Around the Chicago Cubs’ farm on Sunday, Sept. 11, there was finally a full slate of games. As a group, they went 1-3, but three of the games were at least exciting to watch (looking at you, Myrtle Beach).
Alas, both the Iowa Cubs and the Tennessee Smokies blew leads and found a way to lose. Hey, those South Bend Cubs looked really good, though. Let’s take a look at how things went down around the farm.
Triple-A Iowa Cubs: 9-11 Loss to Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Biggest Yes: Tyler Payne — 2/4, HR (1), 4 RBI
Good for Payne, man. The 29-year-old catcher has been a career minor leaguer since coming into the league as a 30th-round draft pick in 2015. He has come up through the system slowly, but his work has resulted in him hitting his first Triple-A home run. While Payne probably won’t see the majors again (he spent one game with Chicago in 2021 and went 0-for-2), this is still a really cool accomplishment for him.
Biggest Yikes: Ben Leeper — 0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 ER
I mean, giving up 11 runs normally means Biggest Yikes is going to a pitcher. Ben Leeper takes the cake here as he took a 9-5 Iowa lead in the bottom of the eighth and promptly turned it into a 9-11 loss for the Cubs. As soon as Leeper took the mound, he gave up a home run.
From there, it was singles and walks, but it was enough to cost the Cubs the lead. Granted, Blake Whitney was pitching when Leeper’s last two earned runs crossed the plate, but still. This is a guy who several publications had as a top-30 prospect this season. Instead, the 25-year-old has a 5.01 ERA. Woof.
Double-A Tennessee Smokies: 5-7 Loss to Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Biggest Yes: Eduarniel Nunez — 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 3 SO
I’m super stoked to see Eduarniel Nunez pick up a Biggest Yes award. He’s been in this series twice before—both as a Biggest Yikes award recipient. Most recently, Nunez’s Sept. 8 Biggest Yikes award came as he pitched 0.2 innings and gave up five hits and five earned runs.
On Sunday, though, things seemed to click for the 23-year-old righty. Nunez was cruising along and erased any threats that got started when he put runners on base. Granted, Nunez still has work to do with his command, but let’s celebrate a good performance when he gives one.
Biggest Yikes: Bryce Ball — 0/5, 2 SO, 5 LOB
Bryce Ball has quietly put up a really nice season with the Smokies. He has a season slash line of .268/.359/.404 with 30 doubles, 10 home runs, and 75 RBIs. He hasn’t had the high-level power he has shown in the past, but he also is hitting 62 points higher in Double-A this year than he was in High-A last season. I’ll take that trade-off, especially because the raw power is still very much there.
Unfortunately, this game was a disappointment for the 6-foot-6 slugger. Ball had plenty of chances in a close game to put Tennessee on top. Never was that clearer than in the seventh inning when Ball came up to bat with two outs and runners on first and second. Primed to add to the Smokies’ two-run lead at the time, Ball grounded out to the first baseman. If he could have come through there, it’s possible Tennessee would have avoided its late-innings collapse and eventual loss in extra innings.
High-A South Bend Cubs: 9-2 Victory Over Cedar Rapids Kernels
Biggest Yes: Jonathan Sierra — 3/4, HR (3), 2 RBI, 2 R
This was a fun one for Sierra, who ended his regular season with a bang. In the third inning, the 23-year-old outfielder hit his third home run of 2022 to put the Cubs up 2-0. They really needed that offense at the time, too. Just one inning later, the Kernels tied the game with two runs of their own.
Sierra was also part of the go-ahead offensive sequence as Pete Crow-Armstrong hit a single to score him and BJ Murray Jr. in the fifth. Sierra will likely be with South Bend again next year, so it was nice that he was able to end this season on a high note.
Biggest Yikes: Kevin Made — 0/4, BB, R, SO, 4 LOB
Kevin Made has tied Fabian Pertuz again on top of the Biggest Yikes leaderboard with five awards. He’s taking on High-A competition at the younger age of 20, so that explains some of his offensive struggles.
Still, after performing admirably for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 57 games (.266/.354/.450), Made played 37 games with South Bend and slashed .162/.267/.246. Simply put, this game was another example of Made just being overwhelmed by High-A pitching.
Low-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 3-9 Loss to Carolina Mudcats
Biggest Yes: Haydn McGeary — 1/3, BB, 2B, RBI
This was another rough one for the Pelicans on multiple fronts. Offensively, not much was working, and their first two pitchers of the game put up duds again. Still, Haydn McGeary continues to impress in Myrtle Beach as a 2022 15th-round pick.
McGeary has just 48 at-bats in 12 games, but he has collected 14 hits and four walks to go along with five doubles and a home run. That’s good for a slash line of .292/.346/.458 as well as two Biggest Yes awards in a span of a few weeks.
Biggest Yikes: Oliver Roque — 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 ER, 2 SO
There was never a point of collapsing and crashing for Roque. Instead, he just sort of came out from the get-go with four flat tires. The Mudcats whittled away, and Roque’s lack of command certainly didn’t help. Roque, 20, is still a prospect to keep an eye on.
The righty dominated the DSL and ACL before making his way to Myrtle Beach come Sept. 6. Roque actually had a decent first appearance (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 R). This one was just a stinker, so he gets his first Biggest Yikes award here.