I originally wrote most of this content for a post over at Cubs Insider. I listed 28 top moments in the Cubs MiLB system in that article. A few days have passed since it was published. At that time, I didn’t think I could edit it down to a top ten list, nor did I want to exert that mental anguish. Now that it is Labor Day morning (when I write this), I don’t want to do work to get ready to teach school for tomorrow. So, a top 28 list got narrowed down after breakfast. I even ranked them for good measure.
10. The Myrtle Beach Run – As the season has gone on, Myrtle Beach just keeps getting stronger and stronger. While some of the pitching has been there all year, this team really took off after the trade of Gleyber Torres and Rashad Crawford. David Bote, Yasiel Balaguert, and Donnie Dewees have really taken over the middle of that lineup to drive in Charcer Burks and others.
9. Trevor Clifton – He had a dominating May and a dominating August and it’s been a lot of fun to watch him develop his changeup into a plus pitch this year to go along with this plus curveball and mid-90s baseball.
8. Preston Morrison’s Summer – Morrison was the Cubs minor-league pitcher of the month in June and he should’ve gotten it again in July. From May 1, when he moved to the third-base side of the rubber, through the end of the season, Morrison was the best pitcher in the Cub system for most of the summer.
7. Ian Happ in June – For about three weeks in June, Ian Happ was the hottest hitter I’ve ever seen in the system. He hit .600 between Myrtle Beach and Tennessee over three weeks.
6. Trades of Torres, Crawford, Billy McKinney, Vogelbach, Blackburn, and Castillo – Despite losing these prospects, the Cub system is still strong.
5. Albert Almora – It did not take him long to get going and his year never stopped. His brief time in Chicago really showed some of the potential that he has is a ballplayer. When he returned, he was better than when he left. Next year, he has nothing left to learn or prove at AAA.
4. The Ascendency of Zach Hedges – I was pretty excited to see him get off to such a great start and to learn about how hard he worked in the offseason to improve his game. I was even more impressed when he went to AA and pitched lights out there over the last six weeks of the season likely earning himself a promotion to AAA to start 2017.
3. 3 Class A teams making the playoffs – The Cubs had a total of four teams make the playoffs which showed the strength of their lower farm system.
2. Eugene’s 15 wins in a row – Every night they showed up to win and every night they did for a two-week span that was punctuated with some very dominant pitching.
1. The Futures Game – This is a game where a young man went from just being a favorite of Cub fans to being a favorite throughout the minors. This really was the “Summer of Eloy.”
I still find it hard to believe that the minor league regular season is complete. I cannot wait for next year. I already have my trips planned to South Bend, Des Moines, Burlington, Peoria, and Beloit. I am hoping to make it down to Kodak, Tennessee to see the Smokies play. There will be new prospects in new places and baseball will go on.
In the meantime, the playoffs start Wednesday for Eugene, Myrtle Beach, and South Bend! Hopefully, there will be some more moments to add to this list!