Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Cubs trade Pederson; Young and Davis reach 4 times; Jensen lights out again to lead a number of strong pitching performances

Ryan Jensen (photo by Todd Johnson)

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The sell off has begun. In a bit of a surprise, Joc Pederson ends up being the first to go, as he heads to Atlanta in a one-for-one swap for mammoth first base prospect Bryce Ball. I have to say, that return isn’t too bad. Ball was an overslot 24th round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft by the Braves (signed for just shy of $200K).

A sleeper prospect who carries immense power potential. He went undrafted out of a small Iowa high school and then played two years at a local community college, where he annihilated the competition and first began to draw some draft interest. But after going unselected in 2018, he transferred to Dallas Baptist for his junior season in order to face higher quality pitching. Ball didn’t stop mashing.

After leading the Missouri Valley Conference in home runs, RBI and walks there was some belief Ball would get picked on Day 2 of the draft. He ended up slipping into Day 3, most likely over concerns with his defensive abilities. At 6’6″ and 245 pounds, Ball is a good athlete for his size, but his size still limits him. There is only so much agility you can wring out of that body, and it is unlikely to improve as he ages.

Still, the Braves took the chance on him, and it paid immediate dividends, as Ball went first to the Appy League post-draft, where he slashed .324/.410/.676 and smashed 13 homers in just 41 games to earn league MVP honors. He also received a late season call up to Low-A Rome. He continued to rake there to the tune of .337/.367/.547.

That performance earned him a non-roster invite to the Braves camp last fall, something none of their other draftees from the previous year earned outside of their 1st rounder. He impressed everyone with not just his power potential, but his feel to hit and approach at the plate. Obviously, the 2020 season was wiped out, which killed the momentum he was building.

Coming out of the layoff this season, he’s struggled a bit in High-A, hitting .206/.350/.394 with 6 homers and 59 Ks in 54 games, but he’s begun to pick up the pace a bit in July after suffering through a rough June. Hopefully this means he’s making the necessary adjustments.

It is a bat first profile for Ball given he’s adequate at best at 1B, so he needs to hit, a lot, if hehopes to make it as a full time big leaguer. Even if the DH comes to the NL in the future he’ll still have to hit a ton to earn a full time role, as many teams prefer to rotate their starting position players through that spot in an effort to keep them fresh throughout the season.

Ball was ranked in the teens among Braves prospects and likely falls into a similar range with the Cubs, perhaps a bit further down. He does give the Cubs their only 70 raw power in the system, and the hope is given the patience and flashes of all fields approach he shown, that Ball can develop into an all around force at the plate and not just a home run hitter with contact issues.

AAA

Iowa 6, Toledo 0

Top Performers

  • Joe Biagini: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K (5.34)
  • Michael Rucker: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (W, 2-0, 5.24)
  • Nick Martini: 3-4, R, HBP, SB (1) (.229)
  • Alfonso Rivas: 2-4, R, RBI, BB (.284)
  • Ian Miller: 1-3, R, RBI, BB, HBP, SB (7) (.276)
  • Tyler Ladendorf: 1-5, HR (3), R, RBI (.227)
  • Abiatal Avelino: 2-5, 2 RBI (.273)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Matt Duffy went 1-for-4 while playing the majority of the game at 3B as he begins getting his rehab into full swing.

AA

Tennessee 10, Mississippi 2

Top Performers

  • Jared Young: 4-5, 2 R, 3 RBI (.417)
  • Brennen Davis: 2-3, HR, 3 R, 2 BB (.284)
  • Chase Strumpf: 1-4, HR (4), R, 3 RBI, BB (.169)
  • Zach Davis: 2-5, HR (1), R, RBI (.279)
  • Edwin Figuera: 2-4, BB (.455)
  • Nelson Maldonado: 2-5, RBI (.294)
  • Peyton Remy: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 HBP, 6 K (5.76)
  • Bryan Hudson: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (W, 3-2, 3.58)
  • Wyatt Short: 2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 0 K (5.18)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Nelson Maldonado is hitting .361 in July thanks to 5 multi-hit games.

After hitting just .232/.351/.354 in June, Brennen Davis has discovered a new level of comfort in AA this month. He’s showing good patience to wait for pitches to drive and then isn’t missing them often when the opportunity presents itself. He is locked in right now, not only hitting two bombs to earn the Future’s Game MVP award, but batting .412/.524/.794 with Tennessee in July.

