Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Schwindel homers in Iowa debut as I-Cubs put up 15 runs; Wick dominates again; Another homer for Aliendo

Pablo Aliendo (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

MLB

What a comeback. I hope everyone enjoyed that. It’s especially sweet when it comes against the Cardinals.

It sounds like the Cubs removing Kris Bryant from the game after he made that excellent diving catch was precautionary as much as anything. He felt slight discomfort in his hamstring so they didn’t want to push it.

MLB Draft Signings Update

The Cubs have signed two of their prep draftees, 17th rounder SS Christian Olivo (undisclosed bonus) and 18th rounder RHP Dominic Hambley ($200K). The Cubs have approximately $2.1M left in their bonus pool to convince 2nd round 3B James Triantos, 19th round RHP Daniel Avitia, and 20th round LHP Wilson Cunningham to sign.

AAA

Iowa 15, Columbus 7

Top Performers

  • Nick Martini: 2-2, HR (5), 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, HBP, SB (2) (.262)
  • Michael Hermosillo: 2-4, 3B, HR (8), 2 R, RBI, HBP CS (3) (.311)
  • Frank Schwindel: 2-5, HR (1), R, 4 RBI (.400)
  • Andrew Romine: 2-4, 2 R, RBI, BB (.288)
  • Matt Duffy: 1-3, RBI, BB, SF (.313)
  • Ian Miller: 2-6, 2B, R, 2 RBI (.272)
  • Alfonso Rivas: 2-4, 2 R, BB (.272)
  • Taylor Gushue: 1-3, 3 R, RBI, BB, SF (.260)
  • Michael Rucker: 3 IP, 3 H, R, 0 BB, K (5.06)
  • Jake Jewell: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (3.10)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Frank Schwindel homered in his Iowa debut. He’s batting .320/.363/.639 with 17 homers in 46 AAA games this season, plus 1 homer in 8 MLB games. Well on his way to blowing past his career high of 24 homers set back in 2018, Schwindel hasn’t hit much in his limited MLB opportunities, but the 29-year old is not only hitting for more power than he ever has, but has maintained strong contact rates. It is possible he’s found his groove a little later in his career. I doubt he gets an extended look with the Cubs unless Anthony Rizzo is traded, but he at least gives the Cubs an option to turn to who isn’t just a throwaway.

One guy who will almost surely get an opportunity once more trades take place is Michael Hermosillo (.311/.432/.576), who also homered. He’s remained a consistent threat at the plate ever since he joined the team, and at 26 it isn’t out of the realm of possibility he can still carve out a decent MLB career.

The third I-Cubs player to homer in this blowout was Nick Martini (.262/.396/.423). He’s grinded at bats and got on base, but his batting average lagged behind all season. No longer. During a torrid 5 games hitting streak (9-for-16, HR, 4 BB, 2 K) he’s raised his batting average more than 50 points.

AA

Rocket City 10, Tennessee 5

Top Performers

  • Nelson Maldonado: 2-4, R (.293)
  • Tyler Payne: 1-3, RBI, BB (.220)
  • Chase Strumpf: 1-4, 2 R, RBI (.176)
  • Bryan Hudson: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (3.44)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Another two-hit game for Nelson Maldonado (.293/.362/.452). Yawn.

High-A

South Bend 3, Wisconsin 2

Top Performers

  • Delvin Zinn: 2-4, 3B, R, BB, 2 SB (39, 40) (.238)
  • Nelson Velazquez: 2-4, 2 R, 2 SB (11, 12)
  • Joe Nahas: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 5 K (4.43)
  • Rowan Wick: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (W, 1-0, 0.00)
  • Blake Whitney: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (0.00)
  • Graham Lawson: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (S, 1, 2.57)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Rowan Wick has made quick work of High-A batters during his two rehab appearances. He’s struck out 5 of the 6 batters he’s faced, requiring just 29 pitches to do so. The Cubs will need to make a 40-man roster move once he is ready to be reinstated from the 60-day IL.

