Cubs Minor League News: Shaw raking, Murray and McGeary homer, Smokies win 2nd half crown

Cubs Minor League News: Shaw raking, Murray and McGeary homer, Smokies win 2nd half crown

by - Senior Writer -

Despite the Chicago Cubs battling for a postseason berth, the playoffs got underway for one of the two teams the Cubs minor League system will have as their 2023 season is winding down. With just 10 days remaining in the minor league season in AAA and four remaining until the AA playoffs begin, things are getting down to the nitty gritty as an overall successful season is coming to an end.

When it comes to the Cubs, they have struggled the past two weeks to string wins together, and it has shown in the standings. However, all that can change with a strong end to the season as they can, at the very least, end 2023 on a positive note. Instead, you had a 1-2 showing to begin the week, with one of those losses happening in the division series.


There was a time when Iowa was looking like the cream of the crop in AAA and well on their way to a playoff berth. That was nearly two months ago, as things have been a struggle for this team since mid-July. Their struggles continued Tuesday as the Saints came into town and silenced the high-powered Iowa offense.

A big reason for the Cubs struggles right now is needing more starters to go around, as they have been forced to use a bullpen day multiple times a week. Tuesday was one of those days, as Samuel Reyes got the start and went on to allow three runs in three innings. He gave way to a bevy of arms as Chris Clarke, Ben Brown, Keegan Thompson, Nick Burdi, Tyler Duffey, and Brandon Hughes all saw innings in what was not a bad pitching night for the Cubs.

Their problem was having an offense that couldn't do anything against the Saints pitching, as they also went with a bullpen game. With Austin Martin putting the Saints on top 1-0 with a double in the first, Saint Paul put the game away in the second as Yunior Severino's homer proved to be the game-winner while the Michael Helman single made things 3-0 Saints.

Iowa did their best to battle back, with PJ Higgins picking up an RBI double in the third to make things 3-1, but that was it for the offense as Saint Paul added an additional run in the fourth off another Helman single to take care of Iowa 4-1. Higgins was one of six Cubs with a hit, joining Yonathan Perlaza, Jared Young, and Matt Mervis, among others.


Fresh off of clinching their second straight playoff berth, the Smokies returned home for their final regular season series as they took on the Trash Pandas. This was easily the best game of the night as a back-and-forth affair throughout and was decided in the ninth as Pablo Aliendo delivered a walk-off knock.

That came on the heels of a bullpen day for the Smokies as Frank Scalzo Jr., Porter Hodge, and three other arms combined to give the Smokies some much-needed innings. With Pete Crow-Armstrong now in the majors, the Smokies have been looking for that table setter, and Matt Shaw seems to have taken over as an RBI single in the first gave the Smokies a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, their lead didn't last long, with Rocket City tying things up with an RBI groundout in the second before the Tucker Flint single put them in front 2-1 in the third. Leave it to the big man Haydn McGeary to change that, and with one swing, he unloaded for a three-run shot as the Smokies retook the lead 4-2 entering the fourth.

As mentioned, this was a back-and-forth affair, and with the former Smokie Tyler Payne delivering the game-tying single in the fifth, you can see why. His single was followed up by a Jordan Nwogu single to give the Smokies the lead again, 5-4, with BJ Murray leaving the yard in the seventh to make things 7-4 Tennessee.

Once the eighth inning rolled around, you started to see the momentum shift, and the Smokies were getting that uneasy feeling that they have had for weeks. After Gabe Matthews pulled the Trash Pandas to within 7-5 with a single in the eighth, it was Flint cashing in during the ninth as he picked the worst time to leave the yard and brought Rocket City back to tie things up 7-7.

Needing a run to avoid extras, McGeary led the bottom of the ninth off with a walk before advancing to second on the Shaw single. With the winning run standing at second base, Pablo Aliendo came through with one of his biggest hits of the season as his RBI single scored Christian Franklin from second and lifted the Smokies to the 8-7 walk-off win.

Shaw continues to be a man on a mission this summer as he picked up three more hits and is now hitting .319 with Tennessee. Bradlee Beesley added two hits from the leadoff spot as the Smokies had 10 hits as a team. Along with the win, you are starting to see several South Bend players make their AA debut as Franklin entered the game as a pinch runner while Kevin Alcantara and Moises Ballesteros combined to go 0-7 with four strikeouts.


Playoff baseball is back on the beach as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans opened their Carolina League Division series with a matchup against Charleston. What is expected to be a highly competitive series didn't disappoint in game one, but the Riverdogs grabbed the 1-0 series lead with a 2-1 victory.

All season long, Jackson Ferris has been one of the Pelicans more consistent starters and has emerged as the Ace of this staff. He got the ball in game one and kept Myrtle Beach in the game despite some early-game struggles. Ferris pitched into the fifth, but was pulled after 4 2/3, allowing two runs and striking out three.

He was replaced by Koen Moreno and Angel Hernandez, who scattered just three hits the rest of the way.

Typically, a pitching performance like that would be good enough to win, but the Riverdogs countered with Trevor Martin, who was locked in. Like Ferris, Martin pitched into the fifth, but was removed after 4 1/3, allowing one run on three hits with seven strikeouts. The Riverdogs managed to protect that lead as their bullpen was equally as good as the Birds and are now on the verge of a series win.

The early struggles for Ferris could be credited due to the nerves as his command wasn't sharp early. That resulted in a go-ahead RBI single from Cooper Kinney in the first to give the Riverdogs a 1-0 lead, while Cristopher Barete added an RBI double in the second to make things 2-0. That may have been the final run for the Riverdogs, but it would also be just enough as the Pelicans offense was nowhere to be found.

Trailing by two in the fifth, Brett Bateman ended the shutout as his RBI single put the Pelicans on the board and made things 2-1. Unfortunately, that was it for their offense as the Pelicans dropped game one of their division series 2-1.

Pedro Ramirez led the offense with two hits, while Bateman, Rafael Morel, and Ismael Mena added the other three.

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