Chicago Cubs Weekly Farm Report (9/6/21): Jordan Nwogu Has Big Week, Jordan Wicks Debuts

This is it, folks, we are in the home stretch of the minor league baseball season. Myrtle Beach, South Bend, and Tennessee are down to their final two weeks of the year while Iowa has those two weeks plus two more five-game series tacked on to the back of their schedule. We have seen plenty of roster shuffling over the past few weeks, but we might see a few more promotions so players can get a little run at the affiliate they will begin the year with next season.

I’m looking at Brennen Davis in the capital city of a certain Midwest state.

News in the System

  • Nelson Velazquez and Max Bain took home the Cubs’ Hitter and Pitcher of the Month for August. Velazquez was promoted after being one of the best hitters at the High-A level, even during a bit of a rough stretch in South Bend, and all he did was put up even better numbers in Tennessee. He slashed .325/.402/.714 during August. Bain came off a short stint on the development list to rock a 2.96 ERA in five starts while allowing opposing hitters to put up just a .568 OPS against him.

Triple-A Iowa Cubs

  • It was an even 3-3 week for the I-Cubs, who lost a couple of one-run games to the Indianapolis Indians in the process. They have a record of 45-63 this year as the season winds down to the home stretch.
  • Iowa’s offense struggled mightily throughout the week. They averaged five runs a game, but that number was propped up dramatically by two separate nine-run outputs.
  • The OPS leader this week was actually Abiatal Avelino at .881, and he did that while recording just three hits in 16 at-bats. He walked five times and struck out just once, which helped.
  • Joe Biagini appeared in two games and had quite an interesting line. He went 10.2 innings and gave up just one run with 10 strikeouts along the way, but he also gave up nine hits and eight walks.
  • Matt Swarmer went a solid 5.2 innings in his start in game one of a doubleheader, giving up one earned on four hits and three walks with six punchouts. A September taste in Chicago isn’t completely out of the question for Swarmer.
  • Iowa will play the Toledo Mud Hens this upcoming week, a series that was originally scheduled to be their last home set of the year but is now their next-to-last. It is the only time this year that they will play Toledo at home.

Double-A Tennessee Smokies

  • The Smokies returned from a COVID break and were able to squeeze in four games beginning Thursday. They have now played only six games in a two-week span, the same number they typically play over the course of one week.
  • Because of the unusually large number of players on the IL (presumably because of COVID protocols), Tennessee saw an influx of talent come up from High-A to make appearances. Catcher Harrison Wenson, outfielder Bradlee Beesley, righties Joe Nahas and Anderson Espinoza, and lefties Burl Carraway and Bryan King all got the call-up.
  • Ryan Jensen and Scott Kobos were also given promotions (albeit for non-COVID reasons). Jensen made his first start this week and gave up just two hits and a run in four innings. Kobos continued his dominant 2021 campaign with two more scoreless innings.
  • Davis and Christopher Morel had big weeks, with Davis all but securing his hitter of the year award with a .333/.412/.533 slash line this week. Morel logged a homer, a double, and a stolen base in his 17 plate appearances.

  • Tennessee will play their last home games of the year this upcoming week as they take on the Chattanooga Lookouts in a series that was cut short to two games just two weeks ago.

High-A South Bend Cubs

  • South Bend secured a 2-4 record this week, finished off by a hard-fought 1-0 loss on Sunday night’s matchup on Marquee Sports Network.
  • The biggest storyline of the week in the system was 2021 first round pick Jordan Wicks making his Cubs debut. The lefty from K-State started and threw just one inning, picking up his first pro strikeout on the first batter of the game and getting help from Yohendrick Pinango in left and Alexander Canario in center on flies. Wicks featured all four of his pitches: fastball, changeup, slider, curveball.

  • DJ Herz made his long-awaited High-A debut, lighting up the box score over five innings without giving up an earned run. He allowed three hits and two walks but sat down eight by strikeout.
  • Chris Clarke also had a hell of a week, working two outings, most notably as a piggybacker for Wicks on Sunday night. He went 12 total innings and rocked a 13:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
  • Bain rounds out the quartet of strong starters this week with maybe the most dominant of the bunch. Six innings, one run, three hits, zero walks, and eight punchies.
  • It’s worth pointing out the four hitters that recorded multiple extra-base hits this week. Tyler Durna and Bryce Windham both doubled twice, while Windham walked more than he struck out. Bryce Ball homered and doubled. Yonathan Perlaza doubled twice and homered once and just continues to rake.
  • South Bend wraps up their season with a two-week road trip beginning in the newest minor league stadium up in Beloit, Wisconsin. By the time the week is over, they will be able to say they played on the road against the Snappers in two different ballparks.

Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans

  • An even 3-3 record for the Birds this week puts their season record at 54-54. With just two weeks remaining and the team already out of the playoff hunt, a little part of me is rooting for a clean .500 record by season’s end.
  • Tyler Schlaffer was the star on the bump for the Pelicans, going six innings in his start with eight Ks and no walks. One run crossed the plate on six hits, but the kid from the Chicago ‘burbs also logged five groundouts compared to no flyouts.

  • There isn’t a ton of super young pitching talent down in the Arizona Complex League right now, but Luis Rodriguez made his highly anticipated debut in full-season ball this week, working out of the bullpen twice. He threw two shutout innings while striking out four.
  • The very last player mentioned in this week’s farm report was also the best hitter of the week. Jordan Nwogu’s numbers: 10-for-18, two homers, two stolen bases, .556/.619/.889//1.508 slash line. After a disastrous start to the season, Nwogu now has a strikeout rate below 30%, an OPS above league-average, and a .354 OBP.

  • The Pelicans will take on the Charleston RiverDogs, a Tampa Bay affiliate and the best minor league team in all of baseball. I think the team will be more than happy to put their season series with Charleston behind them.
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