Keep an eye on 2019 UDFA signing Joe Nahas. A popup prospect late in the 2019 draft season, he went unselected over 30 rounds, but the Cubs ended up with some unused bonus pool money when a couple of other deals fell through and ended up directing it toward Nahas. He’s been a reliever throughout his career, but he’s got a starter’s build and the command has been coming along well enough for the Cubs to allow him to stretch out. His fastball runs into the mid-90s and is a tough pitch on both righties and lefties. His secondaries are starting to come around as well. I don’t think he ends up a starter long term, but getting the extra innings and working through his own jams should help him in the long run.

Delvin Zinn swiped his Minor League leading 39th and 40th bags of the season.

Not to be overlooked should be the two bags stolen by Nelson Velazquez. He’s flashed five above average tools throughout his career, but back in 2019 he appeared to be losing speed and fluidity as he got bigger. It prevented him from performing well in CF and hampered him as a base stealer. Velazquez looks to have found a happy medium in 2021. He’s still strong, but is also leaner and quicker, allowing him to play CF once again and he is now up to a dozen stolen bases on the year to pair with his 11 home runs. The next step in his development will need to be making moe contact and having more consistently good at bats against RHP. If he can do that in the 2nd half it will help solidify his standing as a multi-tool threat to keep an eye on.

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 3, Charleston 2

Top Performers

  • Pablo Aliendo: 3-4, 2B, HR (5), 2 R, 2 RBI (.285)
  • Miguel Espinoza: 4 IP, 6 H, R, 2 BB, 65 K (4.07)
  • Jose Almonte: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (0.64)
  • Carlos Ocampo: 2.1 IP, H, R, 0 BB, 4 K (W, 3-0, 5.22)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Almost all of the offense in this game was provided by Pablo Aliendo (.285/.376/.445). An athletic catcher with good bat speed, he entered the year as sort of an intriguing under the radar prospect. A fast start helped him emerge, especially since he was about the only hitter in the Pelicans lineup who did anything on a consistent basis (except strikeout) the first month of the season. Early on I questioned the 20-year old’s current level of strength, not expecting him to be able to hold up over the course of this season behind the dish. But so far he has, and as he fills out his 6’0″ 170 pound frame in the coming years, that concern should lessen anyway.

He’s definitely entered the picture as the Cubs most intriguing catcher prospect in full season ball behind Miguel Amaya. He’s got competition from his teammate Ethan Hearn for that title, who may have the higher ceiling as a power hitter, but right now Aliendo has the edge in terms of current ability. Aliendo has even managed to help out as an infielder in a couple of games, getting one start at 3B when injuries struck hard on the team, and even managed to cover shortstop for a handful of innings. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Aliendo splitting time at other positions as he develops.

AZL

Giants Orange 2, Cubs 1

Top Performers

  • Reggie Preciado: 2-4, 2B, R (.382)
  • Yeison Santana: 2-4, RBI, CS (1) (.267)
  • Owen Caissie: 1-3, BB (.375)
  • Chris Clarke: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (0.00)
  • Luis Devers: 5 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 3 K (1.93)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

The Cubs received a boost by the return to the mound of 2019 4th round pick Chris Clarke. The former USC hurler is one of the more intriguing arms from that draft class, with two and four seam fastball capable of touching the mid-90s, along with a good curveball. I believe the Cubs have been tinkering with his slider and changeup since we last saw him in 2019, so I’m curious how he now looks. He certainly performed well in his first opportunity this season, with 3 shutout innings. Clarke should provide a boost to the South Bend rotation in the 2nd half, and I wouldn’t even rule out some appearances in AA if he stays healthy.

Luis Devers is a 21-year old righty who performed consistently well in the DSL for two seasons (18-19) but I’ve never heard much buzz about him, which leads me to believe he is a command over stuff guy. But here he is in the first couple of weeks of the ACL, and he is once again been his team’s most steady performer. Over 4 games (3 starts) he’s allowed just 3 runs in 14 innings while posting a 16/2 K/BB ratio.

DSL

Cubs Blue 5, Red Sox Blue 4

Cubs Red 4, Cardinals Red 2

A couple of intriguing IFA signings have gotten off to great starts in the DSL.

