Baseball is a series of ups and downs. Players get hot, and they go into slumps. Teams get hot, and they go into slumps. And, apparently, organizations can get hot as well. And yesterday was just a great day for the Cubs farm system.
There are four stories from the minor leagues that I could open with today, and biggest and awesome-ist of them all is the no-hitter thrown by Chris Rusin against New Orleans, the first in the PCL since 2009. As is often the case, this no-hitter was saved by a great defensive play provided by one Matt Szczur, for the final out no less. That play has now been immortalized 21st century style (I could watch that all day).
In the same game as Rusin’s masterpiece, Javier Baez struck out just once and finished with three hits. That was his first multi-hit game in roughly forever and only his second game with a hit this month. That doesn’t mean that he has turned a corner, but it is still good to see. If it weren’t for the Rusin no hitter, Baez’s Big Day would be a great opening paragraph.
Except that Baez was upstaged yesterday by Kris Bryant. Bryant also finished with three hits yesterday, but one was a double and the other two were home runs (he now has eight this year). He also walked. Bryant now has a Double A slugging percentage of .600, an OPS of 1.028, and has put together multiple hits in four of his last seven games. This guy is one of the hottest hitters in the minors right now.
But he isn’t even the hottest hitter on his own team. The improbable streak of Stephen Bruno continued in a huge fashion yesterday. Not only did he extend his streak of consecutive games with a double to six, he did so by hitting three more doubles. He also walked once and did not strike out. Bruno’s streak is rapidly becoming one of the more unusual and remarkable accomplishments to emerge of the minors this season.
So there we have it. Four notable events, headlined by Rusin’s momentous accomplishment, all packed into one truly great day in the minors. I wonder what the minors will produce as an encore.
Scores From Yesterday
Iowa - Three runs were all the Cubs needed; Rusin handled the rest. Iowa won a memorable game 3-0.
Tennessee - Tennessee jumped to an early lead and just kept piling on in this 12-1 blowout win.
Daytona - Daytona struggled in this 5-1 loss.
Kane County - The Cougars fell victim to a late rally and lost 5-3.
Performances of Note
- [Iowa] The final line for the no-hitter by Chris Rusin was 9 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 3 K. He needed just 118 pitches to do it.
- [Iowa] Lost in the story of Rusin’s no-hitter is that he also finished 2 for 4 at the plate and drove in two of the Cubs three runs.
- [Iowa] Baez lead the team in hits, but Josh Vitters also stayed hot with a 2 for 4 day.
- [Tennessee] Bryant and Bruno did most of the damage at the plate, but Jae-Hoon Ha joined the act with a 2 for 5 game.
- [Tennessee] John Andreoli reached base four more times with 2 singles and 2 walks. If it seems like Andreoli has always been on base lately, it is because he has been. His season OBP is up to .434, and that figure climbs to .533 in his last ten games.
- [Tennessee] Dae-Eun Rhee pitched 7 strong innings for the Smokies, allowing just a run on 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out a pair. Jeff Lorick pitched a flawless eighth, and Arodys Vizcaino struck out 2 in a perfect ninth.
- [Daytona] Pin-Chieh Chen was the only Cub to pick up 2 hits in this game. He also walked. A Bijan Rademacher double was the only extra base hit.
- [Daytona] Albert Almora picked up hit for the third straight game, and walked for the third time in four games.
- [Kane County] Justin Amlung had a pretty good start for Kane County. He pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs on 4 hits while striking out 5. Unfortunately, 2 of those hits were home runs.
- [Kane County] Jacob Hannemann tripled, his third, and both Yasiel Balaguert and David Bote doubled.
- [Kane County] Will Remillard, the catcher who has been hitting everything lately, did not start in this game. When he made a pinch hit appearance in the 9th inning, though, he got a hit anyway.
- The wind was blowing out to right at 10 miles per hour in the Smokies game, but that just makes the performance of the Tennessee pitchers all the more impressive.
- Rob Zastryzny is continuing to struggle in Daytona. He made it through 4.2 innings yesterday, but he allowed 4 runs on 9 hits and a walk in the process. His biggest problem is that he is just giving up too many hits, and that suggests that at least one of his pitches is being sat on by opposing players. Without having eyes on his stuff I don’t want to speculate beyond that, but this is not the results we would expect for someone who made a living on control and pitch placement in college. I would not be surprised if there is more here than the stat line alone can tell us (changes to mechanics or work on a particular pitch are among possible factors). Until more information appears, I would not be too quick to write him off as a prospect just yet.
- Jorge Soler has been activated by the Tennessee Smokies, but he did not appear in yesterday’s game. In related moves to create roster spots for Soler and Vizcaino, Zeke DeVoss was sent to Boise and Ryan Searle was released.