Minor League IPA: Crow-Armstrong Breaks into Top 100, Caissie Heating Up at South Bend, Higgins Clutch in Cubs Win

Hello and welcome to my new column, which, like The Rundown, will be a daily wraparound post covering minor league baseball and specifically the Cubs’ future stars and noblemen. There will be different sections and I’ll get to focus on two things I love besides baseball: indie music, and beer, hence the acronym portmanteau. I chose IPA as a heading because it’s an amalgam of innings pitched and plate appearances, two things most minor leaguers must accumulate as they work their way up to The Show.

Minor League IPA is going to feel an awful lot like my other column here, and I suppose that legitimately brands me, especially when you consider what I am doing over at Bears Insider. The content will be slightly different, however, with a goal to help us all learn more about Chicago’s farm system and its players. That includes me because I can say with full confidence that I’ve learned as much about baseball by writing about it as I do reading about it.

Since the parent club is chin deep in mediocrity, and because last week was American Craft Beer Week, the timing couldn’t be better to start this. The cherry on that sundae is that the Cubs’ farm system is really balling as a whole right now.

As you all probably know, I’m pretty fond of the community we’ve built here. I’m looking forward to contributions from our readers in the comments section, and I’m happy to better promote the Cubs Insider writers who tend to focus on Chicago’s minor league affiliates. With that in mind, let’s make this a daily accompaniment piece to our expert writers who cover the players at Myrtle Beach, South Bend, Tennessee, and Iowa.

Today’s column is a sample, and it will become a daily starting next week.

Affiliate News & Notes

Jigger Statz

This section is named after former Cubs outfielder and minor league scout Arnold John “Jigger” Statz, who at 5-foot-7 and 150 lbs, registered 4,093 base hits in a little more than 2,800 games played for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League and four major league clubs. Only Pete Rose has more career hits in American professional baseball. This section will be dedicated to one player each day.

Here’s Statz’s story.

Velázquez is slashing .265/.362/.953 in 132 at-bats this season between Tennesee and Iowa.

Sod Busters

This section will appear once per week and will link to the great minor league coverage at Cubs Insider that’s not covered elsewhere in this column.

950 Miles to Chicago

That’s the distance from Pelicans Park in Myrtle Beach to Wrigley Field and this section will provide a daily scouting report or update on one of the Cub’s minor league players. Since Crow-Armstrong is the newest star in Chicago’s system, he earns today’s honors.

Here’s what MLB Pipeline has to say about the minor league centerfielder:

“The 2020 19th overall pick, who was acquired from the Mets while injured at last year’s Trade Deadline, has been off to a fiery start at Single-A Myrtle Beach, where he’s hitting .372/.463/.584 through 33 games. Crow-Armstrong is a plus runner and plus-plus defender in center on top of that.”

Craft Beer of the Day

Kentucky Brunch Brand Sout by Toppling Goliath Brewing Company – Why not start with the best craft beer ever? Beer Advocate says it is and describes the 12% ABV deliciousness as “Chocolate chip pancakes drenched with maple syrup served with espresso and a shot of bourbon, all in one sip.” The site also calls the award-winning KBBS “decadence in a bottle.”

Best of all, it’s brewed in Decorah, IA, which is only a three-hour drive from Des Moines. For a guy like me who lives in Milwaukee, the taproom is located at just about the halfway point when I’m road-tripping to see the Cubs’ Triple-A team. An afternoon of Kilian and KBBS sounds like a home run to me!

You can even rent out their taproom for private events. Perhaps we should all nudge Evan and Jon into hosting an offseason shindig. If you’re just crazy enough to go see the lowly Cubs play the lowlier Reds in this year’s Field of Dreams Game, make sure that Toppling Goliath is on the itinerary. It will only take you an hour out of your way.

Children of the Corn

Egads! This is my pet name for the column and the section will mostly include players from other organizations.

Post-Game Presser

  • “I look at Bryce Harper‘s swing, Manny Machado‘s swing,” Caissie said. “Any swing that has a uniqueness to see what they do well and see what other guys do and try to combine and tinker a little bit.” – Caissie
  • “First at-bat of the year, big swing. He’s been killing it in Triple A. Just an awesome spot to be in the first day up. Bases loaded, getting a great swing off on a great pitcher. Had to be an awesome moment for him because it was for us.”Frank Schwindel

Monday Walk-Up Song

Ruby Tail Lights by Hank Midnight – I’ll use this section to promote indie music vids just to keep to the overall theme. This song sounds a little bit like a cross between Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Imogene Heap.

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