Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Porter Hodge and Matt Mervis continue breakout seasons; Canario drives in 5; Alcántara homers

Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Porter Hodge and Matt Mervis continue breakout seasons; Canario drives in 5; Alcántara homers

Matt Mervis (photo by Rikk Carlson)

MLB

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

I’m sure you saw, and had opinions on the flurry of roster moves yesterday, but he’s a recap:

Friday #Cubs roster moves:
– Stroman to the 15-day IL w/ right shoulder inflammation
– Wade Miley reinstated from the IL
– Chris Martin reinstated from the restricted list
– Clint Frazier DFA’d
– Rivas and Rucker optioned to Iowa
– Gomes and Villar reinstated from the IL

— Elise Menaker (@EliseMenaker)

June 10, 2022

Also got some rehab news from Mesa on Ethan Roberts:

Some positive @Cubs news from today – watched @EthanXXVI throwing a live BP session! Velocity was 94-96 and the slider was biting! Great to see him back on the bump and starting to work his way back! #CubsProspects #RehabSucks #baseball #Cubs pic.twitter.com/gHcY9U7wCh

— Rich Biesterfeld (@biest22)

June 11, 2022

AAA

Toledo 7, Iowa 6

Game Recap

Caleb Kilian started and looked like he was using his first MLB start as a learning experience. He went mostly fastball/slider in that game, and was in the strike zone maybe a bit too much for my taste. I know he can keep hitters off balance and induce weak contact while throwing strikes, but one thing I think he needs to work on is including a chase pitch. His curveball has the upside to be just that, and at least in this outing he was clearly working on including it more, perhaps even forcing it. It wasn’t the greatest results (3.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, BB, 6 K) but yesterday seemed like one of those days where production took a back seat to process/development, with the hopes that it improves his results when his next opportunity in Chicago comes around.

In the pitching production category, Bryan Hudson looked good again in an inning of relief, and then Cayne Ueckert had maybe his best outing of the season. He really opened some eyes in AA last year and then in Mesa this spring, but it’s been a rough couple of months in Iowa to open the season. Lots of inconsistency, especially with his command. But not yesterday. He was pumping in upper-90s and controlling his breaking ball. He’ll be Rule 5 eligible in the offseason and if he can string together a good month or two, he figures to be someone the Cubs look at in the 2nd half of the season in Chicago to help determine how ready he will be for a full time job next year. Hudson will be a Minor League free agent, but is making a case for a 40-man spot as well.

It was a good offensive day for the Cubs. Narciso Crook homered and scored twice. Darius Hill added three hits. In fact, six different batters contributed multiple hits, and one who didn’t (Nelson Velázquez) reached base three times and threw a guy out at the plate from center field.

Velazquez guns down a run at the plate. pic.twitter.com/OtEQZwTIhb

— Brad (@ballskwok)

June 10, 2022

They carried a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the 9th, before Aneuris Rosario and Brendon Little suffered control issues trying to nail down the victory. Walks and wild pitches came back to bite them as they let the victory get away.

Top Performers

Narciso Crook: 2-5, HR (5), 2 R, RBI (.230)Darius Hill: 3-6, RBI (.313)Dixon Machado: 2-5, RBI, BB, SB (9) (.297)Nelson Velázquez: 1-3, RBI, 2 BB (.242)Jonathan Hicks: 2-4, R, BB (.224)Carlos Sepulveda: 2-5, 2B, R, RBI (.258)Levi Jordan: 2-5, R, RBI (.237)Cayne Ueckert: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K (6.85)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

First three-hit game for Darius Hill at the AAA level, as his RBI single in the 7th gives the @IowaCubs a 5-3 lead.

Hill now hitting .323 since his promotion to the I-Cubs.

— Alex Cohen (@voiceofcohen)

June 11, 2022

AA

Biloxi 14, Tennessee 10

Game Recap

Not much good on the pitching side in this one as Anderson Espinoza was victim to the big inning a couple of times (a common issue for him this season), and the results were no different for Peyton Remy, who piggybacked off his start.

There was plenty of good on the offensive side though.

Matt Mervis homered and doubled again as he continues to cement himself as the breakout prospect in the system this season. The track record remains short, but he’s a guy I talked about throughout last season as a having the tools (both offensively and defensively) to succeed, but he wasn’t hitting the ball in the air enough and wasn’t always getting himself in the best counts. Myrtle Beach’s home park did him no favors as well. Still, not even I saw anything like this season coming. Mervis is just killing the ball this year. A promotion from High-A to AA has not slowed him down one bit (combined 333/384/667).

Here is tonight’s Mervis HR: pic.twitter.com/jRa18dZzE6

— Brad (@ballskwok)

June 11, 2022

I love the swing. He creates bat speed and doesn’t sacrifice contact for power. The bat path stays in the hitting zone a long time. He’s still not the most patient hitter, and that is probably an adjustment he needs to make once he reaches AAA, but I’m beginning to believe that Mervis may just be the 1B of the future.

Here is tonight’s Mervis HR: pic.twitter.com/jRa18dZzE6

— Brad (@ballskwok)

June 11, 2022

Mervis wasn’t the only contributor though. Alexander Canario was actually the biggest star of the game. He also doubled and homered, driving in five runs. On a team with a lot of intriguing players but few top prospects, Canario definitely has the loudest, and he showed most of them off in this one. He is starting to get comfortable in AA.

