Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Cubs make deal for McKinstry; Madrigal with another multi-hit game; 5 Smokies reach base 3 times; Wetzel homers; Rough day for pitching in the system as full season affiliates get swept
The selloff has begun. First out the door is reliever Chris Martin. A solid middle reliever with playoff experience, Martin has been a bit homer prone this year, but otherwise been reliable. He’ll join former Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel in the Dodgers bullpen.
The return for Martin was never going to be outstanding, but I think the Cubs did pretty good here all things considered. Utility man Zach McKinstry has fairly ugly numbers in his limited at bats with the Dodgers the last couple of years, but his playing time has been sporadic at best, and he’s already proven himself at the AAA level (.335/.417/.487 in 223 PAs this season), showing both some pop and patience at the plate. He looks like a guy simply in need of an opportunity to prove himself. The Cubs have shown the ability to help players in a similar situation find a way to contribute as big leaguers, but unlike some of the older players from post-TDL last season (Ortega/Schwindel/Wisdom), McKinstry is a couple of years younger, so if he does break out at all he still in the age range to be around when the Cubs are more competitive.
A versatile defender and left handed bat, McKinstry can play multiple spots, notably 3B/2B/LF/RF. Should the Cubs end up trading Patrick Wisdom, I can see McKinstry getting fairly regular reps at 3B in the 2nd half, while sharing the position with the equally versatile Christopher Morel. McKinstry could also receive some reps at 2B, spotting Morel and Nick Madrigal (who the Cubs will no doubt try to reincorporate into the lineup once he completes his rehab assignment). The lefty McKinstry offers a better compliment to those two than the righty David Bote.
With Ian Happ and Rafael Ortega also expected to be on the move, McKinstry’s left handed bat could also be deployed in LF at times, presumably sharing that spot with Narciso Crook. Depending on if the Cubs add any more MLB-ready players at the deadline, McKinstry may end up as one of just two left handed bats on the roster alongside Alfonso Rivas, so opportunities should abound.
There are a couple of caveats as to why McKinstry was available for a rental middle reliever though. At 27 years old, he isn’t really a prospect at this point, and he is also in his final option year. So, if all McKinstry needs is an opportunity to establish himself, he has the final two months of the season and then next spring to do so, otherwise the Cubs will be faced with placing him on waivers. If he does establish himself though, the Cubs have team control over him through 2027.
Not a nice game for starter Anderson Espinoza, as he gave up six runs and was knocked out of the game without recording an out in the 2nd inning. The bullpen slammed the door after that fateful inning, but the damage was done, and the Cubs couldn’t mount enough of a comeback. Nicholas Padilla, who has ascended from High-A to AAA (with an eye toward the MLB roster by year’s end) struck out four over two scoreless innings. Matt Dermody cleaned things up over the final four frames, as he continued his red hot July.
Two other players who likely figure into the post deadline plans in Chicago are Nick Madrigal and Narciso Crook. Madrigal recorded two hits and a walk to raise his average above .350 over his 6 games since starting his rehab. Crook has been on a homer binge of late, but settled for a pair of singles in this one.
Nick Madrigal: 2-3, R, BB (.314)Narciso Crook: 2-4 (.273)Jared Young: 1-3, BB (.244)Matt Mervis: 1-4, RBI (.242)Nicholas Padilla: 2 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (3.00)Matt Dermody: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K (3.74)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Andrelton Simmons also started in this one, going 0-for-4 with 3 Ks.
RBI machine Matt Mervis delivers again.
Two-out single in the 1st scores Nick Madrigal to give the @IowaCubs a 1-0 lead.
87 RBI. Leads minor league baseball. Most RBI in affiliated baseball from anyone not named Aaron Judge.
Obviously not a great day for the Smokies pitching staff, but a handful of guys who have swung the bat well of late, continued to do so last night. Miguel Amaya reached base three times, as did Yonathan Perlaza, Jake Slaughter, Bradlee Beesley, and Bryce Ball.
Bradlee Beesley: 3-4, 2B, R, RBI, 2 SB (8, 9) (.252)Bryce Ball: 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI (.282)Jake Slaughter: 3-5, 2B, R (.320)Miguel Amaya: 1-3, R, RBI, 2 BB (.360)Yonathan Perlaza: 1-3, 2B, R, BB, HBP (.246)
Good work from lefty relievers Adam Laskey and Riley Martin in relief of Kohl Franklin in this one. Franklin did hit 101 on the stadium gun, but when you give up four runs and only record one out there isn’t much to get excited about. We’ve seen Franklin’s talents surface in fits and starts this year, but it has no doubt been a rocky first few months as he fights back from all the missed time in 2020 and 2021. It is important to keep in mind too that a blister kept him out for a stretch in Eugene back in 2019, and he also missed significant time with a (leg?) injury in high school. In hindsight, maybe High-A was a bridge too far, despite the excitement over his raw stuff. The upside remains, and he’s still got a couple of months to build momentum to hopefully come out strong in 2023.
Kohl Franklin… “That says 101 on the scoreboard.” pic.twitter.com/ZU1UYskk4S
Luis Verdugo continues to quietly reestablish himself as a prospect. Two more hits (including his 20th double) and two more walks bring his season slash line up to .270/.343/.402. Not bad for a 21-year old in High-A. Coupled with his strong defense at 3B, and some currently untapped home run power, there is enough upside for Verdugo to one day make the show.
Luis Verdugo: 2-2, 2B, 2 BB (.270)Jordan Nwogu: 1-4, 2 RBI (.243)Adam Laskey: 3.2 IP, 2 H, R, 2 BB, 4 K (4.50)Riley Martin: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (4.20)
I didn’t expect Jacob Wetzel to struggle over the course of the 1st half of the season, especially since I thought there was a decent chance he’d open the season in South Bend, not Myrtle Beach. But he’s begun to turn it on of late, and roped his 9th homer of the season in this one.
Sent this one into the river. Think he’s opened up his stance some (or maybe I’m just noticing it with a straight CF camera). pic.twitter.com/KYLzcjEsJt
Kevin Alcántara drove in his 70th run of the season:
Matt Mervis isn’t the only RBI machine in the Cubs system. https://t.co/MtafunBApr
70 RBI for Kevin Alcántara in his 85th game of the year. pic.twitter.com/U4hdva0STQ
And hard throwing Frankie Scalzo Jr., who missed much of the first half due to injury, is starting to get dialed in with the Pelicans. He tossed three no hit innings to lower his ERA to 4.05. I’ll be curious to watch him down the stretch. He could be a guy who takes a jump next season.
Jacob Wetzel: 1-3, HR (9), R, RBI, BB (.215)Josue Huma: 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI, SB (3) (.266)Malcolm Quintero: 1-3, R, BB (.226)Alejandro Rivero: 1-3, R (.271)Kevin Alcántara: 1-4, 2B, RBI (.265)Frankie Scalzo Jr.: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K (4.03)
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
Veteran righty Jonathan Holder, who has missed the majority of the last two seasons, fired two scoreless innings while striking out 3 as he continues his rehab. Depending on how things go in the 2nd half, it may not be a bad idea to have a guy like him available to eat some innings in Chicago.
Daily Cubs Minors Recap