Kevin Valdez – Pic by Stephanie Lynn

The night started with both South Bend and Myrtle Beach getting their games on. However, the rains came to northeast Ohio and washed away South Bend’s night in the second inning.

Starting Pitcher of the Night

When the year began, the young right -hander was a key member of the bullpen after playing in both the DSL and ACL in 2022. However, an injury put Valdez on the IL. Now, he’s back and starting and tonight he made first start at home. And it was a good one. Valdez went 4 innings, he allowed just 2 hits on the night and struck out two.

Dinger of the Day

Thankfully, the offense helped Valdez quite a bit. They put up a five spot in the third thanks in part to a grand slam by Andy Garriola.

Reliever of the Day

The Pelicans added on two more runs after Fayetteville closed the game to 5-4. Then Yovanny Cabrera came on in the fifth and just shut. It. down. The big righty went 4 scoreless innings and struck out 7.

The Pelicans won 7-4.

3 Hit Club

Rafael Morel and Jefferson Rojas both had three hits on the day. Morel had 2 RBI on the night as well. 

Interview of the Day

This was a good one featuring Grant Kipp talking about his 8 Ks last night for South Bend.

The Debut of One Brandon Birdsell

That’s right, thee Brandon Bridsell made his Double-A debut going 5 innings. He struck out two and gave up two runs, one in the third and one in the fifth. Otherwise, things went fairly well for the 2022 draft pick. It will be the first of many starts for Birdsell who will be with Tennessee for the rest of the year. I am looking forward to his body of work.

As for the rest of the Smokies, they put up some runs in a hurry, per usual. Cole Roederer started off the scoring with a solo shot.

Then Casey Opitz hit a 2 run shot to make it 3-0. Later, Pablo Aliendo went yard to make it 5-1. After Birdsell left at 5-2, Hunter Bigge and Zac Leigh both pitched scoreless frames. Blake Whitney, who has been very good as of late, started the eighth in relief and finished the ninth with a save.

3 Hit Club…Reprise

Welp, no shocker here as Owen Caissie joined the club tonight, too. David Bote also became a member a little later.

As for Iowa…

Michael Rucker started again and went three innings. He gave up a run but struck out 5 from Omaha. He was replaced by Anthony Kay who went two scoreless with 4 Ks. In the interim, Iowa used singles from Edwin Rios, Darius Hill, and Luis Vazquez to take a 3-1 lead. Later, Matt Mervis went deep in the 7th with a two run shot and that was followed up by a David Bote solo homer. And the Cubs added two more on singles by Luis Vazquez and Bryce Windham to make it 8-1. Omaha would score two off of Bailey Horn to make it 8-3. Cam Sanders would come on and try to close it out from there. He got out of the eighth but did give up a run in the ninth for a final score of 9-4.

As for Pete Crow-Armstrong, he is starting to adjust in a big way. Tonight, he went 2-for-3 and scored 3 times. His AAA average is now .257. However, his OPS tells you a much better story as it is at .895.

I will be back in the morning with a look at the wave of prospects who could be ready for Chicago the next two months of 2023 and the first two months of 2024.