Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Leeper extends no-hit streak to 15.2 innings; Roberts extends shutout streak; Howard homers

Ed Howard (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

MLB Draft

The first draft signing news is drifting in. Early indications are the Cubs will sign their top ten selections in the draft. Several are already on their way to Chicago.

However, it appears the Cubs may have swung and missed on a couple of their high upside prep selections from Day 3. It was highly unlikely they could squeeze both guys under their draft bonus allotment, and even one would be a challenge, but I was kind of hoping they could pull off getting either 11th rounder Gage Ziehl or 12th rounder Teo Banks to sign on the dotted line. Both players have issued statements they intend to honor their college commitments. Now, minds can change, but at this point there is no reason to doubt their word.

It was a calculated gamble. The Cubs likely figured that they could sign some undrafted college seniors of roughly equivalent talent to those taken on Day 3, so they aimed high and instead chose to take a few extra high upside prep players in the hopes they could change their mind. Indications are 17th rounder Christian Olivo intends to sign.

The remaining big challenge appears to be British Columbia native Dominic Hambley. The 18th round RHP has big stuff, but needs work some work refining his mechanics and command. He’s an Oregon State commit. If Hambley signs, it will likely be for well over $125K so there will need to be significant savings among the Cubs picks in the top ten rounds.

It isn’t a guarantee, but the fact the Cubs appear to have signed C David Avitia out of Grand Canyon University as an undrafted free agent is a pretty good indicator that 19th round pick RHP Daniel Avitia is going to sign. As you may have guessed, Daniel is David’s younger brother. The other UDFA signing the Cubs have made which has come out is RHP Tyler Santana of Jacksonville University.

Word on their first signing has come out, as 13th rounder Erian Rodriguez has signed for $125K. He is a projectable 6’3″ 190 pound righty who has hit 94 in game action, but reports are he is up to 97 in side sessions.

For those unfamiliar with the draft rules, the Cubs have been allotted $7.118M bonus money based on the slot value of the position of their 1-10 round choices. Players picked in the 11-20th rounds can sign for up to $125K without it counting towards the bonus pool, but any amount over $125K is considered overage that would be counted towards the pool.

AAA

Toledo 8, Iowa 4

Game Recap

Cory Abbott (2.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 BB, HBP, 3 K, L, 1-4, 6.75) couldn’t find the plate, and the Mud Hens took advantage during a five run 3rd inning. Iowa tried chipping away in the middle frames, but they couldn’t manage a big hit when they opportunities arose, going 1-for-13 with RiSP.

Top Performers

  • Ian Miller: 3-4, RBI (.275)
  • Abiatal Avelino: 2-4, 2B, R (.269)
  • Andrew Romine: 2-5, R (.288)
  • Michael Hermosillo: 1-4, 2B, R, HBP, SB (7) (.325)
  • Alfonso Rivas: 1-3, 2 BB (.270)
  • Tony Wolters: 1-3, HBP (.283)
  • Dillon Maples: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, HBP, K (4.15)
  • Ben Leeper: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (0.68)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Add one more to Ben Leeper‘s no-hit streak. He’s yet to allow a hit in 13.1 innings with Iowa and if you extend back to his final appearance with Tennessee he has gone 15.2 consecutive innings (0 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 27 K) without allowing a hit. Unbelievable.

AA

Mississippi 5, Tennessee 3

Top Performers

  • Jared Young: 2-4, 2B, HR (2), R, 3 RBI (.382)
  • Brennen Davis: 1-2, 2B, R, 2 BB (.274)
  • Edwin Figuera: 1-3, R (.429)
  • Brandon Hughes: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (2.70)
  • Ethan Roberts: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, HBP, K (1.69)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Ethan Roberts entered with a no-hit streak of his own (7 IP), as well as a shutout streak of 11.2 innings. The no-hit streak ended up getting snapped against the first batter he faced last night, but Roberts pitched around it, to extend his shutout streak (6 G, 13.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, HBP, 18 K). Get him to Iowa already, please.

High-A

South Bend 8, Cedar Rapids 7 (10 Innings)

Game Recap

A back and forth affair appeared to be going in the Cubs favor when they scored three times in the 6th and once in the 7th to put them in front 6-4. But I forgot how inconsistent (talented, but inconsistent) the South Bend bullpen can be. Closer Eury Ramos could not lock it down, surrendering the lead, as he was tagged for three runs in the 8th.

The Cubs managed to scratch out a tying run in the bottom of the 9th though. Edmond Americaan was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, advanced all the way to 3rd on a sac bunt by Delvin Zinn, then came home on a sac fly by Tyler Durna. The Cubs lack power, but they do possess speed, and Americaan is maybe the fastest on the team.

Recent Indy ball signee Dalton Stambaugh pitched a scoreless 9th and then followed up with a pair of strikeouts in the 10th to keep the inherited runner stranded at 2nd base. It took just one batter for the Cubs to end it in the bottom of the frame, on the classic bunt-single-throwing-error-walkoff:

Top Performers

  • Tyler Durna: 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, SF (.240)
  • Ryan Reynolds: 3-5, R, RBI (.296)
  • D.J. Artis: 1-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB (.136)
  • Grayson Byrd: 2-5, R, RBI (.227)
  • Edmond Americaan: 1-3, R, HBP (.200)
  • Tyler Suellentrop: 2.2 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, HBP, 2 K (5.25)
  • Dalton Stambaugh: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (W, 1-0, 0.00)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Cole Roederer reportedly underwent TJS on his injured elbow yesterday. He is out for the season, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2022.

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 10, Columbia 3

Game Recap

Ed Howard capped a three-run 2nd inning with a two-run shot, his second career homer. The Pelicans would go on to score three more in the 3rd, and then another three in the 4th, with Matt Mervis providing the two-run blast in that inning. Ethan Hearn contributed a pair of doubles as he continues to show positive signs coming out of his early season funk at the plate.

Meanwhile, Manuel Espinoza was reliable, as usual. He delivered a quality start and then the bullpen followed with a great showing, punching out four over three shutout innings. The final two were thrown by Danis Correa, who is starting to emerge as a bullpen arm to watch in Myrtle Beach. He’s undersized, but has a strong arm capable of 95+ and his secondaries are starting to come around. He’s a 21 year old we’ve heard some good things about over the years coming out of Mesa, but injuries held him back in 2018 and 2019, limiting him to just 2 IP.

Top Performers

  • Ed Howard: 3-5, HR (2), 2 R, 2 RBI (.220)
  • Matt Mervis: 3-5, HR (6), 2 R, 2 RBI (.218)
  • Ethan Hearn: 2-4, 2 2B, R, RBI (.180)
  • Fabian Pertuz: 2-4, 2 R, RBI (.220)
  • Jacob Wetzel: 2-5, R, RBI (.235)
  • Jordan Nwogu: 1-4, 2 R (.178)
  • Matt Warkentin: 1-4, 2 RBI (.167)
  • Manuel Espinoza: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, BB, 4 K (W, 4-5, 4.19)
  • Danis Correa: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (2.40)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

With top prospects Ed Howard and Kevin Made both healthy and likely to play everyday in the middle infield, taking reps at both SS and 2B, IF Flemin Bautista was returned to Mesa, and OF Ezequiel Pagan promoted back to Myrtle Beach.

Comments

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  • Nice to see Howard putting together some sustained success at the plate these last 10 plus games. Hopefully he can start to add some walks in the mix.

  • Another good article Michael !
    Let's bring these kids up !

  • Thanks Michael, awesome writeup. Being able to watch guys like Americaan and Zinn do their thing is a big reason why going to minor league games is so fun. These guys might never make it to the parent club, but watching what they do for South Bend is truly a special thing for those lucky enough to attend (sadly, I live several thousand miles away).

    But I can at least read about them thanks to you, Michael.

  • Sucks to hear about Roederer, God-willing he comes back better than ever next year!
    Does that mean Bautista is on the ACL team now? Really like him.......
    What are your thoughts on Jared Young, is he in a similar vein to Maldonado?
    Lastly, is there any kind of benefit or reward or compensation to having a draft selection decide to stay in college; like a compensatory pick in the next draft, or extra slot money next year, or International signing money, etc.?

  • Sad to hear. the Ricketts family is trying to save money by cutting the scouting and development departments at the MLB level. Is this true? Are the Ricketts planing on rehiring or restocking people at their former jobs.

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    Ed Howard batted .107 in June with an OPS of .352. In July he's batting .324 and has an OPS of .811. He's a worker and this is what we hope for our 1st rounders.

  • The Cubs just traded Joc Peterson to Atlanta for a first base prospect ! What the hell was Jed Hoyer thinking ? The Cubs finally got a left fielder who was a decent hitter and fielder for another 1st baseman ? They already have Alfonso Rivas ready to come up, yet I think another 1st baseman was the last thing the Cubs needed. Who engineered this trade, Theo ?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    The Cubs are not trying to maximize their wins this year currently. they will trade any short term player on the roster for prospects they like. An added benefit is this will allow the Cubs to draft higher next year. Hoyer must have liked this prospect. Oh and I am sure Theo had nothing to do with this trade.

  • In reply to John57:

    I agree, I was just looking at our system and realized there aren't too many legit 1B prospects; God-willing this one was worth trading Joc for, wish him well as a fill in for Acuna Jr.

