Welcome back to the anthology of best and worst performances from around the Chicago Cubs' farm system. Friday's edition highlighted outstanding performances from Darius Hill in Triple-A Iowa, Luis Verdugo in High-A South Bend, and more. Just like every day, Saturday featured some great performances and some dud performances. Here are the high—and low—lights.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs: 3-5 Loss to Louisville Bats
Biggest Yes: Alfonso Rivas — 3/3, R, BB
Part of me wanted to give this to Jeremiah Estrada, who started this season in High-A and dominated every level to demand a promotion to Triple-A. His second appearance was Saturday, and the 23-year-old pitched 1.0 innings, striking out two and keeping his ERA to 0.00 in Triple-A (I know it's only two appearances) and 1.42 over the course of the MiLB season. However, it is hard to ignore a player getting on base every time he comes up to the plate.
We know Alfonso Rivas' bat is impactful for Iowa. I mean, a slash line of .375/.429/.531 and an OPS of .960 speak for themselves. He's just fallen into that Quadruple-A category this year of being too good for Triple-A and not quite good enough at the plate in the MLB. Still, he's just 25 years old, and the results in the minors are too hard to ignore. He'll stick around.
Biggest Yikes: Hayden Wesneski — 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO
Hayden Wesneski earns the dubious honor of being the first two-time "Biggest Yikes" award winner in On Tap Sports Net history. That's not a trend you want to see for the return the Cubs got for Scott Effross. Now, this performance was much better than Wesneski's first outing for the Iowa Cubs. Last Sunday, Wesneski went 1.2 IP and gave up a whopping 8 ER. This time, at least, he only gave up an average of one run per inning pitched.
In fact, if Wesneski just came out of the game after the 4th inning, he would have a final stat line with 0 ER. In the first inning, Wesneski gave up two singles but then struck out the next three batters to end the inning. He struck out the side in the third. Through four innings, he had only given up two hits and no walks. The fifth inning was where the wheels came off. Wesneski's command faltered, and he gave up two runs before he was taken out of the game. Wyatt Short came out of the bullpen and made sure Wesneski's other base runners got home safely, too—how kind of him.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: 1-0 Victory Over Mississippi Braves
Biggest Yes: Bailey Horn — 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 6 SO
Bailey Horn has been bit by the home run bug a little for Tennessee this year, but he put up a dominant performance out of the bullpen Saturday. With six strikeouts in three innings, Braves batters looked helpless out there. It's an interesting trend with Horn. For the most part, he looks phenomenal out there. In 19 appearances with Double-A, 10 have resulted in 0 ER. The rest of his performances are the reason he has a 4.82 ERA for Tennessee right now. The good news is the early returns look like he can be a solid bullpen piece if he can improve his command and stay more consistent.
Biggest Yikes: Alexander Canario — 0/3, SO, 2 LOB
Alexander Canario has been unreal all season when it comes to hitting for power. The 6th-best prospect for the Cubs in my latest rankings hit a grand slam on Friday, but he followed it up with a rough night at the plate on Saturday. Saturday was a good example of how Canario still needs to develop.
He's hit 27 bombs across High-A and Double-A this season (20 just in Double-A), but his average in Double-A stands at .249. Don't get me wrong: I'd take a major-league bat hitting around .250 and 30 home runs. However, if Canario can unlock more consistency at the plate, there's a real chance we're looking at a future perennial All-Star. Still, that doesn't save him from recognizing a bad performance when it happens.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 1-5 Loss to Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Biggest Yes: Luis Verdugo — 1/4, RBI
Luis Verdugo is now the first back-to-back "Biggest Yes" award winner in the history of the series. Of course, as you can see, it's not like he put up an insane stat line like he did Friday when he went 3/5 with a home run and a double while accounting for five RBI. However, the combination of a tough night all around for South Bend and Verdugo's 20-game on-base streak get him the title. The 21-year-old infielder continues to break out this year. As transitions continue to happen as the minor-league season nears its end, I'd love to see Verdugo get a run up in Tennessee for a bit.
Biggest Yikes: Richard Gallardo — 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 R, 1 SO, 3 HR
Let me start by prefacing that Richard Gallardo was not helped at all by the defense behind him. Kevin Made's throwing error put a man on base for the first home run Gallardo allowed to make it a two-run shot. Still, Gallardo gave up three home runs in a matter of two innings. So, while you may see that stat line that shows only one "earned" run, Gallardo's performance was still tough to stomach.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 3-4 Loss to Columbia Fireflies
Biggest Yes: Kevin Alcantara — 3/5, HR, 2B, RBI
Raise your hand if you're ready to see Kevin Alcantara in South Bend. I know I am. On Saturday, the Cubs' 3rd-overall prospect continued to smack the ball in a game where the Pelicans desperately needed offense after the Fireflies scored three runs immediately. It took two pitches seen for Alcantara to belt a solo shot. Then, in the bottom of the 5th, Alcantara doubled to right field. After nabbing third base with heads up base running after a wild pitch, Alcantara scored again on an Ezequiel Pagan single. It sucks for the Pelicans that it just wasn't enough for the win.
Biggest Yikes: Koen Moreno — 0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 SO
I really, really, really want Koen Moreno to be good. A 5th-round pick in the short 2020 draft by the Cubs, Moreno started this year with the ACL Cubs team. He did fine there with a 4.09 ERA and a .162 BAA. Of course, command was still an issue (15 BB to 16 SO in 11 IP). Upon being promoted to Low-A, Moreno has just been rocked by the more advanced hitters. In three games thus far, Moreno has pitched 6.0 innings. His stat line reads like this: 13.50 ERA, 11 BB, 8 SO, .360 BAA, 3.33 WHIP.
On Saturday, Moreno delivered more of the same. His single out recorded as a starting pitcher was a strike out, but he was out there walking in runs after loading the bases. If Moreno can figure out his command, he has the stuff to be an intriguing arm. Right now, he looks a long way away from being impactful at any level.