This is the third edition of Chicago Cubs Around the Farm from On Tap Sports Net. If you missed the first or second edition, we’re basically here to tell you how the Cubs’ minor league affiliates performed and who were their best (biggest yikes) and worst (biggest yikes). I tore my ACL yesterday, and I have almost nothing to do but watch minor baseball, so let’s go.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs: 5-7 Loss to Louisville Bats
Biggest yes: Jared Young – 1/2, HR (15), 2 BB, 3 RBI
I thought about giving that spot to David Bote (2/4, HR, RBI) because he won Iowa’s biggest prize on Tuesday, but Young’s productivity, especially with runners on base , made his case too compelling. Young’s touch and skill on base have yet to meet expectations (.235 AVG, .313 OBP), but his 15 homers have been enjoyable. He continued to show his power on Wednesday, putting the Cubs in a position where they should have been able to win the game.
Biggest Yikes: Raynel Espinal — 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1BB, 1 SO
If you notice the language in the sentence above, namely that the Cubs should were able to win the match – Espinal decided they wouldn’t. The 30-year-old RHP came to the Cubs from the San Francisco Giants in the Dixon Machado trade. When the whole season has been exceptionally rough for Espinal, his two games with the Cubs were disastrous.
In his two appearances (3.1 IP), he conceded three points each time. Granted, the last earned run charged to Espinal came when Dakota Mekkes was throwing. However, he was one of several baserunners Espinal let reach base. After a clean sixth inning, Espinal managed just one out in the seventh before giving up a two-run homer and leaving the men on base for Mekkes to give up the third run.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: Lost 10-3 against the Mississippi Braves
Biggest yes: Cole Roederer – 1/2, HR (1), RBI (obviously)
There wasn’t much to get excited about watching Wednesday’s Smokies game. As such, let’s give the biggest yes to Roederer, who hit his first Double-A home run after being activated from the injured list.
Roederer, drafted just 15 picks past Brennan Davis in 2018, has faced a ton of injuries as a pro so far. Meanwhile, his bat struggled to move as the scouts expected. Hopefully this performance is just one step towards returning to the excitement that surrounded Roederer at the start of his career.
Biggest Yikes: DJ Herz – 4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
Maybe I cursed Herz today. I was watching a video that featured Herz as one of the top five prospects in the Cubs system. Admittedly, I have Herz at 12, but I was still very skeptical about listening.
Herz’s command issues were on display Wednesday as he was knocked down by the Braves. The southpaw has dominated High-A competition this season (2.26 ERA, 14.10 K/9, 1.10 WHIP). In four matches at the Double-A level, Herz struggled to replicate the success. On Wednesday night, Herz managed to top his 8.36 ERA for the Smokies while reducing his Double-A K/9 to (still solid) 10.29.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 2-6 loss to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Biggest Yes: Casey Optiz – 1/3, 2B
Listen, this was a RAW game to watch. I struggled with this decision because not much “good” happened Wednesday for South Bend. In the end, let’s give it to the only Cub that hit for extra bases.
Optiz had the only extra hit for South Bend, bringing his average to ALMOST .200 (.197). Optiz, a catcher and a 2021 eighth-round pick from Arkansas, bases himself at a decent clip (.365), but his batting skills just aren’t there right now. However, if you watched Wednesday’s game in a vacuum, you’d think Optiz has the South Bend Cubs’ only advanced bat. So, you know, there’s this.
Biggest Yikes: Kevin Made – 0/4, 2 LOB
All things considered, Wednesday’s game was just plain ordinary for the Cubs. Porter Hodge is considered for the biggest yikes because he allowed four runs in four innings pitched. However, he also had seven strikeouts and some of those runs were the result of high-A defense.
Made, on the other hand, had opportunities to be productive at the plate, and he wasn’t. While Made is the Cubs’ 16th-best prospect mostly on defense, his bat has shown signs of production. Wednesday, however, was a step in the wrong direction.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 7-4 win over Columbia Fireflies
Biggest yes: Jacob Wetzel – 1/4, 2G, 3 RBI
Hey look! The Pelicans agree with me here! The Myrtle Beach game was another mundane game, really. Yes, Tyler Santana won his 10th game with quality six innings pitched and three earned runs. However, he allowed six hits, one home run and only one batter on strike. Instead, I’ll give the biggest yes to Wetzel, who provided early run support (three-run double in the third inning), which was exactly the cushion the Cubs needed.
Biggest Yikes: Ezequiel Pagan – 0/4, 4 LOB
Pagan’s bat was a nice surprise for Myrtle Beach this season. His slant line of .292/.373/.455 is incredibly promising. Additionally, Pagan has 10 home runs on the year, more than his previous three MiLB seasons combined. Unfortunately, Wednesday night was not his night. Finding yourself empty every time, especially with four runners stuck as a result, is almost unbelievably bad.
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