Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Abbott strikes out 10 over 6 shutout IP in finest performance of the year; Jensen pitches well in losing effort; Ball homers as South Bend staff works around a lot of walks in win; Hernandez reaches base 4 times

Cory Abbott (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

AAA

Iowa 5, Toledo 1

Game Recap

This season certainly hasn’t gone the way Cory Abbott hoped, but we are seeing signs of late of the pitcher we all hoped he be this year. Last night he turned in his finest performance of the season. He struck out ten over six shutout innings. Most importantly, he allowed just two walks, and obviously no home runs as well. Those two factors have been the issue for him this season.

The pen wasn’t able to complete the shutout, but the offense managed to give the staff plenty of breathing room thanks to a four-run 1st, featuring back-to-back homers by Trayce Thompson and Abiatal Avelino.

Top Performers

  • Cory Abbott: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K (W, 3-6, 6.40)
  • Abiatal Avelino: 3-3, HR (5), R, RBI, HBP (.267)
  • Trayce Thompson: 1-4, HR (19), R, 3 RBI (.231)
  • Taylor Gushue: 1-3, 2B, R, BB (.228)
  • Greg Deichmann: 1-3, BB (.239)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Make it 2 straight wins for Cory Abbott. It has been a very trying season, but it is looking like he can head into the offseason on a high note at least. The righty has missed plenty of bats this year, just like he always has, but his walk and home run rates rose dramatically this year in AAA/MLB. His command and control were simply not up to the task. Maybe he can use his recent success as a springboard for a turnaround season in 2022. The Cubs really need some reliable SP depth in Iowa next year, and it would be ideal if Abbott can provide it.

The 19th home run of the season by Trayce Thompson tied him with Nelson Velazquez for the organizational lead.

AA

Chattanooga 5, Tennessee 1

Game Recap

Ryan Jensen pitched his best game thus far in AA, allowing just one run across five innings, while punching out five. Graham Lawson got lit up out of the pen, and the offense could barely muster anything, so his efforts went unrewarded.

Top Performers

  • Ryan Jensen: 5 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 5 K (3.46)
  • Bryan King: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (2.25)
  • Christopher Morel: 0-2, R, 2 BB, SB (16) (.217)
  • Bradlee Beesley: 0-2, 2 BB, CS (1) (.111)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Over his last 43.1 IP (10 G), Ryan Jensen has posted a 2.28 ERA while allowing just 26 hits and 15 walks. It took a while to find his groove this year, but the results have been steadily improving, and they’re beginning to match his stuff. Next season it will be important for him to show he can be more efficient and work deeper into games.

Another day, another scoreless outing by Scott Kobos (3-0, 0.33 ERA overall). The lefty has appeared in 20 games across 3 levels this season. He’s given up a run just one time. And that happened to be in his first game back after a six week IL stint midseason. His stuff doesn’t appear completely overwhelming, and he does walk a decent number of guys, but hitters from both sides of the plate simply seem to not be able to pick up the ball out of his hand. He’s allowed just 13 hits over 27.2 IP (.135 AVG against). I’m looking forward to doing a deeper dive on him once the season is over in order to try and identify what has made him so successful this year.

High-A

South Bend 5, Beloit 2

Game Recap

First round pick Jordan Wicks once again looked good in a brief opener roll for South Bend. This time he did pitch into the 2nd inning. Max Bain eventually took over, and despite walking 6 batters, he worked through the traffic to hold Beloit to just one run in 4.2 innings.

Bryce Ball homered, and the combo of Yonathan Perlaza and Yohendrick Pinango in the 2nd and 3rd spots in the lineup helped spark the offense. They each had two hits, Perlaza scored both times he reached, with Pinango driving him home each time, and also bringing home leadoff man Scott McKeon once. McKeon reached three times.

Top Performers

  • Bryce Ball: 1-3, HR (7), R, 2 RBI, BB (.203)
  • Yohendrick Pinango: 2-4, 3 RBI (.305)
  • Yonathan Perlaza: 2-4, 2B, 2 R (.276)
  • Scott McKeon: 0-2, R, BB, 2 HBP (.158)
  • Jordan Wicks: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (0.00)
  • Max Bain: 4.2 IP, 4 H, R, 6 BB, 6 K (W, 5-8, 5.18)
  • Eduarniel Nunez: 2.1 IP, H, R, 3 BB, K (S, 5, 4.50)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Infielder Scott McKeon exited after being hit by a pitch for the second time during the game.