No one is as red hot at the plate as Jared Young (.444/.479/.733) though. He’s failed to get a hit in just 2 of his 13 starts this season. He has reached base multiple times in 9 of them. The 26 year old had lost momentum over the past two years but is hitting his way back into the picture so far this year.

He’s doing a better job of using the middle of the field and looking to drive the ball into the gaps rather than pull the ball (which led to him rolling over and hitting a lot of grounders to the right side). His current pace is unsustainable, but if he can maintain this approach and show he can be a viable option at 1B/LF/RF defensively then it is possible Young could earn a bench role down the road, or at least offer the team some depth on the AAA/MLB shuttle.

High-A

South Bend 2, Cedar Rapids 1 (10 Innings)

Top Performers

  • Ryan Jensen: 6 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 8 K (4.99)
  • Hunter Bigge: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0BB, K (3.38)
  • Bradford Deppermann: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (W, 1-2, 4.45)
  • Tyler Durna: 1-4, 2B, RBI (.240)
  • Edmond Americaan: 2-4 (.210)
  • D.J. Artis: 0-2, R, BB, HBP, SB (7) (.130)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

A terrific July for Ryan Jensen continued with perhaps his finest pro performance last night. He worked the edges of the zone more consistently and set a career high with 8 Ks. A couple more good starts and he could get a promotion to Tennessee. His 3 July starts:

6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K

5 IP, H, R, BB, 6 K

6 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 8 K

I don’t have time to do a full breakdown of his recent performances right now, but I know Bryan Smith over at Bleacher Nation intends to do a write up on him today, so keep an eye out for that.

New acquisition Bryce Ball has been assigned to South Bend. I wonder if this could trigger a promotion for Tyler Durna to Tennessee and Jared Young to Iowa.

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 5, Columbia 0

Top Performers

  • Luis Verdugo: 2-3, 2B, HR (3), R, 3 RBI, BB,SB (2) (.169)
  • Jordan Nwogu: 1-3, HR (5), R, RBI, BB (.182)
  • Kevin Made: 2-3, R, BB (.200)
  • Yohendrick Pinango: 1-3, BB (.264)
  • Ezequiel Pagan: 1-4, 2B, R, BB (.293)
  • Matt Mervis: 0-2, R, 2 BB (.216)
  • Jose Miguel Gonzalez: 4.2 IP, H, 0 R, 5 BB, 6 K (4.25)
  • Jose Almonte: 2.2 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, K (W, 1-1, 0.79)
  • Gabriel Jaramillo: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (1.80)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Luis Verdugo is beginning to break out of his awful early season slump. It started with working better counts in June, but now over his last 9 games in July he is batting .273/.294/.424

ACL

Cubs 1, White Sox 0

Top Performers

  • Tyler Schlaffer: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K (W, 2-1, 4.40)
  • Wilfri Figuereo: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K (0.00)
  • Johzan Oquendo: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K (S, 1, 0.00)
  • Owen Caissie: 1-2, HR (2), R, RBI, BB (.348)
  • Yeison Santana: 1-2, BB (.200)
  • Ismael Mena: 1-3 (.205)

DSL

Cubs Blue 9, Rays2 4

Cubs Red 11, Phillies White 9

Two big IFA catcher signings, Brayan Altuve and Moises Ballestreros, had big days. Altuve who has been seeing time at the corner infield spots, had just one hit in five trips, but it was a grand slam. Ballesteros reached four times, twice on doubles, and twice on walks.

Comments

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  • Thank you, Michael. After a lengthy period of disinterest in the performance of our minor leaguers, the now necessary shift from the (miserable) present to the future has rekindled a keen interest in our prospects. I'll be reading every day. Please keep up the good work.

    If you don't mind, a few questions:

    1. I have started to notice Alfonso Rivas, our AAA first baseman. I believe he nabbed him from Oakland in a trade for Kemp earlier this year. While he lacks power, it like he has hit well at all levels. A Mark Grace type player? I love the fact that he's a high contact hitter. We need to get away from homer or nothing type players. Is he going to be brought up if/when Rizzo is traded? Any further insights on his defense? How legit is he? Where does he rank as a prospect.

    2. You might recall that I'm impatient when it comes to prospects. Any chance Davis gets called up this year under any circumstances, even if its just September?

