Brandon Hughes

Pelicans Pitchers Turn Up the Heat at Riverview Park

Kevonte Mitchell walloped a two-run HR (off Brailyn Marquez), D. J. Wilson singled twice, doubled, walked, stole two bases, and scored two runs, and SP Paul Richan hurled six innings of shutout ball with nine stikeouts (also 6/2 GO/AO, all three hits he allowed were singles, he issued no walks, and he threw 80% strikes) and combined with five relievers to fan 20, helping the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) cruise past the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Cubs) 6-1 in Minor League Camp Spring Training game action Friday night on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was pre-planned as an eleven inning contest so that all of the pitchers who needed to throw could get their work, and while the twenty strikeouts racked up by Myrtle Beach pitchers was certainly aided by playing two additional innings, Pelicans pitchers did punch-out 16 SB-Cubs hitters through nine innings.    

Also, three of the pitchers who threw for Myrtle Beach (Ian Clarkin, Jordan Minch, and Wyatt Short) were actually Tennessee relievers who needed work (the Minch FB was sitting 94-95 and touched 97, BTW), and another (LHP Ryan Lawlor) was recently moved-down to South Bend from Myrtle Beach but (like the Tennessee trio) he needed work and the South Bend bullpen dance card was full.   

As is typical this time of year, several players from the Eugene/Mesa squad (Vicens, K. Moreno, L. Diaz, O. Nunez, Hurd, Zardon, and Daniel) served as late-inning replacements for the MB and SB starters, and the ones who played for South Bend combined to go 1-7 with six strikeouts (which also contributed to the prodigious Pelicans pitchers' strikeout total).     

In Minor League Camp news, OF Brandon Hughes (Cubs 2017 16th round draft pick - Michigan State) is being converted to a LHP. Hughes is the second Cubs outfielder to be converted to pitcher this month (Jamie Galazin was the other one). Like Galazin, Hughes does have some prior experience as a pitcher in college (he appeared in seven games as a reliever in his freshman season at MSU). 

Here is the box score from the game:  

Young Quintet of Hits Highlights SB Cubs Win at Fitch Park

Jared Young (Cubs 2017 15th round draft pick - Old Dominion) collected five hits (four singles and a double), stole a base, and scored a run, Brandon Hughes (Cubs 2017 16th round draft pick - Michigan State) belted an RBI double and a single, stole a base, and scored a run, Chris Carrier (Cubs 2017 9th round draft pick - U. of Memphis) doubled, singled, reached base on an HBP, and scored a run, and Roberto Caro smacked an RBI double, walked, stole a base, and scored a run, leading the Cubs South Bend Lo-A affiliate to a 6-1 victory over the Beloit Snappers (Oakland Athletics Lo-A affiliate) on Field #3, and Luke Persico (two-run triple) and Luis Barrera (RBI single) drilled consecutive run-scoring hits to cap a five-run 6th, Will Toffey drove-in three runs with a two-run single and a FC, and SP Brendan Butler hurled four innings of shutout ball, as the Stockton Ports (A's Hi-A affiliate) drubbed the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) 11-1 on Field #4, in Cactus League Minor League Camp doubleheader game action Friday morning at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The game on Field #3 was called after eight innings of play.

Austin Upshaw (Cubs 2017 13th round draft pick - Kennesaw State) singled twice and doubled and scored the Pelicans lone run (Chris Pieters RBI single) on Field #6.

RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico) is considered by most observers to be one of the Cubs top two or three pitching prospects, and he got the start for South Bend on Field #3. Albertos did not allow any runs (maybe I should just leave it at that...), but he did permit eight batters to reach base (three singles, a double, three walks, and an HBP) in just 3.2 IP. His main problem was inability to command any of his pitches (75 pitches - only 51% strikes), especially his CV, which he kept spiking into the ground in front of home plate (giving catcher Michael Cruz quite a work-out in the process). RHRP Manuel Rodriguez had a "mid-game save" in relief, stranding two runners inherited from Albertos in the 4th and retiring the side 1-2-3 in the 5th (F-8, K, K) to preserve the shutout. (The Snappers would later score their one and only run of the game with two outs in the bottom of the 8th).  

RHP Keegan Thompson (Cubs 2017 3rd round draft pick - Auburn) got the start for Myrtle Beach on Field #4 and easily retired the first eleven men he faced (4-3, 5-3, 3-U, L-8, K, 4-3, 6-3, F-8, P-6, 6-3, K) before allowing a double, a walk, an HBP, and a two-run single with two outs in the 4th. But he recovered and retired the next four batters to complete his pre-planned five innings of work (73 pitches - 68% strikes). RHP Kyle Miller followed Thompson and had a nightmare outing, walking all four men he faced (all four eventually scored). K. Miller had a similar outing a couple of weeks ago for AA Tennessee (prior to being moved-down to Myrtle Beach) when he walked six in two innings, so don't be too surprised if he is left behind at Extended Spring Training to work on his pitching mechanics/command/control a bit when his Pelican teammates leave town in the next couple or three days.    

CF Connor Myers suffered a left leg injury in the top of the 6th on Field #4 after colliding with RF Chris Pieters in right-centerfield while chasing what turned out to be a two-run triple. Myers left the game under his own power (albeit with a noticeable limp), but if you're looking for a candidate to start the season on the Myrtle Beach 7-day DL, Myers just might be your man.    
 
RHP M. T. Minacci (March 2017 non-TJS elbow injury) threw a shutout inning for South Bend in relief. He allowed a single to the first man he faced before inducing a 1-6-3 DP ball and striking out the next batter to retire the side. Minacci has been in the Rehab Throwing Program at Minor League Camp and prior to today hadn't thrown in a game in more than a year, so he will almost certainly be spending the next couple of months at Extended Spring Training while continuing his rehab and competing for a spot in the Eugene bullpen.   

As usual, several players (Caro, Donahue, Pena, and Romano) were moved-up from the Eugene/Mesa (Extended Spring Training) squad for the day to provide late-inning position-player reinforcements for South Bend and Myrtle Beach.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):