Left handed hitting catcher Moises Ballesteros projects to be a power guy down the road. He’s been batting cleanup in his first seven career games and has posted a .389/.560/.556 line with 3 doubles and a 6/4 BB/K ratio.

Shortstop Pedro Ramirez is the youngest player in the Cubs org (at least that I can find). He didn’t receive a big signing bonus, but he’s batting .417/.517/.417 over his first seven games.

I don’t know anything about Leonel Espinoza, but the 18-year old has gotten off to a scorching start in his career: .385/.529/.692 in 6 games.

Comments

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  • Will be welcome help, when South Bend can get some help behind the plate, as well in the rotation. I’d like to see the Cubs get more aggressive in moving up some of their pitching, who are currently performing at acceptable levels. Especially ones like Clarke who have collegiate experience.

  • Great reporting again Michael. Its nice to see there is hope for the future when these kids start coming up.

  • The Triantos hold out is puzzling. I'm sure the Cubs wouldn't have spent a 2nd round pick on him if they didn't think they could sign
    him.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Its not a hold out. There is always a last minute signing like him because Cubs are still negotiating with other preps and don't necessarily want their agents to know exactly how much Cubs can offer.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Interesting. So the Cubs and Triantos may have a number already agreed to but they don't want to finalize it to keep the other agents in the dark. I guess you have to play the games to get the maximum talent to sign with the money you have to work with. The front offices out there are pretty smart/experienced.

  • In reply to John57:

    Hopefully there is enough money left to sign one of the 11th/12th round prep picks. :-)

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Interesting, thanks Michael ! Wow, just read that Ross moved Baez to clean up and has Ortega leading off ! Maybe there is hope for Ross !
    I guess after the signing deadline MLB will issue a new top 30 prospects list for all 30 teams.

  • Hermosillo and Schwindel could be interesting guys to follow, assuming that there will be a lot of trade movement on the parent club. Along those lines, it looks like the Mets are strongly pushing back on the rumors regarding their interest in KB. Looks like the classic bottom-feeder trading ploy, to minimize perceived demand as much as possible. I do think there is strong interest there, but only at a rock bottom price for KB. I hope the Cubs don't bite and trade him to the Mets. I'd rather watch KB in Cubbie blue for the rest of the season than to trade him for trinkets.

  • How many times will Willson Contreras make an out on the bases before he understands he stinks when it comes to baserunning ?
    Maybe Ross can tell him to stop screwing up so he can actually help his team.

  • Batting Nico Hoerner in the 8th spot is a waste. Nico should be batting 1st or 2nd in the lineup.

  • BAEZ SUCKS AT SITUATIONAL HITTING. That is all.

  • HAPPS BACK TO NORMAL NOW. Man on 1st and 3rd with no outs and he ends up on second with no runs scored.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    He didn't come through exactly but Rizzo is to blame for the double play, obviously. Cost the team the game and I'm surprised I don't see more outrage over it. Riz is not focused nowadays.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Happ is Mr. double play !

  • Happ hates Des Moines, but he needs to go there.

  • It's a difficult time right now for Cub fans and players. Few players are themselves with so many of them on the trading block. Too much of the unknown is not conducive to inspired team baseball. One can say that they are just going to concentrate on the game at hand, but it's easier said than done. Demoralizing loses like last night are about loss of focus. No one performs at their best in which so much of their future is in the air.

  • To sum up last nights game, bad base running, bad managed game with predictable results.
    This game should be a blueprint of what changes need to be made to bring the Cubs back to be a competitive team. It needs new field management including a hitting coach that can get thru to Baez or replace Baez all-together. The terrible base running by Contreras has been going on for months and nobody's corrected this. Its time to say good buy to Rizzo after a nice run. Cut Happ loose and take your loss. This swinging for the fence doesn't work, more situational hitting is needed. Its nice to read Michael's comments about the players coming up. It gives hope we don't have to watch another badly played game like last night. Batting Hoerner 8th ? Are you kidding ?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    LOL!

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    LMAO!

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