It is that time of year where my travels around the Midwest League come to an end. I wound up going to almost 30 games between Appleton, Beloit, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Peoria. It was a busy four months, but I got a pretty good feel for the team early on. And rather than do an ordinary update of South Bend this month, I thought it would be fun to take questions that you have about the affiliate instead.

So let’s get to them!

@JGWillis22 –  Do we expect Matt Shaw to make it to SB soon? Will Alcantara finish the season in SB or get bumped up to TN soon?

Let’s answer the Shaw question first. I see him starting out 2024 in South Bend. But for this year, he’s probably going to go to Myrtle Beach just to experience the playoffs. He probably belongs in South Bend talent-wise. It would be hard to justify keeping him at Myrtle Beach if he goes there and just destroys it in two weeks or three weeks.

As for Alcantara, he’s pretty much going to stay in South Bend. But with them not being in playoff contention yet, I would not be surprised to see him go up just for the last two weeks if he’s playing well. Right now he’s not even playing as he has a somewhat noticeable limp from a knee contusion.

The Triantos Questions

@fan_cornell – What do you see as James Triantos path forward?
@bpaine888 –Why isn’t James Triantos playing third base exclusively? He has the arm. Why can’t he get the reps? The guy can flat out hit.
@TerronBackup – Triantos is having an awesome season but I wonder if/when the power will come for him
@KevinSkaggs8 – Why is Triantos playing second and not third in South Bend? Do the Cubs see him more of a Horner and want to save third for a power bat? Haven’t seen a lot of power from him yet, is that something he is working on.
@davegroch – Triantos going to get a cup in Tennessee this year? How has he looked in the infield?

There’s a lot to chew on here.

So let me just give you a somewhat blanket statement regarding all of them. Triantos is playing second because that is the best position for him right now. The Cubs have been diligently working with him on his defense nonstop since his second week in South Bend. They’ve been working on his foot work, positioning his glove, keeping his head on the ball, and how he positions his body in response to an incoming ball as he’s had issues fielding. He’s not playing third because there are much, much, much better fielders to play third in Verdugo, Pertuz, and Made. His arm strength is not a question at all.

No one is questioning his hitting ability either, although the power has not been there in South Bend as people thought it would be. He spends most of his time before batting practice doing fielding drills, as well as after batting practice. He’s developing a work ethic that will hopefully pay off this winter or next year. But he’s got to get the fielding thing down. It’s better than it was two months ago.

I don’t see him going up to Tennessee at all this year. He probably starts out at South Bend next year, depending upon how much he improves on his defense. If he improves a lot, he goes to Tennessee to start the year.

No one is doubting the bat.

@RealCubsAnalyst – After Birdsell and Horton, who gets promoted next?

OF Ezequiel Pagán is the most logical choice along with pitcher Sheldon Reed. If you would’ve asked me this a month ago, I probably would’ve said Adam Laskey and Jarod Wright as well. Now, Frankie Scalzo has to be in that discussion.

@henninger_bryce – Moises stays hot this second half. Could they send him to the AFL? If they were too, what could be a realistic 2024 for him?
@Bilbo161 – How is Moises Ballesteros development as a catcher going? I so want to see him as making it there, though I wonder if I shouldn’t considering the toll the position will have on his bat.

I can see Moises going to the AFL. I think that’s a great choice! One thing that doesn’t get talked about is how much he’s improved this year as a defender. He’s lost some weight, his arm, strength has improved, and he just needs to be mature in his approach at the plate more consistently. If he does go to the AFL, I think playing once a week would be just fine with him. So he basically would be  the taxi squad guy.

@Bilbo161 – Who are the break-out candidates in the second half and could any push their way up a level before the season ends?

Right now, Michael Arias is breaking out all over. Christian Franklin could be a guy as he homered in three games in a row the past week. He has all the athletic tools necessary to be an outstanding outfielder. He just needs to put them all together. He looks like a totally different player since he came back from a stint on the Development List and I love it!

@B3Childers – Which guys repeat SB next yr due to “poor/lacking” performance and enough youth to not hinder their development plan? Which guys in SB might be getting passed by current MiLB or 2023 draftees?

Felix Stevens is definitely a guy who will be in South Bend to start 2024. Ethan Hearn will probably repeat. as mentioned above, depending how Triantos does this winter on improving his fielding, he could start in South Bend. I don’t see any starting rotation staying behind right now. Angel Gonzalez will probably come back for the bullpen, and may be a couple of other players.

@rynodino23 – what do you think the ceiling is for Michael arias?

The floor is huge bullpen arm. The ceiling, right now, is middle of the rotation starter who could throw 97 or 98. But that we are not even close to the full potential of Michael Arias. He might weigh 170 pounds soaking wet. So there’s a lot of room to add weight and muscle, that could even increase his velocity even more. Which would push him towards that number to type starter. I don’t see a need for him to come back to South Bend next year. He’s likely gone for Tennessee.