The Cubs shifted the focus to the minor leagues, but unfortunately, it was only one of those nights: Both Cubs minor league teams lost in the league. The Low-A Myrtle Beach’s ninth four-stroke ninth-stroke rally still saw them fall four runs, while the South Bend Bulls couldn’t hold onto the lead with the West Division title in hand.
For Myrtle Beach, that means the end of the road after a fantastic 2022 season. Legendary manager Buddy Bailey spearheaded a team with a young and exciting offensive core, along with a staff that delivered fully through the season (thanks mostly to promotions). I can’t imagine they’ve lost so many matches this year when they’ve arrived three times.
First, Hayden McGarry was selected in the final 15th round (Which I wrote about in my last notebook) Hit the real driving streak home. He’s made it to base every game in September, and it would be a really interesting prospect to think about this off season.
Greg jokes about pacing out here, but, well, watch and you’ll see why he’s kidding:
Then we had a back-to-back mix of Moises Ballesteros and Josue Huma. I love how effortless this Ballesteros looks, especially when you remember this is a jug garden and he’s only eighteen years old:
Rookie Didier Vargas, someone we haven’t talked about much this season despite a very successful mid-season transition from lighter to rookie, had an ups and downs start. Vargas hit five of his first seven hits, displaying the extra curve ball to offer, but cornered Homer with two runs in between. The wheels fell on the fourth, when Homa’s fault with two outsiders opened the door for a single turn turn into a five-stroke turn.
Great season, swans. Sometimes postseason doesn’t go your way.
Moving on to the Midwest League, the South Bend Cubs lost Game Two, 5-3, with the Cubs’ poor control of the field to bite them.
Rookie Porter Hodge, who is likely to finish second on the best player ballot in my junior league (behind Louis Davers), has already fought in this game. Hodge didn’t have his usual sense of broken balls, or the over-slide and above average ball bending, which made him attack as best he could with a fast ball of 92-96 mph. He was going through four runs to only allow two runs, but it took 80 throws to do so, as he walked three times and hit one.
South Bend will actually lead 3-2 in fifth at home to Fabian Bertos…
…but the game collapsed in the lower half of the game. Adam Lasky allowed a double to the first-round pick of Brooks Lee and then walked two more times, turning the game into a brassy Joe with loading bases and two holdouts. Unfortunately, these three starters were going to score, with Nahas going first over four pitches, dropping the second hit, then making a block. Nahas recovered to score seven times total, but the damage was done.
SB Cubs will hand the ball to flamethrower Daniel Palencia in Friday’s crucial third game. I also expect Luke Little to be a backpacking option when you’re done with Valencia. I’d choose South Bend, with Owen Caissie choosing to flick in this final series.
Elsewhere in the system, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Cole Roederer provided again for Tennessee:
While he hasn’t been able to buy a hit on a ball in play since returning from injury on August 1, Roederer has also made eight times in 82 games. It has lowered the globe average this year, and gone up across the board, with the process exceeding results so far. I think that hotline should help him reassign him to near-daily duty in Tennessee next year, and we’ll be crossing our fingers now as his recent power hack continues.
The system’s only victory that night came from Iowa, with defenses Brennen Davis, Alexander Canario (returning from injury) and Darius Hill together in a 4-vs-10 game, three RBI, and evening fours.