Ben Brown – Pic by Micah Manuel/Tennessee Smokies

Putting together an All-Star team is always a fun exercise every month and I enjoy it a lot which is why I keep doing it. This month’s squad is going to be the most unique ever. The reason for that is that the Iowa cubs offense dominated unlike any other team in the past 10 years.

Just Iowa’s Lineup 

Christopher Morel, Jake Slaughter, Matt Mervis, Miles Mastrobuoni, Mike Tauchman, Sergio Alcantara, Darius Hill, Jared Young, and Yonathan Perlaza.

That’s right, 9 guys from that lineup was just devastating. I have been doing these monthly All-Star teams for 10 years now. I have never seen an offense put more than 5 or 6 guys on a squad. 

The Rest of the System

Another 15 players from across the system also earned spots this month, including four catchers, two first baseman, and three shortstops. Surprisingly, only four outfielders made it from Tennessee, South Bend, and Myrtle Beach. The only requirement to make the team included a batting average above .280 or a large amount of home runs and RBI. 

C – Miguel Pabon, Pablo Aliendo, Miguel Amaya, Moises Ballesteros
1B – Felix Stevens, Haydn McGeary, 
2B – Reivaj Garcia 
SS – Cristian Hernandez, Kevin Made, Luis Vazquez
3B – Scottie McKeon
OF – Bradlee Beesley, Owen Caissie, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcantara, Andy Garriola

The players I am most happy to see make this team are guys that are not considered the top prospects in the system but are performing at a high-level. Garcia, McKeon, and Beesley definitely fit that category and they definitely earned their spots. As well, it was cool to see some breakout guys like Haydn McGeary, Andy Garriola, and Felix Stevens just blast their way onto the team.

Honorable mentions 

Fabian Pertuz, Yohendrick Pinango

The Pitching

There are only a couple requirements to make the team from the pitching side of things. Starters with am ERA of less than 3.00 made it. When it came to relievers, they also had to have an ERA under 2.00. Some players that were within a few tenths/hundredths did make the club like Joe Nahas had a 2.03 ERA.

SP – Cade Horton, Brody McCullough, Brandon Birdsell, Luke Little, Ben Brown, Jordan Wicks, Riley Thompson, Richard Gallardo

RP – Kevin Valdez, Johzan Oquendo, Sam Thoresen, Bailey Horn, Hunter Bigge, Jake Reindl, Carlos Guzman, Joe Nahas, Frankie Scalzo, Brad Deppermann, Vinny Nittoli, Yovanny Cabrera, Angel Gonzalez, Saul Gonzalez, and Marino Santy

The big surprise here is that 6 Pelicans made the list from their bullpen. Heading into the year, it was the most uncertain group of pitchers as to who would be in the bullpen to start the year along with what their roles would be.

Honorable mentions – Kohl Franklin had one bad inning all month and didn’t allow a run the rest of them. He was just plain outstanding. Tennessee’s Walker Powell was close out of the pen.

Players of the Month

Comeback Player of the Month – Reivaj Garcia

The 21-year-old looks looks to be reborn in Myrtle Beach this spring. He tore it up as a 17-year-old in Mesa a few years ago in 2019. After the pandemic, short season ball was no longer an option for him to transition to Myrtle Beach and he struggled his first go around in 2021. And now he looks like he has put it together.

Hitter of the Month – Christopher Morel

He led the system an home runs and  RBIs this month. This is a no-brainer that I don’t need to explain.

SPs of the Month – Ben Brown, Cade Horton

This was the toughest award to give out as Cade Horton was certainly deserving this month as he did not allow an earned run in 10.1 innings. However, 10.1 is just not a lot of innings for three weeks of action for a starting pitcher. For Ben Brown, he had a 0.45 ERA and led the system in strikeouts, strikeouts per nine innings, strikeouts per walks, and pretty much every other category, except the batting average against and WHIP, which were led by Brandon Birdsell. Now that Brown’s in Iowa, Chicago is not too far away. As for Horton, South Bend is calling….repeatedly. It could take a couple of weeks to warm up in northern Indiana before he moves up.

Reliever of the Month – Kevin Valdez

Yeah, no one saw this coming. The thought was if he could be a good piggyback starter, then he might make an All-Star team here or there. Maybe he could have an ERA under three for a month. But a 0.93 ERA?!?!? In addition, he averaged a strikeout per inning and had the lowest ERA of any reliever by almost .5. I’m excited to see how he does in May and if he will get a chance to start once Horton moves up!

Affiliate – Iowa

Up until about the middle of this week, this award was still up in the air. But after scoring 18 runs twice and dominating every offensive category in the system, the Iowa Cubs are April’s affiliate of the month as they finished the month at 16-8.