Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Pitching rules the day as Wicks and Thompson lead South Bend and Tennessee to shutout wins; Big days at the plate for Vazquez, Piñango, Verdugo, and Pagan; Mervis mashes 20th HR

Jordan Wicks (photo by Rikk Carlson)

MLB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Kyle Hendricks joins Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley, Drew Smyly, Alec Mills, and Adbert Alzolay as the 6th starting pitcher on the IL for the Cubs. Anderson Espinoza was recalled to replace him on the roster.

AAA

Iowa 4, Indianapolis 1

Game Recap

Down 1-0 heading into the 7th, it appeared the Cubs might waste strong outings by Luke Farrell and Sean Newcomb on the mound, but Jackson Frazier knocked in Greg Deichmann with a single to tie the game, and then in the 9th John Hicks untied it with a three-run blast:

Top Performers

  • Luke Farrell: 4.2 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 5 K (4.08)
  • Sean Newcomb: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (7.20)
  • Erich Uelmen: IP, 0 H, 0 B, BB, 2 K (S, 5, 2.93)
  • John Hicks: 1-4, HR (8), R< 3 RBI (.249)
  • Greg Deichmann: 2-4, 2B, 2 R (.240)
  • Jackson Frazier: 2-3, RBI, BB (.212)
  • Trent Giambrone: 2-4, SB (9) (.212)
  • Darius Hill: 2-4, CS (2) (.376)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Veteran lefty Steven Brault, who originally agreed to a MLB deal with the Cubs this spring before his physical showed an injury which would keep him out the early part of the season, made his first appearance of the year. He allowed two hits, but no runs over one inning. If he stays healthy there’s a good chance we see him in Chicago to eat some innings after veterans are moved out at the deadline.

AA

Tennessee 8, Birmingham 0

Game Recap

Didn’t get a chance to review any of the action from this one yet, but it’s hard not to be encouraged when I see Riley Thompson toss three shutout innings. He’s one of the Cubs most talented starting pitcher prospects, but he got off to a rough beginning in Tennessee after missing all of 2021 with a shoulder issue. The Cubs moved him to the developmental list at the same time as Ryan Jensen in early May and brought him back at the same time last month. Jensen immediately took off since returning with a shorter arm path, but Thompson failed to get of the 1st inning in his first start back. It’s been more promising since then though, as Thompson posted back-to-back one run over two inning appearances, albeit with two walks issued in each. Yesterday he faced just one above the minimum over three innings. Hopefully this means he is on track for a strong 2nd half. He’ll be Rule 5 eligible in the offseason.

Samuel Reyes followed with three shutout innings of his own, then Bailey Horn fired two more. Jeremiah Estrada capped things off with a dominant 9th. The four pitchers combined to strike out eleven men while issuing just one free pass and surrendering just three hits.

Top Performers

  • Riley Thompson: 3 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (7.91)
  • Samuel Reyes: 3 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K (W, 2-0, 2.75)
  • Bailey Horn: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (4.80)
  • Jeremiah Estrada: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (3.24)
  • Matt Mervis: 1-4, HR (13), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB (.304)
  • Luis Vazquez: 4-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI (.226)
  • Bryce Windham: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB (.196)
  • Chase Strumpf: 2-4, R, BB (.237)
  • Bryce Ball: 2-4, R, 2 RBI, CS (3) (.270)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Matt Mervis (.321/.374/.638, 162 wRC+ and 20 HR in 70 games between SB and TN) is the first Cubs farmhand to reach 20 home runs this season. Last season, Trayce Thompson led the Cubs system with 21.

High-A

South Bend 3, Wisconsin 0

Game Recap

Jordan Wicks followed up his best performance of the season with… well, his best performance of the season. He fell behind some hitters early, and it led to some 1st inning trouble, with a walk and double, but thanks to some nice defense he escaped the frame unscathed. Pete Crow-Armstrong quickly tracked the ball down in the gap and got the throw in, and then Fabian Pertuz fired a strong relay home to nail the runner at the plate.

After that, Wicks settled in and began mixing his fastball, breaking pitches, and changeup to dominate hitters. He allowed just one base runner over his final four innings. The lefty works very quickly and looks to be pitching with a ton of confidence right now, as it appears he’s finally settled on a pitch mix and is getting comfortable with the new grips and approach.

Luis Devers piggybacked once Wicks exited after six Ks over five innings. He kept the shutout going with three dominant innings of his own. Eduarniel Nunez polished things off in the 9th.

