Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Morel blasts 3 homers and Young homers and doubles twice during doubleheader; Howard with 4 hits; Assad tosses 6 shutout, Williams with 5

Christopher Morel (photo by Rikk Carlson)

I’m running a little behind this morning, so I am going to cut out the game descriptions and just leave a statistical summary, but the affiliates went a combined 6-0 yesterday. And there were big days across the board. Of special note is the continued improvement by Christopher Morel. His season is turning into a prime example of process before results. His plate discipline and pitch recognition looked improved over 2019 since the start of the season, but it took almost a month into the season before it began translating into success on the field. Morel has been contributing at the plate over the last month, and seemed on the verge of a breakout, and well… that may have come last night. He is starting to become the multi-positional, all-around athlete, and offensive threat I imagined when I first watch him a few years ago.

AAA

Iowa 5, Indianapolis 2

Top Performers

  • Alfonso Rivas: 2-4, HR (1), R, RBI, BB (.172)
  • Tony Wolters: 2-5, HR (2), R, RBI (.294)
  • Nick Martini: 1-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI (.231)
  • Abiatal Avelino: 2-4, R, BB, SB (8) (.253)
  • Trent Giambrone: 1-3, RBI, 2 BB (.229)
  • Michael Hermosillo: 1-4, HBP (.346)
  • Trevor Williams: 5 IP, 2 H, R, 0 ER,BB, 3 K (W, 1-0, 0.00)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Trevor Williams worked five shutout innings in his latest rehab outing. He also did not allow a run his first appearance. After working 5 innings I would imagine he will be ready to rejoin the rotation soon. Perhaps the nice performance by Alec Mills last night will prompt the Cubs to give Williams another turn down in Iowa, but I doubt it, especially with Arietta struggling. They may need Mills to piggyback (or replace) Jake.

He didn’t contribute much to the offense last night, but Nico Hoerner did add a single, meaning he has a hit in all 5 of his rehab appearances. He too appears nearly ready for a return to Chicago.

AA

Tennessee 9, Rocket City 2 (Game 1)

Tennessee 2, Rocket City 0 (Game 2)

Top Performers

  • Christopher Morel: 4-6, 3 HR (7, 8, 9), 3 R, 4 RBI, BB (.224)
  • Jared Young: 3-5, 2 2B, HR (1), 2 BB, SB (1) (.400)
  • Tim Susnara: 2-3, 3B, HR (2), 2 R, RBI, BB (.417)
  • Chase Strumpf: 1-5, HR (3), R, 2 RBI, BB (.170)
  • Darius Hill: 2-4, 2 R, RBI (.298)
  • Nelson Maldonado: 2-6, BB (.274)
  • Brennen Davis: 1-5, 2B, BB (.235)
  • Javier Assad: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K (W, 1-3, 3.95)
  • Cayne Ueckert: IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K (S, 3, 2.37)
  • Dakota Chalmers: 2.2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (0.00)
  • Juan Gamez: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (4.66)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

It is easy to forget Jared Young was the Cubs Minor League player of the year in 2018, and then followed it up with a strong performance during spring training in 2019. His very difficult 2019 season at AA seemed to wipe out all momentum he had gained as a prospect, and that was only intensified by the lost 2020 campaign. Now, 2018 was a different time in the Cubs system. There was very little high end talent at the start of that season, and Young was one of the few guys capable of hitting even 15 home runs. At 25, and having missed the start of the year, it is hard to call him anything but a long shot at this point, but he also shouldn’t be forgotten. There is some pop in his left-handed bat and the ability to play the corner outfield and first base. That makes him a potential shuttle candidate in the future if his bat can continue to rebound.

