Cubs Minor League News: Velazquez raking, PCA crushes grand slam, Horton impressive, more
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Cubs Minor League News: Velazquez raking, PCA crushes grand slam, Horton impressive, more

by - Senior Writer -

Thursday was an exciting night on the diamond for the Cubs and their minor league system, even if all the results were unfavorable. Not only did you see a pair of extra-inning games, but several other games went down to the wire, which is all you can ask for. The Cubs came out on the winning side more often than not, as they posted a 4-3 record on Thursday.


After a brief stretch where the Cubs offense cooled off, Iowa appears to be back on track which is not good for the rest of AAA. Sparked by a pair of crooked innings, the Cubs did what they needed to do and held off the Indians to grab the series lead.

Caleb Kilian was on the bump for the Cubs and had one of his worst starts in a while. Granted, he did get through four innings, allowing just three runs, but his command was an issue, as he walked four with no strikeouts. From there, a plethora of bullpen arms looking to lock things down, including Riley Martin, making his AAA debut, who allowed three runs in his inning of work.

The Cubs found themselves playing catchup in the first when Cal Mitchell used an RBI single to make things 2-0. That lead didn't last long, as Iowa responded with a massive bottom half of the first. Nelson Velazquez opened the scoring with an RBI double, while singles from Jake Slaughter and Chase Strumpf made things 3-2. Like the Chicago Cubs, who used singles to put the Pirates away, the Iowa Cubs were doing the same, with Darius Hill and Jake Washer adding RBI singles to make things 5-2, with a fielder's choice capping things off with the Cubs leading 6-2.

Those were the only runs for the Cubs for most of the game as Miguel Andujar delivered a solo shot in the third to pull the Indians closer, with Mitchell adding a second RBI single in the fifth. Throw in a wild pitch in the top half of the sixth, and the Indians were within 6-5 with the momentum shifting in their direction.

Leave it to the Cubs and their offense to change that, as Dom Nunez and Velazquez connected for a pair of two-run shots in the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to 10-5.

Indianapolis battled back with three runs in the seventh to pull within 10-8, but they would fall by that score.

Velazquez led the offense with three hits and three RBIs and is starting to get back into early-season form.


Despite allowing a massive lead to get away, the Smokies did what they had to do to hold on and secure another big win. Jordan Wicks was on the mound and didn't pitch terribly despite lasting just four innings. The left-hander allowed three hits but struck out five as he continued to do the job on the mound.

Wicks was backed by an offense that jumped on Tommy Sommer early, but they cooled off until late. Tied 0-0 in the second, Sommer found himself in big-time trouble as a bases-loaded walk to Cole Roederer put the Smokies in front 1-0. Moments later, it was the man, the myth, and the future legend Pete Crow-Armstrong cashing in as his Grand Slam busted the game open and had the Smokies up 5-0 in the first.

Little did they know that would be it for their offense for a long time as the Barons battled back. Birmingham got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first, while the Bryan Ramos homer in the third made things 5-3. The Barons continued their comeback bid in the fifth as Alexander Womack pulled them within one with another RBI single.

The long ball played a massive role for the Barons throughout the game, with Moises Castillo bringing things to even in the seventh with a solo shot and helping force extra innings.

In the extra frame, it was the Cubs turn to leave the yard again as Luis Vazquez used his 10th homer to put the Smokies back in front 7-5. The Barons did get a run back on the Yoelqui Cesdepes sacrifice fly, but they fell short in the end 7-6.


As painful as this stretch has been for the Cubs, there is hope on the horizon as they will be getting reinforcements for the second half. You saw what happened last year when new faces came in, and that may be the case again. Cade Horton continued to do his thing on the mound allowing two runs on one hit in four innings with six strikeouts.

Following him, you had Didier Vargas and Sheldon Reed, among others, who pitched well enough to win, but these Kernels won't die and are in first place for a reason. Squaring off with Horton was Christian MacLeod, who also struck out six in four innings while allowing only one run. That run came in the top of the fourth off a Yohendrick Pinango single as the Cubs opened a 1-0 lead.

That lead didn't last long, with Kala'i Rosario leaving the yard in the bottom of the fourth to make things 2-1 Kernels. With MacLeod out of the game to begin the fifth, it was the Cubs offense coming through again as the Ezequiel Pagan single-tied things up at 2, followed by the go-ahead fielder's choice.

