The End of Short-Season Ball for 2019 and Other Cubs Minor League Notes

Short-season ball in Arizona and the Dominican closed shop this week, meaning the end for four Cubs affiliates. Covering these teams is always a unique challenge, as we have no video to go on and instead end up placing far too much emphasis on box scores and rumors.

Anecdotally, it felt like the big winners from this complex season came on the offensive side. In Arizona, you have July Player of the Month Pedro Martinez breaking out, along with nice seasons from other infielders like Luis Verdugo and Fabian Pertuz. In the Dominican, outfielders Yohendrick Pinango, Felix Stevens, and Jose Lopez all got talked about a lot, in addition to infielder Rafael Morel.

The offensive side of the system will hopefully get stocked more in the years to come as these players mature. On the pitching side, we’ll see. I didn’t hear much one way or the other about the DSL pitchers, though teenagers like Carlos Paula, Kelvin Feliz and Luis Devers posted some good numbers. On the AZL side, Ben Rodriguez showed a good quick arm but will need more strikeouts. Richard Gallardo, 17, just debuted in Eugene yesterday, so his maturity raised eyebrows (so, too, did Manuel Espinoza).

Before long, these guys will be in Eugene and South Bend and we can have a better idea who and what they are as prospects.

Onto some notes …

  • You’re going to see Iowa and South Bend clinch playoff appearances this weekend, and you can bet the Cubs are preparing their playoff rosters for those teams internally right now. Kohl Franklin and Blake Whitney were both promoted from Eugene to South Bend yesterday, both as reinforcements for a tired South Bend staff, and for the developmental benefit that pitching in big games could mean for them. I suspect Iowa could also see some reinforcements from Tennessee; I think we’re all hoping for Nico Hoerner and Cory Abbott there.
  • By the way, Abbott is in the midst of quite the streak:
  • Something in the AFL release that really excited me: the Cubs feeling like Keegan Thompson will be far enough in his rehab to be able to compete at the AFL talent level. We might even see him pop up in South Bend for a rehab start in their playoffs before the AFL begins. I really believe Thompson was ready to have a big 2019 season, and the idea that he can help salvage a lost season some is a good thing. The AFL will be good practice for the offensive environments he has ahead of him.
  • Someone else I’m hoping we see pop up for South Bend’s playoff run: Brennen Davis. He’s been out for a while after a HBP (the second time it’s happened this season).
  • Edmond Americaan is a short-season guy having a better season than I realized. Last night he hit a big home run to right field and a long double to center, as well as drawing two walks. But he’s been rock solid in his last 41 games: .314/.368/.485, good for a 143 wRC+. Americaan was an above-slot signee from junior college last year, playing this season at age 22. He’s quick-twitch and has added some strength, but still struggles to walk enough (6.4%) and hits the ball on the ground almost entirely (66.3 GB%). A deep-cut prospect, yes, but a prospect nonetheless.
  • A more well-known outfielder also destroying the ball of late: Nelson Velazquez. In his last 23 games, Velazquez is hitting .310/.371/.506, good for a 151 wRC+ in the Midwest League. Velazquez has shown to be a much more well-rounded hitter this year, avoiding the all-or-nothing power pitfall that I worried he might fall into. He’s shown enough to be sent to Myrtle Beach next year for what will be his age 21 season, but he needs to stay healthy next year to capture a little more development time in 2020. He has an offensive upside that’s pretty rare in the system.
  • I think I’ll write about James Norwood and Dillon Maples when September 1 comes around (they both figure to spend most of September with the big Cubs), but as a preamble for that piece, let me just share their recent work with you. In Norwood’s last four outings at Iowa, he hasn’t allowed a hit and has struck out 11 of 15 batters he’s faced. That’s just part of this larger stat line he’s had over the last 10 weeks: 26.1 IP, 16 H, 3.08 ERA, 12 BB, 45 K. I have some thoughts on what’s behind that, but we’ll let it be a tease for the forthcoming piece.
  • As for Maples, he’s coming into September on one of those stretches that makes you wonder. Check out his August: 11 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 18 K. But, of course, in earning his sixth save last night, he walked two batters, and I had that sinking feeling it was all about to fall apart. Will he ever be able to allow us more confidence?
  • Something really silly that’s entertaining me as I track Myrtle Beach Pelican box scores down to the season’s final day: the race for the team OPS title. Miguel Amaya fell to .760 yesterday with an 0-for-5 performance, while Cam Balego jumped up to .762 with his 12th home run. The two have see-sawed for weeks, and I’m making this in my head a much more significant competition than it is. But it’s fun!
  • written by

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

    more cubs news

    Pre-Gamin’: Cubs at Giants (8:45 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

    CUBS LINEUP — The Cubs are starting a four-game, west-coast road trip tonight at Oracle Park. Justin Steele is on the mound for the Cubs, who are running out of time to turn this ship around before the trade deadline...

    A West Coast Trip? Sure, Why Not … Cubs vs Giants Series Preview

    Cubs vs Giants — In case you missed our earlier conversation, the Cubs upcoming stretch looks like their toughest of the year. And unfortunately, unless they start playing a lot better — immediately — this could be it for the...

