Cubs prospects stand to benefit from lengthened MiLB calendar


Traditionally, the Minor League Baseball season has ended around Labor Day, often supplanted by league playoffs. Living within an hour of Four Winds Field in South Bend (originally named after former South Bend resident and Hall of Famer Stanley Coveleski, whose name was retired for corporate casino sponsorship), I pay pretty close attention to their schedule and noticed some changes from what’s historically been in place.

The kids won’t be going home early this year. Since life has been required to be perceived as pre, during, and where ever we are now in COVID, please journey back with me to the innocent days of 2019. That year, the minor league season ended September 2. In 2020 there was no minor league season, which seems to have hindered some, and benefitted other prospects. In 2021, Triple-A teams played 142 games, and Single and Double-A just 120.

So, if you have paused reading to check schedules and see if you can catch one more game in Iowa, Tennessee, northern Indiana, or South Carolina – rest easy, the season is going to be longer. The season goes to September 11 in both levels of A ball (but not necessarily at home), September 18 at Double-A, and September 28 in Triple-A.

On February 3 of this year, the schedule at the Triple-A level was extended to 150 games. The reasoning was to help align with the MLB schedule, allowing players to stay sharp while being available for the big league club. Don’t forget – the days of massive September roster expansions are in the past. Since these player’s development was hindered, these games could benefit these young men. I think it really helps the Cubs, in particular.

Cubs prospects can make up for time lost due to injury this season

Out of curiosity, I went to check out MLB Pipeline’s top Cubs prospects (while also recalling some past top talents still in the organization). Somewhat astonishingly, but not surprisingly, a great many of these guys have dealt with injuries: Brailyn Marquez, Miguel Amaya, Brennen Davis, Ed Howard, Cole Roederer, Adbert Alzolay and Kohl Franklin have all spent time on the injured list this year, last year or, in some instances, multiple times.

The good news is that Davis, Amaya, Roeder, Alzolay and Franklin are active again, as is flame-throwing right-hander Manny Rodriguez who is already back with the big club. These extra games and extended schedule allow the front office additional time to have another look at these players, as 40-man rosters will be a big consideration in November. Alzolay could be back in Wrigley before the season’s end.

Each of these players careers are filled with “what-ifs?” Great prospects fail to develop and many that fly under the radar become stars. Alzolay looked like he’d be a key piece to Cubs staff this season although his role was, and remains, undefined long-term. Marquez had been a two-year mystery, debuting at the end of 2020. Davis and Amaya, if never injured, could have made it to the majors this year in some scenarios.

September also allows uninjured players to be evaluated, and perhaps Tennessee Smokies Bryce Ball and/or Jake Slaughter could spend the final two weeks in Iowa. A pitcher like Caleb Killian, who was bypassed back to Wrigley twice last week for Javier Assad and Like Farrell, gains a couple more chances to make his case for a spot heading into 2023.

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Next weekend, my wife and I will have our adorable seven-year-old granddaughter for a four-day weekend before her school year is back to full swing. We plan to take her to “The Cove” (I prefer the old name), where she can frolic on the splash pad on the pavilion south of the right field foul pole. Grammy will supervise her, and Papa and a cold one may wander off to get a final take on Pete Crow-Armstrong and Owen Cassie from the outfield area. I’ll be the guy in the Banks jersey. “Hey Dad, is that man’s name Banks?” “No Timmy, he’s just honoring Mr. Cub.”

Cheers and Go Cubs, at all levels.