Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Palencia shows plus stuff; Made debuts and reaches in all 3 of his plate appearances; I-Cubs and Smokies rained out

Daniel Palencia (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Sorry for the lack of recaps over the weekend. I had family in town with early morning activities planned, so I decided to take the time off rather than try to rush through the recaps.

AAA

Iowa PPD

AA

Tennessee PPD

High-A

Fort Wayne South Bend 3

Game Recap

One of the top breakout candidates in the system showed why yesterday. It wasn’t a perfect outing for Daniel Palencia as he walked four batters in his three innings of work, but he only allowed one hit, and kept the TinCaps off the board. Palencia is only 5’11” but he’s got a sturdy build and some of the easiest velocity in the system. He regularly works in the upper-90s and is capable of touching 100. His offspeed stuff is a little inconsistent but he flashes the ability to get swings and misses with multiple pitches.

Thus far in his career his command and control point to a future bullpen role. I haven’t given up hope on him as a starter though. He’s got the stuff and endurance to become a top starter if his ability to spot his pitches improves. Even if it doesn’t come around enough to stick in the rotation, Palencia projects as not just a late inning option out of the bullpen, but he could become a shutdown closer.

Manuel Espinoza followed Palencia with four shutout, one-hit innings of his own. He’s a guy who knows how to pitch. His stuff is fringe average but he knows how to get the most out of it, especially at the lower levels.

The Cubs were riding high, with their pitchers allowing just two hits through seven. Alexander Canario hit a two-run double in the 5th to give them the lead, and then Fabian Pertuz knocked in Bradlee Beesley for an insurance run in the top of the 7th. But the walks that Palencia was able to work around in his innings became Bailey Reid’s downfall in the 8th. He loaded the bases on three free passes, then surrendered a grand slam.

Top Performers

  • Daniel Palencia: 3 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K (1.59)
  • Manuel Espinoza: 4 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K (2.57)
  • Bradlee Beesley: 2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, BB (.286)
  • Yohendrick Piñango: 2-4, R (.286)
  • Matt Mervis: 1-3, BB (.208)
  • Jordan Nwogu: 1-4, BB (.250)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Jordan Nwogu has gone 1-for-4 in each of his first two starts of the season.

Bradlee Beesley has been a catalyst out of the leadoff spot thus far, sporting a .400 OBP. He’s got a knack for putting the barrel on the ball, but he lacks much pop. His two doubles yesterday were his first extra base hits.

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 6, Augusta 3

Game Recap

I’m still not quite sure how the Pelicans scored six runs while hitting just five singles on the night, but they managed it. Some defensive miscues by the GreenJackets helped, but Myrtle Beach also helped itself by being patient at the plate (6 BBs, even one by Kevin Made!), and by being aggressive on the basepaths (3 SB, including Pete Crow-Armstrong swiping home on a successful double steal with Kevin Alcantara).

The Pelicans staff meanwhile, also walked six guys and gave up five singles, while also hitting two and giving up a double. But they held Augusta to half the amount of runs. Baseball.

Top Performers

  • Kevin Made: 2-2, 2 R, BB (1.000)
  • Peter Matt: 1-2, RBI, 2 BB (.111)
  • Pete Crow-Armstrong: 0-3, R, 2 BB, 2 SB (3, 4) (.211)
  • Luis Rodriguez: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K (W, 1-0, 0.00)
  • Adam Laskey: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, K (0.00)
  • Sheldon Reed: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (S, 0.00)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Kevin Made got a late start to the season, but he certainly got himself off to a good one. He reached in all three of his plate appearances before being removed late as they ease him back into action. The two singles in his debut should come as no surprise as he did that quite frequently for Myrtle Beach in the 2nd half of 2021, but the walk he drew is hopefully a very good sign of improved patience to come.

Last year, Made was one of the most aggressive free swingers I’ve seen in the Cubs system in quite some time. The only other which comes to mind was Christopher Morel in his NWL debut who was ultimately demoted back to AZL because of his struggles. Made managed to hit for a solid average last year, and projects to have solid power in the future, but his approach has to improve as he moves up the ladder.

Comments

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  • Nothing is guaranteed about whether or not PCA will end up in Chicago. But it looks like one thing will be, for certain. It should be an interesting road to follow.

  • Is it just me or what, but doesn’t Keegan Thompson look ready for taking a spot in the rotation? He looks confident and like he’s in charge.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    He certainly has starting experience in the minors. I'd like to see him get a spot start at some point and see if he can go 6-7 innings.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yes Cliff, I’d like to see Thompson get that 6 or 7 inning start also. A lot could depend on how Miley throws when he gets back. Miley and Mills could end up on short leashes.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Pitching is evolving at the major league level. A middle relief/setup guy who can pitch multiple innings effectively is more valuable than the #4 or #5 starter in the rotation. Think Josh Hader. Andrew Miller.

    Now Keegan is not at that level (yet), but he could be that kind of relief pitcher for the Cubs. If he is even Hader-Lite, he is probably more valuable doing what he is doing now for the team.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    That's a good point, although I might argue that Thompson is pitching like a TOR guy right now. SSS, of course. I've also read that he has a history of injuries and might be better suited to the bullpen to keep his arm healthy.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    He really has taken to his current role. It has fit him like a glove. There is no guarantee that he will pitch the same way as a starter. He is really a valuable weapon for the Cubs if he can keep pitching the way he has. Why mess up something that is really rolling well for him now, especially since his contributions have been very good so far.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Hef, I don’t consider Hader to be a middle inning/ set up guy. Miller either, actually. But I hear what your saying.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Good point CB. I really don't want to put Thompson in Hader's class. Not fair to him nor is it that accurate. But he can be a similar type of pitcher for the Cubs that Hader has been for the Brewers.

    Multi-inning RPs who pitch in high leverage situations will be more valuable than closers some day.

  • I think Thompson and Alzolay (when he gets back) will be in the bullpen for the rest of the year, which will be a good thing.

    After Miley gets back they wont need a 5th starter. If they do need a starter it would be fun to see Killian come up. I think he is ready.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I agree BC, that Alzolay should only be used out of the bullpen this year. No need to take chances with him this year. Baring any significant injuries, I still don’t expect them to rush Kilian, especially if the season is going well.

  • I think Killian will be ready by june.

  • June is a reasonable time esitmate. So far, he hasn't been as sharp as he was at the end of last year, and the fall league. Once he regains his confidence and command, he might be up for good.

  • Thank you Michael for your always worth reading minors recaps! I stopped coming to the Den, thinking that it looked to be winding down, but I'm glad that I checked back today.

    The recaps alone are worth it!

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