Low-A

Charleston 12, Myrtle Beach 1 (Game 1)

Myrtle Beach, Charelston PPD (Game 2)

Game Recap

Game 1 proved to be a tough outing for starter Tyler Schlaffer (3 IP, 6 R). He’d been pitching very well heading into this start, but he didn’t have good control. Things only got worse for the Pelicans when Jose Almonte relieved Schlaffer. He also gave up six runs, but across just 1.1 innings.

Top Performers

  • Ed Howard: 1-2, RBI, SB (7) (.219)
  • Owen Caissie: 1-3, 2B, R (.234)
  • Peter Matt: 1-3 (.211)
  • Sheldon Reed: 1.2 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, K (3.00)

ACL

Cubs 6, Giants 0 (7 Innings)

Top Performers

  • Luis Devers: 5 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 3 K (W, 2-4, 3.33)
  • Rony Baez: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (3.38)
  • Ezequiel Pagan: 2-3, 3B, 2 R, RBI, HBP (.333)
  • Kevin Alcantara: 1-3, 3B, R, 2 RBI (.324)
  • Ronnier Quintero: 1-3, 3B, R (.191)
  • Parker Chavers: 1-3, 2B, R, SB (1) (.333)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Parker Chavers, the speedy centerfielder the Cubs selected in the 7th round out of Coastal Carolina, quickly showed off his skills in his pro debut yesterday. Not only did he double in three trips to the plate, but he already swiped his first bag as well. He is expected to be among the fastest players in the system.

Ezequiel Pagan‘s numbers in the ACL are extremely impressive: .333/.364/.691. I can’t see him sustaining that type of power at higher levels, and he’ll probably need to increase his walk rate, but still… he’s had a very impressive season when given consistent playing time down there. It’s unfortunate the high number of OF prospects in Myrtle Beach forced him back down to Mesa.

These aren’t from yesterday, but they are some nice pics of the swings for James Triantos and Kevin Alcantara during home runs they hit recently:

DSL

Cubs Blue 9, Dodgers 6

Brewers 9, Cubs Red 0

Cristian Hernandez (.293/.403/.447) reached base in 4 of his 5 plate appearances, with a double, two singles and a walk. He didn’t hit much the first few weeks of the season, though he did draw a high number of walks. The bat has come around though. Since August 5th (21 games) the 17-year old SS is batting .338/.432/.595 (177 wRC+) with 5 doubles, a triple, and 4 home runs. He’s scored more than once per game as well (26 R).

Comments

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  • Thanks again Michael. What insights defensive ability, future power projection do you see for Yohendrick Pinango. A 19 year old holding his own in A+ Ball. Is he above average in any area. Loved that his hit tool seems to have carried over from what he displayed in the DSL. Thanks

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    He's likely a LF only defender. He could probably cover RF, but arm wouldn't be ideal. I just don't see him as having any kind of impact on defense.

    As for power, he's hit only 4 homers this year, but he's shown legit pull power on all of them. If he chooses to pull the ball more and go for power, he could probably hit 15-20 in the future. What he needs to find though, is the happy medium. His natural tendency is to hit the ball to the opposite field, and his current swing is geared toward hitting the ball on the ground or on a line. I'd like to see him flatten his swing plane out a bit, which should turn some of those opposite field grounders into more line drives (and opposite field line drives into gappers), and then when he gets into advantageous counts try to drive the ball to his pull side. If all that happens, I could see him as .300 hitter with 10-15 HR pop (but also plenty of doubles).

  • Hello Michael,
    Its good to see the Cubs are adding players with above average speed to their system.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    For those in search of the "classic leadoff hitter" profile, I think they should pay attention to Pete Crow-Armstrong next year. Above average speed, lots of line drives, should take enough walks, while playing above average defense in CF.

    Christian Franklin has above average speed and pop for a CF. He's also got a very nice eye at the plate (he's already been drawing lots of walks). But his swing has a bit too much uppercut right now and its leading to too little contact. Cubs are working with him to flatten it out a bit. If it leads to more balls in play he could develop into more of a modern leadoff type with plenty of OBP and SLG. He's also a very good defender.

    I haven't seen Parker Chavers yet. He was a top prep recruit with lots of tools but never quite had the full breakout he was expected to have in college. He did have a nice year this season though So, maybe he's a late bloomer.

    Ismael Mena is another guy down in the ACL who supposedly currently plays a small ball game, but he's got a frame where he's expected to fill out and likely will need to alter his game to incorporate more power in the coming years. Always possible he loses speed as he grows.

