This was the trade deadline the farm system needed. After multiple years of draining their top talent, mostly in pursuit of bullpen help, the Cubs started the trading season in need of bullpen help and with a serious lack of top talent. They could have skimmed off the few semi-noteworthy prospects they had left and chased after the top of the pitcher market, but that probably would have left them in really bad shape long term.
Instead, they aimed for players they could get without needing to send back their top remaining talent. That means, for the first time since 2015, the Cubs will exit the season with a better farm system than they entered (not factoring in graduations). Of course, this alone won’t push the Cubs back to the upper tiers of the farm system ranks. Or even the upper half – probably not even out of the bottom five, to be honest. But it is a start. A very badly needed start.
I also suspect that this trading season has finally answered in the minds of many fans why a strong farm system is important, even for a contending team. The Cubs could not trade for Christian Yelich in the pre-season because they lacked the prospects. They could not trade for Jacob deGrom or Chris Archer in July because they lacked the prospects. They couldn’t even seriously entertain the thought of making a realistic offer for Bryce Harper because they lacked the prospects.
A weak farm system doesn’t just hurt the team in three or four years when the current core is leaving via free agency. It hurts the team right here, right now, and it cuts into their ability to maximize each and every year of their window. It is great that the Cubs turned their farm system into a title, but the 2018 season doesn’t care that the Cubs won the World Series in 2016; that title doesn’t help them shore up their pitching issues this year in the slightest.
The front office deserves a ton of credit for finding ways to reinforce the pitching staff without needing to weaken the overall organization. In the short term it may seem like a small thing, but long term that creativity could pay significant dividends.
Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa had the day off.
Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Tennessee was rained out.
- Alex Lange: 3 IP, 5 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Manuel Rondon: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K
- D.J. Wilson: 2 for 4, 2 SB
- Andruw Monasterio: 3 for 5, HR
- Jared Young: 1 for 2, HR, BB
- Tyler Alamo: 1 for 4, 2B
- Wladimir Galindo: 2 for 4, 2 2B
- Erling Moreno: 7.1 IP, 6 R (3 ER), 8 H, 5 K
- Brian Glowicki: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Zach Davis: 3 for 5, 2B
- Miguel Amaya: 2 for 4, BB
- Austin Filiere: 3 for 4, BB
- Christian Donahue: 2 for 4, 2B
- Zach Mort: 3 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Sean Barry: 2 IP, 2 K
- Grant Fennell: 1 for 4, 2B
- Levi Jordan: 2 for 4
- Nelson Velazquez: 2 for 4, HR
- Jonathan Sierra: 2 for 4
- Peyton Remy: 4.2 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K
- Brady Miller: 1.1 IP and a line of zeroes
- Christopher Morel: 3 for 5, 2 2B
- Jonathan Soto: 3 for 5, HR
- Rafael Mejia: 4 for 4, 2B, BB, SB
- Dalton Hurd: 2 for 4
Rookie: AZL Cubs 2
Cubs Two had the day off.
- The Cubs have gotten beaten up in some circles lately for being unable to maintain a good farm system while building a winner, unlike some other high dollar contenders out there. And that criticism is largely fair and centers, I think, on one area – pitching development. If you start listing the sheer number of hitters the Cubs have traded for pitching in recent years, I think you’ll find you can just about field a pretty decent team. The fact that the Cubs weren’t producing that pitching on their own made most of those trades necessary. (Michael: I’d argue, however, that the Cubs farm system was extremely strong while they were contenders in 2015, 2016, and 2017, though right? Can’t be the best forever.)
- That situation is changing, though. Dillon Maples and Dakota Mekkes are leading the next wave of reliever prospects up the system, and a pretty good looking group of quality starters isn’t too far behind. I think 2019 may be the year we finally see the Cubs have two different starting pitchers that were drafted and developed by the Cubs start a game for the Cubs in the same season. We’ll talk more about that this winter.
- As for the player the Cubs gave up in the Kintzler trade, Jhon Romero… well, let’s just say he wasn’t likely to be ranked in the Top 40. I can imagine a future in which he makes the majors as a reliever, he definitely has the potential, but even in the Cubs’ organization he had yet to really separate himself from the pack.
- Myrtle Beach is a man short now, though, so expect some roster shuffling today.
- The Northwest League All-Star team has been announced, and the Eugene Emeralds have two pitchers on the roster. Left Brailyn Marquez and right hander Jeffrey Passantino will take part in the contest on August 7. Passantino was the Cubs 40th round pick in 2017 and currently has a 3.06 ERA over 7 games (3 starts) for Eugene, and Marquez, who is rapdily moving up prospect ranking charts, has an ERA of 3.77 in 7 starts.
- Thanks to a week in which he allowed no runs, Erick Leal has been named the Carolina Week Pitcher of the Week. Leal missed 2017 with an arm injury, but this season has looked very good. He has 44 innings under his belt now, and holds an ERA of 0.61 in those innings.