Cubs Minor League Notes: Suzuki’s First Game, Near No-Hitters, Amaya’s Blast, PCA, Brown, Little, Guzman, More

The Cubs had a busy day in the minor leagues, so I thought it best to hit on some of the big things …

  • It remains TBD how long Seiya Suzuki’s rehab stint at Iowa will last, but the first game was a success at the plate, with a sac fly, a walk, and this RBI single:
  • The only thing that makes me think it won’t just be a one-gamer is that Suzuki played only five innings in the field in the game. The Cubs have a three-game set at home against the Mariners starting on Monday, and I tentatively think Suzuki will make his return during that series, but not necessarily at the start.
  • Brandon Hughes also made his first rehab appearance in the game, allowing some traffic on the bases, but ultimately getting through a scoreless frame. We have Statcast metrics at Triple-A, so we can say that it was probably a mixed outing (spin looks fine, velo not quite to full ramp up, just one whiff, 24% CSW). I tend to think he’s still in ramp-up mode, so for him, it was more like Spring Training than anything else. Cubs will take their time there.
  • Nick Burdi was once again called on to close out an Iowa Cubs game for a true save, and although he allowed the first two runners to reach, he then struck out the next three guys, touching 100 mph and getting 10(!) whiffs on 19 pitches. Holy crap. They swung and missed at more than half of his pitches!
  • Speaking of Statcast and velo, Manny Rodriguez is back up to 98-99mph on the regular, apparently. That’s very necessary for him to have success, so you love to see it. Also Anthony Kay has been awesome at Iowa. That bullpen is just ridiculously loaded. I’m not sure who is going to get the first call-up, because whoever it is, there are going to be like five guys for whom you also could’ve made an argument.
  • Christopher Morel, man:
  • The Tennessee Smokies took a no-hitter deep into their game, with Ben Brown throwing the first four hitless (four walks, but six strikeouts). His four-seamer curveball pairing is just murder on guys who don’t pick up the spin right away – watch the final strikeout, and think about how that pitch would look coming in after you’d just seen elevated four-seamers:
  • Jake Reindl got the final two innings in that one, and he was perfect – a fly out, two pop outs, and three strikeouts. If you remember him from Spring Training, you remember that he’s got big league stuff. Only thing keeping him from a very rapid ascent to Iowa is how crowded that bullpen is right now!
  • In that Tennessee game, woo hoo for for a Miguel Amaya blast:
  • And Pete Crow-Armstrong, who stole yet another base (he’s at one per game), ripped a triple:
  • The South Bend Cubs ALSO took a no-hitter deep into the night, just falling short. Luke Little got the first four innings (56 pitches):
  • I think about Little a lot like I think about DJ Herz: it’s very easy to see why lower-level hitters have no prayer against him. The delivery is so funky, the angle is so tough, and the pitches have so much movement. What I need to see is whether he and Herz will get enough swings and misses from better hitters (otherwise your walk rate skyrockets at the same time your strikeout rate plummets) AND whether the mechanics can hold up past 60+ pitches (which is an even bigger problem if you aren’t efficient because of the first issue). I’m not saying it can’t happen – and each has the potential to be a STUDDDD multi-inning reliever if not – but that’s where they are for me as prospects.
  • Very interesting in that South Bend game: Carlos Guzman, 24, was making his Cubs debut (he was acquired from the Tigers for Zach McKinstry) in a multi-inning relief role. He was a starter for years in the Tigers’ system, and I wonder if the Cubs targeted him in trade with designs on converting him. Guzman allowed a homer, but struck out four in his two innings of work.
  • And Cade Horton made his organizational debut! OPE, no, the dang Pelicans game got rained out. Sigh. I am pretty edgy to see Horton pitch.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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