Weekly Farm Report: 4/20 – 4/26
Welcome to the first edition of Cubs Insider’s Weekly Farm Report! Our plan is to bring you a roundup of all the goings-on for every Cubs affiliate each Monday, though due to some editorial restrictions, we’re running with Tuesday this week.
This feature is meant to be a quick-hitter that will provide you with brief snapshots of each of the 4 farm teams, along with some highlight performances of the various prospects plying their trade for each. Enjoy.
AAA: Iowa Cubs (3-3 record on the week)
The Iowa Cubs have gone from appointment TV to just another minor league team. No offense to the Alcantaras and Szczurs of the world, but with Kris Bryant and Addison Russell being called up to the big league club and with Javier Baez away from the team, there aren’t a whole lot of must-follow names left on the team. That said, there are still a few intriguing players.
One of those players is Christian Villanueva, a third baseman acquired in the Ryan Dempster trade. Villanueva had a nice ending to his week, going 2-4 with a HR and 5 RBI on Saturday versus the Sky Sox. It was his first HR and first RBI’s in 9 games at Iowa this season.
Another name to keep an eye on is Dallas Beeler. Beeler was activated from the disabled list and made his first start of the season on Saturday. Unfortunately for Dallas, he got knocked around pretty good. He went 4 innings while giving up 7 runs and also allowed a total of 8 base runners in his 4 innings. Beeler is important in the sense he provides organizational depth for the starting rotation. He has a great sinker (bowling ball-esque), but just like with any other sinker ball pitcher, location and control is key.
Hitter of the week: Matt Szczur – 8-20, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB
Pitcher of the week: James Russell – 2 APP, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 7 K
AA: Tennessee Smokies (4-2 record on the week)
The Smokies had a really nice week and a lot of that has to do with their offense. Tennessee leads the Southern League in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. As a team they hold a slash line of .297/.384/.424…mighty impressive. They are led by 2-time reigning Southern League player of the week Dan Vogelbach.
Vogelbach was a bit of an under-the-radar prospect coming into the season, but not so much anymore. He went 9-23 with 3 HR’s, 10 RBI, and 6 BB on the week and is now hitting .444 on the season. Another impressive nugget on Vogelbach: he has more extra base hits (10) than strikeouts (5).
Oh yeah, Kyle Schwarber plays on this team too. He went a modest 11-25 with 1 HR, 7 RBI, and 2 BB. Schwarber is hitting .349 on the season. Another big name most Cubs fans want to follow is Albert Almora. He went 7/23 with 5 RBI and 2 SB. A great sign for Almora and the Cubs is that he is taking a few more walks this year. He has 5 on the young season versus only 5 strikeouts. On the pitching side, Felix Pena continues to impress. He ran his record to 2-0 pitching versus the Generals. He went 5.2 innings allowing only 2 runs and striking out 8.
Hitter of the week: Dan Vogelbach – 9-23, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 6 BB
Pitcher of the week: Frank Batista – 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 13 K
High-A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-4 record on the week)
The Pelicans started off the week hot, winning 3 of 4, but had a bit of a rough go at it over the weekend. There are a lot of intriguing pitchers on this roster, starting with Duane Underwood Jr. Underwood started on Friday versus the Dash. He wasn’t as sharp as he had been early on, but he wasn’t bad either. He went 5 innings allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits. He struck out 3 while walking 2. Almost everyone expects Underwood to be a consistent name in top 10 Cubs prospect lists by seasons end.
Another interesting name is Paul Blackburn. Blackburn started on Saturday allowing 4 runs on 5 innings. He scattered 6 hits while striking out 3 and walking none. On the offensive side, outfielder Jacob Hannemann had a nice bounce back week. The speedy BYU alum went 12/28 at the dish and also swiped 6 bases.
Hitter of the week: Jacob Hannemann – 12-28, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 6 SB, 7 R
Pitcher of the week: Daury Torrez – 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Low-A: South Bend Cubs (5-2 record on the week)
The South Bend Cubs were the best Cubs minor league affiliate of the week, at least record-wise. They not only won 5 of 7 games, but they did so in blowout fashion. The Cubs finished the week with a run differential of +32.
The biggest name on the roster is probably bonus baby Gleyber Torres. The 18-year-old shortstop had a really nice week at the dish, going 8-23 with 4 RBI, 4 BB, and 4 SB. The Cubs and most prospect publications expect big things out of Torres this year. He’s off to a nice start hitting .305 in 17 games.
A name you don’t hear a lot is Cael Brockmeyer, but all he does is hit. Sure, he is old for low A, but catchers that can hit are very difficult to find. He is hitting .379 on the season and has walked in 7 straight games.
On the pitching side, Jeremy Null and Ryan Williams have been absolutely dynamite. Null is in his 1st season in pro ball. He is 21 years old, but he should be a fast mover being a college pitcher. In 3 starts this season, he has struck out 17 and walked 0. I like that ratio. Williams started twice this week and picked up 2 wins. He is 23, so a bit older than Null, but very similar in where they are in their careers.
Hitter of the week: Chesny Young – 9-25, 2 2B, 5 BB, 6 SB, 10 R
Pitcher of the week: Ryan Williams – 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K