High-A

South Bend 5, Lake County 3

Top Performers

  • Nelson Velazquez: 1-2, HR (9), R, 2 RBI, 2 BB (.285)
  • Bradlee Beesley: 1-3, 2B, R, BB, SB (12) (.253)
  • Edmond Americaan: 1-4, 2B, R (.176)
  • Derek Casey: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, BB, 6 K (W, 4-5, 3.69)
  • Eduarniel Nunez: 1.2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (8.00)
  • Eury Ramos: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K (S, 4, 3.05)

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 7, Down East 2

Top Performers

  • Ed Howard: 4-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R (.209)
  • Ryan Reynolds: 1-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB (.268)
  • Flemin Bautista: 1-3, RBI, BB, SF (.209)
  • Matt Mervis: 1-4, 3B, 2 RBI (.204)
  • Ethan Hearn: 1-3, R, BB (.165)
  • Jordan Nwogu: 1-4, 2B, R, RBI (.158)
  • Manuel Espinoza: 5 IP, 2 H, R, 0 ER, 4 BB, K (W, 3-4, 3.42)
  • Gabriel Jaramillo: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, BB, K (2.12)

AZL

Cubs 8, Giants 2

Top Performers

  • Reggie Preciado: 2-4, R, 2 SB (2, 3) (.429)
  • Juan Mora: 1-2, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB (.500)
  • Miguel Fabrizio: 1-3, R, RBI, BB (.667)
  • Joel Machado: 4 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 4 K (2.25)
  • Alberto Sojo: 3 IP, H, R, 2 BB, 4 K (W, 1-0, 1.80)

Comments

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  • Thanks Michael. Good to have SOMETHING to cheer about in Cub World!

  • Nice articles on the Cubbies Michael ! Great video on Ed Howard ! Thanks !

  • Nice video on Ed Howard ! Good work Michael !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Sorry for the double post !

  • fb_avatar

    a great day for the minor leaguers. Now to build on what they did yesterday and I'll feel a lot better about our system.

  • This team is really pathetic because of all the swing and miss players. Rossy continues to play these players while the few contact hitters on the team sit the bench more times than not. His top half of the lineup is stale hardly never changes.

    When are the Cubs going to learn? This is NOT the same team that won the world series in 2016. They are missing many of their better hitters like Dexter Fowler leading off, Ben Zobrist, Tommy LaStella, Szczur, Coghlan and now Kyle Schwarber along with backup catchers Miguel Montero and Rossy himself. What is left are the HR and strkeout leaders.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Well, the Cubs have 8 in a role and will lose 8 more if they don't start hitting with runners on base.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Who are the contact hitters on the bench who should be starting in place of the K Cubs?

  • In reply to stix:

    That would be anybody but Rizzo, Baez, Heyward, Happ. KB and Contreras strike out too much also. Rizzo used to be a decent hitter but not any more. Rizzo's OPS is higher because of HBPs and walks which doesn't help much on this team. The guys on the bench (Wisdom, Ortega, Marisnick, Sogard and Hoerner and Duffy) are better contact hitters.

    When you add a couple of contact hitters in the lineup, it would make a difference especially in one run games. In one run games, our "core" hitters probably think a HR could tie the game and they want to be the Hero. In the meantime, the opposition is making contact and driving the Cubs' defense crazy.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I agree with Duffy and Hoerner but they are not on the bench they are on the IL . Wisdom has the highest k-rate on the team. Sogard might not strike out as much but is in the 10 lowest OPS hitters in the NL besides pitchers. Ortega and Marisnick strike out rates are just as bad as those you list. There isn’t much help from the active roster.

  • In reply to stix:

    You know as well as I do that its not just the strikeouts that define a good contact hitter. Besides, not getting regular playing time makes it harder to make contact consistently.

    Wisdom also has one of the best BA and OBP on the team. Sogard has a 248 BA but doesn't hit extra base hits as often but he still makes better contact than half the team. Marisnick is just coming off the IL and was doing good before he got hurt.

    All of these players have helped the Cubs be better with their offense and worse without them. I am saying they need 2 or 3 of them in the lineup so we can have some runneres on base more often and keep the opposition honest.

