Feature photo of the Midwest League Champions, by Rich Biesterfeld
The 2022 first half saw the South Bend Cubs squad line up with a solid 34-32 (.515) record, but the second half saw the Cubs surge. South Bend wrapped up a dominant 39-26 (.600) second half followed by what became a championship run. The Cubs faced off against the Cedar Rapid Kernels in the first round. Both Luis Devers and Daniel Palencia led the team to a 2-1 Series win and to the Midwest League Championship Series.
The Cubs faced off against Cleveland’s HiA affiliate, the Lake County Captains. Despite dropping game 1, the Cubs stormed back to take the last two and earn yet another ring.
The South Bend Cubs are on the hunt for another championship. Entering the 2023 season, the South Bend roster includes 31 players, featuring 16 pitchers, four catchers, six infielders, and five outfielders
Expect a good number of piggybacking where a starting pitcher may go 3-4 innings followed by another pitcher throwing 2-4 innings. There are a number of qualified starters with holdovers Kohl Franklin, Luke Little, and Richard Gallardo joined with 2022 draftees, Brandon Birdsell and Connor Noland. The new wrinkles to this group include a recent addition and a transition. Carlos Guzman was a recent trade addition to the organization from Detroit. He had a solid season already in the Midwest League so expect a quick promotion in May if he’s throwing well. Adam Laskey was reportedly being stretched out in Arizona so he’s a classic fit for a piggybacking role.
Determining reliever vs piggybacking roles prior to the season is fraught with errors, but there are a few players we can specifically call out as relievers: Sheldon Reed and Frankie Scalzo Jr. Both arms are capable of shutting down an opposing roster in the later innings.
Kevin Made made strong improvements in his repeat of Myrtle Beach, but the second half promotion to South Bend saw Made take steps back. Development isn’t linear and fans will be able to watch Made to see if he can take another two steps forward in his age 20 season. Fabian Pertuz is often criminally underrated and he lines up in South Bend to start the year. Perhaps the biggest discussion here is the names that are missing, Ed Howard. Howard appears to be starting the year continuing to rehab from the hip injury that ended his 2022 campaign. Expect to see Howard in South Bend when the weather starts to turn. James Triantos had knee surgery and may be out for 6-8 weeks. We could see him in South bend later this summer.
This is a strong group that sets up the pitching staff and adds to the offense. Haydn McGeary is, somewhat surprisingly, listed as a catcher. He did catch during his time with Colorado Mesa, but it was unclear whether he would continue this development path in his first full season. Both Ethan (ultimate hype man) Hearn and Casey Opitz serve as strong backstops for the pitching staff. David Avitia is a recent organizational addition. He was injured previously, but has experience catching while with Grand Canyon University.
Is 2023 el año del jaguar? South Bend certainly believes so. Kevin Alcántara offers elite potential and will be one of the key draws to the South Bend. He’s joined with DJ Artis, Yohendrick Pinango, Bradlee Beesley, and Jacob Wetzel
OUTLOOK FOR 2023
Forecasting a repeat championship season would be challenging, but this is a team that is capable. And we may see promotions in the second half that fuel the playoff charge like i did in 2022. The South bend Cubs will be must-watch [MiLB] TV and they want to add another ring to the collection