Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Hermosillo and Artis hit grand slams; Human and Durna help buoy South Bend offense; Espinoza punches out 10 over 5 shutout innings

DJ Artis (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

AAA

Columbus 8, Iowa 4

Game Recap

After the first week of the season I was wondering to myself if this was the best Iowa squad during the front office’s tenure. They didn’t have a ton of pop in the lineup, but there were a bunch of solid hitters, with proven slugger Patrick Wisdom (who was coming off a promising SB alternate site experience and good spring in Mesa) soon to join the lineup. The rotation was a mix of veterans and prospects on the 40-man roster. The pen was deep.

Now, a month later and the team is floundering. But through no fault of their own. Not only has the squad suffered a few injuries of their own, but pretty much every top of the roster option at the start of the season is currently in Chicago (with most performing well and keeping the Cubs in NL Central contention). It has left the I-Cubs with an extremely thin roster, which has been reflected in the results.

While the lineup has remained patchwork, they’ve actually scored enough runs to win in spurts, but unfortunately the pitching staff has not been able to hold up. Their current losing streak has reached 6 games, and they have now dropped 15 of their last 16. The staff has surrendered at least 4 runs in every one of the losses. The lone win was a 2-0 shutout.

This is a perfect example of why game results are not a good way to judge a Minor League system. The Iowa roster has potentially saved the season in Chicago, but the situation has dictated that they may not be able to save their own. And even though the team hasn’t been able to win of late, there are still a handful of players on the roster who could help in Chicago if the need arises.

Among the players who could get MLB shots at some point down the road are a trio of relievers who turned in solid performances yesterday after starter Matt Swarmer was knocked out early.

Dakota Mekkes was the first to enter, tossing two more shutout innings. In great shape this year, Mekkes is repeating his mechanics and throwing with better command more consistently this year. It has allowed him to get back to being a mult-inning weapon out of the pen. He still has the same elite extension which gives him greater perceived velocity than his radar gun readings. And he is back to generating a ton of weak contact. He was in danger of slipping off the radar as other young relievers honed their command and stuff quicker than him, but he appears to have righted the ship this year, and is back on course to be a potential middle reliever in the bigs.

The I-Cubs also got 3.1 combined innings out of veteran lefties Kyle Ryan and Adam Morgan. The Cubs all of a sudden have a ton of left handed relief depth after struggling to find it for the better part of a decade.

Veteran outfielder Michael Hermosillo, who offers a little bit of a speed/power combo as well as some MLB experience, hit a grand slam. He was added to Iowa’s roster over the weekend after being out with an injury to start the year.

Top Performers

  • Michael Hermosillo: 2-2, 2B, HR (1), 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB (.353)
  • Nick Martini: 2-4 (.261)
  • Trayce Thompson: 1-4, R, BB (.265)
  • Dakota Mekkes: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K (1.65)
  • Kyle Ryan: 2.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (2.40)
  • Adam Morgan: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (3.09)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Dakota Mekkes has not allowed a run over his last 4 appearances, all of at least 2 innings. His line over this stretch: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K. He has thrown 2+ innings in each of his last 6 appearances.

AA

Rocket City 10, Tennessee 9

Game Recap

A D.J. Artis grand slam as part of a 9 run offensive attack proved inadequate. Starter Luis Lugo was bounced in the 2nd inning before recording an out. A bullpen already stretched thin because of short outings by the rotation struggled to absorb the load. Recently promoted lefty Alex Katz gave up four runs over three innings.

Top Performers

  • D.J. Artis: 2-4, 2B, HR (1), 2 R, 4 RBI (.133)
  • Christopher Morel: 1-4, HR (4), 2 R, RBI, HBP (.189)
  • Darius Hill: 3-5, RBI (.330)
  • Grayson Byrd: 1-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB (.241)
  • Tyler Payne: 2-5, 2B, R (.255)
  • Brennen Davis: 1-4, R, HBP (.238)
  • Erick Castillo: 0-2, R, RBI, 2 BB, HBP (.208)
  • Garrett Kelly: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (1.50)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

There isn’t much power, and he doesn’t draw many walks, but Darius Hill (.341/.376/.437 combined) just grinds out at bats and tends to make solid contact. His third consecutive multi-hit game raised his average to .330 with the Smokies and .341 overall on the year. It isn’t a great profile for a corner outfielder, and I think there is some BABIP luck playing into his great year so far, but Hill has earned a deeper dive from me in the near future.

High-A

South Bend 13, Wisconsin 12 (12 Innings)

Game Recap

South Bend brought their hitting shoes in this one. Despite just one home run by Edmond Americaan and just two other XBHs (both by Josue Huma) the Cubs pushed across 13 runs with the help of 9 singles and 15 free passes (12 BB, 3 HBP).

This was a hard fought win. The South Bend bullpen blew a late five run lead, but tightened up a bit once the game went to extras. The offense had already generated their fourth multi-run inning in the bottom of the 12th to secure the victory and push South Bend back above .500. Jake Slaughter notched the walk off single.

Top Performers

  • Edmond Americaan: 2-6, HR (1), 2 R, RBI, BB, SB (3) (.278)
  • Josue Huma: 3-6, 2 2B, 4 R, RBI, BB (.255)
  • Nelson Velazquez: 2-6, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 SB (2, 3) (.321)
  • Yonathan Perlaza: 2-5, 3 RBI, 2 BB (.247)
  • Tyler Durna: 1-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, HBP (.240)
  • Jake Slaughter: 2-5, R, 2 RBI, 2 HBP, SB (2) (.214)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

With multiple infielders on the IL, Josue Huma has taken over as the everyday SS for South Bend and has responded with a .324/.395/.441 line in 8 June games. Huma has bounced around between three levels this year as an injury fill in, but this is his first opportunity for consistent plate appearances.

Hitting just .114 entering May 22nd, Tyler Durna has caught fire since, putting up a line of .339/.448/.536 (171 wRC+).

Low-A

Augusta 3, Myrtle Beach 1

Game Recap

A weak offensive effort wasted a great performance by starter Manuel Espinoza, who struck out 10 over 5 shutout innings.

Top Performers

  • Manuel Espinoza: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K (3.51)
  • Yohendrick Pinango: 2-4, 3B, (.257)
  • Luis Verdugo: 2-3 (.167)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

This was the 2nd time in 7 starts Manuel Espinoza has tossed 5 shutout innings. He isn’t the flashiest hurler in the Cubs system, but he commands his pitches well, especially for a 20 year old. Espinoza doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but what he has he knows how to use. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of projection left on his 5’11” frame.

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    Thanks Michael. I appreciate all the information.

  • It's hard not to notice Hill. Filling up box scores regularly tends to draw the eye.

    The fact that he's continuing this at AA ......

    Hill - line drive single to right as I'm typing.

  • Yes it's only 6 games and 25 PA's. But he's only 26 drafted out of HS. Hermosilla is making an impression in Iowa. 4 multi hit games, 2 HR's, 2 2B's, 5 K's, 5 BB'S. Sporting a career .364 OBP in over 2000 PA's.

    Elected free agency last Nov.. Cubs said welcome aboard 10 days later.

    Add to watch list......

  • Hermosillo is from Ottawa, a local kid.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Saw that. He's our guy!

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