  • Pretty meager 4 hit game from Howard. 2 infield singles and a late swing on a fastball before really squaring one up. Hoping for a great 2nd half from him.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I've only seen a couple versions of Howard, but his bat looks to be half a tick slow. I like his athleticism. Not sure he will hit.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Another failed first round draft pick brought to you by Theo Epstein. Complete failure. He is now in commissioners office, ruining the game with his bs views on how baseball should be played. Funny lot of guys here thought Theo is a god. He is a dope who hired David Ross as his last bad decision. Anyone who thinks Theo resigned is a fool. Wasted ton of ownership money. The jhey signing is the single most worst signing in history of baseball next to Bobby Bonilla. This is why cubs are on deck of the titanic.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I don’t think Howard is a failure yet. He has some tools but certainly a long way to go.

    I really dislike the commitment we made to the Carolina League and Myrtle Beach. Guys just don’t hit there. Never have. Should have looked for a more neutral league to build a long term relationship with.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Agreed, but its way too early to judge Howard !

  • Nico is back and the Cubs will get better. It's not that he is a savior and can do it all, but because he one less missing ingredient in an unbalanced lineup.

  • Sending Alcantra down and keeping Happ in the lineup ? At least with Nico back, Happ can't screw up 2nd base. I hope the Cubs do a better evaluating talent.

  • Contreras must be leading the league in base running mistakes, while Ross stated he likes aggressive base running waiting for Reds mistakes ! Ross, why don't you worry about your own teams mistakes.
    Happ playing LF while you've got a better defender (Peterson) sitting on the bench, a real head scratcher. Is this what they call managing for last place ?

  • There is no other manager who would have left Winkler in the game after the first two batters reached.
    Ross you're going to be 1st to last and well deserved this year.
    Ross, another one of Theo's all stars.
    Please Mr. Ricketts, clean house , the Cubs are becoming an embarrassment !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Sorry every manager in the majors would have left Winkler in. Unfortunately the three batter rule applies since last yr. to all relief pitchers.

  • SELL, SELL, SELL !!!!

  • Sell but really only 1-2 players have decent value on the market. Unless they are trading Hendricks. Kimbrel probably would bring back the best value, maybe KB if he continues to hit in July. But he had a pretty brutal June. Some other BP pieces could get a decent return. Looking at you Chafin.

  • Offer package deals in trades like trade KB if they will take Heyward also. Or trade Rizzo and Happ together. Then pick up maybe 2 or 3 Good Free Agents next year.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    If the Cubs found somebody to take Heyward, the Cubs would have to eat a lot of his contract.
    As stated, the Cubs are probably not going to get much for the players they are trying to unload.
    When your best player(Baez) is leading the league is strike outs you've got a major problem. Getting rid of the three free agents would be a step in the right direction.A new managerial team including a hitting coach would be the next step. Over rated Theo left behind a mess that's going to be hard to clean up.

  • It's always easy to look back and determine what should have been done. At this point, I think Jed would probably get a better return on trades if he stays patient and let's the buyers come to him. We have several quality players capable of contributing down the stretch that would be valued. This has been one of the fastest and definitive meltdowns in the history of a franchise player famous for collapsing. Actually it has been happening to this group since 2018. They lost their mojo and are just collection of talented players, not a team. For whatever reason. It happens everywhere, but more in Chicago. Sustained success is so difficult anyway.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Slug, I will say with this post, you are getting at the heart of the problem. Playing for the Chicago market.
    In smaller markets, think Milwaukee, St Louis, Tampa - players aren’t placed on such high pedestals for their accomplishments, as they are, in Chicago. They have fewer distractions, fewer people fawning over them, fewer perks and less national attention than they get playing for the Cubs or in a market like the Yankees have. Seems like it’s easy to get caught up in that, making it easier to get lost in your PAST accomplishments. It’s easier to lose some intensity and focus. It’s easier to shrug it off or accept excuses. There will always be media and a portion of the fan base, to remind you of what you may have been.
    That’s just my opinion. But I think with proper front line pitching, you can accomplish a hell of a lot with players that are hungry and focused. But finding those are the key. They often aren’t your big names. But in Chicago, the longer term ‘hunger’ is more difficult to maintain.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Agreed ! The Cubs are still waiting for Theo's all stars to bloom.

  • 44slug you are correct a talented Bunch of players but not a cohesive team. Time to move on especially with the pending FA. Really love the pitching being developed in the system still lack quality SP but coming along. Not really much to get excited about on the hitting side in the system. Cubs need to focus on development and scouting good quality/toolsy prospects.

