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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: July 31

The I-Cubs lose late on a walk-off grand slam, but the other three full-season teams all won today.

Scottsdale Scorpions v Mesa Solar Sox
Ryan Jensen
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Hard to believe we are are done with July already. Also, these are the final full-season minor league games before the trade deadline, which has been eerily quiet so far after they were predicting fireworks.

In case you haven’t heard, the Cubs traded 30-year-old shortstop Dixon Machado to the Giants today, in case you were wondering why Machado was playing against the Cubs rather than for them. Machado has been a standout on the Iowa Cubs in 2019 and 2022, although he has yet to play for the major league team. In between his two stints with the I-Cubs, Machado played for the Lotte Giants of KBO for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The player coming back to the Cubs is 30-year-old right-handed pitcher Raynel Espinal. The Cubs are Espinal’s fourth organization, having previously played in the Yankees and Red Sox. Espinal made his major-league debut with the Red Sox in 2021, although it was only two innings and he gave up two runs. This year for Triple-A Sacramento, Espinal is 5-5 with a 5.29 ERA. His most impressive stat is the 102 strikeouts over 83 13 innings.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs were slammed by the St. Paul Saints (Twins), 8-4 in ten innings. The Saints won four of the six games in the series.

Starter Javier Assad allowed three runs on three hits over five innings. All three runs scored in the third inning and two came on a home run by Jake Cave. Assad struck out six and walked just one, but he did hit one batter.

Blake Whitney gave up a walk-off grand slam to Jermaine Palacios with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning to take the loss. Whitney’s final line was four runs, three earned, on two hits and a walk over 1.2 innings. The walk was intentional. Whitney struck out three.

Right fielder Narciso Crook hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give Iowa a 4-3 lead at the time. It was Crook’s 17th home run this season. Crook went 1 for 4.

First baseman Matt Mervis went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI single in the fourth inning.

Nick Madrigal played nine innings at second base and was 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the sixth inning. He scored on Crook’s home run.

Andrelton Simmons was the DH for the entire game and was 1 for 5 and scored on Mervis’ single.

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies defenestrated the Birmingham Barons (White Sox), 8-5. The two teams split the six-game series at three wins each.

Ryan Jensen had his longest start of the year and his first win of the season. Jensen gave up two runs on two hits over five innings. He walked one and struck out five. The first batter of the game homered off Jensen, but he pitched well after that.

Dannis Correa pitched a perfect ninth inning and got the save. Correa struck out one.

Third baseman Jake Slaughter hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning and the Smokies never trailed again. Slaughter has 16 home runs this season and 13 with the Smokies. He was 2 for 5 with a double, the home run and he scored twice.

Left fielder Bradlee Beesley hit a two-run home run in the third, his sixth of 2022 and fourth in Double-A. Beesley went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Center fielder Delvin Zinn was a perfect 2 for 2 with two walks and three steals. Zinn scored one run.

Second baseman Andy Weber went 2 for 3 with two walks. He scored twice and had one run batted in.

Slaughter’s home run:

South Bend Cubs

The South Bend Cubs capsized the Lake County Captains (Guardians), 9-8. South Bend and the Captains split the six-game series, three-three.

Starter Richard Gallardo allowed five runs on ten hits over 4.2 innings. Gallardo struck out three and walked no one.

Hunter Bigge came on to pitch with two on and no outs in the top of the ninth and South Bend leading 8-6. Bigge allowed both inherited runners to score to blow the save, but he got the win when South Bend scored in the bottom of the inning. Bigge’s final line was no runs (of his own) on one hit and one walk over one inning. Bigge struck out two.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, DH Jordan Nwogu doubled and the next batter, shortstop Kevin Made also doubled to score Nwogu and end the game.

Nwogu also hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning. It was Nwogu’s eighth home run this year. He went 2 for 5 with the double and the homer. Nwogu scored three times and had two runs batted in.

Made went 1 for 4 with the double, a walk. He scored once.

First baseman B.J. Murray Jr. hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning, his fifth this year and second with South Bend. Murray also walked with the bases loaded in the eighth inning for four total RBI. He went 1 for 4 with the home run and the walk.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans bleached the Augusta GreenJackets (Braves), 11-6. The Pelicans won four games in the six-game series.

Luis A. Rodriguez started and dominated the GreenJackets for five innings, allowing just one hit and no runs. Rodriguez struck out seven and walked three as he improved his record to 6-1.

Jose Romero’s Low-A debut did not go well. After retiring the side in order in the sixth, he allowed six runs in the seventh inning. Romero allowed six runs on two hits in 1.2 innings. He walked three, hit one batter and struck out two.

The Pelicans scored in each of the first three innings and were up 10-0 after five innings.

Right fielder Jacob Wetzel stayed hot, going 4 for 5 with a double and a walk. Wetzel scored four runs and drove in two.

Center fielder Kevin Alcantara was 3 for 5 with a walk. He scored once and drove in two runs,.

DH Felix Stevens went 2 for 6 with a double. Stevens had three RBI and scored one run.

Second baseman Scott McKeon was 2 for 5 with a double. He scored twice.

Third baseman James Triantos was 2 for 5 with a double.

First baseman Matt Warkentin went 1 for 2 with a walk and two sacrifice flies. Warkentin had three RBI and scored one run.

Every Pelican in the lineup had at least one hit except left fielder Alejandro Rivero, but he reached base three times with a walk and he was hit by a pitch twice. Rivero scored one run.