The I-Cubs fell behind 10-0 after starter Joe Biagini and reliever Ryan Lawlor were roughed up in the 3rd and 4th innings. They scored three consolation runs on a bases loaded double by Alfonso Rivas in the 6th.
The key takeaway from this game was the performance of the right handed relievers.
Jake Jewell is a guy who got a chance with the Angels a couple of years ago but a fairly hittable fastball (despite good velo) and then eventually a gruesome ankle injury suffered while covering home plate set him back for a couple of years. He’s been throwing well for a good month or more for Iowa though, and even if I still have doubts how his fastball will play, he does give the Cubs a more experienced arm should they chose to empty out their bullpen at the trade deadline. The Cubs would need to add him to the 40-man roster.
One guy already on the 40-man who will surely get another shot once a roster spot in Chicago opens up is Trevor Megill. He’s still inconsistent with his command and secondaries, but when he is on he can mow opposing hitters down. He’ll get rocked for the occasional big inning in the Majors, but he can put together stretches where he looks like a legit setup man.
Manuel Rodriguez has been on a nice run for a while. He’s got a nice power FB/CV combo, and while I predict his inconsistent command will cause some homer issues in the Majors, as another guy already on the 40-man I would expect the Cubs to work Rodriguez into a middle relief role in Chicago at some point in the second half.
The one I am most anxious to see, but the one who may have to wait the longest due to roster management is Ben Leeper. The undrafted free agent from last year continues to dominate with an explosive fastball that is now touching 98-99 mph, and a high-80s slider with a tight downward tilt. Because he is a first year pro and will not be ineligible for the Rule 5 draft for quite some time, the Cubs may chose to test out some older arms in the Majors ahead of him. I hope that is not the case though. Leeper has earned a shot.
Ben Leeper with a 1-2-3 inning with 2 k’s. In the sequence he did a fantastic job changing tempo and setting up his out pitches. He is so fun to watch! Hitting 98! #CubTogether pic.twitter.com/v2XNnsB9cv— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) July 9, 2021
In his 10 games with Iowa (totaling 12.1 IP) Leeper has yet to allow a hit. If you include his final appearance with Tennessee Leeper has strung together 14.2 consecutive no-hit innings while compiling 25 strikeouts against just 5 walks.
- Alfonso Rivas: 1-4, 2B, 3 RBI (.200)
- Tyler Ladendorf: 2-4, 2B (.204)
- Ian Miller: 2-5 (.263)
- Jake Jewell: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K (3.16)
- Trevor Megill: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K (6.00)
- Manuel Rodriguez: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (0.00)
- Ben Leeper: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (0.73)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
The Cubs reinstated Justin Steele from the IL and sent him down to Iowa. He was already with the club on a rehab assignment where they’ve been stretching him out to multiple innings of relief. Beginning Sunday he will join the Iowa rotation. He is expected to be limited to aroun 40-50 pitches, before slowly ramping up from there. Should the Cubs decide to move on from Jake Arietta or trade a Zach Davies at the deadline, Steele will give the Cubs another option along with Kohl Stewart and Cory Abbott to join the rotation in Chicago.
Steele has been injury prone throughout his career, which doesn’t bode well for his ability to hold up as a starter, but it is probably worth one more try given the retool situation the Cubs find themselves in. Steele’s slider, which has become his most important secondary, is new since the last time he worked as a starter. That pitch could help him put hitters away quicker and work more efficiently. Hopefully that can help him pitch more consistently into the middle innings than last we saw him as a starter in Tennessee.
A three run bomb by Christopher Morel and a solo shot by Brennen Davis helped the Smokies overcome an early 2-1 deficit.
Starter Javier Assad put together five solid innings and Luis Lugo provided three perfect innings of relief as continues his rebound from a disastrous opening month of the season. Cayne Ueckert closed things out to earn his 4th save.
- Brennen Davis: 1-3, HR (4), R, RBI, HBP (.269)
- Christopher Morel: -4, HR (10), R, 3 RBI (.214)
- Zach Davis: 2-4, 2B, R, RBI (.268)
- Tyler Payne: 1-2, 2 BB (.214)
- Chase Strumpf: 1-4, 2B, R (.171)
- Javier Assad: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K (W, 2-3, 3.91)
- Luis Lugo: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (5.29)
- Cayne Ueckert: IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (S, 4, 2.14)
In one of the most dominant performances from a starter in the Cubs system so far this year, Derek Casey mowed down ten batters over 5.2 shutout innings using a good combo of a lively low-90s fastball, breaking balls with sharp break and a good straight changeup. It was a complete performance which looked like it could extend even a little further as Casey was at just 71 pitches, but he came up lame while fielding a dribbler in front of the plate with one out to go in the 6th.
Here are the seven whiffs from Derek Casey’s first inning yesterday.— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 9, 2021
Legit, right? Assuming he’s healthy, he should be in Double-A next week. pic.twitter.com/I3Nu9UB6CB
Thankfully for South Bend, Tyler Suellentrop and Eury Ramos were able to secure the shutout. Jake Slaughter came through with a solo homer on offense.
- Derek Casey: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 10 K (W, 5-5, 3.24)
- Tyler Suellentrop: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (7.36)
- Eury Ramos: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (2.91)
- Jake Slaughter: 1-3, HR (1), 2 R, RBI, BB, SB (8) (.229)
- Josue Huma: 1-2, BB (.229)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
No starter in the Cubs system has given his affiliate more consistent innings out of the rotation than Derek Casey. A 9th rounder from the 2018 draft, he’s gone at least 5 innings in 8 of his 11 starts this season. I’d written him off as a future org arm after a less than stellar 2019 but he’s gotten himself into great shape and he’s improved his secondaries enough where he is now a guy to keep an eye on, even if his ceiling is still only a back of the rotation starter. Hopefully, he can return shortly.
- Alberto Sojo: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, HBP, 5 K (0.00)
- Pablo Aliendo: 1-4, HR (3), R, RBI (.256)
- Matt Mervis: 2-4, R (.209)
- Jordan Nwogu: 1-4, 2 RBI (.168)
- Reggie Preciado: 1-4, HR (2), R, 3 RBI (.414)
- Ezequiel Pagan: 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI (.385)
- Cam Balego: 2-3, R (.800)
- Jose Lopez: 1-3, 2B (.125)
- Ismael Mena: 1-3 (.240)
- Tyler Schlaffer: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K (W, 1-1, 6.75)
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap