What. A. Week. This was the most action-packed week of news in the minor league system so far this year. Better yet, it was almost entirely great news! But since there is plenty to talk about and I’m exhausted from our three-hour draft show last night, we should probably get right into it.
News in the System
- The draft. Like I mentioned, I hosted The Rant Live’s special draft episode on Sunday night alongside Jimmy Nelligan and Greg Zumach. It was an absolute blast and we appreciate everyone that tuned in for the action. The night ended with the Cubs selecting left-handed starting pitcher Jordan Wicks out of Kansas State. It is pretty surprising that Wicks fell down to the Cubs at 21 considering he was the best lefty in the draft class and features arguably the best changeup of anyone taken.
- The draft continues with rounds 2-10 Monday at 1:00pm ET and rounds 11-20 on Tuesday beginning at noon ET. Shameless plug as I’ll be live blogging each selection over at my site, and we will have all the coverage after the days’ festivities here at CI.
- July 11 will henceforth be known as Brennen Davis Day. The Cubs’ top prospect was able to showcase his talents in this year’s Futures Game and boy did he show out. Davis homered twice on his way to MVP honors. His has been the first name out of every Cubs prospect writer’s mouth for a good part of two years now, but he really hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves from national writers. He is forcing his way into their conversations now.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 11, 2021
- Manny Rodriguez was the other Cubs participant in the Futures Game and, although he was overshadowed by the Davis performance, it is worth pointing out that ManRod was clocked at a cool 100 mph on the gun during his outing. Add him to the list of relievers that could help in Chicago, like, yesterday.
Cubs RHP Manuel Rodriguez just touched 99.0 mph but walks Julio Rodriguez. He also is showing some of the best vertical movement on his FB we have seen today (21 inches of vertical break).
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 11, 2021
Triple-A Iowa Cubs
- We’re not yet done with the big news. The I-Cubs threw their second no-hitter of the year and it is the fourth the organization has seen so far in 2021. This one was the seven-inning variety and featured performances on the mound by (starting pitcher) Justin Steele, Scott Effross, and Dillon Maples. That stuff is just not fair on minor league hitters. That no-no led the I-Cubs to a 3-3 week in which they ended the festivities with three straight dubs.
- On the week, Effross went 2.2 innings and didn’t give up anything while notching four strikeouts. The crazy stat from the sidearmer: He threw 21 pitches and 19 of them were strikes.
- If it wasn’t for the no-hitter, Matt Swarmer would have gotten the nod as the best performance on the mound this week. He went six innings in his start, allowing four hits, no runs, two walks, and striking out four.
- Alfonso Rivas likes playing for the Cubs. We knew his contact rate would be high this year, but he is really showing off the power so far this season. He hit two more doubles and a homer on his way to a 1.117 OPS this week.
- Tyler Ladendorf was the other hitter for Iowa that really showed out. His slash line read .350/.409/.550 this week as he doubled and homered.
- Iowa will hit the road now for a two-week trip out East. They will face off against Detroit’s affiliate Toledo Mud Hens this week before traveling south to Columbus.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies
- Tennessee played a shortened week, getting only four games in before the weekend was rained out completely. They were terrific in the games they did play, going 3-1 and scoring 6.5 runs per game.
- Ethan Roberts check. Two more innings for the righty reliever with no hits, no walks, and four punchouts. 1.82 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, .128 average against, 37.2% strikeout rate this season.
- We talked about Davis’s performances in the Futures Game but he also showed out for the Smokies before he traveled out to Denver. In 17 plate appearances, he homered once and hit three doubles to go along with only one strikeout. The dude is GOOD.
Brennen Davis homers in the Futures Game and all of his teammates got to watch on the bus! https://t.co/jNIG8ByHJl
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) July 11, 2021
- Nelson Maldonado continues his hot streak and while he only strolled to the plate 13 times this week, he made the most of his opportunities. He doubled twice, tripled, and homered.
- The Smokies are back home for a series against the Mississippi Braves, a team they went 2-4 against back in late June.
High-A South Bend Cubs
- South Bend had the best record on the farm last week, going 4-2 against the Beloit Snappers at home. They were led by a couple of top-notch pitching performances.
- We’ll take a look at Derek Casey’s start first because it was arguably the best outing in the system this year. He went 5.2 innings and gave up no runs on just two hits without allowing a walk and striking out 10 batters. The second hit he gave up on the evening actually knocked him out of the game. It was a slow chopper to the mound and he reached for the ball, but it bounced off his glove and the trainers came on to take him out of the game. Casey has been lights out this season and features much-improved stuff compared to 2019. His season line reads: 3.24 ERA, 29% strikeout rate, 7.9% walk rate.
Here are the seven whiffs from Derek Casey’s first inning yesterday.
Legit, right? Assuming he’s healthy, he should be in Double-A next week. pic.twitter.com/I3Nu9UB6CB
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 9, 2021
- Ryan Jensen also had a terrific start the day after Casey. He went five innings and gave up one run on one hit and one walk. He struck out six batters.
- I also need to point out the work Tyler Sullentrop put in during his two outings from the bullpen this week. He totaled 4.1 innings and gave up just one hit and one walk on his way to five punchies.
- Delvin Zinn had quite the performance at the plate, logging 11 hits in his 27 plate appearances. That’s a whole lot of hits in one week.
- South Bend rounds out their homestand with a series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Cubs are 1-5 against the Twins affiliate this year.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans
- The Pelicans dropped four of six against Augusta this week, including a trading of offensive outbursts on Saturday (10 runs for Myrtle Beach) and Sunday (11 runs for Augusta). That puts all four affiliates with nearly identical records this season: Iowa is 24-33, Tennessee is 24-32, South Bend is 26-33, and Myrtle Beach is 26-33.
- Jeremiah Estrada was good once again. He made two appearances, including one that actually came as a starter in 2.2 innings on Sunday. He struck out eight and didn’t walk anyone in five total innings.
- Alberto Soto made his full-season debut this week, acting as a reliever but going 3.1 innings. He struck out five and gave up zip besides that.
- Talk about a guy that has flown way under the radar, mostly because he is 25-years-old in Low-A, but Blake Whitney was terrific again this week. His 2.1 shutout innings gives him a 1.54 ERA this year and a very nice 0.69 WHIP.
- Don’t look now, but Jordan Nwogu is starting to figure things out. The big man hit two bombs this week and walked more than he struck out. His at-bats look way more comfortable than they did in the early going.
- The Birds fly back home for two weeks, starting with a series against the Columbia Fireflies. Myrtle is 5-6 against the Flies already this season.