Chicago Cubs Weekly Farm Report (6/14/21): Smiling Through the System’s Pain

I make an effort to remain as positive as I can when I bring news about the farm system to you each week. My attempt to spin everything in a way that highlights the great things happening in the minor leagues stems from the cold, hard truth that none of us really know how players and their careers will shake out.

You won’t find me here in this weekly update or in the Twitterverse railing a player for his poor performance. I mean, why do that when I can simply point out one of the other 100+ active players that assuredly had a performance that was at least above average?

Unfortunately, there seem to be fewer and fewer highlights for me to draw attention to as the season wears on. Of course, there have been a decent amount of one-off games or spectacular plays on the diamond, but as far as players showing the ability to sustain elite levels of success at the plate or on the mound, we just haven’t seen it.

Only two of my preseason top 20 bats are 1) currently active on a roster, and 2) putting up an OPS above league average. Only six of my top 20 arms are currently playing on a full-season minor league roster right now.

News in the System

  • A friendly reminder that player development and affiliate performance are not always intertwined with one another, but the farm went a combined 7-17 this week and all four teams sit below the .500 mark this year. Over the last two weeks, the system is a combined 14-32. Woof.
  • The promotions finally slowed down this week with no real notable shifts in roster configuration.

Triple-A Iowa Cubs

  • Iowa went 1-5 against a Columbus Clippers team that was also scuffling pretty hard coming into the series. The team has now lost 18 of their last 20 games and their record sits at 11-23 this year.
  • Michael Hermosillo is the real bright spot of this squad, as he has mashed since he joined the roster from Mesa. He put up an OPS of 1.244 this week thanks to a streak where he reached base safely in 10 consecutive plate appearances.

  • Dakota Mekkes, Kyle Ryan, and Ben Leeper all continued their excellence out of the bullpen this week.
  • Mekkes has a 1.25 ERA and 1.02 WHIP on the season, Ryan sports a slightly higher 2.20 ERA but ridiculous 0.67 WHIP, and Leeper has combined in Tennessee and Iowa for a 1.42 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP.
  • The I-Cubs now hit the road for their third series this year against the St. Paul Saints and the second series against the team playing in Minnesota. Iowa will look to do better than their last performance against St. Paul where they were swept in the six-game set in May.

Double-A Tennessee Smokies

  • Tennessee salvaged a rough week by winning their Sunday matchup against the Rocket City Trash Pandas after losing the previous five. The Smokies are now 11-23 on the season.
  • Chris Morel continues a streak of walking more than he ever has as a pro. It was an additional seven walks in his 24 plate appearances, to bring his season BB% all the way up to 11.3%, quite a bit better than league average.

  • It was another 11 hits for Darius Hill this week as his season batting average is a robust .338.
  • Ryan Lawlor was lights-out this week, logging 3.1 innings out of the pen and only giving up a lone hit and a walk while striking out six batters.
  • The Smokies now face off against the Chattanooga Lookouts at home. They dropped four of six against the Reds affiliate in late May.

High-A South Bend Cubs

  • South Bend was the high roller this week with an even 3-3 record against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. They are 17-18 this year despite their -19 run differential.
  • Yonathan Perlaza swung the bat really well, posting a .423 OBP and clocking a homer to go along with two doubles.
  • Max Bain had his best outing of the season, going 5.1 strong innings while only giving up four hits and a walk. Only one run crossed the plate and he struck out 10 batters. His changeup looked like a true putaway pitch in the outing and that secondary development will go a long way in determining his future.

  • Scott Kobos still has yet to allow a run to score this year with 5.1 more scoreless innings putting him at 17.2 to begin his professional career. Oh, and he is still striking out 43.5% of the batters he faces.
  • The Cubs now hit the road for their first series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Twins affiliate is a similar 17-19 so far this year.

Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans

  • The Birds went 2-4 this week against the Augusta GreenJackets and also have a record of 17-18 this year. They are averaging 4.3 runs per game while their opponents average 4.6 runs.
  • Yohendrick Pinango looked really good at the plate early in the season, despite the poor results. Now he still looks good and the numbers are backing up the eye test. He had ten hits including two doubles and a triple this week and now has officially been better than league average in the OPS department.
  • Speaking of above league average, Ryan Reynolds has been terrific as long as he has been healthy this year. His 1.017 OPS this week raised his season-long rate up to .923.

  • What starting pitcher performance do you prefer? Manny Espinoza going five innings, three hits, no earned runs, one walk, and 10 strikeouts? Or Richard Gallardo going five innings, one hit, no earned runs, no walks, and four strikeouts?
  • Maybe you prefer what Joe Nahas did out of the bullpen in his five innings of work. He went three hits, no earned runs, two walks, and ten strikeouts, including nine strikeouts in four innings in relief on Sunday.
  • The Pelicans come back home for a series against Tampa Bay’s Charleston RiverDogs. It will be the first matchup between the teams since the very first week of the season which saw the RiverDogs take four of six from Myrtle Beach.
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