We have a three way battle underway for the title of best record in the farm system, and that could very well result in the Cubs punching three playoff tickets by the end of the first half. The years of intelligent drafts and international free agent splurges are now being felt across all levels of the organization, and the win-loss records simply echo what we already knew: this system doesn’t have the horde of elite talent we have seen in the recent past, but in terms of quality depth from top to bottom it is absolutely stacked.
Iowa (22-26) is really the only team not in the fight for best record, but they have been playing better of late. Now that the Chicago team is getting back to full strength, Iowa is also getting back some keys guys. They are still in fourth place, and their seven game deficit doesn’t feel like it is getting any smaller, but they aren’t out of it just yet.
Tennessee (29-19) is not only right in the thick of the fight for best record in the system, they are currently in first place in the Southern League North Division by two and a half games, and they own the best record in the league. It is time to talk magic numbers, and for the Smokies it is 19. Any combination of Tennessee wins and second place team (currently Biloxi) losses that equals 19 clinches the first half division title for Tennessee. And with a win today, the Smokies will have swept a five game set against Biloxi.
The Pelicans (28-22) have had problems catching first place Buies Creek, but that Astros’ affiliate has hit a bit of a skid and as a result the Pelicans are suddenly sitting in second place just one game out of first. They have a very real chance of sneaking into the top slot before the first half ends in a few weeks, but their margin for error is slim. Lurking just a half a game back of Myrtle Beach is Carolina.
Given that South Bend has the best record in the farm system, you might expect that they would also be in first place and in at least as good of shape as Tennessee. But they aren’t. Despite being 12 games over .500, despite having the third best winning percentage in their league, and despite the Midwest League guaranteeing the top two teams in each division a trip to the playoffs, the Cubs are not in the playoff picture. They trail West Michigan for the division lead by three games, and Dayton for the second playoff spot by one game. A mid-week trip to Dayton could change up the standings in the Cubs’ favor.
- Casey Kelly: 5 IP, 1 R, 7 H, 3 BB, 4 K
- Conor Mullee: 1 IP and a line of 0s.
- Dylan Floro: 2 IP, 1 K
- Justin Grimm: 1 IP, 2 K
- Tommy La Stella: 2 for 3, BB
- Mark Zagunis: 2 for 3, 2B, BB
- Casey Kelly: 1 for 2, 2B
- Trevor Clifton: 5 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 3 H, 4 BB, 4 K
- Ryan McNeil: 1.1 IP, 3 BB
- James Pugliese: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
- Jeffrey Baez: 2 for 4, 2B, HR, BB
- Jason Vosler: 2 for 4, 2B, HR
- Brad Markey: 1 for 1, 2B. Yes, that is a double for a relief pitcher.
- Adbert Alzolay: 6 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 4 K
- Jordan Minch: 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K
- Pedro Araujo: 1 IP, 1 K
- Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 1 BB
- Bryant Flete: 2 for 4, HR, BB
- P.J. Higgins: 1 for 2, 2 BB
- Tyler Alamo: 1 for 4, 2B
- Connor Myers: 1 for 4, 2B
- Bryan Hudson: 4.1 IP, 4 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 1 K
- Pedro Silverio: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K
- Yeiler Peguero: 2 for 3, 3B, BB
- Vimael Machin: 1 for 3, 2B
- Brandon Cummins: 1 for 3, SB
South Bend 9, Fort Wayne 2
A five run fifth put this game away.
- Tyler Peyton: 4 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 3 K
- Dakota Mekkes: 2 IP, 4 K
- Michael Knighton: 1 IP, 1 K
- Zach Short: 2 for 3, 2B, BB, SB
- Alberto Mineo: 2 for 3, BB
- Isaac Paredes: 1 for 2, SB
- Jhonny Pereda: 2 for 3
- Luis Ayala: 2 for 3
- We are entering the unofficial promotion season, that time of year when the Cubs tend to shuffle minor league rosters a bit. Guys are who are over-performing in lower levels may be moved up, and guys who started the year in extended spring training may be moved onto a full season roster. The shuffles will likely continue roughly until Eugene starts up play in the middle of next month.
- After a down 2016 in his first exposure to full-season ball, I did not rank Adbert Alzolay in the latest edition of the Top 40 Prospects list. Whoops. In addition to his very solid 2.72 ERA, Alzolay has effectively avoided the long ball and the walk while striking out a little under a batter an inning. And according to the Pelicans’ on Twitter, the stadium gun had him hitting near triple digits last night. I’m not prepared to put him in the upper echelons of the system just yet, but I’d say odds are good he won’t be absent from the Top 40 for long.
- Baez and Vosler are now tied in home runs at eight each for the Smokies.
- Hudson pitched four strong innings, and then ran into trouble. All four of the runs against him, as well as five of his seven allowed hits and the lone walk, came in the fifth inning. In other news, he piled up nine ground ball outs against just one out in the air.