Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Velázquez homers twice; Mervis doubles twice and homers; Pelicans complete exciting extra inning comeback victory

Nelson Velazquez by Rikk Carlson

Sorry for the recent gaps in coverage. Work has been a been a bit challenging of late for me, and it has temporarily cut into my writing and baseball viewing time.

AAA

Toledo 9, Iowa 3

Game Recap

It was a rough night for starter Robert Gsellman, who gave up six runs in the 1st inning, in his first action back with Iowa since being designated for assignment and clearing waivers. It was an unfortunate change in momentum after the Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st behind a home run by the red hot Nelson Velázquez. He would add another solo homer in the 4th to draw Iowa back within striking distance, but the rest of the offense failed to provide additional support, and the taxed bullpen eventually cracked, giving up single runs in three straight innings. It’s only a matter of time before Velázquez returns to Chicago, where he can man CF/RF over the second half of the season

Top Performers

  • Nelson Velázquez: 2-4, 2 HR (5, 6), 2 R, 2 RBI (.247)
  • Dixon Machado: 2-4, 2B, R (.294)
  • Levi Jordan: 1-3 (.250)
  • Trent Giambrone: 1-3 (.196)
  • Wyatt Short: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K (3.86)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

David Bote suffered through some dizziness in recent days and so his rehab stint has been put on pause.

It’s been a heck of breakout by Nelson Velázquez over the past year:

AA

Tennessee 5, Biloxi 2

Game Recap

Matt Mervis just keeps on raking. He doubled in the 2nd, helping the Smokies tie the game at 1-1, then homered in 4th to tie the game back up at 2-2, and finally doubled again in the 8th with the bases juiced to drive home two and provide the Smokies with breathing room for a 5-2 victory.

His promotion to AA has not slowed him down one bit. It’s been quite the breakout season for the first baseman. He is now batting .341/.391/.677 over 45 games between South Bend and Tennessee. Mervis managed just 12 doubles and 9 homers over 72 games last season, but has already exceeded both of those totals this season (14 doubles, 14 homers).

Mervis did most of the heavy lifting, but it was a solo shot by Luis Vazquez in the 8th which proved the game winner.

Chris Clarke was solid on the mound, striking out 8 while pitching into the 6th inning. The bullpen work by Blake Whitney and Bailey Horn was lights out over the final 3.2 innings. They allowed just two baserunners.

Top Performers

  • Matt Mervis: 3-4, 2 2B, HR (7), R, 3 RBI (.328)
  • Luis Vazquez: 2-5, HR (4), R, RBI, SB (2), CS (5) (.216)
  • Chase Strumpf: 0-1, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP (.222)
  • Bryce Ball: 1-3, R, BB (.286)
  • Yonathan Perlaza: 1-3, BB, 2 CS (2, 3) (.211)
  • Chris Clarke: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 8 K (5.56)
  • Blake Whitney: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (W, 3-2, 3.09)
  • Bailey Horn: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (S, 1, 1.69)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Anderson Espinoza has returned to Tennessee after his brief stints in Chicago and Iowa.

High-A

Cedar Rapids 7, South Bend 1

Game Recap

A solo homer by Pablo Aliendo accounted for all of the offense, and despite D.J. Herz and three South Bend relievers striking out a combined 14 batters, it wasn’t a great day for the pitchers either. Herz struggled with his control and lasted just 2.2 innings, and there was traffic on the basepaths the rest of the night after the bullpen took over.

Top Performers

  • Pablo Aliendo: 1-4, HR (2), R, RBI (.229)
  • Jonathan Sierra: 2-4 (.273)
  • Yeison Santana: 1-3, BB, SB (4) (.244)
  • Eduarniel Nunez: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (5.06)

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 10, Carolina 8 (10 Innings)

Game Recap

Myrtle Beach clawed back from a 5-1 1st inning deficit and eventually won in extra in a dramatic comeback victory. After getting tagged for those five runs in the 1st, Tyler Schlaffer recovered to throw three more innings and save the bullpen from what could have been a rough night. Carolina would tack on one more against Schlaffer and two in the 7th off Jose Miguel Gonzalez, but by then the Pelicans had chipped and were back in the game with a score of 8-5. Angel Hernandez and Adam Laskey pitched the final three and held the Mudcats down while the Pelicans offense completed their comeback work.

Every part of the lineup would contribute before the night was through. Ezequiel Pagan continues to emerge as an ignitor at the top of the lineup since PCA was promoted. He went 3-for-5 with a double, and the game winning two run single in the 10th. Kevin Made had only one hit, but maybe the biggest impact, as his three-run homer gave the Pelicans life in the middle innings. James Triantos doubled home the team’s first run, and then singled and scored the tying run in the 9th. Reginald Preciado didn’t contribute a hit, but scored three runs. Ethan Hearn homered and reached three times out of the nine hole. The list goes on.

The only player who didn’t get a hit, Frank Hernandez, managed to make a nice diving play in LF to help contribute.

Top Performers

  • Ezequiel Pagan: 3-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, CS (2) (.273)
  • Kevin Made: 1-5, HR (3), R, 3 RBI, BB (.284)
  • Ethan Hearn: 2-4, HR (3), 2 R, RBI, BB (.192)
  • B.J. Murray, Jr.: 1-3, BB, HBP (.333)
  • James Triantos: 2-6, 2B, R, RBI (.304)
  • Kevin Alcantara: 1-4, R, BB (.266)
  • Jacob Wetzel: 1-5, 2 RBI (.204)
  • Reginald Preciado: 0-3, 3 R, 2 BB (.214)
  • Angle Hernandez: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, K (W, 1-0, 0.00)
  • Adam Laskey: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (S, 1, 0.00)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

IF Josue Huma and 1B Matt Warkentin were added to the Myrtle Beach roster from Mesa. Backup C Miguel Fabrizio was sent down to Mesa.

ACL

Guardians 7, Cubs 3

Top Performers

  • Cristian More: 2-3, 2 2B, R, RBI (.667)
  • Cristian Hernández: 1-3, R, BB (.375)
  • Ronnier Quintero: 1-2 (.250)
  • Michael Arias: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, BB, 2 K (4.50)
  • Dominic Hambley: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K (0.00)
  • Oliver Roque: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (0.00)

DSL

Cubs Blue 3, Yankees Bombers 1

Pirates Gold 4, Cubs Red 3

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Comments

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  • Thanks Michael, the clips are nice to see. As far as Mervis though, I think they should just move him now, to Iowa. He’s 24, physically built up, and played in college- and has been hitting like he could be with the Cubs next year. Maybe opening day.
    I’ve followed Jared Young’s time in the system- but Young should no longer be holding up someone with Mervis’ potential. Of course as we’ve seen with Morel, I guess Iowa isn’t a prerequisite for advancement. Just my thought.

  • "Work has been a been a bit challenging of late for me, and it has temporarily cut into my writing and baseball viewing time."

    Priorities, Michael!! (;-)

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    I'm glad you're back Michael. We can never know what else is going on in people's lives outside of Cubs Den.
    It seems like when someone gets to AA they could be called up at anytime. I like what Morel has been doing but the Cubs have decisions to be made. Do you see Simmons being released to keep him up here or have him being sent down, or could the Cubs finally just bite the salary bullet and release J-Hey?

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