  • In reply to John57:

    Ball is 23 and in high A. Doubt that he’s even a lottery ticket. This has to be a money dump.

  • In reply to stix:

    Not really a fair take. He wouldn’t be in A ball had Covid not taken away his age 21 season. He just turned 23 a couple of days ago.

    He is 6’6” 240 lbs and has serious power from the left side. His HR/AB ratios are very impressive. The year before Covid he was a monster .329:/395/.628 with 17 HR in 260 at bats while maintaining a 10% BB rate and a sub 20% K rate.

    I have no problem taking a chance on a guy like this for Joc Pederson. He was never gonna bring us a Mackenzie Gore type.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Just saw a reranking of the cubs top 30. Ball is in the low 20’s. If the ranking is accurate that’s barely in the top 20-25% of the minors. All the minors lost a COVID yr. Ball may be better than a salary dump but I’d be surprised if he makes the majors in 3-4 yrs, if at all.Jed must think that’s better than exercising the 2022 option on Joc.

  • In reply to stix:

    Just curious, who did the reranking?

  • In reply to John57:

    Don’t know who did the rerank but the revised listing is on cubs.com.

  • In reply to stix:

    I'd think that Ricketts should not even be in the equation. Actually, he has been s pretty big spender since 2016. Money not spent now can be invested later when the Cubs are back in the mix. Maybe as soon as winter. The Cubs have been competitive, but the gig has run its coarse. Might as well see what Jed and company can come up with. It's not possible to buy a team these days.

  • In reply to John57:

    I was being sarcastic about overrated Theo since he over paid for prospects. I don't like Jed's take on trading players since I believe
    he is getting the short end of the stick. Ball's defense is rated below average. The Cubs don't need another liability in the field.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Make sure you bring some windex and towels to wipe Theo’s Hall Of Fame plaque in the coming years. He would appreciate it.

    BTW 1B defense is the lowest rated priority on the diamond to be an excellent defender. Your continual poor takes and pessimism is tiring. You must be a joy to be around at home.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yeah, I think this was Jed trading Joc to save some money, and also receiving a lottery ticket in Ball. DH likely will be in the NL soon, despite Manfred.
    Also I guess we’ll find out if Hermosillo, and maybe Rivas could play some role on this team, next year. Another thing I’d like to see, is getting Jared Young to AAA. He’s having a nice go, at Tennessee, so far - and he’s already 26.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    You gotta love the recent entitlement of cubs fans when we consider a guy that's responsible for 4 World Series to be a complete bum of an executive. Ironic with all the bad baseball/front office decisions this franchise has dealt with over the years. The funny thing is there are reports that the DH is coming to the NL permanently. If that's the case then it makes more sense than ever to load up on power bats, and potential DH types. From what I understand Bryce Ball has 60-70 grade power, and leads high A in walks (in other words he often gets pitched around). If he even hits .250, then he'll likely have a pretty strong OPS as a half decent DH option with his power/patience combo.

    Don't get me wrong I don't think the cubs hit a home run landing a just turned 23 year old kid that's hitting .206. But I never expected much for a .220 hitting LF like Pederson with only a half year of team control, and a non team friendly 10 million option with a $2.5 million buyout. Don't think for one second that the braves taking Jocs remaining $4.34 million contract/buyout off the cubs hands wasn't a factor in the return, as we know the Ricketts have been cost cutting more than ever lately. Hopefully they're willing to eat some money for a better return in their bigger upcoming trades. Getting the Braves 12th ranked prospect (albeit in a down year) seems like a fair trade to me when one admits that Joc isn't even one of the cubs 5 best trade assets.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Well said. I completely concur. Joc was not going to land the Cubs a “HR” of a prospect. We got about what we should have—a guy with a huge upside tool in his arsenal, so let’s see if it develops. If not, we didn’t lose anything of value.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Why would you slam the Hall of Fame ! A bad defender at 1st base will kill the defense and drive pitchers nuts. Watching Rizzo playing stellar defense all these years has clouded your opinion of playing 1st base.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Ignorance is bliss. Your understanding of baseball is laughable. 1B defense is nearly irrelevant. Can Ball catch the ball with his foot on the bag? Yeah, I’m pretty sure he can. There is no more “bunt” D in today’s game so Ball won’t hurt there. Range at 1B is not nearly as important as it is at 7 other positions. So you focus on the only opportunity part of Ball’s game instead of what he potentially bring in return for someone who is nothing more than a great guy and a 4th OF? Lame take. Educate yourself on the game. Jack Brickhouse is not broadcasting on WGN along with Lou Boudreaux and Vince Lloyd on radio. Be better than that.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    ronvet, have you seen Bryce Ball play yet? For that matter, how ready, and how sure are you that Rivas is ready? What’s your take on Rivas’ upside? Chill out a little. It’s ok to have more than one prospect at a position.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    The scouting report on Bryce Ball, bats left, throws right, is slow afoot not good defensively, needs work to play first base, in short another player destined for the American League. Atlanta has many pitching prospects in their system. I can't believe Jed couldn't negotiate a trade for a pitcher in low A ball.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    The NL is more than likely going to to be adopting the DH with the next CBA. If this is the case, you will see the Universal DH next season. That would make a player like Ball much more valuable as a 1B/DH.