Jake Slaughter, who has swung a hot bat for both South Bend and Tennessee since coming up from EXST, added two more hits to raise his average to .391. Bryce Ball has not been hitting as much this month as previously, but had a nice game yesterday, with a single, double, and a walk.

Top Performers

Alexander Canario: 3-5, 2B, HR (6), R, 5 RBI, SB (2) (.216)Matt Mervis: 2-5, 2B, HR (8), 2 R, RBI (.313)Bryce Ball: 2-4, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB (.286)Jake Slaughter: 2-5, 2 R (.391)Chase Strumpf: 0-3, R, 2 BB (.236)Yonathan Perlaza: 1-4, R, RBI, BB (.220)

High-A

Cedar Rapids 6, South Bend 1

Game Recap

Not much to talk about, but Daniel Palencia remains a very intriguing arm, even if he only ends up as a reliever. Because it is potential closer stuff:

Daniel Palencia falls behind 3-0 with runners at second and third, goes 99, 99, breaking ball to get out of the jam. pic.twitter.com/UGw4sRIUoj

— Brad (@ballskwok)

June 10, 2022

A nice defensive play from Scott McKeon:

For the second time this series, @Scotty_Mckeon2 takes home the @LavenInsurance Defensive Play of the Game!

This sliding play was WILD pic.twitter.com/21vz2jzsDb

— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs)

June 11, 2022

Top Performers

Jordan Nwogu: 3-4, 2 2B, BB (.256)Yohendrick Piñango: 2-4 (.264)Luis Verdugo: 2-4 (.226)Owen Caissie: 1-3, BB (.242)Daniel Palencia: 4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, BB< 4 K (L, 0-2, 4.68)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

I don’t really know what to make of Jordan Nwogu. There are a ton of individual skills/tools, but they come together in a weird mix that always leaves you wanting more. He is beginning to produce more consistently though, and if he ever figures out how to access his plus raw power in games, then you probably got something, even though his arm likely limits him to LF (kinda weird to think of such a good athlete ending up playing 1B/DH but that may end up happening too).

Jordan Nwogu this month
.296/.412/.593/1.005 OPS

Average on May 8 was .176…oof. pic.twitter.com/ZZni2PbdeA

— Todd (@CubsCentral08)

June 11, 2022

Low-A

Myrtle Beach 5, Carolina 3

Game Recap

I didn’t get a chance to watch any of this one, and have weirdly missed most of his starts this season, but Porter Hodge apparently had another really nice game. Todd Johnson has been big on the young righty all season:

My guy right in on the hands. Love it! pic.twitter.com/7Gy90Zj2k5

— Todd (@CubsCentral08)

June 10, 2022

This was one of seven strikeouts. This hitter went down earlier on A fastball in on the hands. He did not get the fastball again pic.twitter.com/Tt32P8n56d

— Todd (@CubsCentral08)

June 11, 2022

Hodge showed a good slider and occasional flashes of velo last season, but he’s come into 2022 leaner and stronger, allowing his stuff, velo, and command to play more consistently. I don’t have a list in front of me right as I write this, but he’s certainly moved his way into the top 15 pitching prospect discussion in the system, and unlike some, there seems like a chance he could stick as a starter. We are still pretty early into this new version of him, but he’s definitely remade himself into a prospect to keep an eye on.

On offense, Kevin Alcántara continues to do things you rarely see from guys that young in the Carolina League. Going oppo with power as easily and as consistently as he does is a tremendous sign for future success.

Oppo shot!

Kevin Alcantara’s seventh big fly of the season is a two-run homer.

Pelicans 3, Mudcats 1 in the bottom of the fourth. pic.twitter.com/EOjndsMwlG

— Myrtle Beach Pelicans (@Pelicanbaseball)

June 11, 2022

Top Performers

Porter Hodge: 5 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 7 K (W, 4-1, 2.80)Kevin Alcántara: 1-5, HR (7), R, 2 RBI (.272)Reginald Preciado: 1-3, R, HBP (.212)Kevin Made: 0-2, 2 R, RBI, SF, 2 BB (.265)Matt Warkentin: 0-2, R, 2 BB (.333)

Injuries, Updates, and Trends

Triantos ended up with a 4 strikeout night (his first as a pro), but this triple was still cool. pic.twitter.com/sbpnJbxdLU

— Brad (@ballskwok)

June 11, 2022

Alfredo Zarraga was just brought up from EXST the other day. Went 2.2 IP tonight with 6 Ks, 1 BB, 2 hits, and just 1 ER on a solo HR. Came on mid-inning to replace an injured pitcher. Worked fast. This PA took about 25 seconds total. pic.twitter.com/6ljuI0fPCf

— Brad (@ballskwok)

June 11, 2022

ACL

Cubs 5, Brewers 4

DSL

Astros 7, Cubs Blue 4

Yankees 6, Cubs Red 0

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Another nice game for Matt Mervis, last night. HR and a double. But 1B at Iowa now could be a…
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When Suzuki comes off the il would be when JHey would be DFAed if, in fact, the Cubs actually want…
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