Alexander Canario – Picture by Dylan Heuer/Iowa Cubs

This was about as exciting a week as we’ve seen in the system in a long time! The South Bend Cubs went out and won their second Midwest League title in three seasons. After losing the first game at home last Sunday, South Bend traveled to Lake County and behind some good pitching iand timely hitting, they came back and defeated the Captains to win the series two games to one!

In addition, the Tennessee Smokies battled back after losing the first game in their series with Rocket City. On Thursday night, the Smokies defeated the Trash Pandas 4-2 to even the series at one game each. That set up a winner-take-all game on Friday night. Catcher Harrison Wenson accounted for all three runs with 2 solo homers and he scored on a Jake Slaughter single as Tennessee advanced to the championship series with a 3-1 win. Chris Clarke went six strong and only allowed 1 run while Samuel Reyes pitched the three inning save!

Series Preview and Predictions

These two teams only played each other 12 times this year with Pensacola winning nine of them. Still, the Smokies are quite familiar with this group of players as Pensacola is the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate and the Smokies’ players played against these same group of players in Pensacola when they were assigned to Beloit in the Midwest League.

The number one prospect on Pensacola is Eury Perez who is a ranked #9 on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects. I got to see him pitch in 2021 for Beloit and he dominated South Bend. Two other Marlins’ top 30 pitchers include Jake Elder and the recently promoted Dax Fulton who was with Beloit in June and July. So, as you can see, this team’s strength is its starting pitching.

As for hitters, names like Griffin Conine and Will Banfield should sound familiar as they were also with Beloit. Still, if South Bend can hang around to get to Pensacola’s bullpen, they have a chance. We still have not heard how the starting pitching is going to roll out for this best-of-three series. Since the Smokies will only have to face Perez once, that helps a lot.


Their bats, which were pretty quiet against Rocket City, should come alive this series with the finish line in sight! The key for this series is the same as last series…it’s all about the bullpen. Smokies in three.

Other News

Not that Matt Mervis needs any more publicity but he got some this week from MLB Pipeline as the hottest hitting Cubs prospect in the system.

When asked about Mervis possibly being someone who could be the first baseman of the Cubs in 2023, he was what manager David Ross had to say:

“There’s no doubt he’ll have a great opportunity in front of him moving forward, unless something transpires in the offseason that would negate that.”

Alexander Canario went off this week. Not that he’s fully healthy yet, but Canario was healthy enough that he was seen limping around the bases as he cranked out four home runs for Iowa. And I wonder if it hurt Giants Baseball Insider to tweet this. I am pretty sure I feel the tears through the tweet.

Draft News

Odds are that the Cubs are going to be drafting somewhere around the ninth or tenth spot next year. We won’t know for certain until the draft lottery takes place in early December. I’ve begun doing my research and what really helped this week was that Baseball America combined their top college prospects for 2023 and their top high school prospects into one list. All the combined lists that I’ve seen so far this year are quite different. Those will solidify over the course of the next nine months. I really don’t have a preference right now for a particular hitter, but I do like a few guys that could be available but I’m just not ready to name any names other than pitcher Chase Dollander of Tennessee who is spectacular. I doubt if he’s around when the Cubs pick unless the lottery falls the Cubs way.

Coming Up Next Week at North Side Bound

This is odd. For the first time since July, there will be no draft pick profiles. I do have one free agent profile tomorrow on Grant Kipp and on Saturday of traded player Saul Gonzalez. And that will conclude all the new players the Cubs acquired this summer via the draft, free agency, and trades.

On Tuesday, I will have a three part series on the “State of the System.” I will break it down by hitting, starting pitching, and relieving. As well, on Friday, a preview of our season plans will come out and you are going to want to check that out as it does include some of your participation.

Jam of the Week

I am still on a Foo Fighters kick this week. A poignant song considering…