With attendance marks falling and South Bend merchandise selling at an all-time high, the Cubs affiliate has taken northern Indiana by storm but the rest of the Midwest League remains unimpressed after taking a beating from Kane County last year. With a 17-18 record at the quarter mark, the Cubs find themselves four games behind first-place Bowling Green (Rays) and tied for fifth place with West Michigan (Tigers) in the Eastern Division.
South Bend has been one of the better offensive teams in the league this season and are second in runs scored (168), trailing only Quad Cities (188). The SB-Cubs are 5th in the MWL in batting average (.258), 4th in on-base percentage (.333), and 7th in slugging (.343). You’ll find South Bend in the top 6 of nearly every major offensive category except homers (7), where they rank last, tied with West Michigan.
Several players are off to good starts in their first full season of pro ball but no one has garnered more attention that the league’s youngest player—Gleyber Torres (NorthSiders Report #9). The 18-year-old is hitting .333/.424/.408 in 33 games with 5 doubles, 2 triples and a team-high 18 RBI. What’s even more impressive is his approach at the plate, walking a team-high18 times. He’s swiped eight bases and his 40 hits are 4th best in MWL. Not a great start in the field for Torres as a pair of throwing errors late in ball games proved costly but in the last 18 games, hasn’t committed an error.
Another youngster drawing attention around the league is outfield Charcer Burks (NorthSiders Report #48), the Cubs 9th round pick in ’13 from Austin, Texas. The 20-year-old is batting .311/.373/.377 with a team-high nine stolen bases and is second with 46 total bases. He’s also turned in a few highlight catches in left. 2B Chesny Young (NorthSIders Report #44) was among the league leaders in runs before he was promoted to Myrtle Beach. The Cubs 14th round pick last year hit .315/.385/.380 with 12 BB and only 7 K in 108 at-bats.
After a red-hot start C Cael Brockmeyer (NorthSiders Report #50) has cooled down a bit but is still hitting .298/.397/.413 with a team-high nine doubles and 15 knocked in. Rashad Crawford (NorthSiders Report #47) has a slash line of .270/.298/.303 but has fanned 27 times and the speedster has only drawn three walks. C Gioskar Amaya (NorthSiders Report #25) has made the switch to catching and has five passed balls and an error in 130 innings, 15 games. He’s hitting just .204 and is also seeing time at first base. OF Yasiel Balaguert (NorthSiders Report #43) is only batting .197 after joining the team April 20 but has 16 RBI in 19 games.
South Bend’s starting pitching has been outstanding but the bullpen has given up several leads late in the ball game. While the Cubs have only hit seven homers, the pitching staff’s surrendered eight, best in the MWL. The Cubs sport a team ERA of 2.92, sixth best, and have 267 K in 311 IP (7.7 K/9), tied for 12th. They are second with just 2.5 BB/9 and are 4th with a 1.20 WHIP.
Null (4-0), out of Western Carolina, leads the MWL with a 0.74 ERA and is fourth with a 0.87 WHIP. The 21-year-old has averaged 7.4 K/9 and only issued one walk in 36.2 innings. Williams has been just as impressive, second in ERA at 0.85 and tops in the league sporting a 0.76 WHIP . The 23-year-old has issued two free passes in 31.2 innings and averaged 7.1 K/9.
The rest of the six-man rotation has been pretty solid for the SB-Cubs. RHP Trevor Clifton (NorthSiders Report #42) is 1-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 27.2 innings with 31 K, 12 BB, and a 1.01 WHIP; and 20-year-old Venezuelan Erick Leal (NorthSiders Report #45) is 3-1 in six starts with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 30.2 innings. Zach Hedges (2-2, 3.48 ERA, 31 IP) has 19 K and only four walks and Cubs ’14 second round pick, Jake Stinnett (NorthSiders Report #19) is 1-2 with a 6.12 ERA, 21 BB in 25 IP.
RHP James Farris (2-1, 2.87 ERA) looks like he’s settled into the closer’s role, something lacking from the team in the early going. Farris, the Cubs 9th round pick out of Arizona last year, has converted his last four save opportunities and has 25 K in 15.2 innings. David Garner (1-0, 0.71 ERA, 12.2 IP, 3 BB, 14 K) has pitched well in relief since joining the team from extended spring training.