Cubs getting money's worth from minor-league pitcher

  • Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong runs drills during spring training Feb. 28 in Mesa, Ariz. He's having a solid season for the Cubs farm team in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

    Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong runs drills during spring training Feb. 28 in Mesa, Ariz. He's having a solid season for the Cubs farm team in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Associated Press

  • Cubs prospect James Triantos had a slow start to the season but has come on strong of late.

    Cubs prospect James Triantos had a slow start to the season but has come on strong of late. Associated Press

  • Kansas State's Jordan Wicks stands with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred after being selected by the Cubs in the first round in last year's draft. Wicks is pitching for the Cubs at South Bend.

    Kansas State's Jordan Wicks stands with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred after being selected by the Cubs in the first round in last year's draft. Wicks is pitching for the Cubs at South Bend. Associated Press

  • Puerto Rico's pitcher Eric Stout delivers against the Dominican Republic during a Caribbean Series game Jan. 29 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Wheaton St. Francis High School graduate is now pitching for the Cubs in Iowa.

    Puerto Rico's pitcher Eric Stout delivers against the Dominican Republic during a Caribbean Series game Jan. 29 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Wheaton St. Francis High School graduate is now pitching for the Cubs in Iowa. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/30/2022 6:06 PM

Has the Next Great Cubs Team been found?

Well, maybe, but it's at Low-A Myrtle Beach, so there's a long way to go before anyone reaches Clark and Addison.

 

The Pelicans got off to a 13-6 start with some interesting individual stat lines. The biggest eye-opener is left-handed pitcher Riley Martin, who piled up 27 strikeouts in 13 innings, with just 4 walks, 3 hits and a 0.68 ERA. Martin was promoted to High-A South Bend this week.

Martin is a decent underdog story. He was the Cubs' sixth-round draft pick last year, but was a so-called senior signing. That means he was a college senior with no leverage to return to school, and his signing bonus was reportedly a meager $1,000.

The way the MLB draft works is teams get a pool of money to sign their draft picks. So teams will typically target a few college seniors willing to sign for less money and use the savings to land some higher-leverage draft picks.

One of the Cubs' high-leverage signings was second-round pick James Triantos, a high school third baseman from Virginia who landed a bonus of $2.1 million.

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On paper, the difference in signing bonuses seems alarming. The Cubs likely were in touch with Martin before the draft and he was aware of the situation. He's a Salem, Ill., native who played at Division II Quincy University.

Will it be the best $1,000 the Cubs have spent in recent years? Keep in mind, Martin is 24, much older than most other players in the Carolina League. So time will tell, but he was a star in April.

The hitting star for Myrtle Beach is center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong. He's the former first-round pick of the Mets who was sent to the Cubs in the Javy Baez trade.

Crow-Armstrong, 20, has posted an impressive hitting line of .373/.479/.610 and hit his third home run Friday. He's one of the few Cubs farmhands with more walks than strikeouts (actually it was 9-9 after Friday's action), and leads the team with 7 stolen bases.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The fast start is encouraging because the Los Angeles native played in just six games last year for the Mets' Class A squad before needing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right, non-throwing, shoulder.

Triantos, meanwhile, was hitting .111 on April 19, then over the next six games went 13-for-24 at the plate to raise his average significantly.

Here are some other notes from the Cubs farm system:

• D.J. Herz, the Cubs' minor league pitcher of the year in 2021, is rolling again at South Bend. The left-hander has a 1.29 ERA in four starts, with 20 strikeouts over 14 innings.

• Last year's first-round pick LHP Jordan Wicks is in South Bend and has a 3.18 ERA in three starts. He was the No. 21 overall pick from Kansas State.

• A couple of the Cubs' top prospects are off to slow starts at South Bend. Outfielder Owen Cassie is hitting .111 and shortstop Ed Howard, the team's 2020 first-round pick, is at .200.

• First baseman Nelson Maldonado was promoted to Triple A Iowa after hitting .465 with 3 home runs in 13 games at Double A Tennessee. Maldonado, 25, was a late-round pick in 2019. Outfielder Nelson Velazquez, a breakout star last year, is hitting .270 with 7 home runs at Tennessee.

• Top prospect Brennan Davis is hitting .190 in his first 18 games at Iowa with 2 home runs and a team-high 27 strikeouts. The Cubs will be in no hurry to bring him to the big leagues.

• Right-handed pitcher Caleb Killian, acquired in the Kris Bryant trade, seems like a player who could reach the majors this year. The former Giants farmhand has a 1.72 ERA in four starts.

• Wheaton St. Francis grad Eric Stout has pitched 10⅓ scoreless innings in Iowa with 18 strikeouts and just 3 hits allowed. The 29-year-old left-hander pitched in three games for the Royals in 2018 and had a stint with the Chicago Dogs in 2020.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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