The big news on the farm this week was the activation of two players from their suspensions, but there was a lot more happening across all levels. Let’s get right to it.
News in the System
- Addison Russell cam back from his 40-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic abuse policy and was immediately optioned to Triple-A. Oscar De La Cruz was reinstated from his suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy and sent to make his first start at Double-A.
- Riley Thompson was the anti-Cubs draft pick when he was selected out of Louisville last year. The front office scrapped their safe drafting style and went for a guy with electric stuff. It is paying off so far this year as he has been one of the best starting pitchers in the organization. Todd Johnson put together a profile on Thompson here at CI recently.
- The Cubs might be the hottest team in MLB right now, but their winning is trickling down to the Minor League affiliates. Three of the four affiliates find themselves with records above .500 so far this season, with Myrtle Beach as the only team without that distinction.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- The I-Cubs rode a hot streak last week on their way to a 6-1 record. They are looking better and better as the season moves along and now find themselves in first place in their division, ahead of the Memphis Redbirds by 2.5 games. They will wrap up their series with the Omaha Storm Chasers on Monday before traveling to Memphis for four games. They will then travel back home for the first two games of a series against Omaha.
- It was four offseason additions leading the way over the last week, with Phillip Evans (free agent signing), Donnie Dewees (trade), Johnny Field (waiver claim), and Colin Rea (free agent signing) all performing extremely well.
- Evans showed off his power stroke with two homers and a double on his way to a .348/.500/.652 slash line while only striking out once all week.
- Former Cubs draft pick Dewees also only struck out only once over the course of the week and he slashed .464/.484/.607 in his 28 at-bats.
- Field was even better in the power department, as he tacked on to his system-best 12 doubles with three of them last week. He added a home run to the mix.
- Rea has turned in three consecutive impressive outings on the mound and he only gave up one hit in his five innings of work this week. He punched out three batters and did not give up any runs.
- Duane Underwood Jr. was the other good-looking starter last week and he is riding a hot streak as well. He put together 6.1 innings and punched out six guys while not allowing a single walk.
- Carl Edwards Jr. is the man in Iowa that everyone wants to know about and he has looked impressive. He is limiting the walks, which is the most important thing for him, and is sitting in the mid-90’s with his fastball.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- The Smokies followed in their Triple-A big brother’s footsteps by putting together a 5-2 week. As always, it has been their pitching staff leading the way. They will spend most of this week on the road, matching up with the Chattanooga Lookouts for five before coming back home for the first two games of a five gamer with the White Sox-affiliated Birmingham Barons.
- Alright, take your pick on the pitcher of the week for the Smokies. Once again, there were multiple top performers and it is getting difficult to determine who is my favorite down there.
- Cory Abbott put together a start of 6.2 innings with 7:0 K:BB. He gave up two runs on four hits but they both came off of home runs.
- Tyson Miller, who was just named the Cubs’ MiLB Pitcher of the Month for April, has a 1.07 ERA and 0.75 WHIP this year. That is not a joke. He went 6.1 innings in his start last week, carrying a no-hitter all the way into the 7th inning. He ended the night giving up two hits and no runs while striking out nine and only walking one.
- Justin Steele made his first start back from the IL and looked good in his 4 innings. He only gave up one hit and did not walk anyone while striking out four.
- Wyatt Short was the best relief arm in his 3.2 innings. He only gave up one hit and struck out four men without walking any He is down to a 2.25 ERA and an even 1.00 WHIP on the season.
- I guess we should probably include a bat in here somewhere. Vimael Machin found his way back to Tennessee after filling in at Iowa for a couple weeks, but could be in Triple-A again soon if he keeps swinging the bat the way he did last week. He did not strike out at all in his 24 plate appearances and walked 29.2% of the time. He added in three doubles for good measure.
High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- Things just do not seem to be turning around for the Pelicans in the standings as they found themselves going 3-4 last week. They are now just 10-21 overall and it has been a tough first year as manager for Steve Lerud. They will play two series on the road this week, first against the Down East Wood Ducks for three games and then versus the Carolina Mudcats for three.
- Jake Stinnett and Tommy Nance made their full-season debuts in 2019 after starting the year in Arizona as they worked back from injuries. Stinnett (27) and Nance (28) will provide some much needed experience for Myrtle Beach.
- It would be pretty embarrassing if I failed to bring up the spectacular play by Javier Assad Friday night that made its rounds through social media by way of a viral video. After bobbling a grounder between the mound and first base, Assad decided it would be a safer bet to just kick the ball over to first base, soccer-style.
— Myrtle Beach Pelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) May 4, 2019
- Assad is more than just a good soccer player. He went six innings in his start, giving up just three hits and no runs while striking out three.
- Alex Lange needed a good outing to bounce back from an absolutely brutal start to the season that saw him with a 21.00 ERA going into Saturday. He did just that, tossing five no-hit innings. He walked four guys but also struck out seven of the 18 batters he faced.
- The 2018 draft pick Jimmy Herron got an aggressive promotion to High-A to start the year and got off to a rough start. That is, until last week rolled around. He put together an OPS of 1.450, helped by his homer, triple, and four doubles on the week.
Low-A South Bend Cubs
- South Bend actually got two days off early in the week with a scheduled off-day on Monday followed by a rain out on Tuesday. But they hopped back into action on Wednesday and had one of their worst weeks so far this season. They went 2-4 and their offense is getting colder as the weather gets warmer. They will look to get back on track this week with two three-game sets at home. They will take on the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the former Cubs affiliate Peoria Chiefs.
- 19-year-old Cole Roederer is heating up, folks. He hit his first home run as a member of the SB Cubs and tacked on two doubles. His approach is looking much better as the weeks wear on and he sported a 17.4% walk rate that helped contribute to his .918 OPS.
- Delvin Zinn just continues to rake. He slashed .333/.444/.844 last week and is starting to look like he might be ready for a promotion to Myrtle Beach.
- Stop me if you have heard this before. Jeff Passantino gave up zero runs last week. Opponents hit just .125 off of him and he only walked one man in his 3 innings out of the bullpen.
- Jack Patterson is the other piggyback reliever that has looked good. He was called up a couple weeks ago and put up 6 innings of shutout ball last week. He struck out nine and walked one and only gave up two knocks.