Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Wicks and Herz promoted to AA; Mervis mashes his 21st HR, Piñango goes oppo to extend hit streak; Dermody and Santana continue hot streaks on the mound

Matt Mervis (photo by Rikk Carlson)

AAA

Iowa 3, Buffalo 1

Game Recap

Matt Dermody has been on quite a run recently. He was coming off his best start of the season, and though he didn’t miss as many bats in this outing he didn’t walk anyone and kept the Bisons in check through five innings. He was relieved by Sean Newcomb, who also kept his recent run of good games going. He breezed through two innings, before losing some control in his third, but a nice play by Jared Young with the bases loaded got him off the hook.

Along with Newcomb, Erich Uelmen is also making a case for a shot in the bigs post-TDL:

All of the Cubs runs came on one swing by Greg Deichmann.

Top Performers

  • Matt Dermody: 5 IP, 5 H, R, 0 BB, 4 K (W, 5-3, 4.22)
  • Sean Newcomb: 3 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, HBP, 2 K (4.50)
  • Erich Uelmen: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (S, 6, 2.79)
  • Greg Deichmann: 2-3, 2B, HR (7), R, 3 RBI (.235)
  • Jared Young: 2-4, R (.249)
  • Darius Hill: 2-4, 2B (.336)

AA

Biloxi 5, Tennessee 3

Game Recap

Everyday we seem to get a highlight from Matt Mervis or Jake Slaughter. Sometimes we get a highlight from both. Slaughter did have a good game (I just don’t have any video clip). I do have video evidence of Mervis’s impact:

I knew Matt Mervis had power. I expected him to eventually tap into it despite his relatively poor 2021. I did not expect him to figure it out quite this quickly.

There are still some concerns with his plate discipline and pitch recognition, but I love the swing, and he rarely misses the barrel when he get’s a hittable pitch in the zone. He could well see AAA before the end of the year, and a shot in the bigs sometime in 2023 is not out of the question.

We also got a great defensive play from Alexander Canario (and a scare as he collides with Yonathan Perlaza, who exited the game with an injury):

Top Performers

  • Matt Mervis: 1-3, HR (14), R, 2 RBI, BB (.299)
  • Jake Slaughter: 1`-3, R, RBI, HBP, SB (16) (.338)
  • Bryce Windham: 1-3, R, BB, SB (1) (.201)
  • Bailey Horn: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K (4.00)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

The big news on the farm yesterday was not something that happened on the diamond. The Cubs promoted two Top 10 prospects, and their top two left handed starters (Jordan Wicks and D.J. Herz) to AA. Wicks has gotten locked in over his last handful of starts. After focusing on his new breaking balls earlier in the season, he is now reincorporating his plus changeup more frequently, and it is leading to more whiffs and quicker at bats as he keeps hitters off balance. Herz was pertty much unhittable in South Bend, just as he was pretty much unhittable in Myrtle Beach. I would expect his stuff and deceptive delivery to still play pretty well in AA, but he’ll also run into a few more opponents capable of handling what he brings, and most importantly he’ll face more guys who will lay off pitches he throws outside the zone. This will test his command and control like never before.

High-A

Peoria 5, South Bend 3

Game Recap

Not much to focus on in this one beyond Yohendrick Piñango extending his hit streak to 12 games with an opposite field shot in the 1st. It gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead, but that lead slowly bled away over the course of the game.

Piñango (.294/.329/.478) has made some slight tweaks to his swing (and approach) this year which has allowed him to tap into his pull side power more frequently. But it is rare to see him go oppo with power. He gets plenty of hits that way, but doesn’t lift the ball to LF often. Piñango gets lost in the shuffle among some of the high profile outfield prospects the Cubs have in South Bend and Myrtle Beach, but please don’t sleep on this guy. He’s already young for High-A (turned 20 in May), and he may well reach AA in the near future.

Top Performers

  • Yohendrick Piñango: 2-4, HR (12), 2 R, 2 RBI (.294)
  • Fabian Pertuz: 2-4, R (.245)
  • Casey Opitz: 1-3, RBI, BB (.182)
  • B.J. Murray Jr.: 1-3 (.203)
  • Manuel Espinoza: 4 IP, 2 H, R, 5 BB, 2 K (4.86)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 2, Fayetteville 0

Game Recap

I’ve missed most of Tyler Santana and Frankie Scalzo Jr.‘s appearances this year, so I don’t have much to report, but I know they’ve had good games, and Scalzo in particular is an arm to keep an eye on. Yesterday they combined to throw eight innings in the Pelicans shutout victory, allowing just five combined baserunners while punching out 11.

Top Performers

  • Tyler Santana: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K (2.38)
  • Frankie Scalzo Jr.: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K (W, 3-3, 4.81)
  • Angel Hernandez: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, K (S, 2, 4.73)
  • James Triantos: 2-4, 2B, R (.277)
  • Kevin Alcantara: 1-3, R, RBI (.267)
  • Ezequiel Pagan: 1-3, 2B, RBI (.298)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

ACL

Cubs 5, Reds 0

Moises Ballesteros blasted his 6th homer of the season. He is now batting .300/.378/.588 over his first 25 games stateside. I’m not sure about his defensive skills behind the plate, but the bat is certainly intriguing.

Speaking of catchers, Miguel Amaya is reportedly nearing a return to AA. He’s now played 11 games in Mesa.

