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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: Opening Night!

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Minor league baseball returns for the first time since September 2019.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs
Chase Strumpf
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Welcome back to the Cubs Minor League Wrap! It’s been a long time and some things have changed, so I think I should probably tell you what this is all about.

Every night after the Cubs minor league teams finish, I give you a quick round-up of the score and some of the highlights. If there is any video available, I’ll either post or link to that. Normally I start with the pitching and tell you who started, who got the decision and who go the save, if any. I’ll tell you how those pitchers did.

Next I’ll go on to the hitters and mention everyone who had a notable game. Normally, I define “notable game” as someone who had either two hits or a home run. Now I do make exceptions to those rules. For example if someone went 1 for 4 with a three-run double or 1 for 1 with three walks, I’ll probably give them a mention. But the general rule of thumb is two hits or a home run.

I’ve been doing this since 2007 now and I think the system works. The one thing that I won’t do is turn this space into a nightly top prospect report. There are two reasons for this. For one, I don’t think it’s beneficial for anyone to obsess about Ed Howard, for example, if he turns in a pair of 0 for 4 nights back-to-back. Now if a prospect is in a deep slump, like going 3 for 32 or something, then I’ll get around to mentioning it. But you can’t tell a thing about a guy from a couple of nights and it doesn’t do any good to obsess about box scores.

The other reason is that doing that would take away from all the other guys who are trying to make the majors as well. If I only wrote about the guys who were top prospects, you never would have known about David Bote, for example, until he reached Iowa.

If you really want to know how a player did that day that I didn’t mention, I always provide a link to the box score. But I recommend remembering that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. This is especially true for minor leaguers working their way to Wrigley.

All the box scores are the MLB-style box scores now that the majors have annexed Minor League Baseball. I really preferred the old-style minors box scores that looked like what MLB used in the aughts. I’m not happy with the way MLB “modernized” the MiLB stats and website.

Anyway, if you’re an old reader, I’m sure all of this is familiar to you. If you’re a new reader, I’m sure you’ll catch on quickly. And a big thank you to everyone reading.

Congratulate me. I remembered to put South Bend before Myrtle Beach.

Iowa Cubs

The depleted Iowa Cubs were shut out by Indianapolis (Pirates), 3-0.

Joe Biagini made his Cubs system debut tonight and he pitched well, although he got stuck with the loss. He gave up two runs in the first inning, but then settled down and kept Indianapolis from scoring for the next five innings. Biagini’s final line was two runs on six hits over six innings. He struck out two and did not walk anyone.

Iowa managed only two hits, both singles in the sixth inning. Shortstop Sergio Alcantára was 1 for 2 with a walk.

Beyond the guys that were called up to Wrigley for today’s doubleheader, Iowa was also missing Patrick Wisdom and Trent Giambrone, who were both away from the team for family reasons.

Tennessee Smokies

The Smokies are going to have wait yet another day to play baseball as they were rained out. No makeup date has been announced yet.

South Bend Cubs

The South Bend Cubs brought the Quad Cities River Bandits (Royals) to justice, 7-4. It was the tenth-straight win for South Bend, going back to the 2019 playoffs and regular season.

Peyton Remy got the Opening Night start and kept the River Bandits off the board for the first four innings, He got in trouble in the fifth, gave up two runs (one after he left) and left the game after 75 pitches. The final line on Remy was two runs, only one earned run, on three hits over 4.2 innings. He struck out six, walked one and hit one batter.

The win went to Matteo Bocchi, who finished the top of the eighth inning. Bocchi entered the game with the bases loaded and one out. He gave up an inherited runner when right fielder Yonathan Perlaza dropped a shallow fly ball, although Perlaza recovered quickly enough to throw out the runner going from first to second, so no error was charged. Bocchi then ended the inning on a ground out.

The save went to Cayne Ueckert, who pitched a perfect ninth inning. Ueckert did not strike out anyone.

South Bend took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run double by third baseman Delvin Zinn. Zinn went 1 for 3 with a stolen base and a sacrifice fly. He had three RBI and scored once.

Center fielder D.J. Wilson was 2 for 3 with two doubles and a walk. Wilson scored twice.

Second baseman Chase Strumpf was 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. He scored one run.

We’ve got highlights for South Bend!

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans were bitten by the Charleston RiverDogs (Rays), 6-3.

Manuel Espinoza gave up five runs in the third inning and took the loss. Espinoza finished with five runs, three earned, on five hits over four innings. Espinoza walked one and did not strike anyone out.

I was pleased to see Jose Albertos pitch a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning. He didn’t allow any hits, but he did walk one and strike out one. For those wondering about his control problems in 2018 and 2019, he threw 11 pitches and six were strikes.

Center fielder Darius Hill was 2 for 5 with a two-run double in the fifth inning. He scored when the next batter, Ed Howard, singled him home with his first official professional hit.

Howard was 1 for 4, but he seems to have put on a defensive show tonight.

Here are a few highlights, including two great defensive plays by Howard and his RBI single.