Cubs Minor League News: Suzuki rehab, PCA raking, Amaya homers, more
Jon Durr - USA Today Sports

Cubs Minor League News: Suzuki rehab, PCA raking, Amaya homers, more

by - Senior Writer -

Saturday marked another busy day on the diamond, with plenty of minor-league action. Even with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans seeing their game against Charleston getting rained out, three other teams on the field were still participating in four total games.

Granted, it would have been nice to finish the day 4-0, but I'm pretty sure any organization will take a 3-1 day which is what the Cubs system was. Fans should get used to those types of results this season, as there will be plenty more winning in the minors this season.


In what ended up being a double-header on Saturday, the Iowa Cubs brought their bats to the party again and put forth another strong offensive showing. Unfortunately, you have to question what is going on with Adrian Sampson as he continues to struggle.

Not only did he have a rough spring, but his first start of the AAA season didn't go as planned, nor did this one. Sampson labored through four-plus innings, allowing six runs (5 ER). However, the six walks are a significant concern as he not only has had a tough time keeping the ball in the yard, but now can't find the zone.

The hardest pill to swallow was that this was a 0-0 game through two innings, so even with the struggles, Sampson was holding tough early. That allowed for the Iowa offense to get rolling, with Seiya Suzuki starting his rehab assignment with a single in the first and then a sacrifice fly to bring home the game's first run in the third.

Matt Mervis added to that lead with an RBI ground out as the Cubs took a 2-0 lead.

After pulling within 2-1 in the bottom of the third, the Saints grabbed the lead in the fourth when Ryan LaMarre cashed in with an RBI double to give St. Paul a 3-2 lead.

The Cubs managed to tie things back up in the top of the fifth and saw Mervis deliver the go-ahead single as they took the 5-3 advantage.

It was in the bottom of the fifth when things went south, as this is the inning Sampson started to lose his mojo. Not only did a wild pitch bring home another run, but another LaMarre double gave the Saints a 6-5 lead while Andrew Bechtold pushed it to 7-5. That would be it for the Saints offensively as the Cubs offense came to life again over the final two frames.

Dom Nunez tied the game with a two-run shot in the sixth, while Darius Hill delivered the game-winning knock with a single in the seventh to lift the Cubs 9-7.

Brandon Hughes also made his season debut in this one and pitched into and out of trouble to earn the win in relief.


Looking to complete the DH sweep of the Saints, the pitching continued to struggle for the Cubs as starter Nick Niedert failed to make it through three innings and was charged with eight runs on 11 hits. Only four runs were earned, but it was not a great start for him.

Take him out of the equation, and the Cubs pitching was solid as Anthony Kay, Tyler Duffey, and Manny Rodriguez combined to allow two hits with six punchouts across 4 2/3 scoreless frames. Most of the damage off Niedert came in the first inning as the Saints kept the pressure on early.

Not only were the bases loaded, but Andrew Stevenson opened the scoring with an RBI double before a Hernan Perez grounder made things 3-0. Throw in a Chris Williams RBI triple, and the Bechtold single, and the Saints were off and running with a 5-0 lead in the first.

Like in the first game, Iowa was not going to go away quietly and used their half of the second inning to roar back. Christopher Morel opened the scoring for the Cubs with a two-run single, followed by the Nelson Velazquez single to pull the Cubs within 5-4. Iowa tied the game later in that inning off a throwing error as things were sitting 5-5 in the second.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, that would be all the offense they would get off of Ryan Dobnak and the Saints as Saint Paul pushed across the game-winning run on the Perez single in the second while adding two more runs in the third to close out the 8-5 win.


Now, this is the type of performance that most fans are expecting from this Tennessee squad. Not only did they deliver with six runs of offensive support, but they received a dominating pitching performance that saw them allow one hit in a shutout win.

Ben Brown started things off on the mound by tossing four scoreless frames of no-hit ball. Brown walked four, but also struck out six as he was on point most of the day.

He gave way to Hunger Bigge, who earned the win with two innings of work, Michael McAvene with one inning, and Jake Reindl, who closed things out with three strikeouts in two innings.

Tennessee wasted no time getting the scoring started, with Miguel Amaya going deep in the first inning for the 1-0 lead.

Granted, no one knew this would be the only run they would need, but seeing him homer so early in the season is a great sign.

Most of the Smokies damage came in the fifth inning when their bats came to life to score four times.

BJ Murray Jr started things in that inning with a two-run triple while the long ball added the rest.

This time it was Chase Strumpf getting into one as his two-run shot made things 5-0. A Pete Crow-Armstrong triple in the sixth brought home another run and capped off the scoring in a 6-0 Smokies win.

PCA led the way with two hits, as did Cole Roederer.


The defending Midwest League champions continued to go about their business and used a strong pitching performance to lead them to a win. As he did a lot for the Pelicans last season, Tyler Santana came on in relief and was dominant during his outing.

Santana entered the game in the fifth inning for starter Luke Little and threw three hitless innings with four punchouts.

Add in the four hitless innings from Little to start the game, and South Bend carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Eventually, Carlos Guzman would allow the only hits to Quad Cities and the only run allowed, but he still managed to pick up the save after striking out four in two innings.

Offensively things were challenging for South Bend as the River Bandits pitchers combined to strike out 14 Cubs while walking only one. Eight of those 14 came from starting pitcher William Fleming who allowed two runs on three hits in five innings. Luinder Avila finished things off with six strikeouts in four innings while allowing one run.

Both of the runs Fleming allowed came in the second inning as Casey Opitz opened the scoring with a two-run single. Not only would that be all the offense the Cubs would need, but it was the game-winning hit. That score would hold until the eighth inning when Gavin Cross ended the shutout and no-hit bid with a solo shot.

Fortunately, that would be all the offense the River Bandits would get as Haydn McGeary doubled home Kevin Alcantara in the ninth to push the lead back to 3-1 before Guzman took care of the rest. The Cubs had six hits, with McGeary leading the way with two.


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