Luis Verdugo and Yohendrick Piñango did almost all of the heavy lifting on offense. Verdugo reached base in all three of his plate appearances and Piñango blasted a double and homer to knock in all three Cubs runs.

Top Performers

  • Jordan Wicks: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K (3.94)
  • Luis Devers: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (0.00)
  • Eduarniel Nunez: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, HBP, K (S, 1, 4.02)
  • Yohendrick Piñango: 2-4, 2B, HR (11), R, 3 RBI (.270)
  • Luis Verdugo: 2-2, 2B, R, BB (.280)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Twenty-one year old Luis Verdugo (.280/.341/.409, 108 wRC+) became a bit of a forgotten man after he hit just .187/.229/.294 in 62 games with Myrtle Beach last season, but the former high bonus signing out of Mexico has re-emerged as a legitimate prospect in 2022. His glove has never really been a concern, he’s always been a slick fielder at 3B, with a decent arm. Through the first couple of months he was putting together consistent, solid at bats, but the flashes of power he showed as a teenager were still few and far between. That has begun to change however. Over his last 17 games Verdugo is slashing .421/.468/.684 with an exciting .263 ISO, all while maintaining a walk rate above 8% and K rate just under 18%.

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 11, Columbia 3

Game Recap

Ezequiel Pagan roped a 2nd inning home run on his way to a 3-for-4 day. A seven run 6th inning to propelled the team to a come from behind victory. Kevin Alcántara was pivotal in the inning, knocking in the first run of the inning on a single, then the final run on a sac fly as the Pelicans sent 13 men to the plate. James Triantos led off the frame with a triple, and then walked in his second plate appearance.

Top Performers

  • Ezequiel Pagan: 3-4, HR (7), 2 R, 4 RBI, BB (.296)
  • Kevin Alcántara: 1-3, R, 2 RBI, SF, HBP, SB (8) (.270)
  • Kevin Made: 2-5, R, RBI (.267)
  • James Triantos: 1-4, 3B, R, BB (.275)
  • Juan Mora: 2-6, 2 R, RBI, CS (1) (.269)
  • Ethan Hearn: 0-1, 2 R, 3 BB, SB (9) (.187)
  • Alejandro Rivero: 1-4, 2 RBI, SAC (.333)
  • Tyler Schlaffer: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K (W, 4-3, 4.21)
  • Angel Gonzalez: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (4.20)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Kevin Alcántara has been added to MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, joining Brennen Davis, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Cristian Hernández.

DSL

Cubs Red 8, Yankees 6

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    The Cubs won at every level last night including the DSL.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The farm is loaded with talent, hitting and pitching. In the last couple years the lab is doing a good job helping to develop the talent too. the arrow is pointing up.

  • Love the OF in South Bend From left to right YP, PCA, And OC. All 3 are 20 year olds playing in High A. Actually PCA is the oldest by a few months. Each seems to have a bright future hoping to see this group move up together and continue to build towards the MLB.

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    Yep ‘stuck in Stl’, that group of OFers along with Alcantara and Pagan behind it, certainly deserves attention. Hopefully B Davis establishes himself in Wrigley ahead of this group. The OF, DH and 1B - all appear to have multiple possibilities.
    But until any of that young group gets to Wrigley, likely not until later in 2024, is why I hope the Cubs work out an extension with Ian Happ through 2025. Cubs need LH hitting, and Mervis is about the only realistic LH hope, that is close enough to help.
    There is no reason these next two years should be years of suffering for Cub fans, when the payroll is so LOW.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Everywhere I read the Cubs are the front runner for Bogearts. Though he doesnt solve our left handed power situation (rizzo or schwarber would have helped that) it give us a middle of the order hitter that is desperately needed. Look what a change Correa has made for the Twins.

    I think a short term left handed bat that would help is Josh Bell. On base plus good power. Not sure how good a defender but could probably get for around 10 million/yr. Might be a good fit until Mervis or Cassie arrives.

    But obviously if big money isnt spent on TOR starting pitching then it's all a waste.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Bogaerts is about 6 months younger than Contreras and has a slightly lower WAR this year. Why is Contreras too old to extend but Bogaerts ok and probably asking a higher AAV than Willy?

  • In reply to stix:

    First off all I would love for them to keep Contreras. But in regards to Bogerts he has a much longer track record of hitting success. Contreras will likely only play catcher half the time going forward and is having a likely not sustainable first half.

    But if they are going to compete next year can they with Higgins and Gomes behind the plate? I think they really like Higgins but I dont know how good he is. So I dont know.

    If you are planning on competing next year why would you trade Happ? Has he come into his own or is he having a very hot year? I think because rightfield is locked up and the talent a CF is lined up. Plus they have many current and future left fielders moving up the ranks. So yes I do believe they will trade Happ.

    I dont think you can sign someone like Bogerts if you arent going to sign other top veterans in the pitching staff. Plus left handed power.

    It is going to be interesting the next couple of weeks.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Where are you seeing the cubs are a front runner for Boagarts? I just don’t get it? He’s good, but he’s gonna be looking to get about $30m per year and no way is he worth that amount compared to the others that have gotten that much recently. I don’t see him being worth that money unless he’s willing to take a 3 or 4 year contract. And even then, I think that would handcuff the cubs while they look to have a lot of available cheaper options over the next couple years that can develop into as good or even better for a middle infield position. I’m all for the cubs being willing to spend $30m+/year on a player as long as it’s a legit top of the rotation pitcher. That’s the only thing that will speed up the rebuild.

  • fb_avatar

    Ethan Hearn seems to be in a daze with our minor league teams,
    seems as a wasted over slot signing, not much to present to our fans with a below mendoza line of hitting, but seems to get credit in the storyline a lot.

  • I was able to see the Smokies play last night, 7-2 win. Mervis and Ball had 3 hits each; Mervis all singles and Ball a couple of doubles. Canario crushed a solo HR to left but looked awful on some wild swings at pitches in the dirt - he's got some work to do on pitch selection. Clarke pitched 5 shutout innings, 4 H, 3 SO, BB. Bain hit mid-90's consistently but control was a problem, 3BB in 1.1 innings. Nice team win, third in a row over Birmingham.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Thanks Cliff. I saw Bain in S Bend about a year ago, and control was an issue also, that day.
    It should be interesting how the Cubs handle Slaughter/Strumpf - going forward. Slaughter is having a nice year, but. . . Strumpf is a higher draft choice. I wonder if there will be room for both next year.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    We could see any of Slaughter, Strumph, Mervis, Ball after the TDL. It may come down to who adapts to MLB pitching first.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    thanks too Cliff. It's always good to get a first hand report. There was a throw by Canario a few weeks ago that reminded me of the Hawk, he's got quite an arm.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I think for 1st base they are going to want to see what Rivas/Scheindel can do the rest of this summer. The other at bats at first will go to Higgins/Young/Maldanado. If Rivas cant do it or Schwindel gets traded I could see Josh Bell in 23 or possibly Mervis for 23.

    Slaughter has to compete with Wisdom, Bote, Morel. I think 3B is Wisdom's until Tratianos gets here but we will see.

    If they do sign someone like Bogerts then the middle of the infield is jam packed. They have been playing Young at 2b some at Iowa so they are going to want to see what he can do there. Then you have Morel & Madigral who need at bats

    I also believe only Schrump is rule 5. So I dont see any of those 3 being added to the 40 man (there are just too many guys in front of them. I do see Slaughter & Schrumpf as deadline trade guys in 23.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Creature, personally I don’t see Madrigal, Young, Bote, Maldonado, Rivas or Shrumpf as part of the make up of this team, a year from now. Not one of them has distinguished themselves, IMO.
    And I hate to say it, but Frankie could be traded soon.
    And Josh Bell is a good hitter, but I think someone will offer him a longer term contract than I think the Cubs will be willing to go. As you have mentioned, spend on a TOR starting pitcher or two.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I agree. We need a good and power bat from the left side for first. Also, we should think twice about moving Ortega and Happ. Left/right balance is important. Knock our socks with a good return, or forget it for now. I'm not worried about bringing back Contreras. I like the way the Cubs are using him now, but I think he is as good as gone, and not coming back. I like Velasquez, but couple hundred at bats in AAA would be helpful. Right side production is much easier to replace and we have some in the wings. For the Cubs now, catching is a defensive position first.

  • Well, after last night, whatever we were going to get for Robertson, we won't. He looked awful.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I had the same thought. That's 5 blown saves now, two in the past week against playoff-caliber teams. If anyone still has interest, the price has fallen considerably.

  • It also shows how critical a closer is. That's why I would love to see Marquez up by mid august to try out for that. Because Wick isnt a closer.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I wasn't thinking good thoughts about David Ross when he brought in Wick with a 2-1 lead last night. As predicted, Wick handily gave back the lead, costing the team a win for the third time in a week. Yikes!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    It would be nice if another pair of relievers emerge in 2023, similar to the 2022 version of Effross and Hughes. Maybe Alzolay can show up in the second half this year, and give us some encouragement for what he can add, next year.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Assuming the Cubs trade Robertson, who is the closer? They'll need one for next year and beyond, unless the plan is a new one every year.

    The bigger problem right now is starting pitching. If they ever get a rotation of guys that can go 6-7 innings, there won't be so much pressure on the bullpen. Stroman couldn't do it yesterday and Smiley couldn't today.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I think with effross hughes weick alzolay heuer & roberts you have a great base. I really hope (maybe wishful thinking) Marquez is throwing out of the bullpen by the end of this year. He could be your closer in 23' but no doubt that position (after robertson is gone) is a weakness.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    If they are going to competitive next year they are going to have to add two 30mill/yr (starting pitcher & shortstop) free agents and two 10-15mil/yr (closer? First base?) free agents at least.

    I also think PCA will be up by september 23' (if they are in a playoff race).

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I hope you are right about Cubs having a great base for the bullpen.

    Marquez pitched 26.1 IP in HA, & .2 IP for the Cubs. All of Marquez other innings from 2019 & before are low A, and lower. Are the Cubs going to move Alzolay to the pen?

    Alzolay, Effross, & Hughes. Plus 3 pitchers recovering from TJ? Cubs sure look like they will try out some more minor league players in the pen before the season is over. Hopefully it comes together.

    Looks like a lot of question marks, hopefully a few more, or even one in house pitchers can seize the opportunity in 2022.

  • I think Jensen is the Cubs closer of the future. I have been e-mailing Jim Calil's cub related questions for a few years now and he is of the same opinion . I am brand new to this blog so hope my comments prove to be timely and of use.

  • fb_avatar

    I hate to bang the drum, But I recall being in favor of signing Rodon the last 2 years and being told he wasn't worth signing because of injuries, sometime you just have to look at the production and the physique and trust your judgement. We sign Stroman who I sort of felt ugh , we could have had both with our cap the way it is.
    Maybe we can work out a deal for Snell from SD or make a pitch for Musgrave as a free agent, but what could of been is out and gone.
    We have a couple of 3's coming from Steel and Thompson we need more top end 1's and 2's.

  • In reply to tater:

    Don't worry Tater,

    Jed said this during a season ticket holder Q&A June 2022. “But as far as building up an entire organization, that’s not where we are. At this stage for us, it’s about building up a group of young players and then building around them." Jed great idea-Theo said something similar more than a decade ago.

    Cubs like all teams need to take risks when trying to find multiple impact starting pitchers. That means to me, Cubs need to take risks on starting pitchers like Rodon, Kikuchi, Glasnow, & other power arms/starting pitchers. Being a financial behemoth, Cubs could afford to take more risk than most teams.

    Stroman, & Miley were a decent start to the off-season, but after the lockout ended all the Cubs did was add Smyly. Why didn't the Cubs add a second free agent pitcher on a multi-year contract?

    Why didn't the Cubs go into last off-season with a plan to replace a depth piece like Mills? Cubs need to do better than a player like Mills. Cubs know Mills, since they traded for him 5 years ago. During the off-season for whatever little return Cubs could get-trade Mills. Then try to replace him in house, & with another one year contract for a free agent who is better.

    I was disappointed with Cubs lack of creativity during last off-season, & expect the next off-season to be similar in spending, & creativity.

    When Cubs/teams take risks on pitchers you end up with Chatwoods, Kikuchi & Morrows much more often than players like Arrietta, Rodon, & Dempster.

  • fb_avatar

    Just read an article from Wittenmyer on Nico Horner, comparing him to Sox Tim Andersen, explaining how he deserves to be the top ss in baseball , also comparing him to Arenado as defensive runs saved, give me a break.
    Nico is playing very well on balls he gets to, and so far has hit very well, but he hasn't been the savior Gordy is trying to make him out to be.
    He does have good stats so far, But let's be real, he doesn't get to balls top ss get to, he don't have the arm to make plays in the hole, he does play more shallow than most ss do to his arm strength.
    Also Gordy brings up the robo ump and how it will hurt the game to rid the game of the 'human element', this is one part of the game that does need help, we have sat through so much missed calls that are truly not the umpires fault. The human cannot possibly see a ball going 95 -100 miles an hour hit a box lined up for different sized batters while sitting on the catchers left or right side, depending if batter is batting left or right, or for that matter high or low pitches on the black, can't be done.
    What we need are robo writers to get rid of idiots like Wittenmyer.