Koen Moreno got the start and pitched the first 2.2 innings of the shutout. He’s been plagued by injury since being an overslot draftee out of the prep ranks a couple of years ago. Hopefully, he can stay on the mound and get on a roll in the 2nd half.

DSL

Cubs Blue 4, Mets2 2

Marlins 4, Cubs Red 3

Comments

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  • Having two solid lefty starters promoted to AA is great news for a team that is hurting for starting pitching at the MLB level. Don't want to rush these guys, but it's hard not to be excited for them.

    It's probably a longshot, but the idea of umpire Angel Hernandez calling balls and strikes for pitcher Angel Hernandez is too good! It may never happen, but at least there's an Angel Hernandez in baseball that I can like.

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    The draft is tomorrow. I like what Dan K did last year and look forward to this year. My original choice was Drew Jones but he will be long gone. I would like us to choose Justin Crawford--a plus defender with plus speed and a good hit tool and also bats left-handed. I know we are mostly mocked to Cam Collier. Would we be surprised by a pitcher like Kumar Rocker, someone who could be signed for an undersold and go for someone in later rounds? He is throwing well in the Independent league and most likely would be on a fast track to the majors. We'll see.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Rocker would have to sign very cheap IMO to be worth the risk. If the Cubs want to sign an underslot pitcher, there are better choices. My preference is BPA and take lots of pitching in later rounds.

  • He’s been out for awhile, but Amaya’s return catches my attention. I really want to see him get going in Tennessee. Cubs absolutely need to find out what they have in him. I don’t expect him to hit the ground running, but hopefully he will give us something to build on.
    Mervis too. Get him to Iowa. If not Chicago.

  • An intriguing pick for the Cubs, taking 28th-ranked (MLB draft rankings) Cade Horton with the 7th pick. College pitcher who was out last year after TJS, RHP throws in the high 90's. I gotta believe it was an underslot signing that saves some bonus money for later picks. But they did pass on several pitchers who were ranked higher.

    On the one hand, it could be a smart move, since Horton could advance to the MLB level quickly. On the other hand, the Rangers grabbed Kumar Rocker with pick #3, leaving one more of the top 6 to slide down to Cubs level. It'll be a while before we know if this year's draft was genius or insanity!

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I mentioned Rocker before, do you think Horton is the BPA considering the underslot possibility too?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Hard to say he's the BPA when the Cubs bypassed top 10 guys, but I'm glad it appears that the Cubs have a plan to add pitching talent.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Horton was the 12th ranked prospect by Fangraphs. They said he arguably the best college SP in the draft. Maybe the FO thinks he was the best player available and that is why they took him.

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    Seems like another Ryan Jensen pick, a college pitcher who got hot in the college WS and was hitting 97-98 in the series, when will we learn from past mistakes...

  • In reply to tater:

    Well the Cubs took a pitcher in round 1 last year. He is pitching well and just got promoted to AA. Maybe they know what they are doing.

  • In reply to tater:

    Not a fan of Cubs picks.

    It all depends on the signing bonuses for Horton & Ferris. I sure HOPE Cubs sign Horton for significantly under-slot, & Ferris slightly over-slot. Guess I'm saying, I expect the Cubs to have extra slot bonus money left over after signing their first two picks. To use later in the draft. This is the time for the Cubs to be frugal!!

    1st round slot bonus $5.71 million, & 2nd-round slot bonus $1.66 million. Knowing how the Cubs operate I EXPECT Cubs will end up signing their first two picks for more than the combined $7.37 million dollar combined slots bonuses. I certainly expect the Cubs to have to still save money later on in the draft in order to sign their first two round picks combination for more than the combined bonus slots.

    I have no idea about these two pitchers, somethings sound good. Different services have a range in their rankings, & kept reading command issues, & inconsistent which I guess is the same for most amateur pitchers.

  • The Cubs took another pitcher from Oklahoma in Thomas Hatch I think in 2016 Though he was a third round pick if I remember correctly. He was traded to Toronto for D. Phelps. Maybe this pick will work out better. The Cubs need college arms who can contribute sooner the later. No pun intended.

  • So a #1 pick named Cade making anyone else nervous?

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    In reply to Oneear:

    lol!

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    The Cubs did this with Jensen and thought to get a discount, but jensen held out and got slot at the last moment. Liked the Ferris pick, seems the Cubs are going heavy on pitching early, i wouldn't mind a Brock Porter pick in round 3 if he's there, that would mean 3 big arms in three rounds, I'm thinking Carter Hawkins has a lot of say so in this draft.

  • In reply to tater:

    Jensen was ranked 99th signed for $2.0 million which was $570K under-slot for the 27th pick.

    I want the Cubs to be like the Cardinals when they drafted Jordan Walker-1st-21st overall in 2020. Cardinals drafted a talented player who currently is ranked 7th overall-all prospect by MLB.com top 100. Cardinals signed him around $300K under-slot, while picking a potential future all-star in Walker.

  • In reply to tater:

    That Porter is still available is a head-scratcher. Some writers were claiming he was the best pitcher available in the draft but nobody took in in the top 80 picks? I read somewhere that his bonus demands have put off some potential drafters but I don't remember where I saw that. He may end up in college at this point, but you're right about adding his "big arm." The rest of the draft will be interesting.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Porter likely has a deal in place with a team for way over slot and told others not to draft him, or he has set his price so high that he ends up heading to college.
    There's always 1 or 2 preps this happens with every year.

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