Five Stars of the Cub Farm, 5/30/21: Davis, Amaya, Nwogu, Bain, Abbott, Velazquez and More

There is a competitive on-field advantage to providing league-best off-field benefits to minor leaguers. I truly believe that, and as a fan of the Cubs, I continue to hope they come around to this belief, too.

Let’s break down the day in the minors for the Cubs.

Honorable Mention: Scott Kobos finished up an amazing May yesterday with two more scoreless innings, making it 11 for the month. Kobos has struck out 19 of the 43 hitters he’s faced, and is just too advanced for Low-A … Shouts to Jacob Wetzel and Flemin Bautista for getting on base two times in both games of the MB doubleheader … Behind Amaya, the 3-4-5 of the Smokies lineup (Grayson Byrd, Tyler Payne, Chris Morel) each went 2-for-5. Morel in particular has found a groove recently, posting an above-average 771 OPS while playing five positions in the last 12 games … Michael Rucker is now up to 13 strikeouts in his last 25 batters faced … Chase Strumpf has been slumping a bit lately, but hopefully busted out of it last night with two hits and a walk.

Five: Brennen Davis and Miguel Amaya

THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

Cumulatively, the Cubs top two hitting prospects went 4-for-7 with two walks and five runs. This also includes both guys getting an opposite field single. Brennen indicated after the game that his rehab stint with South Bend ended (.321/.406/.607 in eight games), so he’ll be joining Miguel in the lineup this week.

(A note on the third member of the Cubs top 3 prospects. I heard from a source yesterday that Brailyn Marquez is “real close” to leaving Arizona and beginning his minor league season. I don’t think I’m expecting quite this week, given The Athletic’s reporting that the Cubs “haven’t set a start date,” but I am expecting shortly thereafter.)

Four: Jordan Nwogu

The strikeouts have been a surprise, with 17 in 32 PA, given the 18.3 K% he had playing pretty much every day during his time at Michigan. Then came a hamstring injury that cost Nwogu two weeks. But he’s now healthy and looked great yesterday (just missed a double, too), and here’s to hoping has found something to lock into.

Three: Bain, Gallardo & Thoresen

The three A-ball starters (the Pelicans played a doubleheader) combined for a cumulative line of 13 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 16 K. We’ve talked about Bain and Gallardo in the past, so I’ll focus today on Sam Thoresen, one of the Cubs undrafted free agents last year. The 6-foot-3 right-hander allowed 85 walks and 16 HBP in 91 career innings at the University of Minnesota, but the Cubs belief in that arm is evidenced by allowing him to win a rotation spot. After struggling his first time out, Thoresen has been very solid in his last four: 14 IP, 10 H, 2.57 ERA, 7 BB, 20 K.

Yesterday’s streaming feed in Salem wasn’t quite good enough to draw impressions from, but Thoresen’s outing inspired me to watch his other best performance: May 13 when he got 16 whiffs on 59 total pitches. Thoresen has a short arm action coming out of a slow, deliberate delivery. It’s a mostly filled out frame, though I think there is some upper body projection remaining. Thoresen has one of the better raw curveballs in the organization, and while the pitch lacks consistency, at its best has the depth and sharpness of a plus-to-better foundational pitch. Combined with mid 90s fastball velocity, there’s an interesting prospect here with a good reliever floor. Great signing by the scouting department.

Two: Cory Abbott

I’m going to allow myself to be hyped on the 13 strikeouts, but there’s still work to be done, as two more home runs led to four earned runs. I could complain that they should be unearned, as a Daniel Descalso pop-up fell as a “single” while Abiatal Avelino and Andrew Romine stared at each other, but hard contact is an issue that needs solving.

Still, 13 is one big strikeout number. And you had to know I was going to tell you what those K pitches were:

  1. 94 mph fastball up and away (swinging)
  2. 94 mph fastball at the knees (looking)
  3. 84 mph plus curveball away (swinging)
  4. 94 mph fastball up and away (swinging)
  5. 93 mph fastball up and away (swinging)
  6. 93 mph fastball outside corner (swinging)
  7. 84 mph curveball inside to LHH (swinging)
  8. 94 mph fastball up and away (swinging)
  9. 93 mph high full-count fastball (swinging)
  10. 92 mph fastball up and away (swinging)
  11. 93 mph fastball outside corner (looking)
  12. 93 mph high fastball (swinging)
  13. 89 mph plus bottom-drop-out cutter (swinging)

One: Durna, Velazquez & Windham

Home runs for these three to lead South Bend to a dominant 12-2 win. Durna had four hits, as the BABIP struggles of his first two weeks are regressing to normal territory, where Velazquez raised his to .533. One of the hotter hitters in baseball, some of Velazquez’ massive month is surely due to good luck, but I’ll also point out that he’s shown big increases in fly balls and pulled balls.

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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