLB deal knowing he would not be ready until May at the earliest. With the way Rex Brothers and Justin Steele are throwing, however, Morgan may have a tough time breaking on to the MLB roster. Kyle Ryan and Brad Wieck are also a 40-man roster.
Tonight’s I-Cubs game will be broadcast on Marquee for those who are interested. Iowa doesn’t have the most exciting roster among the affiliates, as it is mostly veteran laden, but that also means most guys have spent time in the Majors and so may be more familiar. A schedule of the 14 Iowa games slated for Marquee can be found here.
This one was a heartbreaker.
Cam Sanders and three relievers combined to no-hit the Biscuits over the first 8 innings, as the Smokies took a 1-0 lead into the 9th. Closer Manny Rodriguez walked a pair of batters, but still managed to maintain the no-no and get the Biscuits down to their final strike… and then Rene Pinto took a pitch deep to centerfield. No more no-hitter, and no more lead.
Sanders will be a starter to watch this season. The son of former Cubs swingman Scott Sanders, Cam came to the Cubs as a 12th rounder in the 2018 draft and put together a strong 2019 season in South Bend, but my main concern which arose was his inability to hold velocity between innings and within starts. He’d vary between the mid-80s and mid-90s and it was just difficult to predict what you’d see from him.
Reports from this offseason indicated that Sanders was able to take a step forward since we last saw him, not only in terms of consistency, but also with a bump in his top velocity (95-98). At least through one start, those reports appear accurate. Sanders appeared to consistently work in the mid-90s and higher last night. He paired it with a good changeup and also froze some hitters with a big curveball. I’m going to be monitor how effective the curve is for him this season as it has a bit of a different shape than what we typically see from MLB starters.
- Cam Sanders: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K
- Luis Lugo: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K
- Andy Weber: 2-4, RBI
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Interestingly, Christopher Morel‘s first start of the season came in CF and not 3B. I’m not surprised about Morel getting playing time there, as I’ve predicted for some time his future role is as a utility man capable of playing everywhere on the diamond except catcher, but I did expect the Morel to still get the majority of his time in 2021 at 3B because the Cubs have generally waited to groom guys at more than a position or two until they reach AAA. If this indicates an organizational change in strategy, it is one I believe is for the better. Morel also contributed a triple on offense.
A four-run 3rd inning was all the offense offense South Bend generated the entire night, but the pitching staff made it hold up. Chris Kachmar contributed a solid 3.2 innings in his first pro start, converted outfielder Brandon Hughes added 1.2 innings of shutout ball to earn the win, and then Burl Carraway nailed it down in the 9th.
The highly touted 2nd rounder from last summer’s draft required nothing but fastballs to record a save in his pro debut. The Cubs love the high spin rates he generates on both his heater and his plus curveball. It appeared the velo on his fastball was in the mid-90s on this day, but he’s been known to work higher at Dallas Baptist. Carraway dominated up in the zone, generating whiffs and sky high popups as the opposing hitters couldn’t get on top of the pitch, thanks to the backspin and trajectory coming from his 6’0″ frame. Once he incorporates his knee buckling curve, watch out. Consistency and command will be the key to his development.
- Chris Kachmar: 3.2 IP, 4 H, R, 0 ER, BB, 3 K
- Brandon Hughes: 1.2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (W, 1-0)
- Burl Carraway: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (S, 1)
- Cole Roederer: 1-3, R, RBI, BB
- Luis Vazquez: 1-3, R, BB
- Delvin Zinn: 0-2, BB, 2 SB (2, 3)
- Cam Balego: 0-2, RBI, BB, HBP
Not much to say about this one. A young Pelicans lineup was dominated by Cole Wilcox, a highly experienced college arm with some of the best stuff from the 2020 draft. Frankly, Wilcox has no business in Low-A and he should look good against inexperienced 18-20 year olds.
- Luis Verdugo: 1-3, 2B, R
- Grayson Byrd: 1-3, 2B
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap