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Chicago Cubs Minor League Wrap: September 14

The Pelicans tie up their playoff series. The I-Cubs and Smokies also win.

Pedro Ramirez
Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Thank you to Ashley for pinch-hitting last night.

Baseball America released their Top 20 Arizona Fall League prospects. The only Cub to make the list was shortstop Alexis Hernandez, the younger brother of shortstop Cristian Hernandez. He was number 20.

However, Baseball America noted that several players flew through the ACL so fast that they didn’t qualify for the list. Cubs shortstop Jefferson Rojas was mentioned as one such player.

We’re starting with the Birds tonight.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans shut out the Charleston RiverDogs (Rays), 3-0.

Three Pelicans pitchers combined for the four-hit, 17-strikeout shutout. Starter Drew Gray started and walked the bases loaded with one out in the top of the first inning. But Gray would get out of the inning with a strikeout and a soft line out and then pitch the next two innings with allowing just one baserunner, a third-inning hit-by-pitch.

The final line on Gray was no runs on no hits over three innings. He struck out six, walked three and hit one batter.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Pelicans took a 1-0 lead on a home run by third baseman Pedro Ramirez. Ramirez went 1 for 4.

The real hero of the game was the pitcher who relieved Gray, Kevin Valdez. Valdez may have given up all four RiverDogs hits, but all four of them were singles. Meanwhile, over his four innings of work, Valdez struck out nine and walked no one. Valdez got the win.

The Pelicans would go on to tack on insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth innings. In the bottom of the seventh inning, first baseman Jonathon Long and left fielder Andy Garriola hit back-to-back doubles to make it 2-0. Long went 1 for 4 and Garriola went 1 for 3.

DH Brian Kalmer doubled home shortstop Jefferson Rojas to close out the scoring in the bottom of the eighth. Kalmer went 1 for 4. Rojas was 2 for 4 with a stolen base.

Jose Romero threw the final two innings and got the save. He did not allow a hit either, but he did walk two and struck out two.

A decisive game three of the playoff series will start Friday night at 6:05 Central time in Myrtle Beach.

Highlights. Some defensive gems here.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs excommunicated the St. Paul Saints (Twins), 9-3.

Riley Thompson started and collected the win after surrendering just one run (on a solo home run) on four hits over five innings. Thompson struck out five and walked just one.

Keegan Thompson pitched the ninth-inning in a non-save situation. Thompson gave up a leadoff double to top prospect Brooks Lee, but then retired the next three batters to end the game. He struck out two of them.

First baseman Matt Mervis clubbed a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, his 20th home run for Iowa this season. Mervis didn’t slow down from there, doubling two more times to go 3 for 4 with eight total bases. He scored three runs. Mervis was also hit by a pitch.

Shortstop Luis Vazquez was a perfect 3 for 3 with a double and a walk. He scored twice and had one run batted in.

DH Brennen Davis singled home a run twice and went 2 for 4 with the two RBI. He scored one run.

Matt Mervis crushed that one.

Tennessee Smokies

The Tennessee Smokies hung on to beat the Rocket City Trash Pandas (Angels), 8-7.

Starter Brandon Birdsell went four innings and surrendered three runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out three.

Carlos Guzman relieved Birdsell to start the bottom of the fifth and got the win. Guzman pitched 2.2 innings and gave up one run on two hits. Guzman struck out three, walked one and hit one batter.

Eduarniel Nunez entered the game in the top of the ninth with an 8-4 lead, but almost blew it. He managed to get just one out while allowing three runs, two hits and three walks. So Cayne Ueckert got summoned from the pen to rescue the Smokies. The two batters he faced hit a sacrifice fly (to make it 8-7) and then he got a grounder to short to end the game and get the save.

Catcher Casey Opitz had a terrific game, going 3 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and a solo home run in the fifth inning. It was Opitz’s fifth home run this year and third with the Smokies. Opitz drove in four runs this evening.

Right fielder Owen Caissie was 2 for 4 with an RBI double in the fourth inning. Cassie also walked once and scored twice.

First baseman Moises Ballesteros went 3 for 5. He scored once and had one RBI.

Center fielder Jordan Nwogu was 2 for 4.