Featured Photo of Derek Casey by Rich Biesterfeld

Greetings from the beach – Myrtle Beach that is! I’ve been down in South Carolina this week watching the Pelicans play and shooting a lot of photos of their games, so this week’s recap will have less direct observations of the ACL games. I did have an ‘ACL adjacent’ sighting though during the week. The Pelicans played the Columbia Fireflies and I glanced at the scoreboard when the Fireflies were batting and thought someone grabbed the wrong player photo because they were showing Frank Hernandez (who has spent some time with the Pelicans but is on the ACL roster right now), or so I thought. It took me a moment, but then I remembered Frank has a twin brother – Omar Hernandez – who is also playing professionally and he is with the Fireflies. Interesting fact – Omar is a catcher and Frank is going through the catcher conversion program with the Cubs.

It was great to see a familiar name in the box score when Derek Casey made his return to game action on Friday. He went 1 IP, allowed 1 hit with 1 K. Derek was having a breakout season in 2021 before he succumbed to injury and has been working hard to get back on the field ever since then. Hopefully he can remain healthy and get back to full season ball after a few more ACL appearances!

I don’t have any updates yet regarding the recent draft picks and who might be making their professional debut in the ACL, but my friend John Antonoff (@BaseballinFocus) captured some shots of Matt Shaw working out at the complex last week.

Some Highlights from the Week:

  • Kevin Valdez threw a pair of two inning stints and did not allow a run, nor any hits this week. He did walk 5 batters across those outings, so he needs to continue to refine his control, but he may not be far away from completing his rehab stint and returning to Myrtle Beach.
Kevin Valdez
  • Jefferson Encarnacion went 5-16 on the week with 11 total bases. He feasted on the pitching of the Reds ACL team collecting all of his in 2 games between the teams. Jefferson was a minor league Rule 5 picks by the Cubs in the last off-season when he was selected from the Phillies organization.
Jefferson Encarnacion
  • Christian Olivo was another player taking advantage of the Reds pitching going 5-14 with 10 total bases.Christian has great speed and has often been used this season as pinch runner (especially in situations using the ‘ghost runner’).
Christian Olivo
  • Gabriel Agrazal had his longest outing of the season going 3.1 IP giving up 0 R, 0 hits and getting 4 K’s. Gabriel had frequently been used in more of a closer role, so I’m not sure if they are stretching him out for longer appearances of this was merely a one-off situation.
Gabriel Agrazal
  • Leonel Espinoza was 5-10 with 3 RBI’s. Leonel has been a consistent offensive threat in the Cubs line-up and is hitting .387 for the month of July.
Leonel Espinoza

Comings & Goings:

Additions to the roster: Derek Casey began a rehab assignment from the South Bend Cubs.

Departures from the roster: Yovanny Cruz completed his ACL rehab and returned to South Bend; Elian Almanzar was released.

A Look Ahead

The Cubs will go on the road to face the Guardians and the Rockies and play the Reds, Diamondbacks Black Squad and the A’s at home.