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Chicago Cubs eyeing Iowa Cubs prospects as MLB playoffs loom near

The Iowa Cubs defeated the Louisville Bats on Aug. 19 by a score of 7-5. Photo by Will Baumgartner.

On Aug. 15, the Iowa Cubs welcomed the Louisville Bats for the start of a six-game homestand. The first three games of this homestand resulted in two wins for the Cubs and one win for the Bats. On Aug. 18, the Cubs looked to improve their home record against the Bats to 3-1.  

The game featured a few big home runs and highlight reel catches from potential Chicago Cubs prospects alongside some late inning drama between the Cubs and the Bats. Another highlight of the game was a matchup between the starting pitchers: Louisville’s Ben Lively and Iowa’s Brendon Little.

The game remained scoreless throughout both halves of the first inning, but in the top of the second inning, Louisville opened the scoring on a RBI groundout from designated hitter Chuckie Robinson. The Cubs would go on to respond in the bottom of the third inning with a home run from shortstop Luis Vazquez, tying the game. A three-run home run by first baseman Matt Mervis later gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead.

Louisville would score their next run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning from right fielder Michael Siani, making the score 4-2. The Cubs held a firm lead right up until the Bats rallied for three runs in the top of ninth inning, with RBIs from Robinson, Matt Reynolds and Nick Martini, to make the final score 5-4 for Louisville.

Some notable Cubs performances include relief pitcher Luke Little, who went two innings allowing no hits, no runs, one walk and five strikeouts. Another notable performance was from Mervis, who went 3-for-4 with a three-run home run. Alongside Mervis, center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong put on a solid performance, going 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games coupled with a run-saving catch in the top of the ninth inning.

The Iowa Cubs have had nothing short of a successful season, posting a record of 69 wins and 51 losses for the season, resulting in a second place ranking in the International League West standings. They have also had several players called up to their major league affiliate, the Chicago Cubs: catcher Miguel Amaya, first baseman Matt Mervis, infielder/outfielder Christopher Morel, infielder Nick Madrigal, center fielder Mike Tauchman, infielder Miles Mastrobuoni, starting pitchers Caleb Kilian and Javier Assad and relief pitchers Nick Burdi, Daniel Palencia, Anthony Kay, Keegan Thompson and Hayden Wesneski.

One of the bigger stories currently surrounding the Iowa Cubs has to do with prospects Jordan Wicks and Pete Crow-Armstrong. Wicks was initially supposed to make a start on Aug. 23 against the Indianapolis Indians, but was scratched shortly before his start. According to Des Moines Register reporter Tommy Birch, “it’s NOT injury related.” 

The Chicago Cubs currently have ace starting pitcher Marcus Stroman on the injured list with a rib cartilage fracture. Lefty swingman Drew Smyly has struggled recently with an 8.71 ERA over his last seven appearances, including three starts. With these issues and a late scratch from Wicks on Aug. 23, there is speculation that Chicago might call him up for a start on Aug. 26 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pete Crow-Armstrong has been the big story for the Chicago Cubs minor league system all season long. Ranked as the number one Chicago Cubs prospect — and ranked number 12 overall in Major League Baseball by MLB Pipeline — Crow-Armstrong has been taking the minor leagues by storm. He posted a .289 batting average with a .898 OPS to go along with 14 home runs, 60 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 73 games for the Tennessee Smokies, the Chicago Cubs Double A affiliate. After being promoted to the Iowa Cubs, Crow-Armstrong has posted a .266 batting average with a .862 OPS as well as four home runs, 11 RBIs and five stolen bases. He is also one of the highest regarded defensive prospects in all of the minor leagues, winning the Minor League Gold Glove for the 2022 season.

With the Chicago Cubs a season-high seven games over .500 and currently chasing the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central title, the Cubs may look to add all of the fire power they can get, which may include their top minor league prospect, before October.

The Iowa Cubs are set to begin their final homestand on Sept. 12 against the St. Paul Saints and will wrap up their season on Sept. 24 against the Bats. Iowa hope to wrap the season at Louisville on top of the International League West standings, and they may have to do it without the help of Crow-Armstrong and Jordan Wicks. 


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