Game: 6/28 Tennessee Smokies and Rocket City Trash Pandas
Final: Tennessee Smokies 2, Rocket City Trash Pandas 0
Summary: The Tennessee Smokies combined for another no hitter this year with the help of Anderson Espinoza, Samuel Reyes, Bryan King, and Nicholas Padilla who all combined for 12 strikeouts and 3 walks over 9 innings. Anderson Espinoza had one of his more impressive outings this year, striking out 7 batters in 5 innings, while only walking 1. None of the Tennessee Smokies had a multi-hit game. Jake Slaughter had a solo homerun, and Bryce Balled knocked in the other Smokies run with an RBI single.
Player of the Game: Anderson Espinoza
Since Espinoza made his major league debut, he has thrown well for the Tennessee Smokies, and this week’s game of the week might have been Espinoza’s best outing as a Cub. Walks and the long ball have been Espinoza’s kryptonite all season long, and they have either brought up his pitch count enough to give him an early exit, or have knocked him out of the game entirely. Espinoza continues to be a strange story, and there might be a case to try him out in the bullpen where he could let his sinking fastball / slider combo eat up right handed bats. Regardless, it is refreshing to see an outing where Espinoza minimized walks and the long ball. Hopefully he can continue to build on this performance, and there is a chance we see him throw for the Cubs again this season.
Who You Might Have Missed: Jake Slaughter
Jake Slaughter has a great name and even better numbers in AA this season–like really good numbers. Slaughter has hit 10 home runs in 27 games for the Smokies with an OPS over 1.100! He’s always been a bat first type of prospect who a lot of people thought could break out as a quality bat since he was drafted out of LSU, but it never quite happened until this year when the power really came on. Slaughter has already passed his professional career home run mark this year, and he looks like he could have a 20+ home run season if he keeps this pace. Look for Slaughter to be a name that gets shuffled up to Iowa after the trade deadline when a lot of different guys will be shuffled in the system.
What to Keep an Eye On: A Matt Mervis Promotion
The way Matt Mervis is hitting, this week’s game of the week might be the last game where Mervis goes hitless. If you haven’t heard about what Matt Mervis has done this year, where have you been? Mervis leads the system in home runs with 19 and has an OPS this year of exactly 1.000 between South Bend and Tennessee this year. A promotion to Iowa should be in store for Mervis soon who is 24 years old. I would expect Mervis to land on a lot of lists after this season regardless of how well he performs in Iowa if he ever makes it there at all. The Cubs could have a power type 1st basemen to look forward to since Anthony Rizzo. If Mervis can continue to go on this tear, he could around be a top 10-15 prospect in the Cubs system.
Feature Photo of Matt Mervis by Rikk Carlson (@rikkcarl10)