Five Stars of The Cubs Farm, 8/19/21: Cubs Org Sweep, Dingers Above, Good Pitching Below

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Five Stars of The Cubs Farm, 8/19/21: Cubs Org Sweep, Dingers Above, Good Pitching Below

Chicago Cubs

I lost my son’s wiffle ball yesterday by smacking a pitch from my brother into the woods. And I’m going to tell you right now, I cheated: I checked his grip on the ball before the pitch, saw changeup, waited back and caught that thing perfectly. So satisfying, BUT: I have to go buy a new wiffle ball this morning.

Let’s break down an organizational sweep day in the minors for the Cubs (big league team won, too, so that’s the whole org!).

Honorable Mention: I keep looking for a way to get Jared Young as one of the five stars, and he’s falling just short, even though he’s really looking comfortable in Triple-A. Jared is now seven for his last eleven, and he’s been getting looks at third base, which is a fun new wrinkle. I do wonder the impact that Schwindel hitting in Chicago has on Young and Alfonso Rivas … Ethan Roberts shut things down in the tenth for the I-Cubs with two strikeouts, showing that cut to left-handed hitters that has them hitting just .122 against him this year. Someone I’m hoping to see in Chicago for five outings in mid-September … Brendon Little, last six games: 12.1 IP, 8 H, 1.46 ERA, 2 BB, 15 K. That walk number really jumps out … Tennessee doesn’t win their game without Chris Morel, who had a 3-RBI triple and a diving catch to end the game. It’s the third good play I’ve seen from him in the outfield this month … Chase Strumpf in August: .306/.393/.531 … If I go back and look at Yohendrick Pinango’s last 30 days, he has a hit in all but three games. And yet he’s hitting just .267/.292/.302 during that time frame. Better impact contact yesterday, so hopefully that tide is turning.

Five: Kevin Made and Ezequiel Pagan

The 18-year-old Made has now played in 40 games with Low-A Myrtle Beach, and wow if you break that into two distinctly different 20-game chunks:

First 20 games: .203/.241/.215, 4.8 BB%, 27.7 K%

Second 20 games: .325/.333/.446, 1.1 BB% (lulz), 18.2 K%

While better BABIP luck is doing some of the work there, which makes sense for a groundball-heavy guy, there’s no doubt Made is hitting the ball harder as he’s getting more comfortable. Twenty games with a strikeout rate under 20% is no easy thing, much less for an 18-year-old in full-season ball, and shows Made’s hit tool is better than where I’d have pegged it. Obviously he’ll eventually need to draw walks to have a ceiling, and I’m more confident power will come than patience.

Four: Home Runs (Including from Brennen Davis)

I can’t really explain it, but I feel this strange investment in Brennen Davis keeping his OPS above .900 in Double-A this season, perhaps because of the company he’d keep as a 21-year-old doing that at this level. And after a brief flirtation with the eight hundreds early in the month, Brennen has again got hot, and he’s now comfortably back up at .926.

I just don’t really get where the “long swing” criticism you’ll read in some detailed scouting reports comes from. I don’t see it. Anyway, last 40 games for Davis: .284/.409/.619. Top fifteen prospect in all of baseball, indeed.

Three: Greg Deichmann and Ian Miller

What a great return to Iowa for Deichmann, who gets a pinch hit assignment against a left-handed pitcher in the ninth inning and ties the game. Deichmann would then hit a go-ahead single in the 10th, lining the ball past a drawn-in infield. It was obviously a bad seven games in the Majors for Deichmann, I think signaled best by his zero walks, but it was also a far-too-tiny sample to tell us anything.

And shouts to Ian Miller, who scored the go-ahead run in the ninth (before one of those Dillon Maples outings blew the save in the bottom half), and then put the exclamation mark on the game with a three-run bomb in the tenth. Miller’s having a really nice season in Triple-A, particularly in his last 55 games: .313/.371/.401, 12.2 K%, 11-for-11 stealing bases.

Two: Tyler Schlaffer, Bailey Reid, Riley Martin

What jumped out about Schlaffer in this one was the speed and efficiency with which he pitches. Dude gets the ball and throws it, and not only that, but in this one was attacking hitters in the zone. I’d love to know how many 20-year-old starting pitchers have completed a six-inning start this year; it can’t be a long list.

I want to talk about the relievers, too, as I have notes on both of them. Bailey Reid was an undrafted free agent signing the Cubs were excited about last year out of small Westmont College, and I got good feedback from people in the organization about his potential. Reid has the second-highest strikeout percentage in the system with guys over 40 innings (behind D.J. Herz), and has been phenomenal the last two months with a 1.71 ERA. I’d love to see him get an end-of-season cup-of-coffee in High-A.

And hey, professional debut here for Riley Martin, the Cubs’ 2021 sixth-round pick out of southern Illinois’ Quincy University. Martin breezed through his first inning on just nine pitches, including two strikeouts. He twice got batters to swing underneath his fastball and showcased a plus, tight breaking ball. The Cubs needed to find a drastically underslot guy in the sixth to make their draft strategy work, so if they can also get develop Martin into a MLB lefty relief prospect, you’d chalk that up to a massive win for the scouting department.

One: Joe Nahas, Danis Correa, Eduarniel Nunez

Re-inserted into the rotation following his dominance in South Bend’s no-hitter last week, Nahas had quite the follow-up with a confident six one-run innings last night. It’s worth pointing out that Nahas has not allowed more than three earned runs in an appearance all season, and his High-A ERA is down to 3.35 now.

What’s jumped out to me lately about Nahas is the total command of his two breaking balls (particularly the curve). He throws a ton of them right now, it’s almost a lock to be one of the first two pitches of an at-bat and it’s his preferred late count offering. The lone damage against Nahas in this one was a changeup that he left up, but the fastball-breaker mix was completely effective. You’d like to see a bit more consistent velocity, but it’s in there, and I like the way the fastball plays from his over-the-top arm slot.

Author: Bryan Smith

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