    3. Who do you see coming up if KB and Rizz and Javy all get traded?

    4. Is there a future closer in waiting?

    5. What is Duffy's ETA off the rehab stint?

    6. What is the deal with Marquez?

  • In reply to TTP:

    1. Rivas is a prospect. If Rizzo gets traded, I do think we could see him get some ABs, but I doubt in an everyday role. Rivas is a good defender, who has played some LF (although reports are mixed from avg to bad regarding his ability).

    I know fans want contact hitters, and the Cubs do need to incorporate more, but 1B is not the ideal spot to do so. You still need some power in your lineup, even if it comes with some swing and miss. Rivas doesn't have Grace's hit tool or elite eye at the plate. His grades would be more along the lines of avg and above avg respectively. I think he is more likely a bench guy, who you can spot start against certain pitchers and then give you a good at bat as a pinch hitter against a tough RHRP.

    2. No chance. Davis might compete for a job next spring, but even then, he will not be on the 40 man and there is the always present service time considerations which will surely keep him in Iowa for some period of time next season. It is up to Davis to force his way in. He can, but mid-2022 is his most likely ETA.

    3. I don't expect all to get dealt. Duffy and Bote will return to fill two of their spots. I expect Rivas and Hermosillo to get consideration for any other openings.

    4. Ben Leeper is most likely closer in waiting. Manny Rodriguez has a 98-100 mph fastball and hammer curve, so he is another possibility. Burl Carraway has the stuff if he can get his mechanics straightened out. Marquez, Jensen, Herz are definite options if they fail to stick as starters. Bullpen is probably the greatest strength in the Cubs system as they have plenty of setup and middle relief options beyond those guys.

    5. Duffy will rehab for a week, maybe 10 days.

    6. Marquez had mechanical and maybe conditioning issues this spring which prevented him from opening at start of MiLB season, so they kept him back in EXST, where according to Sharma he suffered a shoulder strain.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks for the info and insight, Michael. I just alerted to a John Heyman tweet saying that there "are signs the Cubs will try to lock up" Javy and Rizzo before going to trade talks for either. Hmm.

    I love Javy, despite the advance metrics not being kind to him. It's OK to have one guy in the lineup who is hacking/slugging away rather than working the count. Javy is The Man! The most exciting player I've ever seen. I hope he gets extend now or signed this winter, even if they trade him this month (like Yanks did with Chapman).

    I love Rizzo too. But I see too much decline coming from him. And he is just too damn nice and lacks fire. I'd love to see some red-ass out of him every now and then. Time to move on -- and instead sign Freeman.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Freeman is probably going to stay with Atlanta. Both player and club want this to happen, but anything can happen.
    Michael,
    Thanks for the great reporting again. Personally, I did not like the Peterson trade. I would have preferred the Cubs to acquire a A ball pitcher. When I've read that the player the Cubs received in the trade is not good defensibly at 1st base, is right handed, that in itself is scary. This guy sounds like he is better suited for the American League.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Don't worry. The Cubs are going to be trading more than Pederson. They will get some pitching back. Their intention will be to get whoever they feel is the best player(s), regardless of position, they can in each deal. Some of those are bound to be starting pitchers.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael,
    I hope they can land a starting pitcher for possibly starting in the near future. Craig Kimbrel should at the least bring a decent return.
    I really hope the Cubs don't give him away for another so-so prospect and if they can't get a decent return, then keep him.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I like how the Mets system seems to match up with the cubs as a trade partner. Wouldn't mind if the cubs can pry the Mets top pitching prospect Matthew Allan for say a Kris Bryant? I feel he makes sense the cubs almost took him over Jensen, and Allen is currently on the shelf. This seems doable because the Mets don't want to trade their top 2 prospects Alvarez or Mauricio for a rental. The fact that Allan had TJS surgery would seem to make him a strong buy low, and most agree he has TOR upside when healthy. I feel like the Mets surplus of top 100ish (but not quite top 50) type prospects like Allan, Brett Baty, and Pete Crow Armstrong seems like a good match for the cubs needs. Cubs may have to package multiple players to get those types of prospects though.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, what is the scoop on Jared Young? Except for his first few months in AA he has been pretty darn good. I assume he plays a good first base since he is also a capable outfielder.

