By: Alex Patt
It is already nearing the end of August, and everyone knows what that means, September call up time. While the Cubs are in a tight division race heading into the final month of the season, it will be very interesting to see who will be brought up from AAA Iowa when it comes times for teams to be able to expand the roster. Yes, the farm is a bit more barren now due to the recent trades and just the fact that the center farm pieces are MLB players now but that does not mean there are no interesting players waiting to get big league service time.
Some of the names that are likely to be called up should not be surprising. Victor Caratini’s chances of being back with the club in September seem pretty good for now. He was sent down to AAA after 17 games with the Cubs which he slashed .268/.318/.733 with a home run in favor of having veteran Rene Rivera be the back up after he was claimed off waivers. It can also depend on the status of Willson Contreras who will be the starting once again when he comes back from the hamstring injury.
It would also not be too surprising if Mark Zagunis made his way back up. He played in seven games with the Cubs earlier in the year and drew four walks with an RBI, but no hits. His AAA numbers at the plate are pretty good at .267/.404/.859 and has a good eye at the plate. The team will probably want to add more bullpen reinforcements which could very well include Rob Zastryzny who has a 6.75 ERA in four innings pitched with the Cubs this year. Pierce Johnson pitched in one inning this year with the Cubs which he gave up two runs (none earned to him) and though he has a 4.84 ERA in Iowa this year, he could also be added for some extra reinforcements. Many people might not want to hear this because of his struggles, but do not fully count out Justin Grimm being back.
There are some very interesting names in the minors who still have potential despite not being advertised (rightfully so) as other former prospects. One that is talked about by a number of people who pay attention to the Cubs farm is pitcher Dillon Maples. The 25-year old righty has put up some good numbers this year in the minors which includes a 2.36 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 97 Ks, 36 BBs, only three home runs given up in 61.0 innings pitched all in relief. He is currently the Iowa Cubs’ closer and has four saves. He has a fastball that sits in upper-90s, a curve and a slider and can possibly be a decent depth piece to the bullpen. His one weakness is that his walks have been somewhat of an issue, but when he controls his pitches, he is very tough to hit.
He maybe only 22, but pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng has had a fantastic year in the minors and has been dominating with Iowa. He has started seven games with the I-Cubs and has a 1.67 ERA, 1.116 WHIP, 34 Ks, 13 BBs in 43.0 innings pitched. His total 2017 numbers between Iowa and Tennessee feature a 2.57 ERA, 1.133 WHIP and 117 Ks. He has been a starter in every game in his minor league career except for two relief appearances in 2014 with the Kane County Cougars. Any pitching depth right now is good pitching depth considering how hard the pen has had to work this year and the injuries to key players.