Did the Chicago Cubs farm system go 2-2 on Sunday? You bet. It’s collectively their favorite thing to do. They can’t get enough. Triple-A Iowa had a one-game whirlwind that ended in a one-point loss while Double-A Tennessee was slightly blown. High-A South Bend scored a decisive victory, and Low-A Myrtle Beach would have done the same, but Angel Gonzalez had other plans (more on that later). Let’s go.
Iowa Triple-A Cubs: 12-13 Defeat to the Saints of Saint Paul
Biggest yes: Matt Mervis – 2/5, BB, HR (6), 2 R, 2 RBI
Matt Mervis became the first Cubs minor leaguer to record at least 100 RBIs in a season since Kris Bryant. This justifies the hitter’s 4th biggest yes award in addition to the fact that he hit .400 with an OBP of .500 and a home run. Sunday’s game was full of ups and downs for the Cubs, but Mervis continues to punch and punch for power. Mervis probably won’t see Wrigley Field this season, but he should be a candidate to get up early next year. It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify keeping the 24-year-old in the minors beyond the fact that he is not yet eligible for Rule 5.
Biggest Yikes: Caleb Kilian – 3.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO
There were several candidates for Biggest Yikes Sunday. Jonathan Holder upgraded to 1.0 IP and gave up 4 ER in the process. Offensively, Jared Young left nine runners on base (there were a lot of runners on base during the game). Yet, it’s so hard to see Caleb Kilian continue to perform well or shine with every performance. It was the one where he lit up.
Kilian has started this season as the guy knocking on Wrigley’s door and ready to show he’s ready for a top role in the rotation. He had his cup of coffee with the Cubs and wrestled in the majors, but it looks like he brought those struggles back to Iowa with him. Honestly, more than anything, it seems Kilian is his worst enemy here as he learns to control his enhanced “stuff”.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: Lost 3-8 against Rocket City Trash Pandas
Biggest Yes: Hunter Bigge – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 4 SO
In the past two months, Bigge has given up just 5 ERs in 21 IPs to South Bend and Tennessee. Of his 14 appearances over the past two months, those runs have come in just three games. Sunday was another gem for the 24-year-old right-hander. He’s in the 90s with his fastball and he’s hitting everyone with an 11.5 K/9 this season. Additionally, that number increased in Double-A to 13.2. You might not hear much about Bigge because of how the farm is full of guns, but he’s legit, folks.
Biggest Yikes: Chris Clarke – 3.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 SO
Clarke started this game and pitched the first three innings until Bigge took over. It didn’t go well. Where Bigge kept the base paths fully clear while controlling the hitters, Clarke seemed thrilled to have runners on the bases and increase his ERA. In fact, I really like Clarke as a prospect. He is 6’7″, only 24 years old and was a 2019 4th round pick for the Cubs.
Clarke is a legitimate starting pitching prospect (likely at the back of the rotation) who has been a little tough by BABIP this season. Even so, outings like this were painful for Clarke as he worked to figure out Double-A competition. Don’t give up on it, but it certainly lit up on Sunday.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 7-1 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps
Biggest Yes: BJ Murray Jr. — 2/4, R, 2 RBI
It was a very solid game for many South Bend players. Murray Jr. stands out for his ability to hit with runners on base. Now, Murray Jr. didn’t do anything flashy. His two hits were singles. However, his first RBI in the second inning came with two outs, which was the first inning of the game. That cushion was helpful as the Cubs worked to limit the Whitecaps until they could score their breakout runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
This season, Murray Jr. has been phenomenal in Myrtle Beach (.305/.441/.461), but he’s still tried to figure things out in South Bend. His vision and plate discipline have always been great (32 BBs at 39 SOs and .383 OBPs), but it’s nice to see Murray Jr. having games where his bat does damage too.
Biggest Yikes: Brennan Davis – 0/5, 3 SO, 3 LOB
It’s hard for me to put Brennan Davis here as he’s recovering from major surgery and just got back. Still, Davis was second at bat and couldn’t make it to base. Am I worried about Davis batting? No. Well, not really. Remember, he was struggling to start this season in Iowa, but we mostly blamed that on his back. Focusing just on this game, however, Davis struck out 60 percent of the time and left the runners in scoring position. Let’s hope he gets it right soon, because he should crush the High-A competition.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 7-5 win over Augusta GreenJackets
Biggest yes: Josue Huma – 2/3, 2B, BB, 2 R, RBI, SB
Huma’s name has now appeared three times in 19 editions of Around the Farm. Twice Huma won the Biggest Yes for Myrtle Beach, and he was also the winner of the Biggest Yikes once. Granted, his previous biggest yes came when the Pelicans lost 2-14 and he was kind of the best of a bunch of poor performances, but, hey, look at Huma go.
On Sunday, Huma played very well at home plate and on the back roads. Not only did he hit an RBI double to start the Pelicans’ five-run first inning, but he also grabbed a sack in the bottom of the second as part of the Pelicans’ only other scoring inning. Simply put, Huma had a positive impact on the game.
Biggest Yikes: Angel Gonzalez – 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, SO
Gonzalez makes his second appearance in this series as the Biggest Yikes winner. Luckily, Gonzalez didn’t blow the Pelicans’ lead when he came to pitch the 9th inning. However, he certainly got closer. It got to the point where the Pelicans had to fire the 20-year-old right-hander to make sure they escaped with the win. Gonzalez started his appearance hitting two batters. Later he threw a wild pitch to drive the runners forward, then – after another walk – Gonzalez was fired. Not a great look there.
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