    Could he be the Cubs first baseman sometime in 22'

  • Michael,
    Could you tell us about Zach Davis? Did the Cubs draft him? Did he come in a trade ? Is he close to being MLB ready?
    I think when the new top 30 list come out after the signings, I don't think the player they received from Atlanta won't be in the top 30.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    He was a late round pick (32nd round I think). Very fast. Maybe the fastest in the system. Plays a solid outfield in CF and LF. Didn't hit much in college, which is why he lasted so late, but picked up switch hitting as a pro, which has helped. Not really a prospect in the sense that the Cubs will carry him as a regular, but should they become a contender again in the next couple of years, Davis is the type of pinch runner/base stealer/defensive replacement the Cubs have traditionally liked to carry down the stretch, so he's got a shot at that type of job. Needs to happen while he's still got his speed though, and he is already in his mid-20s so clock is ticking.

  • Love the updates & info! Thanks!

    Cubs signed 4 NDFAs today. A older brother of one of their draft picks who may or may not sign is 1 of them. He was committed to play at GCU to be with him, LoL. I think the signing was to help sway his decision to go pro.

    Liked the Pederson trade. Taking a swing for a power guy like that is a good risk. He’s tall. Maybe Bryant’s dad can coach him, ha ha.

    Cassie needs to be assigned to Myrtle.

    Really good to see Jensen bouncing back. He could be in my top 5 if he keeps it going.

    What a crazy great story with Leeper. Now if Carraway can find his control & command.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Yeah, I mentioned a couple of the UDFAs the other day. A couple more signed since, including Daniel Avitia (brother of Cubs pick David Avitia).

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    I don't know if I've seen this before but every Cub minor league team won--including the ASL and the 2 DSL teams. Congratulations!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The affiliates actually pulled it off like a week ago too, but at the time the DSL teams had not started. It tends to happen a few times every year.

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    I just read that Christian Franklin just signed for about $20K undersold. He sounds like a medium risk/high reward player.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I was pleasantly surprised that they were able to sign Franklin for slightly underslot. He's ranked pretty darn high on MLBs, Fangraphs, and Keith Laws draft rankings, which made me wonder if he may get an overslot signing bonus if anything. Apparently the cubs also signed their 6th rounder for a measly $1000 signing bonus. My hope is these savings go to some of those prep prospects like the kids they drafted in rounds 11-12 who claim they were honoring their college commitments.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Who do you like in their later draft picks?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I'm mostly relying on second hand information here from draft analysts keep in mind, so I don't want to sound like I'm writing any of these other kids off. I know many talent evaluators didn't have Ben Leeper developing into the cubs top relief prospect this year, although I liked that he threw hard. I feel like the 1st 4 picks have the highest upside, and I can see Christian Franklin and Drew Gray surprising people. I felt getting a highly ranked/regarded toolsy prospect like Franklin in the 4th was a steal, and was surprised he signed just barely below slot. The catcher they drafted Opitz sounds like he does good work behind the plate. Hopefully he can hit enough to stick.

    My sleepers are some of the prep kids they took day 3. Like Michael I've wanted to see them take more upside shots on more day 3 prep prospects like these, as I'm not high on loading up on too many limited upside college senior types. I like the round 11-12 kids Gage Ziehl and Teo Banks (gonna be a tough sign), and am hoping that those 2 were just negotiating when they said they were going to college. Like most cub writers I also really like Erian Rodriguez a prep arm that was throwing 97. Highly athletic and projectable arm I'm excited that Rodriguez looks likely to sign. Cubs have been signing plenty of guys underslot thus far (6th rounder signed for $1,000), and I'm hoping they can find the money to sign Ziehl and Teo Banks. 3rd round prep arm Drew Gray just got a deal a bit overslot though, so I'd like to see an update on how much excess bonus pool money they have left.

  • For next year the Cubs will need to sign or receive in trade for 1B, SS and an OF position. I do think a 2022 starting rotation of hendricks, mills, alzolay, steele & thompson with Jensen and Marquez waiting in the wings actually sounds pretty intriguing and cost controlled. If Wick or Leeper take over the closer role all these bullpen guys continue to develop next years cubs could be young and surprising.

  • Q.
    Antony Rizzo had a charity benefit weeks ago. Someone donated a signed ball with Babe Ruth's and Lou Gerig's signatures from the 1927 world series.
    How much did the money did they get for the ball ?

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