Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Maldonado stays hot at the plate; Zinn gets 3 hits, swipes 4 bags; Caissie clubs first career HR

Nelson Maldonado by Rikk Carlson

AAA

Toledo 2, Iowa 1

Top Performers

  • Taylor Gushue: 2-4, HR (6), R, RBI (.273)
  • Michael Hauschild: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K (L, 0-3, 4.50)
  • Tony Cingrani: IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (0.00)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Veteran LHP Tony Cingrani made his Iowa debut with 2 K in a shutout inning. The Cubs signed him last week.

AA

Mississippi 11, Tennessee 4

Top Performers

  • Nelson Maldonado: 3-4, R, RBI (.299)
  • Edwin Figuera: 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI (.500)
  • Erich Uelmen: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
  • Garrett Kelly: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 3 K (6.23)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

I’ll be curious to watch the progress Erich Uelmen makes now that he appears to be in the bullpen. He’s long been a guy who made more sense in that role once he reached the upper levels. His lower arm slot from the right side makes him a tough sinker/slider guy against RHB, but while he does have a four seamer and change as well, lefties get a pretty good look at him, so facing them multiple times through the order was not a good fit. In shorter stints, either seeking a key groundball or even as a two inning guy, I think he can find success.

I’m not sure what to make of Nelson Maldonado (.299/.373/.463). He’s an undersized 1B who actually spends most of his time at DH, but he’s doesn’t fit the power profile for either spot. He did play some OF in college, but the Cubs haven’t tried him out there at all. Normally that makes for a prospect who is easy to write off, but Maldonado just keeps on hitting enough singles and doubles where you can’t ignore him.

He’s only played 94 games career games across four levels but he hasn’t slowed down at any of them, carrying a combined .319/.376/.458 line. Maldonado did get off to a slow start after opening this year late due to injury, but since June 11th he is batting .345/.409/.583 in 23 games, good for a 172 wRC+.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a shot in AAA in the 2nd half just to see if he can keep it going. His age, and lack of defensive profile really, really hinders him. So does being a RHB. He can’t suffer any letdowns at the plate if he hopes to have a chance at the Majors.

High-A

Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 5

Top Performers

  • Delvin Zinn: 3-4, 3 R, 4 SB (34, 35, 36, 37) (.246)
  • D.J. Artis: 1-3, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB (5, 6) (.122)
  • Edmond Americaan: 1-3, R, BB (.197)
  • Graham Lawson: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K (2.00)
  • Jose Albertos: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (7.36)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

It sure is fun to watch Delvin Zinn and the South Bend Cubs run the bases. Zinn has turned into a machine out there, rarely getting thrown out, but D.J. Artis, Bradlee Beesley and Edmond Americaan are also excellent base stealers as well. With Nelson Velazquez being the team’s only source of power (and being an insanely streaky hitter who appears to be at the start of another cold spell) the Cubs are heavily reliant on their mostly singles hitting lineup to swipe bags, and take extra bases whenever possible to generate offense.

An undrafted free agent from 2020, Graham Lawson has not given up a run since his first appearance in June. Over his last 8 games he has gone 8.1 innings, allowing just 6 hits and 4 walks while striking out 7.

Low-A

Columbia 4, Myrtle Beach 3

Top Performers

  • Richard Gallardo: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (L, 2-5, 4.99)
  • Alberto Sojo: 2.2 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 3 K (1.50)
  • Blake Whitney: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (1.38)
  • Fabian Pertuz: 1-4, HR (2), R, RBI (.208)
  • Jordan Nwogu: 2-4, R, SB (7) (.176)
  • Jacob Wetzel: 2-4 (.228)
  • Pablo Aliendo: 1-2, R (.262)
  • Jonathan Sierra: 1-3, BB (.254)

ACL

Cubs 9, Royals 7

Top Performers

  • Owen Caissie: 2-5, HR (1), 2 R, RBI (.333)
  • Yovanny Cuevas: 2-4, HR (1), 2 R, RBI (.364)
  • Aramis Ademan: 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI (.375)
  • Dean Nevarez: 1-3, RBI, SF (.333)
  • Reggie Preciado: 1-4, R, BB (.395)
  • Jose Lopez: 1-4, 3B, R, 2 RBI (.133)
  • Luis Devers: 4 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, 4 K (2.00)
  • Luis A. Rodriguez: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (0.00)

DSL

Indians Red 9, Cubs Blue 8

Mets2 12, Cubs Red 8

Comments

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  • Good morning Michael !
    Could Casey Obitz be the steal of the draft ? Reading your blog, its nice to see the Cubs are acquiring players with speed
    who could actually steal bases.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Casey Opitz is very fun to watch on defense. Athletic catcher with a big arm. Frames well. Controls a running game.

    But he's never hit much. If the Cubs think there is offensive potential they can unlock then he could be a steal, yeah. There is little doubt he can play a MLB caliber defense. So, just finding any modicrum of success at the plate, be it working counts and drawing walks, occasional power or becoming a good contact hitter, it could be enough to carry him into a MLB opportunity.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Mike, I'm glad the Cubs got away from the Theo philosophy of finding bargains in the draft.The Cubs are good at improving players hitting abilities and even if this kid isn't the greatest hitter, his catching abilities outweigh his hitting. When scouts say this kid can control the
    running game, that in itself says a lot.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Cubs are just bringing in better athletes, period. Not just faster, but stronger too. Helps that they put a larger focus on high upside prep players the last few years, after having focused more heavily on college players before that.

  • Hey Michael, I know you've touched on the subject a couple of times before, including in this article; but what are you're thoughts on Maldonado being a LF/bench/pinch hit type, if he prayerfully keeps on hitting, could he basically force an MLB opportunity without an actual position? I just really like the guy, following him through the system; sorry to ask a question you essentially already answered............

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    That is a really tough fit on a MLB roster. It will be difficult enough for Alfonso Rivas (who actually plays a good 1B and has pro experience in LF) to stick in that role, and he has the advantage of being a LHB. Teams just typically prefer power in that role.

    Maldonado, as a RHB (and someone who only plays 1B about 1/3 of time and DH 2/3 of time, and never played LF in pros) it will be even more difficult. He's got to max out the development of his bat to even have a chance. Teams don't typically worry about a RH pinch hitter role, because on most days they have a starter they can deploy in that role. Basically, he has to hit RHPs well and destroy LHP to a degree they can't ignore him.

    We've seen this in the past, over and over again, with guys like Zagunis, Andreoli, etc. Those guys hit well in the minors, put up great OBP numbers, and could actually play LF/RF fine. But because they didn't play a premium position (C/SS/CF) and with Maldonado it is even worse because we aren't sure he can even play LF. Teams prefer versatility on their bench, and if they got a guy who doesn't offer that, he better hit a ton.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Makes sense, he needs to just keep hitting, and prayerfully take it up another notch; or just be an org guy.......

  • It's been a fun and interesting draft. As we follow those that sign and monitor their progress, kudos to Micheil for great coverage and to the commentators contributing to interesting discussions. I like the twenty round streamlined format.

    On another front, with trade deadline in a couple weeks, and the Cubs pushed to sell mode, that promises to be an additional engaging process for Denizens.

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