The Chicago Cubs have the third-worst record in the MLB, but they also have a very entertaining farm system. If you're like me, you may be finding it more interesting to dream about the future than to watch the current major league product the Cubs are putting out. Also, if you're like me, you're still watching every Cubs game because you're a Chicago sports fan, which means you most likely hate yourself.
Introspection aside, we're here to keep you updated with the prospects around the Cubs' farm system who are crushing things. Every time the Cubs' farm plays, we'll give you the synopsis of the biggest yes and biggest yikes for each level. Without further ado, here is the first edition for Sunday, August 7, 2022.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs: 6-10 Loss to Toledo Mud Hens
Biggest Yes: Matt Mervis — 2/4, 3 RBI, HR (3 in AAA; 24 total)
Matt Mervis continues to mash, regardless of where he's playing. For reference, in 108 plate appearances for High-A South Bend, Mervis slashed .350/.389/.650 and hit seven home runs. Quickly, he was promoted to Double-A Tennessee where he slashed .301/.370/.596 with 14 home runs in 230 plate appearances. Now in Triple-A, Mervis has a slash line of .288/.344/.576 and has three home runs in 64 plate appearances.
His game on Sunday continued this trend. Mervis played a significant role in the Cubs' eighth-inning rally. His home run with two outs and two on was clutch; it just wasn't enough to overcome the offensive explosion from the Mud Hens in the first two innings
Biggest Yikes: Hayden Wesneski — 1.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 SO, 8 ER
Speaking of the Mud Hens' offensive performance, this probably wasn't the Cubs' debut Wesneski was hoping for after coming over from the Yankees in the Scott Effross trade. Granted, minor league defense impacted the results, but eight hits and eight earned runs in less than two innings is rough.
Wesneski flashed some good stuff. His fastball was up at 97, and he showed off some good movement on his breaking stuff. However, Wesneski's command was just not there. He struggled to place his off-speed pitches, and batters could just kind of sit on his fastball. I slotted Wesneski as my No. 6 prospect in the Cubs system after the trade, so I still have faith in him, but—quite simply—woof.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: 3-4 Loss to Rocket City Trash Pandas
Biggest Yes: Jordan Wicks — 4.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 SO, 0 ER
Wicks, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2021, was called up to the Smokies in July and got roughed up immediately. In two starts in July, he tossed a total of seven innings and gave up 10 hits, three walks, and four home runs. But he has been substantially better in his two August starts.
Sunday was another example of Wicks's potential as a starting pitcher. The Cubs' No. 9 prospect allowed some contact and gave up a few bags, but Wicks missed plenty of bats. The strikeout numbers continue to be impressive. His changeup looked great, and he left the game with a 2-0 lead.
Biggest Yikes: Max Bain — 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 SO, 3 ER
After Wicks left the game with Tennessee up 2-0, Max Bain came in and got wrecked. Since moving into a bullpen role in late June, Bain has been pitching really well. In six July appearances, Bain had a 2.61 ERA despite continuing to struggle with walks. For reference, he had a 7.85 ERA as a starter.
Some bad habits caught up to Bain in this one as he surrendered two home runs and three runs before getting pulled from the game.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 5-7 Loss to Fort Wayne TinCaps
Biggest Yes: Daniel Palencia — 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 7 SO, 0 ER
Palencia had a phenomenal outing on Sunday. One of the players the Cubs got back from the Andrew Chafin trade with the Oakland Athletics, Palencia was out there throwing a casual 102 MPH fastball, pounding the strike zone. Opposing hitters were helpless.
What makes this more impressive is that Palencia was coming fresh off the IL. He hadn't pitched since July 16. The Cubs' 20th-overall prospect didn't miss a beat, and Palencia gave perhaps his strongest performance of the season.
Biggest Yikes: Jarod Wright — 2.1 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 1 SO, 6 ER, 7 R
Continuing the trend of pitchers taking home the inaugural biggest yikes awards, Jarod Wright took over for Palencia and—after a couple of decent, not great innings—had the wheels fall off in the sixth. South Bend entered the bottom of the frame with a 3-2 lead, and Wright surrendered five runs (on top of his two from earlier) while only mustering one out in the inning. This was, ultimately, the Cubs' downfall as their rallies in the seventh and eighth couldn't quite make up the gap.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 2-3 Loss to Lynchburg Hillcats
Biggest Yes: Parker Chavers — 2/5, 1 RBI, HR (1)
This game did not have a whole lot to write home about, so I'm giving it to the guy who hit his first career home run on Sunday. The 24-year-old Chavers, more of a contact and speed guy, got a hold of one in the fifth inning to tie the game at that point. Oh, did I mention he also hit a triple in this game? The Pelicans had four hits in the game, and Chavers made half of them very exciting.
Biggest Yikes: Juan Mora — 0/5, 2 SO, 4 LOB
I'll give Mora this—he nobly broke up the trend of pitchers getting biggest yikes. In reality, Mora's performance was just the latest example of a concerning trend for the 22-year-old infielders season. Mora seemed like he was poised for a breakout during July. He slashed .329/.410/.493 for the month, which raised his season average to .278 in his first season above rookie ball.
Now, Mora had his second 0/5 performance in three games, and his line in six August games (small sample size) is .160/.276/.160. Mora had plenty of chances to give the Pelicans the lead, but he couldn't connect on any of them.