Cubs Minor League News: Professor teaching class, Caissie raking, Smokies turn triple play
Photo courtesy: Iowa Cubs

Cubs Minor League News: Professor teaching class, Caissie raking, Smokies turn triple play

by - Senior Writer -

Tuesday was one of the more eventful nights in the Cubs Minor League system in quite some time. You had Kyle Hendricks back on the mound, the return of DJ Herz, James Triantos making his season debut, a walk off win, and a triple play.

All that put together saw the organization post a 3-1 record with plenty of good coming from all the games. Given the way the Chicago Cubs have crumbled the past few weeks, more fans may be drawn to the minors as they provide the winning ways.


I find it ironic that the last time the Chicago Cubs had a successful offense was when John Mallee ran the show as the hitting coach. Mallee is back in the Cubs organization and is the hitting coach for Iowa, which happens to have one of the best offenses in AAA. Coming off a pair of rough rehab starts, Kyle Hendricks was back on the mound and finally delivered the outing Cubs fans were hoping for.

After spending the weekend in Chicago to perform an in-person bullpen session, Hendricks returned to Des Moines, where he looked like his old self. The right-hander gave the Cubs five shutout innings of two-hit and four-strikeout ball while the bullpen and the offense took care of the rest.

Along with Hendricks, you had Codi Heuer continue his way back from Tommy John and Jeremiah Estrada, tossing a scoreless outing.

From an offensive side, the Cubs started slow but immediately caught fire in the middle innings scoring all six runs in the span of three innings. The first of those runs came in the third when Darius Hill delivered an RBI double to put Iowa in front for good, 1-0. In the fourth inning, Iowa began to pull away, using three runs to take the commanding 4-0 lead.

The first of those runs came from a David Bote single, as that was the game-winning RBI. Jake Slaughter added a two-run single later in the frame to push the lead to 4-0 as his sudden hot streak has him knocking on the door of a potential call-up. Iowa capped off their scoring in the fifth when Jared Young delivered an RBI single to right as they opened up a 6-0 lead.

That score would hold until the eighth inning when Justyn-Henry Malloy ended the shutout against Anthony Kay with an RBI single.

Hill and Slaughter led the way from the top of the lineup as they picked up two hits. Dom Nunez was the lone Iowa player without a hit, while Nelson Velazquez returned to the Iowa lineup to pick up a hit and a walk.


By far, the most exciting game of the night was Tennessee, where the Smokies walked off the Biscuits. However, before we get to what happened, it didn't look like much of the game as the Smokies were held in check most of the night.

Sean Hunley played a significant role by tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings to set the tone. That overshadowed the season debut from Herz, who allowed one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings while striking out four. That run came in the first when an early inning error set the offense up, with Austin Shenton using a sacrifice fly to put Montgomery up 1-0.

With the game becoming a battle of the bullpens in the sixth, the Biscuits cashed in first, using a steal of home and another sacrifice fly to push the lead to 3-0. Looking to bust the game open in the eighth, the Biscuits offense was off to a great start, with Heriberto Hernandez and Evan Edwards starting things off with a pair of singles off Riley Martin.

Then came the play of the night, where the game changed as Martin got Alika Williams to line out to Haydn McGeary at first, who turned an inning-ending triple play.

Montgomery didn't let that triple play deter them from adding on in the ninth as the Greg Jones homer made things 4-0 and had the Smokies on the brink. Well, that is why you play 27 outs, and the Smokies were going to make sure their final three outs counted for something. Not only did a bases-loaded wild pitch put the Smokies on the board, but Jordan Nwogu took one for the team with the bases loaded and cut the deficit to 4-2.

A few pitches later saw Luis Verdugo deliver the biggest hit of the game up to this point as his single brought home a pair to tie things up 4-4. The Smokies late-game ambush continued with Pete Crow-Armstrong taking a four-pitch walk and Owen Caissie delivering the game-winning RBI single as the Smokies walked off the Biscuits 5-4.

Caissie seems to have forgotten about his early season slump and has raised his season average to .290 following a three-hit game. Chase Strumpf also had a multi-hit game as part of the eight-hit night for Tennessee.


Coming off a rough showing against Cedar Rapids last week at home, the Cubs took to the road to take on their neighbors from the north Wisconsin. Led by another great outing from Brandon Birdsell, this one was over almost as quickly as it began, as a seven-run first would be all the Cubs would need in a 10-1 win.

Birdsell didn't get the win but allowed one run in four innings to lower his ERA to 0.73. He struck out one and allowed three hits as his impressive season continues. In desperate need of getting their offense back on track, Bryce Ball returned to South Bend from Tennessee, putting the Cubs on the board with a bases-loaded hit by pitch. They would never look back as the offense came to play.

The big hit in that inning came from Kevin Made, whose bases-loaded double cleared the bases to make things 4-0. Ethan Hearn added his first homer of the season to push the lead to 6-0.

Kevin Alcantara hit an RBI single to extend the lead to 7-0.

South Bend continued to use early offense to send a message, with Yohendrick Pinango connecting for a solo shot to push the lead to 8-0 in the second.

With only one run, things were not going to be easy for Wisconsin, with the lone run coming in the bottom of the second off the Je'Von Ward double. After things calmed down for the next several innings, South Bend added some late-game runs, with Hearn picking up an RBI ground out in the seventh and Triantos adding an RBI in the eighth.

Made had an incredible day at the plate, leading the way with four hits and three RBIs. Ezequiel Pagan added three hits, with Kevin Alcantara picking up two. You also had three RBIs from Hearn, who continues to deliver this season.

On a side note, this was the season debut for Triantos, who couldn't have asked for a better result. He picked up a hit, added an RBI, and scored two runs in the win.


Prior to the series with the Hillcats, it was announced that flame-throwing 2022 first-round pick Cade Horton would be making his way up to South Bend. That leaves a gaping hole in the Myrtle Beach rotation, but that shouldn't deter fans from watching this team this summer.

Pitching set the tone in this one, with Grant Kipp getting the start and allowing no runs in 3 2/3 innings. He gave way to Yovanny Cabrerra, who tossed three scoreless frames with three punchouts before the back end of the pen faltered late. Even with a great outing from the Pelicans, you had eight scoreless frames for the Hillcats and their staff, as the offense was tough to come by.

That started with Austin Peterson, who struck out four in five innings before Zach Jacobs added three additional scoreless frames with five strikeouts. It took eight innings for someone to crack through, and it was Lynchburg coming through first using a Saul Gonzalez wild pitch to take a 1-0 lead.

Things were not looking good for the Pelicans at this point as they still trailed by that score heading into the bottom of the ninth until Andy Gariola tied things up with an RBI single to force extras. In the extra frame, the Hillcats got the last laugh, with Nate Furman delivering the game-winning RBI single to kick off the Pelican's 12-game homestand with a 3-1 win.

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