On April 16, the SB-Cubs were 4-5 and had lost their last three games to Fort Wayne by a combined score of 34-6. They won seven of their next eight, lost three straight on the road, and closed out the month with a win in Cedar Rapids.
I like this team. They’re fun to watch, never give up an at-bat and if the pitching ever catches up to the hitting, they’ll be a wrecking ball in the Midwest League.
Heading into May, the Cubs are first in the MWL in hitting (.278) and last in ERA (4.81). Its the bats that have helped the Cubs to a 13-9 record and two games back of Lake County in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division.
The catalyst for the South Bend offense is outfielder Donnie Dewees, the Cubs second-round pick last June out of North Florida. Dewees started the year in the leadoff spot but has hit second or third recently. Besides batting .345/.394/.583 in 21 games, Dewees has been a run producer, scoring a team-high 17 times while driving in 16. The 22-year-old has also been solid in the field, creating his own highlight reel on defense. Dewees leads the minors with six triples and the MWL with 49 total bases.
While there’s a handfull of top prospects on the roster, two hitters responsible during the South Bend win streak were OF Daniel Spingola and 1B/C Tyler Alamo. Spingola, the Cubs 31st round pick last June out of Georgia Tech, is hitting .403/.452/.493 with seven RBI and 11 scored in 17 games. He currently has a 13-game hitting streak. Alamo is batting .350/.409/.400 with seven RBI and six runs scored in 11 games, and has played a steady first base.
Eloy Jimenez has already collected a pair of walk-offs for South Bend and the 19-year-old is third on the team with 12 RBI. He’s played primarily in left but has started three games in right, and looks very comfortable tracking fly balls. Jimenez shows a lot of maturity on the diamond and is a plus base runner. In 19 games, he’s batting .284/.326/.420 with a homer and two stolen bases, and had a seven-game hitting streak from April 20-26.
Signed back in October for $3 million out of Cuba, 20-year-old Eddy Martinez (.225/.262/.338) is fourth on the team in total bases (30), and second in runs scored (12) and RBI (13). He’s displayed a strong arm in the outfield and has played in center and right. As the summer wears on, he’ll get better.
P.J. Higgins has not only been impressive in his first season behind the plate (thrown out 8-of-19) but the right-handed hitting 22-year-old has been an on-base machine, with a .429 OBP. He’s hitting .271 and is second in MWL with 17 walks in 20 games.
Carlos Sepulveda had a trip to the DL and was placed on the inactive list for a few days but is hitting .273/.400/.333 after spending last year in the Arizona Rookie League. The 19-year-old has made seven starts at second and the left-handed hitting Mexico native has a good idea of the strike zone, especially for his age.
Bryant Flete has 18 starts at short for the Cubs, hitting .277/.356/.369 with six RBI and eight runs scored. The 23-year-old spent most of 2015 as a reserve in AA Tennessee. 2B Andrew Ely is hitting .232/.318/.268 in 16 games, 1B/3B Matt Rose has a slash of .150/.232/.217 in 17 contests, while 3B Jesse Hodges (5-for-13, 4 G) and C Erick Castillo (0-2, 1 G) joined the team last week.
South Bend is last in the MWL in ERA (.5.00 ERA) but when you allow double-digit runs in five of your 22 games, you can expect that. Even during their six game win streak, opponents averaged over four runs a game.
SB-Cubs have used six starters with Adbert Alzolay (2-0, 2.82 ERA) leading the way. The right-hander has been solid in all four of his outings and leads all starters with a 0.85 WHIP and 22.1 innings.
Ryan Kellogg (2-2, 2.95 ERA) has the only complete game, tossing six innings in a twin-bill loss at Quad Cities. The left-hander has 18 K and only four walks in 21.1 innings. Preston Morrison (1-2, 6.11 ERA, 17.2 IP), Justin Steele (1-3, 9.49 ERA, 12.1 IP), Kyle Twomey (0-2, 5.85 ERA, 20 IP) and Carson Sands (1-0, 6.28 ERA, 14.1 IP) are all off to slow starts.
Casey Bloomquist has logged 18 innings out of the bullpen and sports a 4.00 ERA but has only allowed two hits over his last ten shutout innings. Greyfer Eregua has been the best arm out of the bullpen, recording three saves with a 0.65 WHIP and a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings.
Craig Brooks (0-0, 1.74 ERA) has 16 strikeouts in 10.1 innings and James Norwood (2-0, 6.52 ERA) has 13 punchouts in 9.2 frames. LH John Williamson (0-0, 3.12 ERA) has appeared in five games and Scott Effross (1-0, 9.00 ERA) has worked in six games. Kyle Miller threw three scoreless relief innings in his only game since joining the team
Roster Moves and the DL
C Ian Rice (.400/.565/.533 8 G), 3B Adonis Paula (1-for-4, 1 G) and IF Sutton Whiting (.243/.310/.270, 11 G) are currently on the disabled list......RH Scott Frazier(0-0, 8.59 ERA, 7.1 IP) was sent back to extended spring training after appearing in six games......RH Michael Wagner (1-0, 3.38 ERA, 2.2 IP) started the year with SB-Cubs, pitched in two games and was promoted to Iowa......1B Jose Paniagua hit .095/.095/.226 in six games before being sent back to extended spring training on April 19