Darius Hill made a good first impression in his new locale by hitting a leadoff homer to give Iowa an early lead.
Darius Hill makes an immediate impression at Iowa. pic.twitter.com/A1ODSHjTsE— Itsacon (@thats_so_cub) June 1, 2022
Matt Dermody was okay through the first three innings of the game (3 runs on 5 hits), but he was replaced by Sean Newcomb to open the 4th and the game quickly got out of hand. Newcomb could not find the plate, walking three and allowing a hit while retiring just one batter. Aneuris Rosario replaced him and looked like he might stop the bleeding, but an error by David Bote at 3B extended the inning and St. Paul would break the game open when the next batter hit a three run homer. A 3-3 tie heading into the inning was now a 10-3 disadvantage and Iowa never recovered.
- Darius Hill: 2-5, HR (1), R, RBI (.400)
- John Hicks: 1-3, HR (5), R, RBI (.198)
- Dixon Machado: 1-2, R, 2 BB (.291)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Outfielder Darius Hill has been promoted to Iowa. He’s a solid hitter with a good approach, who has begun to flash a tad more power this season (486 SLG in 2022 after posting 370 and 359 figures his first two pro seasons). That’s important because he is a borderline defender in CF and his previous power output would not play in a corner. Hill is in a similar boat as Levi Jordan. They know how to hit, but are not great physical specimens or great defenders, so the Cubs will never make way for them in order to give them a shot in the Majors. Explosive athletes like Christopher Morel, Nelson Velázquez, and Alexander Canario will always be given priority over them, and superior defenders at key positions like Andy Weber and Luis Vazquez often will as well. Any chance they get will likely be due to injuries ahead of them on the depth chart, and those are often short lived and so they often aren’t afforded the opportunity adjust and work through struggles. They’ll likely have to bide their time in AAA, and sometimes the opportunity doesn’t come along for years, or at all.
A Smokies teammate will be joining Hill in Des Moines. After his successful MLB debut, Anderson Espinoza will not be returning to AA, but has instead been promoted to Iowa.
Iowa activated lefty Conner Menez from the IL so the org does now have another healthy arm available on the 40-man roster beyond Espinoza to be the 27th man for the next doubleheader on Saturday.
Adrian Sampson, who was DFA by the Cubs a couple of weeks ago and claimed by the Mariners, has returned to Iowa. Seattle also designated him for assignment and was able to run him through waivers, but the MLB veteran chose his right to free agency. Sampson has had success in both Iowa and Chicago and no doubt sees the opportunity for more MLB time with a Cubs team that figures to continue its roster churn all season.
Nick Madrigal completed his rehab stint in Iowa and returned to Chicago last night.
I’m really not sure what else Levi Jordan (344/439/688 between AA/AAA) needs to do in order to get another shot in Iowa. He’s done nothing but rake since returning to Tennessee and now that Nick Madrigal is finished rehabbing I hope they promote Jordan soon. He hit his 6th homer and raised his average with the Smokies to .372 with a 2-for-4 day yesterday. And it’s not like he was struggling in AAA when he got demoted (2 HR in 6 G), he just got squeezed out but the number of veterans the Cubs had in Iowa to open the season. With Madrigal back in Chicago, Estaban Quiroz on the 60-day IL, and Ildemaro Vargas no longer with the organization, that roster crunch no longer exists.
LEVI JORDAN WITH A 2 RUN BOMB TO TIE THE GAME IN THE BOTTOM OF THE 7TH!!! pic.twitter.com/aeYq6o0U3u— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) June 1, 2022
Levi Jordan has put up cartoon numbers in 22 games/94 PAs since being sent down to AA. Needs to be back in Iowa. pic.twitter.com/iivF8xLMDx— Brad (@ballskwok) June 1, 2022
The Smokies also got another good start out of Javier Assad. His breaking stuff is tighter this season and he too has spent well over a season in Tennessee and really has nothing left to prove at that level. Danis Correa got the win with two lights out innings to close out the game. With Eury Ramos getting the call to Iowa yesterday, Correa is likely next in line for promotion out of the Tennessee pen. He’s not a big guy, but he’s got a big arm with lots of carry on his fastball. I’ll be very curious to see if one or both of Ramos/Correa earn 40-man spots by the end of the season as they will both be Rule 5 eligible again in the offseason.
