Cubs Minor League News: Ballesteros raking, Birdsell impressive, McGeary homers, more
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Cubs Minor League News: Ballesteros raking, Birdsell impressive, McGeary homers, more

by - Senior Writer -

Over the next few weeks, the Cubs Minor League Schedule will look different. Not only will the MLB All-Star break take four days of competition out of the way in two weeks, but no Minor League baseball will be played on Sunday this week.

The main reason for that is that the Cubs had a full slate of games on Monday instead of just Rookie League Monday, as seven affiliates took the field, making up for eight games. This is by far the busiest Monday the Cubs have had and will be the busiest Monday they have all season, and with the Cubs off, maybe it's a good thing. Overall, the Cubs struggled out of the gate, opening the week with a 2-6 record.


When you talk about a gutwrenching loss, this comes full circle as a four-run eighth inning paved the way for Omaha. Trey Supak did his part on the mound, giving Iowa six innings of six strikeout ball, allowing just one run on two hits. He has continued to pitch well since his promotion and has been one of the bigger surprises in the Cubs system so far.

It took six innings for either team to get going as BJ Murray Jr. broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single in the sixth, only to have the Nick Pratto sacrifice fly to tie things up at 1-1. In the eighth, the Storm Chasers took over as they broke through against Frank Sclazo Jr and Riley Martin.

Backed by the bases-loaded RBI double from Drew Walters, Omaha scored four times in that eighth inning to take a 5-1 lead before winning by that score. Tyler Gentry added the final run in that inning with an RBI single. Murray Jr and Moises Ballesteros led the Cubs offense with two hits as Ballesteros is now hitting .378 since his promotion to Iowa.


The lone full-season squad to come away with a win on Monday as AA Tennessee, and they did so in dominating fashion. Led by a balanced offensive attack and one of the best pitching performances of the season, the Smokies made quick work of Chattanooga as they took care of business 7-2.

While the offense will get a lot of the talk, given their seven runs, the attention will fall on Brandon Birdsell, who came through with his best performance of the season.

The right-hander gave the Smokies seven innings of one-run, one-hit baseball while also striking out nine. He was given a 2-0 lead in the first off a Kevin Alcantara sacrifice fly, and the Haydn McGeary homer as the Smokies never trailed.

Still holding their 2-0 lead in the sixth, the Smokies offense began to add on late as they scored five times the next three innings, with three coming off a pair of RBI singles from Felix Stevens and Josh Rivera in that sixth inning. You also had a Luis Verdugo walk in the bottom of the seventh, leading to another run, with Fabian Pertuz picking up a homer in the eighth.

Both Chattanooga runs came off of homers, with Nicholas Northcut ending the no-hit bid with his homer in the seventh, while Ivan Johnson went deep in the ninth to close out the scoring.

Stevens had a great night at the plate, picking up three hits to go with his RBI as his average rose to .250. Alcantara and McGeary also got in on the fun with two hits, as McGeary now has three homers in his last two games.


In what has now been a three-day struggle over the course of four games, the Cubs' offense continues to go through the motions as they fell to the Chiefs 5-2 on Monday. Erian Rodriguez got the ball for the Cubs, and although he lasted just four innings, he pitched well enough to get the win. He allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out five.

Rodriguez was matched up against Pete Hanson, who not only went five innings but did so by allowing just one earned run and striking out six. Both of the runs Rodriguez would allow came in the first inning when a Chris Rotondo grounder gave the Chiefs the lead for good, 1-0, before doubling their lead on the Woo-Bin Cho double.

The Cubs managed to keep things close early as an Ed Howard homer in the second made things 2-1, only to have Pedro Ramirez bring things back to even with a fifth-inning RBI single. After that hit, the Chiefs began to pull away as they scored three runs after the sixth inning, and all of them came off of walks, wild pitches, or balks to sink the Cubs 5-2. Ramirez was one of three Cubs to record multiple hits, and he was joined by Jonathon Long and Brett Bateman.