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    We are doing what we did leading up to 2015. Get veterans on a one year deal, they do well and then flip them for prospects. Our system is much better now than when Theo came and so we can rebuild the team much faster. I just don't want to judge the trades too harshly too quickly. Remember when we traded for Hendricks--a FB that didn't break 90 and he turned out to be one of the best pitchers in the NL.

  • Ball was ATL's 12th ranked prospect. He is now the Cubs' 29th. I didn't realize the Cubs' system was so stacked... Or, more likely, that ATL's was so thin. Easy left handed power is premium and that's why I had such a hard time letting Shwarber go (Riz might be on his way out too). Let's hope Ball can make it!

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    who is ranking Ball the Cubs' 29th prospect?

  • In reply to John57:

    MLB.com?

  • It could just be me, but I sense a more complete rebuild has become a top priority. It is feeling more like most everybody goes since the public airing of his teammates by Contreras. Ross has played down the significance (Bryant&Rizzo as well); however, going public with criticism of one teammates is the 'bright red' of red flags in a divided clubhouse. Willson might be one of the first of what's left of the core out the door. Its a 'cardinal sin' and Contreras would know this. Calling it a learning experience is just spin.

  • The more I read about Ball Bunyan, the more I like this deal. The Cubs do not have the true 1B masher in the system. and Bryce is that masher.

    Rivas may turn out to be a good player but he is never going to be a power hitting first baseman which is a vastly underrated commodity. That may not matter in two years. When the NL adapts the DH rule (which looks likely to happen sooner rather than later) Bryce Ball is going to be the proto typical 1B/DH that the Cubs do not have in their system right now. I liked Joc but he was not the player that the Cubs had envisioned. This is a decent get for a player who was not having a great year.

  • I’m good with the Peterson trade. He wasn’t going to be resigned and they weren’t going to give him a qualifying offer so what did they lose? A twelfth ranked pick with some power for a guy that won’t even be here next year. More than likely Ball won’t pan out but if does it’s a bonus.

  • In reply to PhillyCubFan:

    Same. Duffy will be back and playing LF soon. If he and Wisdom can show they're ready to play every day, along with Nico, the big 3 are "replaced" going forward. Davis for Heyward can't get here soon enough. Just gotta figure out what to do about CF because I'm starting to prefer Happ as a utility guy.

  • I see & want a tear down for the Cubs. Way to many pending free agents. If the Cubs spend money like a large market, & increase payroll for next season.

    I hope to see a Cubs team trying to reload this off-season by spending. I do want to watch a rebuild with AAAA, &/or too many post hype prospects.

    Cubs don’t have upper level position prospects, it sure seems like Cubs will have to settle for more teenagers in potential upcoming deals for some of the Cubs bigger name pending free agents.

    I want to see a better Cubs OF in 2022.

    Pederson trade is ok, got a prospect heading in the wrong direction, but also saved some $$$.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Completely agree on the tear down . I believe that getting a high round draft pick would be a step in the right direction.
    I've said this before and will say it again, Tampa Bay runs one of the smartest franchises in MLB. With low payrolls that generate 90 plus wins almost every year, somebody needs to look at how they are doing business.
    The Cubs, with many more resources than Tampa. could bring this storied franchise back to glory . Maybe I'm in the minority, but I liked Joc Peterson, his high energy, his approach at the plate and was pissed that the Cubs literally gave him away.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Ronvet69,

    I like your passion. I think this is a decent return for Pederson. If the Cubs actually Save a little over $4 million like many are reporting, that alone is a win for the Cubs.

    As KKHiavi said, if Cubs ownership uses this savings, and potentially more to increase the return for the few bigger names trade rumors. Those trades are the important ones that could have the potential to really impact the Cubs future the most this month.

    I think most fans realize trade returns are lower today.

    The Cubs new 1B prospect has power potential, but has issues.

    Cubs need to show their version of big market money ball? Cubs have shown the ability to find bullpen arms. Maybe Cubs getting a bunch of very young higher impact prospects is the new way to build for the longer term future?

    I’m hoping for lots of deals like a record number of fire sale type trades this month.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Some of the money saved in the Pederson trade could be used to extent Javy, Rizzo or Willson. Or how about a backup catcher? Not to denigrate the six backups, but that's a pretty big hole.

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