Minor League Game of the Week: Opening Night

MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL IS BACK

After 595 days of sporadic reports from the Alternate Site and reaching out to individual players and Cubs contacts, fans can finally see the progress that minor league players have made. In addition to regular content such as prospect reports, podcast interviews, and draft content, I’ll be writing about a game of the week.

I am so impressed with the young talent at Myrtle Beach that I had to make it the inaugural Game of the Week.

Game 1 lineup courtesy of Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Prospects to Watch

Ed Howard:
Game results: 4 AB with 1 hit (single to left field); 1 Ks; sparkling defense
The Cubs are incredibly impressed with Ed Howard this spring. He came into camp in great shape while showing off his plus defense at shortstop. That defense continued to shine in his first professional game. Howard has easy lateral range and soft hands. By the fourth inning, it became clear that when the ball was hit to Howard, you felt the play would be made. It’s the minor leagues and errors will happen. They aren’t the best way to measure defense in the minor leagues. groundskeeping is inconsistent, among other developmental issues. But Howard’s defense is already very steady.

At the plate, Ed Howard did not look overmatched. He was calmand showed strong bat speed. Though he only was able to amass one hit, (a single; see below), Howard consistently put the bat on the ball against advance pitching. John Doxakis is a nearly 23 year old pitcher selected in the second round of the 2019 draft by the Rays, a team known for developing pitching. The other pitchers that Howard faced were Brigden, Theriot, and White (25, 24, and 22 years old respectively). Make no mistake, Howard will be challenged at Myrtle Beach. He’ll continue to face advanced pitching and will have moments he struggles, however he has the skills to succeed despite adversity. He’ll even have games where the strikeouts pileup, but I could not be more excited about Ed Howard at the present.

Jordan Nwogu:
Game results: 3 AB with 0 hits (double to right field); 2 Ks, 1 HBP
Nwogu has an insane amount of potential as a future power/speed threat, but it’s a definite work in progress. He appeared overmatched early against Doxakis. That continued throughout the game. Once it clicks for Nwogu, he could shoot through the system, but there may be some more Ks to his game early in the season.

Yeison Santana:
Game results: 4 AB with 1 hit (double on a fly ball); 3 Ks
Santana is another young infielder on the MB roster. He is the only member of the prospects brought over in the Yu Darvish trade who actually logged professional games before this season. Santana looked pretty solid with good defense at 2B and a couple competitive at-bats. In two other at-bats he was largely outpaced by advanced pitching. Santana was raved about from Cubs officials for his bat-to-ball skills.

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Yohendrick Pinango:
Game results: 4 AB with 1 hit (single to left field)
Cubs officials rave about the bat speed and his bat-to-ball skills. Pinango put that praise on display all game as he constantly slashed the ball to the opposite field. Pinango begins the season as one of the youngest players in full-season ball (he turns 19 on May 7th), but his contact ability is impressive. Like many of the young members of this roster, Pinango faced off against advanced pitching. There will be struggles this season, but the potential is immense.
Game results: 4 AB with 1 hit (single to left field)

Pablo Aliendo:
Game results: 4 AB with 1 hit (double to right field); 2 Ks
With Ethan Hearn on the roster, Pablo (don’t call him “Paul”) Aliendo was a relative surprise starter at catcher in game 1. Aliendo got some shoutouts for his progress in spring camp and earned his spot at Myrtle Beach. Overall, Aliendo looked solid behind the plate and had an equally solid day at the plate (as a hitter). I would still imagine Hearn gets the majority of the run at catcher for the Pelicans (with time at DH and 1B possible), but here’s hoping Aliendo takes the opportunity and runs with it.

News and Notes

  • It is incredible to have minor league baseball back!
  • The next Game of the Week will head to South Bend as we enter the House of Bain. Max Bain is, perhaps, the most fascinating man in the entire Cubs system. He gets the nod on Thursday for the South Bend Cubs alongside positional prospects, Chase Strumpf and Cole Roederer
  • A slimmed down Jose Albertos looked solid on the mound in yesterday’s game. He had a significant case of the yips, but never lost the stuff. He only allowed one walk and it was a competitive plate appearance. Here’s hoping Albertos can progress as a reliever. He’s still only 22.
  • Luis Verdugo is the third of the “Young Myrtle Beach Infield Prospect Triumvirate”. He had a fairly unremarkable day with an 0/4 with 2Ks at the plate.
  • Yes, Ed Howard is a special player. A recent Cubs contact noted that Howard showed off some of the best defense they had ever seen. It’s hard not to be impressed with the overall package of tools. He’s 19 years old. Remarkable.

Published by

Greg Zumach

Following the Cubs minor leagues and the MLB draft has been my passion since I became a fan. I try to focus on deeper dives into players along with MLB Draft content throughout the year.

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