Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Morel launches two homers; Velazquez promoted; Plenty of other homers and solid pitching throughout the system as affiliates win all 3 games

Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Morel launches two homers; Velazquez promoted; Plenty of other homers and solid pitching throughout the system as affiliates win all 3 games

Christopher Morel (photo by Rikk Carlson)

MLB

Let’s play two.

AAA

Iowa 6, St. Paul 2

Game Recap

He hasn’t posted a very high average or on base percentage so his slugging has probably gone a bit under the radar, but Jared Young has been the one consistent power threat for the I-Cubs in the early going. His 7th home run yesterday tied him with Alexander Canario for the second highest total in the system behind Nelson Velazquez. It’s also been a bit weird in that none of Young’s power has translated into extra base hits outside of homers (just 1 double) but that is sure to even out a bit as the season progresses.

Jared Young got all of this one. pic.twitter.com/zy3aXzCidI

— Brad (@ballskwok)

May 7, 2022

Robel García also homered, and Nelson Maldonado is making a habit of multi-hit games in Iowa just as he did in Tennessee and before that in South Bend and before that in…

The Cubs have stockpiled enviable depth of left handed pitchers in Iowa and we got to see three of them shut down the opposition yesterday. Matt Dermody got the start and held the Saints to two runs over his five innings. He’s not a long term answer but Dermody got a cup of coffee with the big club a couple of years ago and looks to be throwing just as well this year, so if the need arises the Cubs could call upon him again.

Brandon Hughes followed with two scoreless. Like Maldonado and multi-hit games, Hughes and two scoreless innings are pretty much synonymous at this point. Stephen Gonsalves also fired a scoreless inning. Not a lefty, but Ben Leeper finished off the game with a pair of strikeouts in the 9th. He’s starting to round into the form we saw from him all of last season.

Top Performers

Jared Young: 4-5, HR (7), 3 R, 2 RBI (.250)Robel García: 1-2, HR (3), R, 3 RBI, 3 BB (.263)Nelson Maldonado: 3-5, 2B (.333)P.J. Higgins: 1-3, RBI, BB, HBP (.340)Dixon Machado: 1-3, 2 BB (.295)Matt Dermody: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K (W, 2-1, 3.27)Brandon Hughes: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K (0.00)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

He wasn’t in the lineup, but the long awaited callup of Nelson Velazquez to Iowa has occurred. The outfielder is among the Cubs top 20 prospects, and some would argue the top 15. He can certainly hit the ball as hard as anyone in the system. The 23-year old is slugged .700 for the Smokies over the first month of the season. Despite playing just 56 games at the AA level he smacked 17 home runs and added 14 doubles and 2 triples for good measure. We could certainly see him get some time in Chicago during the second half of the season. My guess is his offensive profile as a Major Leaguer will shade more towards that of Patrick Wisdom as I expect the better right handed pitchers will make it difficult for him to make consistent contact. But Velazquez, like Wisdom, has shown that when he does make contact it tends to be very hard contact.

AA

Tennessee 9, Birmingham 5

Game Recap

Christopher Morel. Christopher Morel again. His two homers yesterday (I’ve seriously lost track of how many Cubs farmhands have pulled off that feat in the past few weeks) led Tennessee to an easy 9-5 victory.

Morel mash x2!

No. 21 @Cubs prospect Christopher Morel delivered a pair of loud homers for @smokiesbaseball: pic.twitter.com/E006NfUqrp

— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline)

May 7, 2022

One of my favorite prospects to watch over the years thanks to his stellar defense at multiple positions, we may finally be witnessing the full breakout of Christopher Morel as an offensive player. The flashes have always been there. His bat speed has always allowed him to make hard contact, but he swung at too many bad pitches and it took a while to add enough mass to his wiry frame to take full advantage.

It’s been a slow build over the last five years. The plate discipline and pitch recognition has improved in small increments each season. He’s gotten stronger. Now that he is waiting for better pitches, when he does make contact it is no longer just hard contact. Morel is now making some of the hardest contact in the system. Far from the biggest guy, his exit velos and home run distances approach or match all of the top slugging prospects the Cubs possess.

