Luke Little – Picture via MLB Pipeline
The big news of the week was that the Tennessee Smokies became the third Cubs affiliate to qualify for the postseason!!! The Smokies clinched a wildcard spot in their division as a Rocket City is going to win both halves of the season. With the second best overall record already clinched a week or so ago, Tennessee is now in that Birmingham cannot win the division after Friday. With a powerful offense, you never know what’s going to happen but we’ll have a preview of their playoff series with Rocket City next weekend.
As for the rest of the system, today is the final day for the class A baseball regular season. Both South Bend and Myrtle Beach begin their playoff series on Tuesday. South Bend will be at home against Cedar Rapids and Myrtle Beach will be on the road at Charleston for one game before coming home for the rest of the series. They are both best-of-three showdowns. Tomorrow’s Breakdown post will have a preview of both teams heading into the playoffs along with some predictions from myself and the two Gregs.
As for the rest of the news, it was cool to see that Luke Little was named the hottest pitching prospect in the Cubs system this month by MLB Pipeline. Here’s what they had to say:
While being used in relatively shorter outings, the 6-foot-8 lefty has been very tough to hit all year, now across two levels. Four of his five appearances in this period came up in High-A and he posted a combined 0.54 ERA (one earned run in 16 2/3 IP), while yielding just nine hits and seven walks (0.96 WHIP) while striking out 22.
It’s probably still a little too early to say where he’s going to start 2023. Who knows what’s gonna happen over the winter developmentally and physically for him. He could add muscle, he could add a new pitch, a lot could happen. But he’s either going to be in South Bend or Tennessee to start 2023. Either place is going to be exciting!
Prospect Team of the Week
It has been a while but it was good to see a Cub get back on MLB Pipeline’s prospect team of the week. On Monday, Matt Mervis got the nod for his amazing week that ended on September 4. Pipeline wrote the following:
After breaking out with 21 home runs in 80 games between High-A and Double-A, Mervis went through an adjustment period and hit just three through his first 26 games at Triple-A. It’s safe to say that adjustment has been made. Mervis now has six dingers in his last 11 games after homering in three straight last week, the last of which gave him 30 on the year. It’s been a remarkable rise for the 24-year-old former Duke Blue Devil, who was signed after going undrafted in 2020 and hit just .204 with a .676 OPS in 69 games at Single-A last season. Until Alexander Canario reached 30 home runs on Aug. 21, no Cubs Minor Leaguer had hit that mark since Kris Bryant in 2014.
When the winter meetings begin in early December, it’s going to be a pretty busy week. It looks like the last couple of days will conclude the festivities by doing the rule five draft along with the MLB Draft lottery on December 6. The Cubs are somewhere around sixth or seventh based on their record. We’ll see how they wrap up the season here the next three weeks to find out their chances for a top pick.
In addition, MLB Pipeline dropped 20 high school names to watch for next year’s draft. I only recognized about three names at the top of this list. Still, it gives me a good idea on who I should start checking out in October to get ready for next summer‘s selection process. Normally, I usually wait until spring break at school to start watching video of guys. But with the Cubs picking so high again, it might not be a bad idea for me to get an early start on some of the top names.
However, when it comes to college names, I am much better informed as I’m quite familiar with Dylan Crews, Chase Dollander, Brock Wilken, Patrick Reilly, Tanner Witt (love him!), and Jacob Gonzalez of Mississippi to name a few.
Greg Zumach and I will have some interesting draft news for you next month, so be on the lookout for that when it drops.
IFA News Drought
MLB clubs can begin signing international free agents for the 2023 season here in almost exactly 4 months. But when it comes to reporting, Ben Badler of Baseball America and Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com have been pretty quiet about who is going where. Part of that might’ve been from the uncertainty about a draft in the CBA. But now that that has been settled, it looks like business as usual.
Neither Baseball America nor MLB Pipeline have released a top IFA list for 2023. But Baseball America did drop five names this week of five guys would probably sign for more than $3 million. The Cubs did not get mentioned at all in that article from Ben Badler.
It’s going to be an exciting week coming up here at North Side Bound
We will have playoff coverage of both Myrtle Beach and South Bend. Just a reminder that tomorrow we will give a little preview about the two teams heading into the postseason. On Tuesday, JP Wheat gets profiled in the draft pick series. On Wednesday through Friday this week, I have a three part series on underreported stories from the year when it comes to hitters, starting pitchers, and relievers. We will have playoff coverage at night on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. And next Saturday, Andy Garriola will become the 17th draft pick profiled.
The two Greg’s also have some interesting content coming out this week. You should be excited for that as Mr. Zumach will be touching on something called his “shadow draft” which is really interesting. And before he gets married, Greg Huss also has some interesting stuff on Cubs’ hitting development he’s getting ready for you.
Jam of the Week
This is clearly one of the best songs of the last 10 years if not the best. I could listen to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit all day. As you can probably tell, I like all kinds of music. Nothing is off limits if it is authentic and genuine. A good song is a good song regardless of genre.