Injuries Piling Up for Cubs Prospects, and Other Minor League Notes

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Injuries Piling Up for Cubs Prospects, and Other Minor League Notes

Chicago Cubs

I know we go into a season with the understanding that attrition is an inevitability and that pitching prospects will only break you heart, but dang if this season doesn’t seem particularly yucky. This is where we will begin today’s notes.

  • Duncan Robinson revealed on Twitter that he recently underwent successful Tommy John surgery. This one stings, as Robinson had clearly caught the eye of the front office, getting name-dropped in numerous interviews in the offseason. I will say that when the big right-hander threw just 9 strikes in 26 pitches on April 30, some big red flags went off that it was a serious injury. Here’s to hoping for a speedy recovery, and I look forward to seeing Robinson in 2020.

  • We know that Nico Hoerner and Zack Short are both on the shelf after being hit in the hand/wrist area by pitches, so it was pretty frustrating last night when Miguel Amaya took a ball off the forearm. The trainer came out, the two shared a laugh, and Amaya initially stayed in the game. But Amaya didn’t come back out to the field; hope to update this with positive news soon.

  • Amaya has reached base in seven straight games, and seemed to be really finding his footing of late. He is now hitting .218/.352/.398, good for a wRC+ 18 percent better than league average.
  • The Iowa and South Bend Cubs both suffered a third injury to the same position this week, leaving them needing help from other parts of the pipeline. For Iowa, the hurt has come at the shortstop position, where Dixon Machado joined Short and Cristhian Adames on the 7-day IL. Machado was mired in a brutal 1-for-26 slump of late, coming back to life after an insanely hot start to the season. I don’t believe the injury to be serious, because Iowa opted to promote 19-year-old Luis Vazquez rather than system-best hitter Vimael Machin. Vazquez has been honored with the Emergency Rover designation this season, a role David Bote once held. Vazquez has one of the best gloves in the system.
  • South Bend’s injuries have come in their outfield. First it was D.J. Artis, then Cole Roederer, and and last Nelson Velazquez to pull a muscle and head to the Injured List. First the opening gave way to Brennen Davis’ debut, which has gone swimmingly. After Velazquez was injured, the Cubs called up Edmond Americaan from Extended Spring Training, who besides possessing a great name, is a quick-twitch left-handed hitter the Cubs gave above-slot money in the 35th round last year. Americaan has drawn walks in each of his first two Midwest League games.

  • Speaking of Davis, he’s been really fantastic so far, reaching base in each game he’s played. I grabbed a little video and timed Davis’ triple, as both were really impressive. The Cubs have done a ton of work on quieting Davis’ lower half, and it shows. I wonder if they still plan to work on his low finish, or if that will just be a trademark.

  • Over in Arizona, Phil at the Cub Reporter relayed some really good news this week. Phil confirmed the report that Danny Hultzen, 2011 number two overall pick, has topped at 97 mph in recent outings. Phil shares that the Cubs lowered Hultzen’s release point to reduce strain on his shoulder, and voila, out came some extra velocity. Note that Phil also shared that Erick Leal, Tony Barnette and Chad Hockin also appeared in a game recently as they rehab from various injuries.

  • FanGraphs published a new mock draft yesterday, projecting the first two rounds with insight for every team. I will say this: based on what I read about this draft, I will absolutely not be surprised if the Cubs draft a high school player in the first round. A prep pitcher would surprise me some, but with such a weak college class, it would make sense for the Cubs to spend their limited bonus pool on upside early if they don’t get their guy (which FanGraphs surmises is Kody Hoese, third baseman from Tulane).
  • Last, I want to call out Tyson Miller, who had another great start yesterday, one run allowed in six innings, striking out six and walking none. I believe Miller had his best slider of the season last night, and it had a different shape than usual. It looked as if Miller’s arm slot was lowered just a bit, and it created very horizontal frisbee action. It played particularly well with his naturally-cutting four seam. In fact, it appeared to my eye that he leaned mostly on those two offerings all night. We’ll see if this change holds to next start, but it’s something really interesting from the guy most obviously breaking out this season. Have to think a promotion to Iowa is just weeks away.

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Author: Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.