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Cubs Minor League Daily: Swarmer, Thorpe Vaulted Up To Iowa

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

Two pitchers, Rob Zastryzny and Felix Pena, went from Iowa to Chicago recently, and that created two holes in Iowa’s pitching staff. So, not surprisingly, the Cubs sent two pitchers up to Iowa. They didn’t come from Double A Tennessee, though. Nope. These guys both came out of A ball. Reliever Tommy Thorpe was promoted from Myrtle Beach, and starter Matt Swarmer jumped all the way up from South Bend. Swarmer was the starting pitcher for Iowa yesterday.


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I’ll concede right up front that it is possible that these two are super-sleeper breakout prospects that the Cubs are jumping to Iowa because they are just that advanced. It is possible that yesterday marked a major milestone in what we will look back on as a meteoric rise through the system of a unheralded future star. All that is possible, but unfortunately isn’t very likely.

The reality is that Iowa used most of their bullpen in start-by-committee style game yesterday, and they were badly in need of some arms. In particular, the Cubs needed someone who could pitch deep into yesterday’s game for Iowa so as to keep from pushing that bullpen too hard. So the front office took into account that the minor league season is into the final weeks and, looking around the organization, decided to grab players who were available by means of fortuitous timing. Swarmer was ready to pitch on his normal five days rest and South Bend had a spare starter to replace him with, and Thorpe had not pitched in three days and was a safe bet to be able to provide multiple innings if needed. Swarmer and Thorpe in all likelihood make the steep jump clear to Triple A because they fit what Iowa needed right then, not because of their status as prospects.

That doesn’t make the story any less awesome, though (particularly given how Swarmer pitched yesterday). Nor does it mean these guys won’t be appearing on any top prospect lists themselves. After all, Vimael Machin spent 14 games filling in for Iowa last year due to a similar alignment of need and timing, and he still made the Top 40. It just means we shouldn’t read anything into the Cubs’ decision.


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That said, Swarmer did pitch an awesome game.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa 4, Nashville 0
For a guy who last pitched in the Midwest League, Swarmer seemed right at home in Triple A.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Tennessee 6, Chattanooga 4
No late inning rallies were needed for the Smokies in this one.


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High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Myrtle Beach 9, Wilmington 1
Three Pelicans combined hold Wilmington to just three hits.

Myrtle Beach 4, Wilmington 2
The pitching in Game Two was pretty good, too.

  • Tom Hatch: 5 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 6 H, 4 K
  • Pedro Araujo: 2 IP, 3 K
  • Tyler Alamo: 1 for 3, HR. That’s three homers in one day.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 5, Lansing 3
Despite playing excellent baseball lately, the Cubs are still eight games out from a playoff slot.

Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
Boise 6, Eugene 5
Eugene has dropped three in a row and is now in last place in the division.


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  • Alex Lange: 2.2 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K
  • Jake Steffens: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K
  • Austin Filiere: 1 for 4, 2B
  • Rafael Narea: 3 for 4

Rookie: AZL Cubs
Cubs 1, Indians 0 in eight innings.
The Indians were held to one hit.

Cubs 5, Indians 3
The Indians got their first run of the day in the sixth inning of this one.

Other Notes

  • How much of Swarmer’s success is inherent awesomeness and how much is the fact that Nashville had probably never heard of him and likely had no scouting reports to work from when the game started? We may not find out this season. But given the number of times the Chicago Cubs have been completely flummoxed by a random unheralded rookie pitcher, I suspect the lack of scouting data can play at least some role.
  • Jeffrey Baez has a four game hitting streak since returning to Tennessee from the disabled list.
  • Including yesterday’s three total homers, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Alamo is hitting .321/.365/.449 in the second half for Myrtle Beach. When you consider that catchers do tend to develop a bit more slowly with the bat than other positions do, that’s a figure worth noting. Alamo could be an Arizona Fall League candidate, and he’ll certainly be someone to keep an eye on next spring.

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  • Eugene’s second half record of 10-14 leaves them in fourth place in the division, one game behind a three way tie between the other three teams. Winning the second half outright is still very much in place for the Emeralds. However, if Eugene doesn’t, but first half winner Hillsboro does, then we have to look at the overall standings. If Hillsboro wins both halves, the second best season record goes to the playoffs, and in that race Eugene leads by a game.
  • You probably already noticed by virtue of them helping out on the one hitter, but both Alec Mills and Oscar De La Cruz have started rehab assignments in Arizona.
  • Doubleheaders in the minors last seven innings, so Arizona’s first game went into extra innings. That means the rule about starting the extra innings with a runner on second base kicked into effect (it is being used in the Arizona Rookie League this year). That free runner turned out to be Kwang-Min Kwon for the Cubs. A single moved him to third, and then the Indians intentionally walked Jonathan Sierra to get to Nelson Velazquez (who is also a dangerous hitter), who then walked to drive home Kwon.

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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.