    An Incredible Week for Matt Shaw Means It’s Award Time

    If you have seen Matt Shaw's name a lot this past week, it's because he's been lighting up the Southern League, even more than he already was. Thus, he gets some weekly award honors: https://twitter.com/smokiesbaseball/status/1805326329404870946 Shaw, 22, was the Cubs'...

    The Second All-Star Ballot Update is Still Light on Chicago Cubs

    Not that you'd expect otherwise at this point, but the Chicago Cubs are not running away with the fan voting for the 2024 position player All-Star starters. You have to go deep to find any Cubs names at all: https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1805286499128328237...

    MLBits: Must Read on the Pitching Revolution, Mets, Cards, Kwan, More

    MLB NOTES—Once in a while, you come across a story that's an absolute must-read. The Athletic's Andy McCullough delivered that for us this morning with his feature, which helps us understand the school of logic behind the pitching revolution in...

    Cubs Farm Report | June 24, 2024: Shaw Blasts Two, Scary Collision, Just Missing Out, More

    CUBS PROSPECTS — Matt Shaw blasted a pair of home runs, but a scary collision stole the show in a Tennessee loss that allowed Birmingham to take the first-half division title. Cubs Prospects Report | June 24, 2024 Triple-A Iowa...

    He Has Work to Do For Sure, But Making Declarations About Pete Crow-Armstrong’s Offensive Future is Silly

    I got pretty annoyed this weekend when I saw a bit from Bob Nightengale's latest: "MLB scouts have insisted all season that Chicago Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong may not be the impact bat that’s been hyped, and so far they’ve...

    This Next Stretch Will Define the Cubs Season – And it’s Arguably Their Toughest of the Year

    The Chicago Cubs are four games under .500, eight games out of first place, and nothing seems to be going right for them. So naturally, the universe is delivering one its toughest stretches of the season. And for the Cubs,...

    It Ain’t a Good Feeling, Morel’s Blast, Diaz Sticky, Martinez PED, and Other Cubs Bullets

    Going outside without immediately becoming drenched in sweat. Yeah baby. Today is a win. Well, for me, I mean. I can't speak for the Cubs' prospects in San Francisco tonight ... As for last night ... another loss. Another series...

    Farewell, Jose Cuas – Blue Jays Claim Him Off Waivers

    Last week the Chicago Cubs designated reliever Jose Cuas for assignment, which removed him from the 40-man roster, so that they could add reliever Ethan Roberts (who otherwise could have opted out of his minor league deal) to the 40-man...

    Latest News

    Tuesday’s MLB Computer Picks & Best Bets – June 25

    Tuesday's MLB schedule features 15 contests, including the matchup between the Cleveland Guardians and the Baltimore Orioles. We have best bets for every game below.MLB picks todayCleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles Odds, Lines & PredictionsGame infoWhen: 6:35 PM ETWhere: Oriole...

    How to Watch Reds vs. Pirates: Live Stream or on TV

    In a series opener on Tuesday, Elly De La Cruz and the Cincinnati Reds (36-41) take on Bryan Reynolds and the Pittsburgh Pirates (37-40), with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM ET at Great American Ball Park.Find out how to...

    Red Sox vs. Blue Jays: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    On Tuesday, Jarren Duran and the Boston Red Sox (42-36) take on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Toronto Blue Jays (35-42), with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM ET at Fenway Park.Keep scrolling to find out all the details on...

    Braves vs. Cardinals: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    On Tuesday, Marcell Ozuna and the Atlanta Braves (43-32) face Brendan Donovan and the St. Louis Cardinals (39-37), with first pitch scheduled for 7:45 PM ET at Busch Stadium.The article below will provide you with everything you need to watch...

    Bulls Reportedly Extend Qualifying Offer to Patrick Williams

    With the NBA Draft set for Wednesday night and free agency beginning later this weekend, the Chicago Bulls did some housekeeping. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the team has extended a qualifying offer to Patrick Williams. The move...

    How to Watch 2024 UEFA European Championship Today TV Channel and Live Stream | Tuesday, June 25

    Want to watch the 2024 UEFA European Championship matches on Tuesday? You've come to the right place. Below, we've listed the start times and TV channels for every match.Here you can find information on live coverage of all of today's...

    Where to Watch France vs. Poland: UEFA European Championship 2024 TV Channel, Start Time and Live Stream

    France (4 points) and Poland (0 points) meet on Tuesday, June 25 at 12:00 PM ET in the third game of Group D action at the 2024 UEFA European Championship.You should head to FOX in order to see this match.Watch...

    Where to Watch Netherlands vs. Austria: UEFA European Championship 2024 TV Channel, Start Time and Live Stream

    On Tuesday, June 25 at 12:00 PM ET, the Netherlands (4 points) and Austria (3 points) square off for each side's final match in Group D at the 2024 UEFA European Championship.The game between the Netherlands and Austria will be...

    Mariners vs. Rays: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    On Tuesday, Julio Rodriguez and the Seattle Mariners (45-35) face Isaac Paredes and the Tampa Bay Rays (38-40), with first pitch scheduled for 6:50 PM ET at Tropicana Field.See how to watch the Seattle-Tampa Bay matchup below.When is Mariners vs....

    Orioles vs. Guardians: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    On Tuesday, Gunnar Henderson and the Baltimore Orioles (49-28) open a series against Jose Ramirez and the Cleveland Guardians (49-26) at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 PM ET.The article below will provide you with...

    more cubs news