Cubs Prospect Notes: Huge Arm, Lefty Relief, Short-Season Bats, Hoerner, Davis, More

Sometimes, a day on the farm is too much for a Twitter recap, and it allows for me to tie a notes piece into a Sunday review. So, this is that!

Yesterday, the Cubs farm system went 5-2 with two walk-off victories and many exemplary performances.

Iowa 5, Salt Lake 2

Game story: Matt Swarmer was the early hero in this one, tossing six scoreless innings to start as Iowa built out a 4-0 lead. Swarmer ran into trouble in the sixth, with one run coming into score and leaving the game with the bases loaded and one out for new I-Cub Wyatt Short. The little lefty was able to squeeze out of the jam with only one more run scoring, and Addison Russell added a solo home run to make it 5-2 in the seventh. The game stayed that way, as Short and Danny Hultzen combined for 2.2 hitless relief innings.

Standings Check-In: Believe it or not, Iowa’s 64-55 record is enough for a 10 game lead in the Northern Division. They’re going to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

Player notes

  • Addison Russell is now up to .333/.392/.571 since his demotion, with two hits in 6 of those 12 games. Russell is arbitration eligible after this season, so it’s hard to know whether the Cubs will tender him a contract, given everything that’s happened. A continued big August in Iowa would be a step in that direction, whether it increases value for a potential trade or as a 2020 bench piece.
  • Tennessee 7, Biloxi 11

    Game story: This seesaw game was all tied in the eighth when the Smokies came back with some good baserunning. After a Nico Hoerner single and Vimael Machin walk, a double steal got both baserunners into scoring position. Biloxi pitcher Nate Griep threw a wild pitch, and both guys came into score to tie the game at six. Unfortunately, things got out of hand in the 10th for the Smokies, as Jordan Minch was charged for four earned runs in the frame. Noteworthy that Wyatt Short, mentioned above, had previously received the brunt of the Smokies extra innings work.

    Standings Check-In: The Smokies are 16-34 in the second half, in last place in the North Division.

    Player Notes

  • Erick Leal was good in this one, with zero earned runs in five innings, with seven strikeouts against two walks. That’s two good outings in a row for Leal, who has not been able to replicate the success of last season’s return from Tommy John. Leal is a minor league free agent at season’s end, and it will be interesting to see if he wants to continue in the organization.
  • Nico Hoerner was playing second base and in the leadoff spot for this one. He had drawn seven walks in the eight games before this – clearly responding to the criticism I lobbed in my prospect rankings, RIGHT? – and while he didn’t walk in this one, did compile his first three-hit game since April 18.
  • Myrtle Beach 1, Wilmington 0

    Game story: Credit to the pitching staff in this one, as Alexander Vargas began the game with six scoreless innings, before turning things over to the bullpen. Tyler Peyton added two scoreless innings, as did Manuel Rodriguez, including the wonky tenth inning. Oddly, Wilmington began the bottom of the 10th by intentionally walking Delvin Zinn and then inadvertently walking Aramis Ademan. This opened the door for Wladimir Galindo’s bases loaded, walk-off single for the win.

    Standings Check-In: The Pelicans, the worst team in the Carolina League in the first half, have rebounded to a 25-25 second half record. This has them just two games behind Fayetteville for the second Southern Division playoff spot.

    Player Notes

  • I believe Manuel Rodriguez, who just turned 23 about a week ago, has one of the more legitimate chances of the Majors of any reliever in the system. Check out his last 17 games, dating back to late May: 22.1 IP, 18 H, 1.61 ERA, 8 BB, 34 K. Rodriguez throws in the mid 90s with a good curveball, and has struck out exactly a third of the hitters he’s faced this year.
  • South Bend 8, Fort Wayne 3

    Game story: Don’t let the big score throw  you, this was a solid come-from-behind win for the Cubs. Down 3-1 in the sixth, South Bend used three singles to tie the game at three. In the seventh, Nelson Velazquez came up with the bags packed and hit a bases-clearing double that put the game away. Yonathan Perlaza tacked on a home run in the 8th.

    Standings Check-In: South Bend is 27-22 in the second half, which has them with a two-game lead for the second half Wild Card spot. South Bend goes for the series sweep over Fort Wayne at home tonight, before heading on the road for 14 of their next 17 games.

    Player Notes

  • South Bend got two hits each from a pair of 2019 draft picks that are now with the team, 20th rounder Darius Hill and 21st rounder Nelson Maldonado. Hill hit .300-or-better in all four seasons at University of West Virginia, and topped that mark in both an 8-game stint in Arizona and 23 games with Eugene. Maldonado is noteworthy because he has struck out just four times in his first 55 Midwest League plate appearances. Nice infusion of professionalism for South Bend so late in the season.
  • Keep an eye on Nelson Velazquez down the stretch here. Missed two months with injury, and after a slow first three games returning to South Bend, has caught fire in the last week, hitting .393/.485/.500 in his last eight games. One of the biggest power potential bats in the system.
  • Eugene 3, Vancouver 2

    Game story: The Emeralds took advantage of a couple fifth inning errors to tie the game at 2-2, thanks in part to the nervousness that Fernando Kelli puts on opposing defenders with his speed. The game stayed that way until the bottom of the ninth, when Pedro Martinez led the inning with a double, ultimately scoring on a one-out Caleb Knight single.

    Standings Check-In: The Ems were pretty lackluster in the first half, but they’re out to a 10-7 start in the second half, which currently has them one game out of first place.

    Player Notes

  • Get your sound on for this one.
  • AZL Cubs1 2, Indians Blue 3

    AZL Cubs2 5, Padres1 3

    Game Stories: Nothing too noteworthy in the AZL Cubs 1 game, who attempted a ninth-inning rally but came up a bit short. The AZL Cubs 2 broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning with a rehabbing Jhonny Bethencourt sacrifice fly and a Luis Verdugo single for the insurance run.

    Standings Check-In: Neither AZL team was particularly special in the first half, but AZL Cubs 2 (man, we need a better name for this. AZL Banks and AZL Maddux? What you got?) is off to a 11-5 start in the second half, good for second place. They are currently a half-game out of a playoff spot.

    Player Notes

  • Pedro Martinez was the Cubs infielder that was the talk of July, but another two AZL infielders ought not to be forgotten. Fabian Pertuz, the shortstop from Colombia, is hitting .347/.380/.467, showing a little bit of pop. Luis Verudgo was someone I heard a lot of good things about this spring, but really struggled out of the gate in the AZL. Verdugo has turned things around in the last month, hitting .351/.386/.436 in his last 25 games. I suspect these two will share the Eugene infield in 2020, making that team something to watch straight out of the gate.
  • Obligatory reading on top Cubs prospect (to me, anyway) Brennen Davis:
  • written by

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

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