Guys, I have bad news. The Chicago Cubs' farm system did not go 2-2 Saturday. I know, I know. I'm as thrown off as all of you are, and we will get through this together. Instead, the farm went 1-3 on Saturday. The Double-A Tennessee Smokies came out with a nice shutout victory. The South Bend Cubs kept things relatively close in High-A, but lost while Triple-A Iowa suffered a 3-6 loss and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, well, probably never want to play in a 9th inning again (more on that later). Let's dive in.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs: 3-6 Loss to St. Paul Saints
Biggest Yes: Adbert Alzolay — 2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 6 SO
Adbert Alzolay pitched for the Iowa Cubs yesterday for the first time in 2022 after injuring his lat muscle again back in Spring Training. As such, it makes sense that it took him a little while to settle in. However, once Alzolay got some rust off, he blew batters away. Alzolay pitched 2.0 innings and every out recorded was a strikeout. This is a guy that could be an impact arm for the Cubs next year, so it is encouraging to see him out there blowing fastballs by Triple-A hitters.
Biggest Yikes: Anderson Espinoza — 1.0 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 3 ER
While one flame-throwing pitcher—Alzolay—impressed, another one, well, didn't. Espinoza went out there in the 5th inning after a solo home run from John Hicks tied the game for Iowa in the bottom of the 4th. He proceeded to walk three batters in a row, though he did pick one off. Still, after some maneuvering on the base paths by St. Paul and a home run given up to Mark Contreras, Espinoza left the game after giving the Saints a comfortable lead. For every other inning, the Cubs matched the Saints' offensive output. Espinoza's outing ensured St. Paul left with the win.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: 6-0 Victory Over Rocket City Trash Pandas
Biggest Yes: Ben Brown — 4.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 4 SO
Jordan's video above is a great representation of Ben Brown's night on Saturday. Rocket City was able to square up Brown a little bit. He gave up seven base runners in four innings. Still, Brown left the night without giving up a single run. Out of 73 pitches, 46 were strikes, and Brown set the tone for the Smokies' combined shut out. Remember, Brown is Rule 5 eligible after this season. It is very possible the Cubs bring him up in September to see him in the majors out of the bullpen. Performances like this make that idea much more exciting.
Biggest Yikes: Bryce Windham — 0/3, 3 LOB
Windham picks up his second Biggest Yikes of this series mostly because everyone else had a solid game. Usually, while an 0/3 performance with runners left in scoring position is not good, there is at least one other guy who managed to do worse. Not this time! Windham left three on base, grounded into a double play, and was one of two Smokies (Chase Strumpf) who didn't get a hit.
I mentioned yesterday when talking about Ethan Hearn's biggest yikes that other catching prospects are performing well and Hearn is in danger of being left behind. The same could very well be the case for the 25-year-old Windham who is slashing .202/.333/.294 on the season for the Smokies.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 1-3 Loss to Western Michigan Whitecaps
Biggest Yes: Owen Caissie — 2/4, 2B, HR (11)
First and foremost, that Jackson Jobe guy over in Detroit's farm system—you know, the 41st-best prospect in all of baseball—is pretty good. The only guy who managed to really figure him out was Caissie, my 7th-best prospect in the Cubs' farm system. The home run to opposite field was an impressive showing of power, and the double was ripped, too.
Caissie has been in a bit of a lull at the plate lately, so it is nice to see him have a performance like this. His slash line of .259/.350/.417 can certainly use some improvement, even though it demonstrates a solid bat. Remember, Caissie's value comes primarily from the potential he has to be an above average hitter who can give you 25-plus home runs annually in the majors. Games like these remind you of that potential.
Biggest Yikes: Kevin Made — 0/3, 1 SO, 2 LOB, Fielding Oopsy Daisy (Not an error, but can we make this an official stat?)
Kevin Made officially joins the crew of Koen Moreno, Fabian Pertuz, Ethan Hearn, and Felix Stevens in the 3-time Biggest Yikes award winners club. We've already established that Made has work to continue doing with his bat. He's a defense-first guy who had been showing some improvement with his bat-to-ball skills earlier this year. The problem is that he has been in a pretty deep funk at the plate for a while now. In August, Made is slashing .172/.274/.234. Things are trending downhill fast.
Moreover, Made played some questionable defense Saturday, too. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, Justice Bigbie hit a sharp grounder to Made at shortstop. Trei Cruz had a great jump toward home and Made inexplicably tried to throw home for the out, which wasn't even close to working. The only rationale I can come up with is that he thought it was a force out. For a guy lauded for defense, that type of thing can't happen. Through August, Made has dropped from my 16th-best Cubs prospect to 29th.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 2-10 Loss to Augusta GreenJackets
Biggest Yes: Haydn McGeary — 3/4, 2B
Well hello, 2022 draft pick Haydn McGeary. Welcome to the series and congratulations on your Biggest Yes award! McGeary, the Cubs' 15th-round pick out of Colorado Mesa this year, has only played two games with Myrtle Beach this season. Still, he's 4/8 with a double in that ridiculously small sample size. In a game where not much went well for the Pelicans, McGeary's solid showing at the plate so early in his career stands out as impressive.
Biggest Yikes: Gregori Montano — 1.1 IP, 1 H, 5 BB, 6 ER
Holy Cow, Montano. Myrtle Beach was actually set up for a 2-1 victory going into the 9th inning. Yes, you read that right. The Pelicans were up 2-1 going into the 9th and lost 10-2. Mostly, Montano gets the blame for that. He actually pitched a solid 8th inning with a fly out, walk, then double play. However, once he came back out for the 9th, the wheels totally fell off. Mostly, it was Montano's command. He couldn't get it together, and the GreenJackets were patient, took their walks, and then did damage with walks and basic hits. Of course, Johzan Oquendo could share this with Montano because he came in when Montano was pulled and let the inherited runners all score before giving up a grand slam to really seal the deal. No matter how you swing it, that was a rough end to the game for those two pitchers.