Cubs Minor League News: Canario clubs 36th homer, Thompson impressive with 8Ks, more
Canario hit his 36th homer of trhe season

Cubs Minor League News: Canario clubs 36th homer, Thompson impressive with 8Ks, more

by - Senior Writer -

Tuesday was a bit more regular in terms of game action as two of the Cubs four affiliates were on the diamond. With Iowa opening things off in the afternoon, that allowed all the attention to shift toward Tennessee later in the day as their quest for the AA Southern League championship continued.


No one will deny the heart this team has shown, especially going up against a team battling for playoff contention, but the results are not there. Despite holding a 5-2 lead entering the sixth inning, the Mud Hens had the last laugh, with Toledo pushing across five runs in that sixth inning to take the lead and pick up the 7-5 win.

When you talk about reclamation projects, Wyatt Short has to come to mind as it has been extraordinary what he has been able to do since joining the rotation. He has been the team's best starter over the last month, and he capped off his season by throwing five innings of two-run, four-hit ball. He walked on and struck out seven to finish the season 7-2 with a 3.33 ERA.

Short left with the lead as two of the three relievers in, Jonathan Holder and Brendon Little, pitched very well, but the first reliever, Dakota Mekkes, struggled. With the score tied 0-0 in the third, John Hicks opened the scoring with a two-run shot for his 20th of the season. That gives the Cubs five players in their organization at or around 20 homers which is something the MLB roster lacks.

Later in the third inning, you had Levi Jordan picking up an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0, with that lead only growing in the fourth. Looking to tie Matt Mervis in the home run race, Alexander Canario unloaded for his 5th AAA homer in the fourth and went oppo to extend the Cubs lead to 5-0. It was No. 36 overall for Canario as the Organizational home run race will come down to the season finale on Wednesday.

Despite a comfortable lead at this point, it was all Toledo from here as they scored seven unanswered runs to close the game, with all seven coming over the next two innings. Brendon Davis got Toledo on the board with a two-run homer in the fifth to make things 5-2. Those were the only runs Short allowed as he left after the fifth with Mekkes entering the game.

That was the opening Toledo needed as Mekkes struggled with his command from start to finish and was hit hard in the process. Not only did he hit former Iowa Cub Zach Short with the bases loaded to force in a run, but RBI doubles from Andre Lipcius and Ali Sanchez put the Mud Hens in front 7-5 and capped off the five-run frame.

Mekkes allowed all five of those runs, but was only charged with two earned runs as his line is slightly better because of it. As the game went on, the Cubs had their chances, with Hicks adding a double in the seventh before the Matt Mervis single and Narcisco Crook walk in the ninth brought the winning run to the plate only to come away empty-handed in the end.

The middle of the Cubs order did the most damage, with Canario, Mervis, and Hicks coming away with two hits. Canario and Hicks drove in two runs, with Jordan having the other. Tyler Payne added two hits for the day, with Darius Hill coming away with one as he has moved into possession of second place with the second most hits in the minors this season.


There will be an all-or-nothing game three on Wednesday as the Southern League Champion will be crowned that day. At least if you are a Smokies fan, that gives you one more opportunity to watch this team at home before the offseason. However, considering they haven't won a playoff game in their building this season, it may not be the best place to have a game three.

You have to feel for right-hander Riley Thompson who not only started for the Smokies, but had his best game of the season. Once a top 10 prospect in the Cubs system, injuries have slowed him down as this was his first season since 2019. After taking his bumps and bruises throughout the year, Thompson put it together in the final month of the season, which carried over into the postseason.

Thompson was dominant in his five innings as he scattered just two hits, walked two, and struck out eight. Most importantly, he didn't allow a run and left with a 1-0 lead to finish his season with a 2-5 record and 4.47 ERA.

The third inning has been kind to the Smokies all postseason long, and that continued with the Yonathan Perlaza RBI double to give Tennessee a 1-0 lead.

With that run, the Smokies have scored at least one run in the third inning in every playoff game, which is an impressive feat. With Thompson out of the game in the sixth, things went south in a hurry as Pensacola teed off on the Smokies pen. Whether that be Dalton Stambaugh, Hunter Bigge, or Michael McAvene, who was lit up for five earned runs in his AA debut, Pensacola scored seven times in the sixth inning to take the 7-1 lead.

Six of those runs came home on RBI singles from Cobie Fletcher-Vance, Demetrius Sims, Will Banfield, and Norel Gonzalez, while the other was a bases-loaded walk. That was it for the offense for either side as the Blue Wahoos evened up the series 1-1 and forced a series-clinching game Wednesday at Smokies Stadium.

Perlaza has been a man on a mission all second half and postseason long as he is hitting an even .500 for the postseason. He was one of five Smokies to pick up a hit, with Nelson Maldonado, Chase Strumpf, Cole Roederer, and Luis Vazquez all joining in for what was otherwise a quiet night.

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