  • I hope the Cubs historic run of solid/good first pick of first round continues into the 20’s....Take a look at most first rounds- Ian Happ, was a solid pick when compared to the first round from that year. Cherry picking the few much better players picked In each first round, who knows if the Cubs even considered them when drafting. The Cubs player development & amateur scouting need to get much better! Especially with International free agents, & picks after the very first one.

    Time to make trades! Will Cubs include money to get a better return? I doubt it, which is ok. Emphasis should be pending free agents, but just about everyone should be available. I’m Jed will take the best offers, & if Cubs trade most pending free agents plus Kimbrel could easily end up with 12 or more younger & second tier prospects added to the system. After The Darvish trade we all assumed this was the 2021 plan....

    My two cents on Ian Happ package him with some second tier prospects to try to add a controllable mlb bat you prefer...

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I think that they are showcasing Happ, hoping he hits better & playing him all over (CF, LF, 2B...). He needs a change of scenery. I’m hoping a desperate team(s) comes calling for Báez, Happ, &/or some of the second tier relievers. But let the market come to them.

  • Mlb trade deadline is 7/30. Cubs front office has a lot of work to do this month! Cubs & others teams have be talking already?

    If the Cubs make deals, no idea why they would hold onto BRyant, Báez, Davies, Chafin, Pederson, free agent bullpen arms, &/or even Rizzo rip off the band-aid. Cubs front office get the best return you can, & sadly save some $ to spend this offseason.

    Kimbrel should be dealt too, peak value as a Cubs.. the rest of the roster clean it up with other deals... I have no idea what the Cubs record for trades in a month? I hope to see lots of deals this month!

    Front office shouldn’t get emotional when it comes to players.... at least when 15 or more players are free agents, & it is a .500 team with flaws in rotation & lineup.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    For some reason, the Cubs won't trade players at there peak value.
    Once stated before, Tampa Bay evaluates players better than most teams and knows when and how to make trades.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    WhIle not infallible, TB does in fact do the best job in their player assessment. Players get dealt before they become too costly. TB is a small market team and the Cubs are not. I’d like to think Kantrovitz will get the front office pointed in the right direction.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Cubs are a large market, & should trade off top controllable players like the Rays.

    Theo announced after 2018 the offense was broken, wouldn’t trade away anyone for the offers he received.... I’m was not a fan of seeing an issue like offense is broken, & then the plan of attacking the issue is internal improvement...?

    Cubs front office need to figure out their version of large market player development, & roster management. Waiting for players to get better together has not worked since 2016.

    Right now Cubs have 25 days to get whatever value is left for the pending free agents, & other players used to clean up the roster.

    Tribune company rarely traded player away in this situation. I hope this front office has the ok from ownership, & ability to have a fire sale. Then allow front office the largest budget in the NL central for 2022.

  • That was the major concern with Howard, will he hit. I didn’t like the pick as even projections of his ceiling had him at .260-.270 with average power. Is that good enough for a first round pick? Not for me. The pick should be a possible difference maker, not a guy you could get any year as a middling free agent signing.

  • Sorry, I meant as a large market team Cubs should NOT trade away top controllable players very often. Cubs situation should be completely different than Rays. This season RAys payroll is around 50- 55% of Cubs.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Nay jack, my feelings are that spending on a roster and the make-up of the roster, don’t have to be the same thing, if you are a major market team. I believe you establish your foundation with maybe 2 stud starting pitchers and a couple reliable position players. That will cost money. The Cubs should not have traded Darvish and Castellanos wanted to play here, he should have been resigned. They should have found a way to do it.
    Once that is done, I believe you can fill out the rest of your club like the Rays do. Or like the Brewers do. When the Brewers signed Wong, he was a good gamble. But when they traded for Adames recently from the Rays, that was a brilliant move IMO. He’s likely to be their SS for years to come.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I agree, Cubs advantage over most teams in NL central.

    They could spend, just a number I’m throwing out $110 million on 5 to 8 players including 3 starters. Then $90 million on rest of the roster including mid season deals.

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