    Alexander Canario and Kevin Alcantara are two OFs with decent speed the Cubs also acquired at the deadline, but they are more your classic power hitter profiles on offense. Lots of bat speed, not much patience yet. Chris Morel kind of fits the same mold. He's got speed and he's a good base runner (and I think he'll maintain it better than the other two because his build should remain wiry and he likely won't bulk up). Morel isn't really a top of the order type though. Jordan Nwogu also falls into this camp where he's got some speed, but hits more a power hitter.

    Nelson Velazquez has re-captured some speed after looking like it was degrading in 2019. He isn't a classic 5-tool guy because I wouldn't call any of his tools plus (except his arm), but he does have average or better tools across the board (with hit and plate discipline being the borderline avg ones). Those two happen to be what will make or break him as a prospect though. He's got to at least continue to light up LHP (which he's done his whole career). But if he can continue to make strides against RHP he can develop into a starter.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Bradlee Beesley should be mentioned too. Above average speed and a solid hit tool.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    thanks Michael. I've been constantly looking for more speed from our players. I looked at the Cardinals and Dodgers and for years they won with speed and defense--especially StL. I hope at least some of these players come through. I'm especially eager to see PC-A. The reviews of his defense have been stellar along with his hit tool.

  • Thanks Michael,
    I'm really old school wanting to see speed at the top of the order. Some of the fast top of the order players don't grow on
    trees but when you acquire them they really light up the team.
    Putting base cloggers at the top makes no sense to me, where they
    get on base and usually don't score which has plagued the Cubs.
    Pete Crow-Armstrong is still pretty young, how far away is Pete
    from being called up to the big leagues ?

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    He was drafted last year, so he obviously didn't get a chance to play after being drafted. And then he got hurt the first week of this season and missed the remainder of the year. So, the kid has barely played. Three years away seems the earliest ETA at this point.

  • Another inconsistent strike zone today. Is MLB ever going to correct this ?
    Hendricks looks to have his groove back, surprised ESPN is using out of town broadcasters for the Wrigley field game.

  • So I’ve been looking at the Rule 5 eligibles on Arizona Phil’s site, and I am generally underwhelmed. There are really no names that jump out, since the strength of the Cubs’ system is at AA and below,. The only players I think could even potentially be considered for a 40-man spot this season fall into 3 categories:

    AAA pitchers: Little, Mekkes, Roberts, Swarmer, Uelman. If Mekkes and Swarmer were strong candidates, I think they would be added and at Wrigley by now.
    Injured pitchers who have previously performed well: Patterson and R. Thompson. Hard to see that some other team would select them, but I do not know the injuries that have kept them off the mound this year.
    AA/A+ bats: Perlaza, Vazquez, Velazquez, Young. I think Young is too similar to Rivas to earn a spot. The other three are only 21/22 years old. Would a rebuilding team take a flyer on one or more?

    There are currently 46 on the 40-man, including those on the 60-day IL that will have to be added back or waived once the season is over. The number of players the Cubs protect from the Rule 5 will of course influence who is kept or waived.

    Any thoughts?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I'll have more on the Rule 5 soon.

    The Cubs have already added some of the guys who needed to be protected (Rivas, Hermosillo, Effross). I do think you will see Little and Roberts added before the draft. As you said, I don't think Young gets a spot. Rivas and Deichmann already cover what he brings to the table. Velazquez is probably the most interesting. The Cubs are already using a 40-man spot on Alexander Canario, who fits a similar profile, and Christopher Morel offers similar offensive skills (and more defensive versatility). Canario has more upside, but is also a bit further away.

    I don't think Velazquez will be ready for the Majors next year, nor will any other team, but especially if the DH comes to the NL and they actually do enforce the 13-man pitching staff limit, a rebuilding club might try to stash him and just match him up against LHP. I think it would suck for his development, and I hope it doesn't happen for both the Cubs and his sake. At the same time, I struggle to see him fitting on the Cubs 40-man either. It might come down to what they see in Hermosillo's future too. Can only have so many RHB OFs on the roster.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks, Michael. If the Cubs keep Little and Roberts ans want to have an off-season 40-man of 39 to play the waiver-wire game, then 9 guys on the 40-man and 60-day IL need to be released.

