If you are wondering if the Chicago Cubs’ farm system went 2-2 on Thursday, they absolutely did. I’m gonna have to go back and check how often that has been the case since I started this series. It has felt ridiculously frequent.
There are some usual suspects earning Biggest Yes awards, and—well—you’ll also see a familiar name earning a Biggest Yikes. Let’s take a look at how things went around the farm for Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 1.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs: 5-7 Loss to Columbus Clippers
Biggest Yes: Matt Mervis — 2/4, HR (7), 2 RBI, 2 R
Matt Mervis mashed his way into a tie with Pete Crow-Armstrong for a system-high five Biggest Yes awards. It is just impressive that he continues to hit for average and hit for power so well.
Thursday’s game pushed Mervis’s slash line in Triple-A Iowa to .301/.374/.577. He’s now been over .300 at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, and his slash line across all three levels sits at .312/.375/.603 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI. Those are some pretty unreal numbers for a guy who was nowhere on fans’ radars to start this season. Mervis just keeps impressing.
Biggest Yikes: Adbert Alzolay — 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 ER, 0 SO
Alzolay looked rough out there on Thursday. Again, he is still working his way back to full strength. This is only Alzolay’s second appearance of the season. That being said, he is one of those pitchers fans have hyped up as a potential impact arm in Chicago.
He is typically a guy who records tons of strikeouts, so getting lit up while striking out none is particularly concerning for Alzolay. He had the Cubs essentially knocked out of this game as soon as it started.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: 7-1 Victory Over Mississippi Braves
Biggest Yes: Ryan Jensen — 4.0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 5 SO
I’ll take a solid outing from Jensen any game and celebrate it. Jensen’s stuff is legit and his fastball plays when he can locate it. Of course, the locating piece is hard for him.
Even Thursday when he only allowed three base runners in four innings, he threw just 39 strikes in 61 pitches. Still, Jensen controlled the game from the mound while the Smokies maintained just a slight 1-0 lead at the start of the game. That’s a win.
Biggest Yikes: Zach Davis — 0/5, 2 SO, 3 LOB
Zach Davis had a bad game. His Biggest Yikes award is also collateral damage of everyone else doing at least pretty well.
Davis, 28, is a career minor leaguer, and that will probably stay the case for the rest of his playing days. He’s really solid in the field, but his bat (below-average contact skills and complete lack of power) will likely cap him at Triple-A. Even when the team wins 7-1, it is a total bummer to watch the leadoff hitter leave three runners on base and strike out in 40% of trips to the plate.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 3-1 Victory Over Lansing Lugnuts
Biggest Yes: Luis Devers — 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 8 SO
Luis Devers is incredible. He has skyrocketed to my 16th-best prospect in the Chicago Cubs’ system as he has dominated Myrtle Beach and South Bend.
Do you know the last time the 22-year-old righty gave up more than one run in a game? It was all the way back on June 23 when he was still pitching for Myrtle Beach. Yes, he has gone 11 straight appearances and over two months since surrendering more than a single run as a pitcher.
Thursday was no different. In the second inning, Devers gave up a couple of singles and a sacrifice fly for Lansing’s only run of the game. Outside of that, he struck out eight, including punching out the side in the third inning. The future is bright for Devers in Chicago.
Biggest Yikes: Kevin Made — 0/3, 1 SO, 1 LOB
Fabian Pertuz earned Biggest Yikes for South Bend on Wednesday by having a subpar game while others were mostly solid. It was his farm-leading fourth Biggest Yikes award.
Now, Kevin Made joins him with four Biggest Yikes awards in very similar circumstances. Made’s bat is anemic right now—a big reason he has dropped out of my top 30 prospects in the Chicago Cubs’ system.
After slashing .266/.354/.450 with nine home runs in 57 games with Myrtle Beach, Made’s line is .182/.289/.282 in South Bend. He’s just 19, so there is a curve to be expected as he faces more advanced pitching, but he is racking up Biggest Yikes awards in the interim.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 6-7 Loss to Charleston RiverDogs
Biggest Yes: Ezequiel Pagan — 3/4, BB, 2B, RBI, R
Pagan has only shown up in the Biggest Yikes category throughout this series, which has always felt unfair because he’s having a great season. The 22-year-old had another quality showing Thursday, and I wanted to ensure he got recognized for it.
He did a bit of everything at the plate, hitting a double, an RBI single in the sixth to bring the Pelicans within one run. He even scored the go-ahead run at the time in the sixth after being walked in.
Pagan, my 37th-ranked prospect in the Chicago Cubs’ system, has a slash line this season of .293/.368/.439 to go along with 10 home runs, 14 doubles, and 13 stolen bases on 17 attempts. He will likely be a left fielder exclusively as he gets closer to the majors, but he’s been doing a decent job across all three outfield spots for Myrtle Beach this year.
Biggest Yikes: Grant Kipp — 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 SO
It is hard to pull out a win when the team is constantly having to fight back from a deficit. Unfortunately, Kipp—an undrafted free agent out of Yale this year—had the Pelicans in that position at the start of the game and again when he was finally pulled. The 6-foot-6 righty just put runners on base throughout his appearance, and Charleston made him pay for it.
The toughest piece for Kipp was probably the rollercoaster of the game. Kipp surrendered a two-run home run in the bottom of the first with a 1-0 lead. However, in an encouraging spin, Kipp got out of the second and third innings without allowing a single base runner. He also got through the fourth cleanly and only allowed a single hit.
In the fifth, however, things fell apart. Pedro Ramirez had a throwing error to put a runner on, then Kipp walked the next batter. Then, Kipp had a wild pitch, advancing the runners, and gave up two more singles before being pulled. This story probably would have looked much different if Myrtle Beach pulled Kipp after his impressive second, third, and fourth innings. But, alas, Kipp picks up his first Biggest Yikes award in his young career.