Cubs Minor League Daily: Ryan McNeil Returns Again, Miguel Amaya Breaking Out

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Cubs Minor League Daily: Ryan McNeil Returns Again, Miguel Amaya Breaking Out

Chicago Cubs

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in the far off days of 2012 to be exact, the Cubs drafted three straight high school pitchers between picks 56 and 101 overall in the draft. Paul Blackburn (56) was eventually traded for Mike Montgomery. Duane Underwood (67) is having one of the best seasons of his career with Iowa. The third pitcher (101) was Ryan McNeil, and there was a time when I thought he could be the best of the three.

And then the injuries set in. In 2013 he didn’t pitch at all as he recovered from surgery. In 2016 he returned to the DL, and in 2017 he visited the DL four times. As a result, McNeil hasn’t started a game since 2015. He hasn’t pitched more than 61 innings in a season, ever. He pitched only 28 innings last year. And he hasn’t had a strikeout rate under 10 K/9 since 2015.

Yesterday he was activated off the DL for the Smokies. Last year with Tennessee he struck out a lot of batters (10.29 K/9), but walked a lot as well (6.43 BB/9) on his way to an ERA of 5.79 and a FIP of 4.68. Considering how much time he spent on the DL, it seems likely he never entirely found his rhythem. That walk rate might be a little inflated as a result.

Now we find out. The strikeout rate is elite, and if he can harness the walks he could be another valuable relief prospect for the Cubs. To do that, though, he needs to stay on the roster. Hopefully we don’t see his name connected to the disabled list again this year.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa 4, Omaha 3 in eleven innings.
The Cubs allowed runs in the eighth inning only.

  • Luke Farrell: 5 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K
  • Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K
  • Cory Mazzoni: 2 IP, 1 BB, 1 K
  • Mike Freeman: 1 for 5, 2B
  • Jacob Hannemann: 2 for 4
  • Chris Gimenez: 1 for 4, 2B
  • Stephen Bruno: 1 for 4, 2B

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Mississippi 9, Tennessee 5
McNeil’s 2018 debut could have gone better.

  • Trevor Clifton: 5 IP, 4 R (3 ER), 8 H, 1 BB, 4 K
  • Ryan McNeil: 2 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Charcer Burks: 1 for 3, 2 BB
  • Yasiel Balaguert: 2 for 4
  • Eddy Martinez: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
  • Ian Rice: 2 for 4, 2B, HR

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Wilmington 3, Myrtle Beach 1
Now the Pelicans head to Frederick for what may well be a three day rainout.

  • Alex Lange: 5 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K
  • Bailey Clark: 3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K
  • Connor Myers: 1 for 5, 2B
  • P.J. Higgins: 1 for 3, BB, SB
  • Luis Ayala: 1 for 3, BB
  • Aramis Ademan: 1 for 4, SB

Low A: South Bend Cubs
Lake County 7, South Bend 0
Through five and a half innings this was a scoreless game.

  • Brendon Little: 6 IP, 5 R, 8 H, 4 K
  • Jared Young: 2 for 4, 2B
  • Miguel Amaya: 2 for 4
  • Rafael Narea: 2 for 4, 2B, SB

Other Notes

  • The activation of McNeil required a roster slot, and the Cubs found one by releasing James Pugliese. Pugliese had been with the Cubs since the 2011 draft and made it as far as Double A as both a starter and reliever. Last year with Tennessee he finished with an ERA of 1.84 in 78.1 innings of work, but his 4.06 FIP suggested he was unlikely to repeat that performance. He was released after just 5.1 innings in 2018 with an ERA of 18.56 and a FIP of 4.90.
  • Miguel Amaya was one of the Cubs’ top international signings a few years ago, and was considered the best defensive catching prospect in his class. Now, as a 19-year-old catcher in his first taste of a full-season league, he’s hitting .263/.333/.475 with five homers. He currently has a six game hitting streak going. All of his peripheral numbers look very solid as well: 9.4% BB%, 17.2% K%, .219 ISO among them. I had him ranked 12th in the latest Top 40; he may be higher than when I re-rank mid-season …

Author: Luke Blaize

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