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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: May 4

The high-scoring I-Cubs became the pitching and defense I-Cubs tonight. The Smokies bats went nuts against Rocket City.

Chicago Cubs Photo Day
Ben Brown
Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The International League named Christopher Morel as their Player of the Month. From the press release:

Morel slashed .356/.456/.828 and led all minor league hitters in home runs (11). He led the IL in RBI (26), runs scored (25), total bases (72), slugging percentage (.828) and OPS (1.284). In the month of April, Morel also ranked fourth in doubles (8) and sixth in average (.356), hits (31) and on-base percentage (.456).

The 23-year-old had an 11-game hitting streak from April 8 – 22, hitting .364 (16-for-44) with five doubles, six home runs and 12 runs batted in over that span. In his 22 games played in April, Morel recorded two or more hits in nine of those games, including a four-hit game on April 27.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs capsized the Columbus Clippers (Guardians), 2-1.

Top-ten Cubs prospect Ben Brown made his Triple-A debut tonight and after a few early bumps, he dazzled. Brown allowed hits to the first two batters of the game (although one was a bloop infield single) and went to a 3-0 count on the next batter. But then settled down after that and was terrific. He even came back to strike out that batter in the first inning. At one point, Brown retired 13 in a row. He didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning when he gave up an RBI double. He was pulled by manager Marty Pevey immediately after the double.

The final line on Brown was one run on three hits over 5.2 innings. He walked two and struck out seven.

It wasn’t Bailey Horn’s Triple-A debut. It was his second game. But he did get his first Triple-A win in relief. Horn pitched 1.1 innings and retired all four batters he faced. Horn struck out one.

Manuel Rodríguez came on for the save in the ninth and he struck out the side in order on ten pitches.

Third baseman Jake Slaughter scored the first run of the game on a solo home run in the fourth inning. It was Slaughter’s third home run this year. Slaughter was 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base.

That was also the only hit the I-Cubs had in five innings against 2021 Guardians’ first-round pick Gavin Williams, who was only making his second start in Triple-A.

In the top of the eighth inning, catcher Dom Nuñez reached on an error, stole second and then was doubled home as the eventual winning run by second baseman Miles Mastrobuoni. Mastrobuoni went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Slaughter’s home run:

A taste of Ben Brown:

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies were a problem for the Rocket City Trash Pandas (Angels), 19-2.

Porter Hodge started and came within one out of getting the win. Hodge went 4.2 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on just three hits. Hodge struck out seven and walked just one.

Center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong led off the top of the fourth inning with a home run, his third on the year. Crow-Armstrong was 3 for 6 with a double and the home run. He scored three runs.

The next batter up after Crow-Armstrong in the fourth, shortstop Luis Vazquez, went back-to-back with his fifth home run this year. Vazquez had a monster game, going 5 for 7 with a double and the homer. He drove in three and scored three runs.

Later in the sixth inning, DH BJ Murray Jr. connected for a grand slam, his second home run of 2023. Murray was 1 for 5 with a walk and two runs scored.

Second baseman Andy Weber had a pair of doubles in a 4 for 6 evening. Weber scored one and drove home one.

Every Smokie in the starting lineup had at least one hit except for number-nine hitter Bradlee Beesley, and he walked three times in a 0 for 2 effort.

First baseman Haydn McGeary was 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. He drove home two and scored one run. He did, however, make two fielding errors at first base.

The home run by Crow-Armstrong.

South Bend Cubs

The South Bend Cubs were were popped by the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins), 8-1.

Connor Noland started and allowed one run on five hits over 3.2 innings. Noland struck out three and walked no one.

Chase Watkins allowed two runs to score in the fifth inning and got the loss. The final line on Watkins was two runs, one earned, on two hits over 1.1 innings. Watkins walked one and did not have a strikeout.

Sam Thoreson relieved Watkins in the sixth inning and got tagged for four runs in the sixth and one in the eighth inning to turn this game into a rout.

In the bottom of the first inning, third baseman Scott McKeon singled, stole second and scored on a single by DH Fabian Pertuz. That was South Bend’s only run of the game. Both players went 1 for 4.

Right fielder Ezequiel Pagan was 2 for 4.

All six Cubs hits in this game were singles.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans were blinded by the Columbia Fireflies (Royals), 6-0.

Right-hander Grant Kipp started and took the loss. Kipp allowed three runs on six hits over four innings. The positive part is that he threw strikes. Kipp struck out six and walked no one.

The Pelicans had seven hits in this game, all singles. Catcher Moises Ballesteros went 1 for 2 with two walks.