Minor League IPA: DFA pair can get post-deadline opportunities, Davis on way back, affiliates sweep Wednesday games

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We live in desperate times as Cubs fans, which is a strange change considering we now demand consistent, winning baseball after generations of infrequent success. The current iteration of Chicago’s North Side baseball players lose far more often than they win, and because of this, the front office shuffles players back and forth with minors so quickly it’s hard to follow.

If you were digging on Narciso Crook, you were probably upset to find out he was sent back to Iowa. On the other hand, Adrian Sampson, who threw more than decently in a 2-1 win over the Brewers on Wednesday nightdidn’t like Jed Hoyer’s decision to put him back on the Triple-A Express after stellar outings against the Braves and Cardinals last month.

“I think I didn’t handle it the best I could,” Sampson said of his angry reaction after David Ross told him he was being fired. “But I [felt] I told him what I wanted to tell him. You have to be careful when things like this happen because if you say the wrong thing, it deters people from wanting to keep you around. I tried to be specific in what I said and let them know that I was not happy with their decision.

The Cubs have basically run their 26-man roster as a 40-man entity and since the start of last season because they’ve made more roster moves than anyone else. The I-80 Shuffle is as tough on players as it is on fans, which makes two recent moves seem a bit odd on the surface.

Hoyer recently joined DFA outfielder Jackson Frazier and reliever Sean Newcomb. Both cleared and accepted their minor league assignments instead of entering free agency. Considering everyone’s big league pedigrees, these seem like a pair of peculiar picks. The Cubs may have told Frazier that they plan to shop aggressively Ian Happ, who could provide a path back to Chicago for the outfielder formerly known as Clint. As for Newcomb, the Cubs could trade a few starters and relievers, which could provide another opportunity for the southpaw to prove he belongs at the majors.

Once a team decides to DFA a player, few come back big after accepting the assignment, so Frazier and Newcomb are basically banking on their past success. That said, sometimes the red flag of being temporarily out of a job is all that’s needed to motivate a player. Nelson Cruz was DFA by the Rangers at the start of the 2008 season, cleared waivers, hit 37 home runs at Triple-A Oklahoma, then played a full season with Texas the following year. In 2009, he hit 33 home runs, made the American League All-Star Team and hit 402 bombs in the 13 seasons since.

Frazier swings a hot bat for Iowa, slashing .357/.500/.429 in his last 15 at bats with a stolen base. It doesn’t have the power of Happ though, and probably isn’t a long-term solution. Newcomb, on the other hand, has been lit up recently, despite throwing well the other night. He has a 4.39 ERA in 148 major league appearances, including 57 starts, so I’m sure the Cubs are hoping he righted the ship. How a player handles their DFA can have a lot to do with succeeding at the next opportunity, which could come right after this year’s trade deadline.

Affiliate News and Notes

Minority report

All four minor league affiliates were winners on Wednesday.

Iowa: Cubs beat the Indianapolis Pirates 4-1 Wednesday. Newcomb didn’t allow a hit or run in 2.1 innings and added four strikeouts. Steven Brault saw his first action of the season and took the win. Catcher John Hicks broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth inning with a three-run homer, his eighth of the year.

Tennessee: The Smokies shut out Birmingham Barons 8-0 thanks to excellent pitching performances from Riley Thompson, Samuel Reyes, Bailey Horn and Jeremiah Estrada. The four combined to knock out 11 Birmingham batters.

south elbow: Starter Jordan Wicks was the star last night as High-A Cubs dropped the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 3-0. Wicks struck out six in five innings and allowed only two hits and one walk. Left fielder Yohendrick Pinango drove in all three runs including one on one quick solo home run.

myrtle beach: The Pelicans dropped the Columbia Fireflies 11-3 thanks to a great evening of Pagán. The outfielder was 3 for 4 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. Shortstop Kevin Made was 2 for 5 in the contest.

Jigger Statz

If you’re looking for left-handed power, consider Tennessee’s Matt Mervis. The multi-position hitter hit his 20th homer of the season (seven came to South Bend), and he has 23 doubles and a 1.012 OPS to boot.

950 miles to Chicago

It’s always disappointing when a prospect loses a bit of his shine, but when he’s healthy, Davis is still the best in Chicago’s system. Being dropped at No. 30 by MLB Pipeline doesn’t change the fact that when healthy, he’s still a top 10 talent. Davis is fortunate to be a dynamic two- and three-hole hitter capable of blasting over 25 homers with double-digit stolen bases. That said, he gets hurt a little more frequently and it seems like that’s now a stigma he’ll have to change or continue to carry.

Davis still needs to make his swing a bit more compact, but that can be said of most players at his level and with his amount of experience. For now, his quick hands and batting speed will make up for the length of his swing. I’m encouraged that he intends to play this year, I just hope he doesn’t rush things. The Cubs are playing the long game with the outfielder, and Davis needs to figure that out and play the game. If you’re looking for something to drool over while waiting for his return, check out his career .371 OBP. I know it seems like Davis has been around forever, but he still only has 661 minor league appearances under his belt.

Craft beer of the day

Summer Vice by Raised Grain Brewing Co. (Waukesha, WI) – I belong to a Craft Beer of the Month Club and unfortunately three quarters of this month’s selection were from Sprecher, a local brewery, and it wasn’t even their best beers . So I ventured to my nearest Piggly Wiggly and bought a Summer Vice four pack, a much better local choice. I probably mispronounce Hefeweizen (I’m just saying give me German wheat!), but I really like this amber drink. Other reviews claim the brew has hints of bananas but I haven’t tasted that. I had more of a citrus and clove blend that made her head wonderfully aromatic. I paired it with seared yellowfin tuna over greens with homemade wasabi vinaigrette and it was a perfect combination. beer advocate give it an 85 but I would go a little higher.

Corn Children

The World Baseball Classic is expected to return in 2023and while featured performers usually come with big league experience, there are always a few minor league players who tend to shine in the tournament.

The Nationals’ top prospect, Cade Cavalli, was perfect until 5.2 innings Wednesday before selling one to Chris Sharpe. In his last seven starts, Cavalli has a 2.31 ERA in 39 innings.

Braves prospect Luis De Avila did it turn a no-hitter on July 2striking out nine in the seven-inning victory.

Brian O’Keefe played a three-home run game this weekend but it was his release single it was the great success.

I need to attend a game in Beloit this summer just to see their dancing bat.

Post-match presser

  • “I’m not going to change my name legally under any circumstances, and personally, I don’t care what anyone calls me. I know it’s weird that people look at me and call me by a different name than they’ve been for as long as they’ve been. I joked and was telling my teammates up there like “Clint was DFA, but not Jackson.” –Frazier
  • “There is a lot of lost time to make up for. [Getting in extra work] is something I’ll probably do quite often if I can just because I have to make sure I’m ready for every game. I don’t have time to sit and hope it will happen. I have to get there. –Frazier

Today’s fandango

The Rough Trade label is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the independent music genre. They called their company’s retail distribution arm “The Cartel” and broke up The Smiths in 1984. The band’s debut album reached number two on the UK charts that year.

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