John always liked to say that development isn’t always linear… but means that sometimes it is, and I can’t think of a better example of that over the past few years than Morel. Few leaps from him, just steady progress.

Bryce Ball also blasted a homer, his third, and Yonathan Perlaza (who should now get more regular playing time with Velazquez in Iowa) launched his second.

The offense wasn’t the only story though. Javier Assad has long been a solid but unspectacular starter for the Cubs at whatever level he’s pitched. Above average command and control, a feel for spin, and a solid pitch mix has let him keep hitters off balance and limited hard contact. I always assumed he had a shot at a middle relief job if he was able to bump his velo into the mid-90s in shorter stretches.

But, Assad looks to be in fantastic shape and is now starting to sit in the mid-90s as a starter. That takes him to a new level of interesting. I need to see more. And he has to show he can maintain this level for more than the first month, but he’s become yet another interesting arm to watch in the Cubs system.

Top Performers

Christopher Morel: 2-5, 2 HR (5, 6), 3 R, 3 RBI, SB (3) (.311)Bryce Ball: 3-5, 2B, HR (3), R, 2 RBI (.290)Yonathan Perlaza: 1-4, HR (2), R, RBI, BB (.154)Darius Hill: 1-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB (.303)Andy Weber: 2-5, 2B, RBI (.286)Christian Donahue: 2-5 (.176)Javier Assad: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 9 K (W, 1-1, 2.10)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Javier Assad has now struck out 28 batters in 25.2 IP, while walking just 5.

Last 13 games for Christopher Morel. pic.twitter.com/MsddKKhpvf

— Brad (@ballskwok)

May 7, 2022

Also…

Good to see Miguel Amaya back doing some cage work #Cubs

(: @mamaya_9) pic.twitter.com/5vyzgzgYJD

— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone)

May 7, 2022

High-A

South Bend 4, Peoria 2

Game Recap

South Bend didn’t generate a ton of offense, but they managed to bunch much of what they got into two innings. RBI singles by Matt Mervis and Owen Caissie in the 1st gave them the early lead, and then a two-run double by Fabian Pertuz in the 6th gave them a cushion after Peoria had drawn within a run.

HIGHLIGHTS
Undefeated this week and another white-knuckler at home as we pick up a 4-2 victory over the @peoriachiefs. All 4 runs came with 2 outs

Here’s how it all went down. pic.twitter.com/wdSVG0dmUe

— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs)

May 7, 2022

Meanwhile on the mound, Daniel Palencia put together a really solid outing. The hard thrower has struggled a bit out of the gate, but he was hitting as high as 101 on the gun yesterday, and limited the Chiefs to one run over four innings. Manuel Espinoza did the same (minus the 101 gun readings) but even without the velo he managed to punch out an impressive 9 batters. Hunter Bigge earned his third save with a scoreless 9th.

Top Performers

Daniel Palencia: 4 IP, 3 H, R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (5.06)Manuel Espinoza: 4 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 9 K (W, 2-2, 1.83)Hunter Bigge: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (S, 3, 2.00)Fabian Pertuz: 2-5, 2B, 2 RBI (.225)Alexander Canario: 1-3, R, BB (.291)Pablo Aliendo: 1-3, 2B, R, BB (.157)Jake Washer: 1-3, HBP (.382)Yohendrick Pinango: 0-1, 3 BB, SB (1) (.241)Ed Howard: 1-4, R, 2 SB (2, 3) (.236)

Low-A

Myrtle Beach PPD

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In reply to Michael Ernst:
If he can translate the stats he’s putting up in AA to the MLB club, he might be the regular…
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For sure, just watching the current level of play, is pretty depressing.
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Morel definitely fits the definitions of quick twitch athleticism and wiry strong. He’s got one of the top three arms…
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Morel is lean, but really strong and athletic. Just watching him circle the bases on a homerun, one gets the…
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