Over the next 10 days to two weeks, I’m going to be doing a four-part series that looks at each affiliate. Some thoughts will be more organized than others but each “affiliate update” will take a look at just exactly where the affiliate is at that point in time . Since I spent quite a bit of time watching South Bend play in Davenport last week, we’re going to go with 10 things I think about what I saw in Davenport.
Current record: 11-12
1. I love to watch Alexander Canario hit. There is no one in the system with as much pure power as Canario. Nelson Velasquez is close, but Canario just punishes baseballs and he punishes mistakes even more. It was cool to see him hit four home runs in a week and the River Bandits are not sorry that he’s gone for a while. How Canario does back home this week is going to be fun to watch as the temperatures start to warm up. Yesterday, he went yard again.
2. I really gained a lot of respect for Ed Howard over the past nine days. I watched him work hard every day in batting practice, warm-ups, taking grounders, and infield practice. He spent most of BP trying to go up the middle and to right field with almost every pitch and that really seems to be paying some dividends right away as he’s not looking to pull everything.
3. I got to see my guy Jeremiah Estrada pitch on Sunday and I came away even more impressed and I was extremely impressed before that. He sat in the mid 90s on a 50° day throwing into the wind and he looked fantastic.
4. Manager Lance Rymel doesn’t say much. He’s not a yeller or a screamer which is kind of nice.
5. Both Chris Clarke and Max Bain are on the verge of something here. I don’t quite know what it is just yet, but we’re seeing some really good work being done by those two on the mound. I’m not sure how it happens, but once in a while a little bit of complacency seeps in and they are still susceptible to the big inning as most pitchers are at this level.
6. I wasn’t there to see DJ Herz pitch in person last week although I did see him throw in Beloit last year. But this pitch clock feeds right into his style of throwing and just exactly how he likes to go about doing his business. I wonder just how good he’s going to be this month as it warms up and if I’m gonna get to see him pitch on the 21st and 22nd up in Appleton. More than likely, the answer is yes. When the Cubs return to the Quad Cities in June, it’s possible he is still with the team but I will not be surprised if he is Double-A.
7. If there’s one area this team needs to improve on, it’s defense. There are a lot of little miscues like people calling for a ball when they don’t have the best angle. There are also some poor decisions about arguing with the ump while the game is still going on and time has not been called. That needs to be cleaned up soon.
8. Luis Verdugo is pretty slick in the field at third base. He might be the best defender I’ve seen there in a while. If his bat is going to play as it is now, I can see him easily making it to Tennessee and possibly Iowa in the next couple years. He is still fairly young at 21 but I really like what he can do with his glove and his arm.
9. Matt Mervis is off to a fantastic start as he does have an immense power potential. He showed a good eye last year at Myrtle Beach, but that whole team got up to such a poor start at the plate that they were constantly trying to catch up all year long and it looks like they were pressing quite a bit. That’s not going to happen this year. As long as there’s a DH, which it looks like there will be for this foreseeable future, Mervis is going to have an opportunity in the Cubs system.
10. There is no doubt in my mind that the team I see in Appleton in a couple weeks will be pretty similar to the one that’s currently constructed. However at the end of June, South Bend will be in Beloit and I expect to see a lot of turnover at that point in time. I would not be shocked to see most of Myrtle Beach’s bullpen arrive at some point and I would not be shocked to see Pete Crow-Armstrong in his road grays in two-plus. That movement of prospects in and out of South Bend is going to be the key storyline over the last 2 1/2 months of summer. As players produce at the lower levels, they are steadily forcing their way up the ladder and the same is true for a few South Bend players who look to do the same in Tennessee.