Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Bats wake up system wide; Velázquez blasts 2 doubles and 2 homers; Crow-Armstrong reaches 5 times as Pelicans score 17 runs; Tennessee and South Bend rally late to win

Nelson Velázquez (photo by Rikk Carlson)

MLB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Cubs dealt Jesse Chavez and cash to the Braves for lefty Sean Newcomb. With Brad Wieck’s injury, Justin Steele securing a rotation spot this spring, and Wade Miley’s injury forcing Drew Smyly into the rotation as well, the Cubs ended up a little short of lefties for the pen. Newcomb was a pretty good prospect last decade and then had a solid, if unspectacular run, with the Braves as a backend starter/swingman from 2017-19. The COVID shortened 2020 season was not kind to him (11.20 ERA in 4 games). He bounced back a bit last year while being used exclusively as a short reliever, setting a career high K rate, but also saw his BB rate spike.

He throws his 4-seamer around 95, almost exclusively up in the zone. His two secondaries, a cutter and curve, are both effective offerings which generate good whiff rates. Despite seeing a slight velo increase from shorter outings, it seems like his fastball is what has gotten hit over the past couple of seasons. I wonder if the Cubs see an opportunity to tweak his pitch profile a bit by introducing a 2-seamer or simply by getting Newcomb to use more of the zone than the upper third.

Newcomb (28) is in his first year of arbitration ($900K), with two years of team control remaining.

AAA

Louisville 3, Iowa 2

Game Recap

This was a close game throughout. The two teams traded runs in the 3rd. The game remained 1-1 until Louisville broke through with two runs in the bottom of the 7th. P.J. Higgins drove in a run in the 8th to narrow the deficit to one, and then Ildemaro Vargas tripled with one out in the 9th to put the tying run in scoring position but the Cubs were unable to drive him in.

Top Performers

  • Adrian Sampson: 5 IP, 5 H, R, 2 BB, 3 K (4.09)
  • Alfonso Rivas: 2-4, RBI (.375)
  • P.J. Higgins: 1-3, RBI, BB (.200)
  • Brennen Davis: 1-3, 2 R, BB (.222)
  • Ildemaro Vargas: 2-5, 3B (.225)
  • Esteban Quiroz: 2-5 (.107)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Since opening the year 0-for-his-first-16 over his first four games, Brennen Davis is slashing .345/.441/.621 with 5 BB and 9 K over his last nine games (34 PA).

AA

Tennessee 10, Rocket City 7

Game Recap

What a game for Nelson Velázquez. He entered the game with a .194/.237/.389 triple slash, but exited with a line of .275/.326/.650 thanks to a pair of doubles, a pair of homers, and an intentional walk.

His two homers helped the Smokies build an early 4-2 lead, but the Trash Pandas put up five runs between the 6th and 7th innings to take the lead. After a Christopher Morel leadoff walk in the 8th, Velazquez’s second double of the game brought in Morel and set the stage for a big Smokies comeback. Three walks and a single to the next four batters in the innings tied the score and set the stage with the bases loaded for Luis Vazquez. His two-run single put Tennessee on top to stay.

Top Performers

  • Nelson Velázquez: 4-4, 2 2B, 2 HR (2, 3), 3 R, 5 RBI, BB (.275)
  • Darius Hill: 3-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI (.395)
  • Bryce Windham: 1-2, R, RBI, 2 BB (.222)
  • Bryce Ball: 1-4, R, BB, CS (.282)
  • Luis Vazquez: 1-4, 2 RBI (.250)
  • Nelson Maldonado: 1-4, R, RBI (.360)
  • Anderson Espinoza: 4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, BB, 7 K (6.75)
  • Burl Carraway: IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K (S, 1, 10.13)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Leadoff man Darius Hill (.395/.439/.474) has reached safely in all 9 games he has played. He’s reached at least twice in 7 games.

High-A

South Bend 7, Beloit 5

Game Recap

Tennessee wasn’t the only affiliate to rally late for a win. South Bend and Beloit went back and forth early before coming out tied 4-4 through three innings. It remained that way until the 8th when the Sky Carp pushed across a run. Now down one, the Cubs broke through in the bottom half of the frame.

Yohendrick Piñango, who recorded three hits on the night, led off the inning with a double. An Owen Caissie walk and Matt Mervis single re-tied the game. Ed Howard then delivered a single to bring home Caissie as the winning run. Mervis would eventually score on a Luis Verdugo groundout to extend the lead.

Top Performers

  • Yohendrick Piñango: 3-4, 2B, 2 R (.333)
  • Alexander Canario: 1-4, HR (1), R, 3 RBI (.200)
  • Matt Mervis: 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI (.226)
  • Ed Howard: 2-4, RBI (.167)
  • Owen Caissie: 1-3, R, BB (.121)
  • Pablo Aliendo: 1-3, BB (.125)
  • Dalton Stambaugh: 3.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K (0.00)
  • Jeremiah Estrada: 2 IP, 2 H, R, BB, K (W, 1-0, 1.80)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Starter Jordan Wicks got knocked around a bit for the first time in his pro career (3.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K). I didn’t see anything to be concerned about, just one of those days.

Yohendrick Piñango (.333/.400/.472) is one of the handful of guys who came out of the gate swinging a hot bat. The 19-year old is already at an advanced level for his age, and is likely to see AA before the year is over. He still features an inside out swing, but it is good to see him show a bit of power (2 2B, 1 HR) and patience (4 BB) thus far. He needs to make strides in both areas as he moves up the ladder.

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 17, Delmarva 3

Game Recap

The Pelicans put the Smokies six-run 8th inning to shame as they hung a 10 spot on the board in the 6th of their game last night.

They’d already marched out to a 6-1 advantage thanks to big nights at the plate by Pete Crow-Armstrong (reached 5 times), Yeison Santana (4 hits, stole home), James Triantos (3 hits, 1 walk, SB), and Kevin Alcantara (4 RBI).

In the 6th though, the floodgates really opened. Triantos and Liam Spence opened the inning with back-to-back doubles. Crow-Armstrong and Jacob Wetzel drew back-to-back walks. After Alcantara reached on an error, hits by Peter Matt and Santana, along with a bases loaded double by Miguel Fabrizio brought home four runs.

The team had already scored six runs and batted through the order when Triantos came up for his second plate appearance. He’d draw a walk to re-load the bases and then Spence drove in the seventh run on a sac fly. The final three runs came on a Crow-Armstrong home run. His first of the non-inside-the-park variety.

And though it would be easy to overlook given the offensive outburst, it should be noted the Pelicans also received a strong outing by starter Tyler Schlaffer, who punched out six over four innings of one hit, one run ball.

Top Performers

  • Pete Crow-Armstrong: 2-3, 3B, HR (2), 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, HBP (.269)
  • Yeison Santana: 4-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, SB (1) (.296)
  • James Triantos: 3-4, 2B, 3 R, BB, SB (1) (.175)
  • Peter Matt: 2-5, 2 R, RBI, BB (.156)
  • Miguel Fabrizio: 1-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB (.067)
  • Liam Spence: 1-3, 2 R, RBI, BB, SF (.148)
  • Kevin Alcantara: 1-6, R, 4 RBI (.241)
  • Jacob Wetzel: 1-5, R, 2 RBI, BB (.206)
  • Tyler Schlaffer: 4 IP, H, R, BB, 6 K (4.22)
  • Jose Gonzalez: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, BB, 7 K (W, 1-0, 5.40)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

It’s not easy to score 17 runs while hitting just one home run but the Pelicans managed it. Ethan Hearn was the only batter in the lineup to not reach base.

After his big day at the plate, Pete Crow-Armstrong is now slashing .269/.441/.615 with 4 XBH and 4 SB in 7 games from the Pelicans leadoff spot.

Comments

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  • Good to see the farm rolling along pretty well. Who would have thought that? I keed. I keed. But seriously, although it's just one day but I don't recall any days in the last few years where multiple Cubs' Milb teams were raking like this at the same time. Especially Myrtle Beach? Those box scores tend to be depressing if you like offense.

    I have to add that the Trash Pandas is one awesome name for a minor league team. I'm envious that other organizations have the cajones to come up with team nicknames like that.

  • More and more Darius Hill is starting to get my attention as an under the radar player, with better offensive skills than I ever thought about him having. Michael, do you have any thoughts about his defensive capabilities? Is it too early to try to project the type of hitter he might become.

  • I think Darius Hill is a left handed hitting corner outfielder who can play centerfielder. So a good defender and good hitter with limited power.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Thanks. That was a nice bunt he laid down a few days ago. That’s a talent.

  • The Tennessee lineup has potential to put up good at bats 1-9 if they can improve the SO% for a couple of regulars.

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