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Cubs Minor League Daily: Checking In On Duane Underwood, and a 20-Inning Game

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects
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Sometimes we see prospects take significant strides forward over the course of a season, and there are plenty of examples of stories like that all over the farm system (including Jen-Ho Tseng, Dillon Maples, Jason Vosler, Eloy Jimenez, Seth Frankoff, and Justin Steele, to name a few).

But sometimes the opposite is true. And today is one of those stories.

Coming into the season, had I told you that the pattern in 2017 would be a surge of blossoming pitching across the organization, one pitcher you would probably have expected to be in that blossoming was Duane Underwood. He has lurked on Cubs’ prospect charts since he was drafted out of high school in 2012, but as we left spring training he was facing something of a critical year. Several seasons of injuries and ineffectiveness had left their mark on his resume. Underwood needed to bounce back, badly.

He hasn’t. Not so far anyway.

Returning to Double A, the strikeout rate is just 6.23 K/9 (down from 7.06), the walk rate too high at 4.03 BB/9, the home run rate is too high at 0.73 HR/9, and his 41.7% ground ball rate is verging on a career low. The good news is that he has stayed healthy and on the mound, but other than some moderate declines in the walks and home runs, that is the extent of the good news.


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This isn’t the season we were hoping to see from Underwood. Results are not indicative of the work he is putting in, though, and it remains very possible that the Cubs are working with him to make adjustments that will return him to the top of the prospect charts once thing click. After all, he doesn’t turn 23 until later this month; time is still on his side.

But, for now, Underwood is all but certain to fall completely off the Top 40 when it comes up for the mid-year re-ranking. His stuff remains promising, but by the time a guy hits Double A the results need to start matching the promise. So for Underwood, that just hasn’t happened.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Oklahoma City 5, Iowa 2
Iowa had more hits than Oklahoma City, but still lacked in runs.


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Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Chattanooga 6, Tennessee 5 in fourteen innings.
The Smokies rallied for two in the eighth to tie the game, and that’s how it stayed for six more innings.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Buies Creek 12, Myrtle Beach 3
Not a lot went right for the Pelicans in this one.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 5, Great Lakes 4 in twelve innings.
South Bend had to rally in the ninth to force extras, but they got the win.


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Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
Boise 7, Eugene 5 in TWENTY innings
Given that minor league doubleheaders feature seven inning games, these two teams almost played three games.

Rookie: AZL Cubs
Padres 2 9, Cubs 7
The Padres have two teams in the Arizona Rookie League, and the team the Cubs played was Padres 2. That score isn’t a typoed version of the Padres scoring 29 times.

Other Notes

  • And by ‘not a lot went right for the Pelicans’, I mean that they committed two errors and gave up nineteen hits, including five home runs. Did I mention the wind was blowing in from center at 13 mph? Yeah. Some days it just isn’t your day.

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  • Since I live on the East Coast and work a regular job in addition to writing here, I often head to bed before the Eugene and Arizona games are complete and finish up their parts of Daily early in the morning. It is a very good thing I did last night, because Eugene was playing for just under six hours. They didn’t finish their marathon until about 4 AM ET.
  • The Emeralds committed five errors in that contest, and allowed five unearned runs. They also struck out 24 times. In fact, there were a couple strikeout records set in this one:

  • That Emeralds game was a strange one all the way around. But don’t take my word for it; after working until the wee hours of the morning, local baseball writer Steve Mims then penned a great writeup for the Register Guard.
  • Of course, yesterday being the Fourth of July, it wasn’t just the ballplayers and fans who stuck around for that twenty inning marathon (in which a catcher pitched four innings of one hit baseball). The fireworks guys stuck around as well:

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Luke Blaize

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.

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