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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: April 26

PCA keeps doing incredible things. Kevin Alcántara is breaking out. The Morel brothers hit the ball hard and far. Cade Horton impresses again.

Spring Training
Pete Crow-Armstrong
Photo by Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/Getty Images

It was a huge day/night for the Cubs top prospects on the farm. As well as a few guys who want to be considered top prospects.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs broke the Louisville Bats (Reds), 9-5.

Starter Roenis Elías had some positive things going, but he did have some issues keeping the ball in the park. Elías pitched six innings and allowed four runs on seven hits. Two of those hits were home runs—a solo home run by Christian Encarnacion-Strand and a two-run home run by TJ Hopkins. Elías did strike out nine batters and walked just one.

Cam Sanders got the win as Iowa came from behind to win. Sanders threw 1.1 innings without allowing a hit or a run. He did have some control problems as he walked two and hit one batter. Sanders struck out three.

Manuel Rodríguez relieved Sanders in the eighth inning with two men on and one out. After a walk, Rodríguez ended the threat with a double play. He did give up a run in the ninth, but Rodríguez still collected the save. His final line was one run on two hits over 1.2 innings. Rodríguez walked three and struck out one.

Top Reds pitching prospect Andrew Abbott kept the I-Cubs without a hit over the first four innings, but shortstop Sergio Alcántara broke up the no-hitter with a single to lead off the fifth. Two batters later, center fielder Christopher Morel cranked a two-run home run.

Alcántara went 2 for 4. He scored the one run and had an RBI single in the sixth.

Morel went 2 for 4 with a walk. He scored two runs and had two runs batted in. It was Morel’s eighth home run this year already.

Third baseman Jake Slaughter doubled twice in a 2 for 4 effort. Each double drove in one run for a total of two. Slaughter scored once.

Second baseman Miles Mastrobuoni went 2 for 5 and scored one run.

Here’s Morel’s home run and oh my, you’re not going to see many hit farther than this one.

Here’s a triple by left fielder Yonathan Perlaza. He was 1 for 4 with a walk this afternoon.

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies deposed the Birmingham Barons (White Sox), 9-1.

Jordan Wicks was unhittable this afternoon. Literally, as he allowed no runs and no hits over five innings. Wicks struck out seven and walked just one. Wicks walked the first batter of the bottom of the first inning and then retired 15 in a row. It was Wicks’ first win of the season.

Center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong had one of the most amazing at-bats you’ll ever see. He came to the plate with the bases-loaded in the eighth inning and immediately fell behind 0-2. Crow-Armstrong then kept fouling off pitches until the 16th pitch of the at-bat, which he deposited over the right field fence for a grand slam. It was his second home run this season. Crow-Armstrong was 1 for 4 with a sacrifice fly for five total RBI.

Earlier, in the fifth inning, third baseman Chase Strumpf had a less-dramatic solo home run, his fourth on the year. Strumpf was 2 for 4. He was also hit by a pitch and stole a base. Strumpf scored twice.

DH BJ Murray Jr. went 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI single and a sacrifice fly for two total RBI.

Catcher Miguel Amaya was 2 for 4 with a double and was hit by a pitch. Amaya scored twice.

PCA’s grand slam.

Here’s every pitch of the at-bat, as called by Smokies’ broadcaster Mick Gillispie.

South Bend Cubs

The South Bend Cubs were overruled by the Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals), 3-2.

For the first time in his career, starter Luke Little went five innings. Little pitched five scoreless innings and allowed just three hits. He struck out six, walked one and hit one batter.

Tyler Santana was going for a three-inning save here and while he was fine in the seventh and eighth inning, the wheels came off in the ninth when he allowed three runs and took the loss. Santana’s final line was three runs, two earned, on three hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Center fielder Kevin Alcántara had a huge night tonight, going 4 for 4 with three doubles. One of those doubles plated the second run in the sixth inning. Over his last six at-bats, Alcántara is 6 for 6 with three doubles and a home run.

In the fifth inning, second baseman Josue Huma singled, went to third on a double by Alcántara and scored on a Kevin Made sac fly. Huma was 1 for 3 with a walk and scored both South Bend runs. Made went 0 for 3.

First baseman Haydn McGeary was 3 for 3 with a walk.

Here’s Alcántara’s RBI double.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans swept a doubleheader from the Charleston RiverDogs (Rays), 7-2 and 8-2.

I didn’t think starter Cade Horton was quite as sharp tonight as he was in his first two starts. Having said that, he was still plenty good enough. Horton allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings of work. He allowed just two baserunners—a single to lead off the bottom of the first and an error in the fourth inning. Horton struck out two. He threw 49 pitches and 34 were strikes. Over his first three starts as a professional and 10.1 innings, Horton has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise.

Saul Gonzalez pitched the final three innings of game one and got the win because Horton didn’t go five. He allowed two runs (both in the seventh inning) on four hits. He struck out two and walked no one.

Most of the offense in game one came from center fielder Parker Chavers, who hit two home runs. The first one came with a man on in the third inning and the second one was a three-run home run in the fifth. Chavers was 2 for 5 with five RBI. He now has three home runs on the year.

Second baseman Reivaj Garcia was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI single. Garcia scored twice.

Shortstop Rafael Morel went 2 for 3 and scored twice in game one.

Here are the two strikeouts by Horton.

In game two, Brandon Noriega got his first career start and he did not allow a hit over 2.2 innings. That’s the positive news. The negative news is that Noriega walked five batters and allowed one run. More positively, he struck out five.

The win went to Johzan Oquendo, who pitched three inning and allowed no runs and just one hit. Even that hit was iffy as second baseman Pedro Ramirez double-clutched on a grounder that probably should have been an out. Oquendo struck out six, walked one and hit one batter.

The Pelicans were the home team in this game as it was a makeup of a rainout at Pelicans Park. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning, catcher Moises Ballesteros hit a two-run home run. It was his third of the season. Ballesteros was 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly for three total RBI.

With his older brother Christopher homering earlier in the day, Rafael Morel hit a two-run home run in the sixth, his first blast of the year. Morel went 1 for 2 with a walk and two runs scored.

Shortstop Cristian Hernandez went 3 for 4. He had two runs batted in and scored once.

Here’s Ballesteros’s home run.