Minor League IPA: Mulé Could Be Special, Horton Signs, Crow-Armstrong Still Bashing, Cape Cod League ASG Returns

The Cubs had an excellent draft this year, selecting 16 pitchers in the 20-round event, highlighted by the top two picks, Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris. Though I was initially unhappy with the Horton choice, I thought getting Ferris was an absolute coup. Still, walking away with just four position players seemed a bit quirky. It says a lot about the current state of Chicago’s minor league system and is a complete paradigm shift from past drafts.

Truth be told, vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz actually drafted five position players if you want to get technical. Fourth-round selection Nazier Mulé was drafted as a pitcher because he has hit 100 mph with his fastball, but he also plays shortstop. Some of the team’s scouts are excited about his offensive potential, and a lot of analysts said Mulé was the best two-way player in this year’s draft. He’s quickly become a fan favorite.

Watching him speak, it’s almost impossible to believe Mulé was drafted out of high school. The book on the young man is that he’s a power pitcher first and a great defender at short who has above-average pop and elite bat speed, and, of course, a cannon of an arm. Baseball America says Mulé “will occasionally run into an elevated pitch over the plate and drive it with impact, but his offensive approach is incredibly raw at the moment, with very questionable pitch selection, swing decisions, and general swing-and-miss issues.”

Kantrovitz liked the fourth-round pick as a pitcher and I spoke to a scout who expressed similar feelings. He felt Mulé has the athleticism to stay at short, but he loves the fastball-slider combo a bit more. My friend said the general consensus among his peers, however, is that the prep star will make the majors as a two-way player. Mulé draws comparisons to 2020 draftee Masyn Wynn of the Cardinals, who is being developed as a shortstop.

Perfect Game had Mulé listed as the fifth-best shortstop in the draft.

“When it comes to tools, Mulé may be on an island by himself,” author Jered Goodwin wrote. “[He has] an enormous ceiling. The former PG Select Festival participant makes it impossible to predict if he ends up on the mound or as a position prospect. He performs in a way to make scouts ponder his future on both sides.”

Greg Huss, who contributes the bulk of draft and minor league content for Cubs Insider, said Mulé may have the most upside of anybody Kantrovitz selected.

“On the mound, Mulé touches triple-digits on the gun and is often viewed as a thrower rather than a pitcher, wrote Huss earlier this week. “Scouts did note that he was throwing more sliders and changeups than would be expected from a high schooler who sits in the mid-90s, but he will still need to improve the shape, consistency, and command of all three pitches.”

In an interview with Jersey Sports Zone, Mulé said he is signing a contract with the Cubs. His bonus offer will be the determining factor and the front office might have to sweeten the $538,600 slotted for the No. 113 overall pick. Mulé is committed to Miami University and will attend this fall if he forgoes the opportunity to start his professional career.

Affiliate News & Notes

  • The Cubs announced that Horton has signed. The top draft pick, and No. 7 overall, agreed to an under-slot bonus of $4.45 million. The value for that slot is $5.711 million and I would imagine the excess will be used to hopefully sign Ferris.
  • Mulé entered the draft as a prospect on the brink of something special.
  • The Cubs have made significant headway in getting their 2022 draft picks signed.
  • Dakota Mekkes pitched 1.1 scoreless innings for Iowa on Friday. He has not allowed a run in 4.1 innings since returning from the developmental list on July 6.
  • Dixon Machado has been a huge part of Iowa’s success this year, finding his way among the International League leaders in batting average (.309), on-base percentage (.404), and hits (95).
  • Catcher Miguel Amaya was activated from the IL before Friday’s games and started at DH for Tennessee.
  • Yohendrick Pinango was named Midwest Player of the Week just before the All-Star break. The 20-year-old outfielder batted .423 with five multi-hit games against Peoria to earn the honors.
  • Greg and Jimmy recapped the entire 2022 draft class in their most recent episode of The Growing Cubs Podcast.

Minority Report

The Cubs’ rookie league teams went undefeated on Thursday. The ACL Cubs defeated the Reds 4-2 and The DSL Cubs destroyed the Marlins 15-2 thanks to Lizardo Ruiz, who had four hits and six RBI. The stateside affiliates resumed action yesterday after a break in the schedule that coincided with MLB’s All-Star break.

Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans saw their four-game winning streak come to an end with a 3-2 loss to the Charleston River Dogs. Luke Little had a strong start, going four shutout innings with five strikeouts against two hits and a walk. On offense, the Pelicans managed just five hits, two by Juan Mora, and James Triantos had a double. Myrtle Beach is 59-29 overall but just 12-10 in the second half.

South Bend – The Quad City River Bandits upended the Cubs 3-1 on Friday. Right-hander Porter Hodge made his Midwest League debut and didn’t disappoint. Pete Crow-Armstrong crushed his fifth home run for South Bend (he has 12 overall) and Pinango, Pablo Aliendo, and BJ Murray had two hits apiece in the losing effort.

Tennessee – The Smokies pasted the Chattanooga Lookouts 10-6 on Friday. Amaya and Alexander Canario were the offensive stars of the game. Serving as Tennesee’s DH, Amaya had three hits and two RBI while Canario went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Samuel Reyes earned the win in relief and Bailey Horn picked up his second save of the season.

Iowa – The Cubs lost their first game in their return to baseball, falling 9-1 to the Omaha Storm Chasers. Machado had a double and Nick Madrigal plated him for Iowa’s only run of the game. Outfielder Jackson Frazier extended his season-high hit streak to 10 games. Frazier has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games, collecting 18 RBI in that span. Matt Mervis was 1-for-4 with a double in his first appearance for the Triple-A Cubs.

Jigger Statz

One rookie who should see plenty of opportunities after next weekend’s trade deadline to show he belongs in the bigs is Nelson Velázquez. The outfielder, who I affectionately refer to as “Baby Boomstick,” launched two home runs in two at-bats against the Phillies Friday night, plating five runners.

950 Miles to Chicago

Acquired in the Anthony Rizzo trade, Kevin Alcántara has the raw tools to be an impact middle-of-the-lineup hitter with Jorge Soler-like upside if he can keep his swing as compact as possible. Alcántara has incredible bat speed but long levers, so he can be a bit lengthy at times and there’s still too much swing-and-miss to his game. When he’s on, he’s absolute thunder and lightning. The outfielder has elite upside but about a 30% chance of reaching that ceiling per Baseball HQ ($). He’s a plus runner with an above-average arm, perfectly suited to play right field as a major leaguer.

Craft Beer of the Day

Dessert Cart from Mountains Walking Brewery, Bozeman, MT- Apparently the “double pastry stout” is a thing, and this hazelnut, coffee, and vanilla bean concoction would be at the top of my adult-beverage Willie Wonka-themed pour house if I ever get around to launching it. A good friend brought me a few upon his return from a horse-backing vacation in Montana (also a thing apparently) and I enjoyed them yesterday evening on my balcony in the upper-nineties Milwaukee heat. Dessert Cart packs a whopping 10.5% ABV and can best be described as utter decadence. Beer shouldn’t taste like this, but you should be glad it does. It’s gimmicky, dense, sweet, and smooth, and it really doesn’t taste like beer. The nose is intense with hints of tobacco and roasted malts. I don’t know if I’d sit at a bar and pound them, but it makes for a helluva dessert beverage.

Children of the Corn

Top-ranked Mariners prospect Noelvi Marte continued his onslaught against Northwest League pitching with three doubles, a home run, and seven RBI on Friday night.

Yankees outfield prospect Jasson Domínguez made his High-A debut on Friday and collected two hits, including a game-tying homer with two outs in the 9th. He also walked, stole a base, and scored three times.

Wynn showed off his 80-grade arm at this year’s Futures Game

The Mets traded minor league reliever Colin Holderman to the Pirates for slugger Daniel Vogelbach. I suppose the summer stove is officially lit.

The Cape Cod League All-Star Game is back after a three-year hiatus. Slugging infielders Matt Shaw and Tommy Troy will lead the Eastern stars against West starter Magdiel Cotto. The West squad features two of the league’s fastest runners in Mitch Jebb and Rikuu Nishida of Hyannis.

Post-Game Presser

  • “Pitching is a need for every major-league baseball team, and right now when we looked at our depth charts, there were a lot more places where pitchers could get innings than where hitters would be able to get at-bats. You want to make sure to be careful when you’re drafting a player, especially on Day 3, that there’s going to be somewhere for him to play and get at-bats.” – Kantrovitz

Today’s Fandango

One of my favorite indie songs of all time.

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