Chicago Cubs Weekly Farm Report (5/13/19): Who Says System Lacks Starting Pitchers?

With another successful week in Chicago fueled by excellent pitching performances, there’s been a lot less chatter about the Cubs’ lack of pitching development. But that doesn’t mean the organization isn’t still hard at work on exactly that, as we saw clearly over the last week in the minors.

News in the System

  • The Cubs released the names of their Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Month, with Robel Garcia and Tyson Miller the runaway winners for April.
  • Garcia hit .327 in April with five doubles, five homers, and 20 RBI in 15 games.
  • Miller had a 1.42 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in April in his four starts on the mound.
  • The Low-A South Bend Cubs threw their second no-hitter in as many years on Monday night. 2018 draft pick Derek Casey started the game and was replaced by Peyton Remy for the final two innings.You can read about how they did it right here at CI.
  • The 2019 MLB Draft is quickly approaching and will take place less than a month away on June 3-5. Todd Johnson took a look at some of the guy the Cubs might target at No. 27 a couple weeks ago.
  • The first wave of promotions has finally hit the Cubs system in 2019. Last week saw Garcia, Junichi Tazawa, Jake Stinnett, Tommy Nance, Alexander Vargas, and Sean Barry all receiving call-ups to their respective clubs. Expect several more as the month wears on as the Cubs figures out what gaps they will need to plug in the draft.

Triple-A Iowa Cubs

  • The I-Cubs stayed above .500 for yet another week as they went 4-3. They rounded out the weekend by losing back-to-back games for only the second time all season and are now an organization-best 24-13. Their home series with the Omaha Storm Chasers wraps up on Monday and Tuesday before they get a rare off day in Des Moines as the New Orleans Babycakes travel in for the first five of six games.
  • Brian Duensing hit the Injured List on Sunday. As the season wears on and he goes through changes to become a better pitcher, essentially starting over, the Cubs will have to decide at what point they cut ties with the 36-year-old reliever.
  • Speaking of arms ready for a promotion, it may be James Norwood getting the next call to Chicago when a reliever goes down with injury. He did not give up a run or a hit in his 2.2 innings last week and his ERA sits at 3.07 with a 1.02 WHIP.
  • Tazawa made his Cubs organization debut on Sunday. The 32-year-old seems more like a 52-year-old, but he looked good, going 1-2-3 in his lone inning of work. He sat 92 mph with his fastball and featured his popular splitter in the mid-80’s.
  • Phillip Evans has been hot as ever and he showed it last week with his 1.045 OPS. He walked 10 times in his 33 plate appearances.
  • Garcia got his first taste of Triple-A and did not disappoint, racking up five hits in his 19 plate appearances.

Double-A Tennessee Smokies

  • It was not the best week for the Smokies as they dropped to 2-4, putting them at 17-18 this year and below the .500 mark for the first time since April 28. They will actually have to play eight games in seven days as they will be making up a game on Monday against the Birmingham Barons. They will close out their series with the Barons on Wednesday and then travel south to Jackson to play the Generals for the first four games of that series.
  • I have run out of ways to describe how good Tyson Miller has been this season. I think whenever there is some room in the Iowa rotation, Miller is ready to fill that void. Last week he had two starts, going 13 innings while giving up only 8 hits and a run. His nice 0.69 ERA and 0.69 WHIP over the course of the week just improved his season-long numbers of a 0.94 ERA and 0.73 WHIP.
  • Oscar De La Cruz is starting to prove that the people who dropped him down their prospect rankings were wrong, as he had yet another good performance on the mound last week. He went six shutout innings in his start, giving up only two hits and putting together a 7:1 K:BB ratio.
  • It was the bats that came up empty this week for the Smokies, as only three guys hit over .250 for the week. Roberto Caro was really the only one who put together an impressive performance at the dish as he slashed his way to .294/.478/.529.
  • Luis Vazquez, the 19-year-old filling in for an injured Nico Hoerner, is known for his defense but he is holding his own at the plate as well. He isn’t hitting for any power (.298 SLG) but he is batting .277 and striking out less than you figure a young kid would at this level.

High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans

  • The Pelicans closed the week on a four-game losing streak to fall to 2-4, but I like to focus more on the incredible win streak they put together that was capped off by a win on Wednesday night. Their five consecutive victories between May 3-8 were the best baseball they have played all year. In a season that has already gotten out of hand in the worst of ways, hopefully they can take away some positives from that great stretch and improve. They will face off against the Winston-Salem Dash for four games at home before hitting the road for a three-game set with the Lynchburg Hillcats this week.
  • Outfielder DJ Wilson hit the Injured List this week. It has been a struggle at the plate so far this season for him as he finds himself falling off even the tightest prospect huggers’ radars. Maybe it was an injury that hampering his ability at the plate, but he is hitting just .130/.250/.159 in his 69 at-bats in 2019.
  • Aramis Ademan got some more playing time at second base this week, which is perhaps an indication that he could play there when he gets the call to Double-A. That could be soon, and he went for another impressive weekly slash line of .313/.421/.438.
  • Javier Assad followed his soccer-assist-making start with his best outing of the entire season last week. He only gave up one hit in his six innings on the mound and struck out six while only walking two.
  • Paul Richan looked really good in his start as well. He went six innings and gave up a run on five hits, striking out eight without allowing any walks.

Low-A South Bend Cubs

  • South Bend only played five games last week, with a scheduled off-day on Sunday and a rainout on Saturday limiting their work. Fortunately, they were sitting around those two days celebrating a 4-1 record. Their season record now sits at 19-15 as they travel to Bowling Green for a three-gamer with the Hot Rods (one of my favorite MiLB team names) before they get to come back home for their first games of the season against the Dayton Dragons.
  • The story of the week was the no-hitter thrown by Casey and Remy. Casey worked a perfect game through his seven innings on the bump, striking out six in the process. Remy then came in relief and held the no-no intact in his two innings of work. It was an incredible moment for two pitchers that they will be able to brag about for the rest of their lives.
  • Those two guys weren’t the only impressive performers to toe the rubber last week, as Faustino Carrera and Eury Ramos also put together lights-out starts.
  • Carerra went 5.2 innings, allowing just a run on four hits. He walked none and struck out five.
  • Ramos went five innings, allowing no runs on three hits. He had an even more impressive seven strikeouts and no walks.
  • The big bat last week was Levi Jordan, who hit .400 and knocked in two runs in his 15 at-bats. He only struck out two times all week long.
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