    In my opinion there are the easy 8:
    FA after the season: Davies (thanks for the innings), Duffy, Chirinos
    No-brainers: Martini, Romine, Lobaton, Higgins

    Then there are guys on the bubble:
    Brothers, who is 33 and can probably and easily be replaced or resigned
    Holder, who has been injured all-season and is arb-eligible. Were the Cubs just doing the right thing by letting him rehab on their watch, or do they see more?
    Sampson, who seems very replaceable
    Stewart, who has been out since July with elbow inflammation and didn’t show that much when he was around, but is only a year older than Steele and Thompson.

    In addition there is
    Maples: out of options, so he will need to be on the 26-man next year. I would guess the Cubs keep him around this off-season.
    Nance, who is a nice story, but could be easy to upgrade?

    Seems to me that Brothers and Sampson will be waived once the season is over, with Stewart-Holder-Nance in line as potential casualties as the roster is built for 2022.

    So, is keeping Velazquez worth more than Stewart, Holder or an open spot?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I’d be a little more inclined to keep Nance and Sampson around. But that’s just me. It’s a close call I guess.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Hello Norway !
    How do I find AZ's Phils sight ? Thanks, Ron .

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    https://www.thecubreporter.com/tcr-junk-drawer

    Or https://www.thecubreporter.com/ and click on AZ Phil’s Corner.

    A great and reliable source for Cubs MLB and MiLB roster information and MLB player movement rules.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Thank you CFiN !

  • I feel as if we've seen the best of Ortega and Wisdom, I hope we don't have them in our opening day starting line up.

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    I think Ortega just needs a few days off, to rejuvenate himself. He’s a decent ball player.

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    Ortega is a LH platoon outfielder. He hits RHP very well and is horrible vs LHP. Right now I can see him in center vs RHP.

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    I think there is a good chance Ortega forms a platoon in CF with Hermosillo next year. It's a cheap option with some upside that will allow them to spend their financial resources elsewhere. The Cubs will have Brennen Davis in line for a mid-season call up in 2022. If that CF platoon struggles in the 1st half, they can easily slide Davis in to take over there.

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    I would't give up on Wisdom just yet. The Cubs are working with him to correct the holes in his swing. Its not like a light switch where you can flip a switch and everything corrects itself !

  • Michael, you mentioned ‘flattening out’ Franklin’s swing. I find that encouraging that it appears this organization under Hoyer might be placing more value on contact - then it seemed it may have, when Theo was in charge. Hitters along those lines: Schwindel, Madrigal, P C-A, and others in the lower levels. Of course there are exceptions, like Ball.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Oh, I think the entire org realized it before Theo left, it just isn't an easy thing to turnaround an entire org. You got to remember, the league made a drastic shift during Theo's tenure. At the beginning of his regime, there was still a focus on throwing sinkers and getting ground balls by most pitchers/org. The hitting trend was to add loft to your swing in order to be able to hit those low sinkers out of the park. Then the high 4-seamer became a trend, as a way to combat all of these hitters with uppercut swings.

    The Cubs were slow in both adopting to this trend on the mound, and finding new hitters or adapting their existing hitters to combat it. It is a big reason why so many guys on the Cubs all of a sudden stopped being able to hit the fastball. It wasn't velo, it was location and the different movement on a 4 vs 2 seamer. Their swings were conducive to contact anymore.

    I think you are now seeing the entire league, including the Cubs, swing back toward embracing contact (though not by sacrificing power). And pitchers who throw exclusively 4 seamers I think will start seeing less impressive results in the coming years as those hitters adjust. I think there is a chance the Cubs could be in an advantageous situation soon. They seem to be embracing having a diversity, both on their staff and in their lineup.

    While ideally you want guys who can do everything, we know that isn't possible to fill an entire roster of players like that. Hopefully, the Cubs can find a few stars who can be a jack of all trades and be able to match up well against all pitchers and pitch types (Davis seems like a good fit in this area). But where they can't find well-rounded guys, they are looking for the rest to fill particular roles. They want some contact guys (Madrigal, etc.) and some three true outcome types, and others who can matchup well against sinkers, etc. The same goes for the pitching staff. They still want command/control guys like Hendricks/Mills (Kilian fits well), but also want guys with 4 seamers, guys who throw both, and will tailor their breaking ball (curve/slider/or both) to whatever fastball each pitcher chooses to feature. They also want their bullpen to feature guys who throw from various arm slots and who feature a variety of stuff.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Good info, Micheal, I think. Two or three years ago umpires didn't call the high strike. This has effected how effective hitters, and pitchers, fare as well.

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