Like in the fourth, when the Cubs took the lead the first time, the Kernels had the answer with Tanner Schobel using an RBI double to bring things back to even 3-3. That was the final run of regulation, as there would be extra baseball for the fans. Once extra innings got underway, both offenses came out strong, with Pagan adding another RBI single in the top half of the 10th, followed by a sacrifice fly in the bottom half.

Moving to the 11th, you had Bryce Ball coming through with another clutch hit as the Cubs retook the lead 5-4. Looking to finish off the Kernels in the bottom half, the Cubs let one get away as a costly throwing error allowed the tying run to score before Ernie Yake walked them off in the 12th with a single.


Is there a hotter team in baseball than the Myrtle Beach Pelicans right now? Considering where this team was a month ago compared to where they are now, you can see the argument as they continue to push toward another playoff berth.

Marino Santy continues to give the Pelicans quality starts, and despite falling one out short of qualifying for the win, it was a positive outing. Santy got through 4 2/3 with five strikeouts and allowed two runs with one earned. However, he wasn't the story as Koen Moreno gave the Birds 3 1/3 innings of excellent relief with five strikeouts to pick up the win.

It didn't take long for the Pelicans offense to get started, as most of their damage came in the first three innings. Moises Ballesteros opened the scoring with a homer in the bottom half of the first before adding an RBI single in the second. That single was part of a three-run frame with a Miguel Pabon double and a Reivaj Garcia groundout making things 4-0 after two.

The Pelicans kept the pressure on in the third, with Rafael Morel leaving the yard to extend their advantage to 6-0. Although this was the last of their runs for a while, the Pelicans were in great shape as their pitching continued to do the job. After being gifted a pair of runs in the fifth, Armando Cruz added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and the Nationals were within 6-3.

That was as close as they would get, with Felix Stevens capping off the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh for the 7-3 win.

Myrtle Beach had 12 hits in the game as they continue to get production all across the lineup.


Sparked by their massive six-run frame, the Giants were able to cool off the Cubs as they picked up the 7-4 win. Carlos Garcia was the victim of that big inning as he allowed five runs in the fourth after holding the Giants scoreless through three. That was more than enough for them, as Cesar Perdomo delivered five strong frames.

Knotted 0-0 entering the fourth, the Cubs offense cracked the scoreboard first with a wild pitch making things 1-0. Evidently, that wild pitch irked the Giants as their offense elected to break out and push across six runs in the bottom half to seize control. Guillermo Williamson started things off with a two-run single, but the three-run shot from Elian Rayo busted the game open.

Needing some offense, the Cubs obliged with Cristian More picking up an RBI single in the fifth, with Christopher Paciolla going deep in the sixth.

There was another wild pitch in the sixth for the Cubs, allowing another run to score, but they still came up short 7-4.


It has been an up-and-down last few games for DSL Blue, with this one being one of those down games. Held to just four hits in the loss, the Cubs spotted the Red Sox five runs in the first, setting the tone for a long day.

Most of that damage in the first inning came on a pair of RBI doubles from Kleyver Salazar and Luis Arrendondo, while a wild pitch brought home the other run. Salazar added to his big game in the second with a sacrifice fly as the Red Sox led 6-0 early. That score would hold until the fifth, when they added two more runs before bringing home their final two runs in the eighth to close things out. Derik Alcantara had one of the four hits for the Cubs, joining Edward Vargas, Daniel Ferreira, and Omar Ferrera.


The lone Rookie League team to come away with a win was DSL Red, which gave them a winning record as a system. Despite the Cubs pushing across plenty of early offense, this game went down to the wire as the Cubs walked the Mets off in the end.

Christopher Larez opened the scoring for the Mets with a double in the first before an error gave them a 2-0 lead. Joan Delgado pulled the Cubs within 2-1 in the bottom of the first, but it was the third inning when their offense started to get things going. Albert Gutierrez started the massive inning with a game-tying single, while the bases-loaded double from Josias Ramirez had the Cubs in front 5-2.

The Mets wouldn't go away quietly as a passed ball and a bases-loaded walk in the fourth brought home two runs before Sandy Sanchez pushed the lead to 6-4 with his groundout in the fourth. Trailing by a pair late, the Mets offense continued to battle back as Arnaldo Montano pulled them within 6-5 with a homer in the sixth before tying things up in the seventh on a wild pitch.

That set the Cubs offense up to walk off the Mets, and Ramirez did just that as his RBI single capped off the walk-off win and gave DSL Red another big win. Ramirez had a massive day leading the team with four RBIs on his two hits.

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