  • In reply to tater:

    Defensive Wins above replacement include range (ability to get to a ball). Hoerner has been outstanding. The top Dwar shortstop in baseball.

    That being said if you could add a top SS and move Hoerner to second their up the middle defense would be as good as anyone's. Especially once the shift goes away.

  • In reply to tater:

    Tater, I totally agree with your opinion on Gordo. He is an insecure buffoon. Also as I’ve said numerous times, the so called “human element”, in MHO - pertains to the players. Definitely not umpires. Sooner umpires can be replaced, baseball becomes a better game.
    Umpires have ZERO skin in the game, it is the players livelihoods.

  • I think long term Horner becomes the Cubs 2b he is better there defensively anyway. The Cubs are as everyone knows deep in SS prospects or can sign a SS as a free agent. Hernandez or Meade are long term options

  • Hi I was just wondering why my comments are never posted here.

  • Fangraphs recently put out new farm system rankings. They have Cubs at number 6. The farm is loaded with talent!

  • Nice to see Wicks with another great start for SB. He looks to be about ready to move up a level soon. Plus love the production from the SB OFers YP, PCA and OC each had a good night on Tuesday.

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    Yes, it would be really encouraging for Wicks and Herz, to make it as far as Iowa, by the end of next year. Their development would mean so much.
    I would hope though, whatever their results are, it doesn’t prevent the Cubs from bringing in a very solid TOR guy, before the 2023 season.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I hope the Cubs do the best job to develop Wicks and Hertz too. Wicks seems to be upping his profile to a TOR guy. The pitch lab seems to be worth the money. It would be fantastic if the farm system produced a few TOR guys.

  • In reply to John57:

    Seems TOR guys are so hard to predict who will ever make it, into that category. If Kilian and Alzolay next year become this years, Thompson and Steele - that sure would set things up nicely as we go forward.
    I’d still like them to bring in a solid TOR guy, for next year.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I would put Kilian into the TOR profile category. Alzolay is not there. He probably will be a bullpen guy first with a chance to be a SP down the road if he can manage to get and stay healthy.

    Now bringing in a solid TOR guy for next year, that is going to be very difficult. Those guys don't grow on trees and teams that have them are reluctant to let them go.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I agree completely, predicting who will be a TOR guy at the MLB level is impossible. All too often the guys that pitch great in A ball don't stay at the same level in the MLB, if they make it that far. I really would like to see the Cubs make another Jon Lester type signing this winter, maybe even two. It never hurts to have a surplus of pitching.

  • I agree with you cubbs With Marquez and Jensen likely headed to bullpen roles Wicks and Hertz are the cubs best hope for starting pitching roles. I would have included K. Franklin as a possibility if it where not for heath issues.

  • Any thing can happen, but all those pitchers Steele, Thompson, Wicks, & Kilian profile as #3/4 type of starters.

    Herz, & Alzolay could be starters, but look more like 2 inning bullpen weapons is the newer term being used. Herz is walking 5.4 hitter per IP in HA this year.

    I think the Cubs will draft a high volume of college pitchers in this draft.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    I also am hoping the Cubs go heavier towards pitching in this upcoming draft. But I think it’s still too early to make that call about being a certain level (2-5) on most of those guys who you mentioned. Particularly Thompson - as well as all, actually.
    Gomes recently said Thompson is currently throwing like a TOR. I’m not going to go that far yet, but if you look at Thompson’s year by year numbers - they are more impressive than you might expect.
    And as far as control and young pitchers - I think if you look at a number of HOF P’s, you would find many had the same issues. It doesn’t define a career.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I agree with you. Last year Thompson and Steele looked like bullpen guys. This year they look like #3 SP maybe better. That is a pretty big jump in just one year. I don't think anyone can predict what these pitchers will end up being right now. Just keep on developing them. Wicks right now seems to gone to a new level. Let's see how this works at AA. He looks like he could be a #1 or #2 SP if his trajectory continues. the pitching does not seem that bad to me in the farm.

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