Here were are with On Tap Sports Net's third edition of Chicago Cubs Around the Farm. If you missed the first or second edition, essentially we are here to tell you how the Cubs' minor league affiliates performed and who their best (biggest yes) and worst (biggest yikes) performers were. I tore my ACL yesterday, and I've got just about nothing else to do except watch minor league baseball, so let's dive in.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs: 5-7 Loss to Louisville Bats
Biggest Yes: Jared Young — 1/2, HR (15), 2 BB, 3 RBI
I thought about giving this slot to David Bote (2/4, HR, RBI) because he took home Iowa's biggest yikes award for Tuesday, but Young's productivity, especially with runners on base, made his case too compelling. Young's contact and on-base skills haven't met expectations yet (.235 AVG, .313 OBP), but his 15 home runs have been nice. He continued to show off the power on Wednesday, putting the Cubs in a position where they should have been able to win the game.
Biggest Yikes: Raynel Espinal — 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1BB, 1 SO
If you notice the language in the sentence above—namely that the Cubs should have been able to win the game—Espinal decided that wasn't going to be the case. The 30-year-old RHP came to the Cubs from the San Francisco Giants in the Dixon Machado trade. While the entire season has been unusually rough for Espinal, his two games for the Cubs have been disastrous.
In his two appearances (3.1 IP), he's given up three runs each time. Granted, the last earned run charged to Espinal came when Dakota Mekkes was pitching. However, it was one of the several baserunners Espinal let reach base. After a clean sixth inning, Espinal only managed one out in the seventh before giving up a two-run home run and leaving men on base for Mekkes to give up the third run.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: 10-3 Loss to Mississippi Braves
Biggest Yes: Cole Roederer — 1/2, HR (1), RBI (obviously)
There was not a lot to get excited about while watching Wednesday's Smokies game. As such, let's give the biggest yes award to Roederer, who hit his first Double-A home run upon being activated from the injured list.
Roederer, drafted just 15 picks after Brennan Davis in 2018, has dealt with a ton of injuries as a professional thus far. During this time, his bat has struggled to come around as scouts expected. Hopefully, this performance is just one step toward bringing back the excitement that surrounded Roederer at the start of his career.
Biggest Yikes: DJ Herz — 4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
I may have cursed Herz today. I was watching a video that touted Herz as a top-five prospect in the Cubs system. Granted, I have Herz at 12, but I was still very skeptical while listening.
Herz's command issues were on display Wednesday as he got knocked around by the Braves. The left-hander dominated High-A competition this season (2.26 ERA, 14.10 K/9, 1.10 WHIP). In four games at the Double-A level, Herz has struggled to replicate the success. Wednesday night, Herz managed to outpace his 8.36 ERA for the Smokies while reducing his Double-A K/9 to (a still solid) 10.29.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 2-6 Loss to Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Biggest Yes: Casey Optiz — 1/3, 2B
Listen, this was a ROUGH game to watch. I pained over this decision because not much "good" happened Wednesday for South Bend. In the end, let's give it to the only Cub who hit for extra bases.
Optiz had the lone extra-base hit for South Bend, raising his average to ALMOST .200 (.197). Optiz, a catcher and 2021 eighth-round pick out of Arkansas, gets on base at a decent clip (.365), but his bat-to-ball skills just are not currently there. However, if you watched Wednesday's game in a vacuum, you'd think Optiz has the only advanced bat on the South Bend Cubs. So, you know, there's that.
Biggest Yikes: Kevin Made — 0/4, 2 LOB
All things considered, Wednesday's game was just kind of unremarkable for the Cubs. Porter Hodge gets consideration for biggest yikes because he gave up four runs in four innings pitched. However, he also had seven strikeouts and some of those runs are the result of High-A defense.
Made, on the other hand, had opportunities to be productive at the plate, and he wasn't. While Made is the Cubs' 16th-best prospect primarily for his defense, his bat has shown signs of production. Wednesday, though, was a step in the wrong direction.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 7-4 Victory Over Columbia Fireflies
Biggest Yes: Jacob Wetzel — 1/4, 2B, 3 RBI
Hey, look! The Pelicans agree with me here! Myrtle Beach's game was another unremarkable one, truly. Yes, Tyler Santana won his 10th game with a quality six innings pitched and three earned runs. However, he surrendered six hits, a home run, and only struck out one batter. Instead, I'll give biggest yes to Wetzel, who provided run support early (three-run double in the third inning), which was the exact cushion the Cubs needed.
Biggest Yikes: Ezequiel Pagan — 0/4, 4 LOB
Pagan's bat has been a nice surprise for Myrtle Beach this season. His slash line of .292/.373/.455 is incredibly promising. Moreover, Pagan has 10 home runs on the year, more than his previous three MiLB seasons combined. Unfortunately, Wednesday night was not his night. Coming up empty at the plate every time, especially with four runners stranded as a result, is almost impressively bad.