Anytime you can get a great starting pitching performance and not come away with a win, it does sting a bit, which was the case in Myrtle Beach. Despite Juan Bello giving the Pelicans 5 2/3 strong innings, the Pelicans were held to just three hits in a 2-0 loss.

Bello allowed four hits, gave up one run, and struck out five in his best showing of the season. Usually, an effort like that would win you a game, but with Engert Garcia going six innings and allowing no runs, his effort went to waste. Bello gave up his lone run off a second-inning homer from Wooyeoul Shin as the Riverdogs led 1-0 and never trailed.

They would add to their lead in the seventh off an RBI fielder's choice, as those were the only two runs they would need in their 2-0 win. With just three hits, the offense was tough to come by as Reggie Preciado, Andy Garriola, and Alfonsin Rosario had the three hits for the Birds.


Despite spotting the A's seven first inning runs, the Cubs offense came to life and nearly completed the massive comeback. Jairo Diaz had a great day at the plate for the Cubs as he connected for two hits and four RBIs from the No. 9 spot. Angel Cepeda and Geuri Lubo also picked up a pair of hits, with Albert Gutierrez chiming in with three hits.

The A's were led by Pedro Pineda and his three RBIs with Yeniel Laboy leading the team with three hits. Not much went right from a pitching side, although you did see Luis Devers, Dominic Hambley, and Hunter Viets all put together some good showings in relief.


In a rare pitcher's duel in the DSL, it was the Brewers getting the best of the Cubs 2-1. Darian Rivero got the start and suffered the loss after allowing just one run in three innings. He gave way to Fred Fajardo, who was lights out in three innings and struck out seven.

While the Cubs took a traditional approach, the Brewers didn't. Paul Hoff pitched five innings and allowed no runs with six punchouts. A fourth-inning sacrifice fly backed Hoff, while Roderick Flores's sixth-inning RBI single was the winning hit. The Cubs' lone run of the game came in their final at-bat off a Josias Ramirez homer, and they fell to the Brewers 2-1.


With two games against the Brewers on Monday, the Cubs managed to get a split as they took game two 4-0. Jorge Alvarez had by far his best outing of the season as he walked one and struck out eight in four shutout innings. He was given immediate run support in the first off a steal of home before a balk in the fourth made things 2-0.

The Cubs managed to hold that lead until the fifth when they cashed in with the bases loaded on a Henniel Alcala single to double their lead 4-0. The Guardians had a shot to make things interesting at the bottom of the fifth when they loaded the bases, only to have the Cubs escape without damage and keep them in front. Jhon Rosario took care of the rest from there as his three-shut-out innings lowered his ERA to 0.71 for the season.


Pitching wasn't the strong suit in this one, as the Guardians and Cubs combined for 25 runs, with 17 going to the Guardians. The Guardians got the scoring going early with a pair of runs in the first inning, only to have the Cubs answer with three in the third to take a 3-2 lead. Enyel Rosario opened the scoring for the Cubs with an RBI single before coming home on the Daniel Campos homer.

Following a Juneiker Caceres single that tied things up in the bottom of the third, the Guardians offense erupted as they pushed across seven runs the next two frames to take the lead. Three runs came on three bases-loaded walks in the fourth to make things 6-3, with four more runs crossing in the fifth. Those four runs came after the Cubs tied things up in the top of the fifth using a sacrifice fly to pull within 6-4 before the Robin Ortiz double made this a 6-6 game.

All it took was a Robert Arias double in the bottom of the fifth to give the Guardians the lead for good before the bases-loaded Caceres double broke the game open at 10-6. Caceres was just getting started as he added two more RBIs in the seventh as part of his nine-RBI day and single handedly outscored the Cubs entire offense.

Trailing 14-6 late, the Cubs scored a Jesus Meneses homer in the eighth and a Vincent Nunez double in the ninth to close out the scoring, but it wasn't enough, as the Cubs fell to the Guardians 17-8. Ortiz and Campos led the way for the Cubs with three hits and two RBIs.


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