Cubs Minor League Daily: Alzolay, Robinson Headline Multiple Promotions

There was quite the game of Roster Move Dominos in the Cubs’ farm system yesterday, and some notable names are changing leagues as a result.

First off, at the top of the system, Iowa created a bit of roster space by officially sending Kyle Schwarber back to Chicago and releasing Andury Acevedo and Conor Mullee. That opened up some innings in the Iowa bullpen, so the Cubs promoted Justin Hancock from Tennessee. Hancock came to the Cubs from the Padres system in the Matt Szczur trade, and posted an ERA of 4.41 in 16.1 innings with Tennessee. The 16 strikeouts were good, though, and he had only allowed one run and two hits in his last six appearances.

Joining the Smokies is one strong candidate for 2017 Cubs Pitcher of the Year, Adbert Alzolay. In 15 starts with Myrtle Beach Alzolay had an ERA of 2.98 and was holding hitters to a .217 average. His elevated HR/9 rate (0.88) is going to cause him some problems in Double A, but I look forward to seeing how he handles the challenge.

Myrtle Beach was then down a starter, so up from South Bend comes another strong candidate for 2017 Cubs Pitcher of the Year in Duncan Robinson. Robinson was taken in the 9th round in 2016, and in 15 games (10 starts) with South Bend he has put up an ERA of 2.11, held batters to a .232 average, and compiled a very nice groundball rate of 53.7%.

The South Bend Cubs, meanwhile, picked up two new arms… sort of. Jose Paulino was added back to the active roster, and catcher Tyler Payne (last seen pitching four innings of one hit baseball in Eugene’s twenty inning marathon the other night) was promoted from Eugene. Catcher Michael Cruz went back to Eugene from South Bend.

And finally, 2017 draftee pitcher Jacob Steffens, a 6’4″ right hander drafted in the 29th round last month, joined the Emeralds.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa 13, Oklahoma City 3
Even without Schwarber the Cubs found plenty of offense.

  • Williams Perez: 7 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 7 K
  • John Andreoli: 3 for 6, 2 2B
  • Jacob Hannemann: 1 for 5, HR
  • Mark Zagunis: 1 for 5, 2B
  • Jeimer Candelario: 1 for 4, 2B, BB
  • Chris Dominguez: 2 for 4, BB, SB
  • Taylor Davis: 2 for 5, 3B
  • Chesny Young: 2 for 4, BB
  • Williams Perez: 2 for 3, BB
  • Double A: Tennessee Smokies
    Tennessee 2, Chattanooga 1
    The pitching in this one, on both sides, was very good.

  • Preston Morrison: 6 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 7 K
  • Brad Markey: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K
  • Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K
  • Charcer Burks: 2 for 5, and an outfield assist at first base.
  • Jason Vosler: 1 for 4, HR. His 15th.
  • Yasiel Balaguert: 2 for 3, 2B, BB
  • Kevin Cornelius: 2 for 4
  • High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
    Buies Creek 3, Myrtle Beach 0
    Another good candidate for Pitcher of the Year started for the Pelicans in this one.

  • Justin Steele: 4.2 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 K
  • Trent Giambrone: 1 for 2, 2 BB
  • Zack Short: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
  • Low A: South Bend Cubs
    South Bend 12, Great Lakes 6
    The Cubs were trailing. Then they scored ten times in the sixth, and that was that.

  • Dylan Cease: 4.1 IP, 5 R (3 ER), 7 H, 3 BB, 3 K
  • Jose Paulino: 4 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 K
  • Austin Upshaw: 2 for 4, 2B
  • Joey Martarano: 3 for 5
  • Tyler Payne: 3 for 4, BB
  • Luis Ayala: 3 for 4
  • Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
    Tri-City 4, Eugene 3
    The Emeralds slip back to .500.

  • Matt Swarmer: 5 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K
  • Elvis Diaz: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 K
  • Jhonny Bethencourt: 2 for 5, 2B
  • Miguel Amaya: 3 for 5, 2B
  • Gustavo Polanco: 1 for 4, 2B, BB
  • Jose Gonzalez: 2 for 4
  • Tolly Filotei: 2 for 4, SB
  • Rookie: AZL Cubs
    Cubs 5, D-backs 4
    A homer tied it in the seventh, and a single walked it off in the ninth.

  • Faustino Carrera: 5 IP, 2 R, 5 H
  • Darryl Wilson: 2 for 2, 2B, HR, 2 BB, SB
  • Yonathan Perlaza: 2 for 4, BB, SB
  • Jonathan Sierra: 3 for 5, 2B
  • Carlos Diaz: 1 for 3, 2B
  • Other Notes

  • If I were giving free advice to the GMs for other teams who think they might be able to trade with the Cubs, it would be to start heavily scouting the Tennessee Smokies. By now any major league team probably has enough data on the potential headlining bats in any major trade (Jeimer Candelario, Victor Caratini, Ian Happ, etc.), but that doesn’t hold for pitching. The most attractive trade candidates on the mound are pretty much all in Double A now: Jen-Ho Tseng, Adbert Alzolay, and Trevor Clifton. A team that feels like gambling a bit might try to reach for Dylan Cease or Jose Albertos, but I see that as unlikely. If the Cubs make a deal similar to the Mike Montgomery trade last year, for example, I think it could be one of those three Smokey starters who fill the roll of pitching prospect in the deal.
  • Speaking of pitching prospects, as of my typing this the Cubs had not officially signed draft picks Alex Lange (1st round), Nelson Velazquez (5th round), or Jeremiah Estrada (6th round). There are ample reports that the Cubs will (or already have) reach a deal deal with all three, but it doesn’t look like the league has processed them yet. So far, those are unofficial. I will be very surprised if they do not become official by the 5 PM ET deadline today.
  • Williams Perez has an ERA of 5.35. That doesn’t sound very interesting. But consider that on June 20 that ERA was 6.61. On June 9 it was 7.54. On May 29 it was 9.00. In fact, for the month of June, Perez had an ERA of 2.81 over 5 starts. His GO/AO was an excellent 1.75 that month, and his 21 strikeouts in 25.2 innings are respectable. The 14 walks are a problem, but the overall trend points to a pitcher we should not be ignoring.
  • Steele did not make it out of the fifth inning, but it looks like the problem was his pitch count. He left after 97 pitches.
  • And, finally, we can’t have a ten running inning without seeing some highlights.
  • written by

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

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