- Levi Jordan: 2-4, HR (6), R, 2 RBI (.372)
- Alexander Canario: 1-4, HR (5), R, RBI (.195)
- Matt Mervis: 2-3, 2B, R (.302)
- Bryce Ball: 2-4 (.291)
- Luis Vazquez: 1-3, BB (.194)
- Javier Assad: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K (2.91)
- Bryan King: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (0.00)
- Danis Correa: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (W, 1-1, 3.38)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
I mentioned yesterday that with the news of PCA getting promoted to South Bend that we would likely see a cascade of OF promotions up the ladder to make room for him. It included Hill to Iowa, and also Cole Roederer to Tennessee. The young centerfielder opened the season in EXST while he continued to recover from the elbow injury suffered last season, but joined Myrtle Beach on rehab in April and hit the ground running. His success did not carry over much once he was promoted to South Bend, but he’s a prospect the team has aggressively promoted throughout his career, and with PCA pushing hard below him Roederer will likely need to step up his game a bit in the coming months, otherwise there is the chance he gets bypassed. He’s made himself into a solid defender in center, but his bat remains inconsistent. There is pull power in his bat and gap power the other way, but at times he gets into ruts where he rolls over a lot of pitches. Hopefully some good health and consistent at bats at one level over the next couple of months will be just what he needs to find his groove.
Jordan Wicks continues to get slayed by the BABIP dragon in South Bend as he took his second loss of the season. He’s still working to improve his breaking ball and his velocity still fluctuates a bit, so he’s still a work in progress, but he did carve up one hitter with three straight changeups:
Not much offense outside a Jake Slaughter solo homer. Yohendrick Piñango extended his hitting streak to 14, the longest by a South Bend hitter in a couple of seasons. It’s included a bunch of 1-for’s so his average hasn’t really risen as much as you’d expect but the 20-year old is showing he is capable of more than holding his own against pitchers a couple of years older than him.
- Jake Slaughter: 2-4, HR (3), R, RBI (.262)
- Jordan Nwogu: 1-3, BB (.245)
- Yohendrick Piñango: 1-4, R (.265)
- Jordan Wicks: 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (L, 0-2, 3.65)
- Jeremiah Estrada: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (1.42)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Considered one of, if not the best defensive catchers in the draft last season, Casey Opitz has been activated from the IL and made his 2022 debut. He doesn’t have much of a rep as a hitter, but he did at least show a good idea of the strike zone while he was in Myrtle Beach last season. If he can draw enough walks or add even a bit of power to his profile it would greatly increase his odds of success.
Speaking of relievers that have fastballs with carry, Jeremiah Estrada now has 30 K in 18 IP and is probably ready for a shot in Tennessee.
There are definitely a couple of similarities between Kevin Alcántara and a young Christopher Morel. Both have similar builds but thanks to natural bat speed and unnatural strength could hit the ball really, really hard as teenagers. Morel had a bit more quick twitch, but Alcántara is taller and figures to gain even stronger than the specimen that Morel has grown into. His longer levers will make it tougher on him and he’ll have to constantly prove he can handle inside heat (think Kris Bryant and every pitcher trying to bust him inside early in his career), but as of now Alcántara has shown he has quick enough hands to stay inside the ball. And take a look at this:
WELCOME BACK TO THE BEACH.— Myrtle Beach Pelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) June 1, 2022
Kevin Alcantara goes WAY DEEP.
Here’s Kevin Alcántara hitting over a thousand feet worth of fly balls tonight. pic.twitter.com/qQNmkbPu5f— Brad (@ballskwok) June 1, 2022
That’s 113 off the bat and 448 feet. We’re talking Aaron Judge territory with those numbers. You can get hyped.
Luis Devers doesn’t have overwhelming stuff or a big frame, but he knows how to change speeds and throw strikes. He works efficiently, and if his stuff can take another jump in the next few years he’ll have a chance. Devers tossed five shutout innings by mixing his pitches effectively, just as he’s done all year.
- Kevin Alcántara: 2-3, 2B, HR (6), R, 2 RBI, SF (.273)
- Jacob Wetzel: 1-3, 2B, R, BB, SB (8) (.202)
- Kevin Made: 2-4, 2B, R, RBI (.318)
- B.J. Murray, Jr.: 2-4, R, RBI (.306)
- Luis Devers: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K (W, 5-3, 2.29)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
To replace Pete Crow-Armstrong in Myrtle Beach, outfielder Frank Hernandez has been called up from EXST. Signed out of Cuba for a mid-level bonus a couple years ago, he hit well in the DSL last year. According to AZ Phil Hernandez was an aggressive but effective contact hitter this spring, posting the lowest BB rate but also the lowest K rate among the regulars in Mesa.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap