This will be a condensed recap of yesterday’s action without much commentary from me. I had family in town this weekend and wasn’t able to watch any of the games on Sunday.
Jared Young homered for the second time in two days, and the piggyback duo of Cory Abbott and Matt Swarmer held the Bisons offense to one run through seven innings. In the bottom of the 8th Ben Leeper looked to be in line for a 1-2-3 inning, but a fielding error by Robel García gave Buffalo another chance, and they took full advantage. A hit batter, a single and a walk followed, and the I-Cubs found themselves down one heading to the 9th. Brennen Davis walked with one out to give García and Greg Deichmann a chance with the tying run on, but as has happened often throughout the opening series, the Iowa offense came up short.
- Jared Young: 1-3, HR (2), R, RBI
- Brennen Davis: 1-3, BB
- Cory Abbott: 3.1 IP, H, R, 0 BB, 4 K (4.50)
- Matt Swarmer: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K (0.00)
Riley Thompson took to the mound for the first time since dominating in the South Bend Cubs deciding game in their 2019 MWL Championship series. He struck out five batters in three innings, but he also allowed two runs. Still, just getting him back and throwing multiple innings after sitting out all of 2021 is a big first step. He’s got a big arm and pair of promising secondaries, with a changeup that showed plus in 2019 and a new curveball for this year. The bullpen struggled behind him as well, with the first three arms up each allowing at least two runs as well.
The big story on the day was Nelson Maldonado. He’s long possessed one of the best hit tools in the org (.321 career AVG, .378 OBP), but with a limited defensive profile (1B/DH), and limited power (career high 6 HR in 67 G during 2021) it has been difficult to classify him as a true prospect. To make matters worse, he is also a right handed bat, so he wouldn’t even have the platoon advantage a guy like Alfonso Rivas possesses.
However, I noted during spring training the 25-year old Chicago native appeared noticeably bigger and stronger. If Maldonado can add 15+ HR power to his profile he becomes very interesting as a potential bench bat. So far, so good on the power returns in 2022. Maldonado doubled in his first start this weekend, and then blasted a pair of homers Sunday. Most impressive was the one he drove out the opposite way. I’m not sure Maldonado would have been capable of that earlier in his career.
Maldonado with 2 blasts today! Here’s his second pic.twitter.com/GVCR11cpoi— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) April 10, 2022
- Nelson Maldonado: 3-4, 2 HR (1, 2), 2 R, 3 RBI
- Chris Morel: 2-4, 2B, R, BB, SB (2)
- Chase Strumpf: 1-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB
- Bryce Ball: 1-4, 2B, R, RBI
- Eury Ramos: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K
Thompson wasn’t the only arm making his first start since 2019. The starting pitcher who arguably received the most spring buzz this year was Kohl Franklin. A raw project selected in the 6th round a few years back, Franklin was inexperienced against top competition and also had limited experience with throwing breaking balls. He showed well in short season ball in 2019 thanks to improving velo (usually topping out around 94) and a advanced changeup for his age (thanks to limited breaking ball usage in HS it forced him to develop the changeup).
We heard reports last spring of Franklin filling out his frame to add even more velocity (to 97-98), and having reworked his curveball, but a series of setbacks ended up keeping him out of game action. This spring the reports have been even more glowing. He’s hit triple digits on the gun and his new curve has the makings for a potential third plus pitch. Many evaluators marked him as the top pitching prospect in the system.
Sunday saw us catch our first glimpse of the new and improved Franklin, and there were certainly flashes of greatness. The velo was upper-90s, the curve buckled some knees. It was difficult to get a full read though as it was a limited outing (1.1 IP, 43 pitches). The Cubs will be careful and ease him into action this year in the cold weather after missing all of last season. I’d expect him to have to kick off some rust early, with the hopes of seeing him go full out sometime in May.
2 up 2 k’s 97 on the punch out pic.twitter.com/xfJ0BY0wm1— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) April 10, 2022
- Ed Howard: 2-4, RBI
- Kohl Franklin: 1.2 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 3 K (L, 0-1)
- Didier Vargas: 2 IP, H, R, 0 ER, BB, 3 K
A five run 3rd propelled the Pelicans to their first win of the season. They scored their initial run on a wild pitch, James Traintos drove in the second on a sac fly, then another scored when Reginald Preciado reached on an error. The final two runs of the inning were courtesy of the big bat carries by big man Felix Stevens. Possessing some of the best raw power in the system, Stevens hit one a mile high, and still got it out beyond the wall in LF.
Felix Stevens hit a moonshot for Myrtle Beach pic.twitter.com/A6vsTnqzUY— Todd (@CubsCentral08) April 10, 2022
Charleston would fight back from an eventual seven run deficit to make it close. They scored two in the 6th off Chase Watkins, and then plated three more in the 9th against Johzan Oquendo, but Jarod Wright managed to keep things together just enough to close it out.
I don’t know about you, but I think Felix Stevens is pretty fired up about to play Reggie Preciado just made to end the game pic.twitter.com/Bo17S095By— Todd (@CubsCentral08) April 11, 2022
- Jacob Wetzel: 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB (1, 2)
- Felix Stevens: 1-4, HR (1), R, 2 RBI, BB
- Richard Gallardo: 4 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 3 K
- Adam Laskey: IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (W, 1-0)
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap