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Ruoff Mortgage Homestand Preview: May 10-15

In-State Six Game Battle between Cubs and TinCaps set at Four Winds Field
May 9, 2022

The South Bend weather isn’t the only thing heating up heading into this coming week, as the same can be said about the South Bend Cubs. Fresh off of the first six-game series sweep of an opponent in South Bend Cubs history, the longest homestand of the season for the

The South Bend weather isn’t the only thing heating up heading into this coming week, as the same can be said about the South Bend Cubs.

Fresh off of the first six-game series sweep of an opponent in South Bend Cubs history, the longest homestand of the season for the team continues. The club will welcome back in-state rival, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, to Four Winds Field for a six-game series. The Midwest League affiliate of the San Diego Padres has already hosted South Bend once this season at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, as the TinCaps took four of six against the Cubs in the first away series of the season.

It has been a much different story for the Cubs playing at home to begin the campaign. In April, they won a series over the Beloit Sky Carp, and have started this homestand with six straight wins. They are 11-4 at home.

South Bend is also showing that they can win games in multiple different ways. The first two victories of the series against the Peoria Chiefs were in comeback fashion with late rallies. The different styles of putting away games was most visibly shown on Saturday afternoon in the Cubs doubleheader sweep of the Chiefs.

With shutdown pitching from the back-end of the bullpen and a few runs manufactured, the Cubs were able to squeeze out a 3-2 win in Game 1, while in Game 2, it was total control for South Bend in a 4-0 shutout.

The TinCaps always seem to enter Four Winds Field with some of the most talented prospects in the Padres organization. Since South Bend already houses 10 of the top 30 prospects in the Chicago Cubs organization, it will be a who’s who type of series this week in the 574.

Players to watch on Fort Wayne…

Robert Hassell III, OF: When the Cubs were last in Fort Wayne this past month, Robert Hassell’s performance against South Bend made it known that he would not be in the Midwest League for long. San Diego’s first-round pick in 2020 was selected just eight picks in front of South Bend Cubs shortstop Ed Howard. Hassell certainly looks the part of someone who was drafted that high. He went 9/24 versus the Cubs with a game-winning home run. On the season, Hassell is batting .352 with five homers and 22 RBI. A tough guy to strike out, he has punched out just 22 times in over 100 at-bat’s. Hassell, along with Fort Wayne’s entire roster runs well on the base paths too. Hassell has not been caught stealing once in nine attempts, and the TinCaps have swiped 32 bases and have been caught only seven times.

Noel Vela, LHP: At Parkview Field between the Cubs and TinCaps, the two clubs also played a six-game series. The guy that started two games in the series for Fort Wayne was Noel Vela, and he put together some serious shutdown work. In those two starts, which were part of his 2022 debut, Vela tossed 7.2 combined innings and did not give up an earned run. His first inning of the season featured Matt Mervis crushing a three-run double off of him, but none of the runs were earned due to a prior error being made. After that double by the Cubs first baseman, Vela allowed nothing else. His season ERA speaks to the masterful outings he has pieced together as well, as it stands at 0.44. If Vela sticks around in the Midwest League, he will be at the top of the TinCaps rotation until the Padres move him up.

Joshua Mears, OF: As mentioned, it will be a battle of the stars in South Bend this week. The TinCaps have plenty of them, including the guy that is leading the league in home runs in Joshua Mears. The batting average for Mears coming in under the Mendoza Line at .189, but South Bend pitchers will need to be cautious with pitching to Mears. Especially now that it’s going to get a lot warmer in South Bend, the bats usually start swinging with more power too. That suits just fine for Mears, who has crushed eight home runs with 18 RBI. The Cubs can potentially take advantage though when it comes to Mears with two strikes, he has struck out 49 times in 95 at-bats.

Players to watch on South Bend…

Bradlee Beesley, OF: A big theme of the series versus Peoria for the Cubs was respective on-base and hitting streaks throughout the entire lineup. Alexander Canario’s came to an end after 20-games on base consecutively. Matt Mervis’ hitting streak halted at 13, and Ed Howard’s stopped at seven straight with a hit. One guy that continues a big hitting streak into the Fort Wayne series is Bradlee Beesley. With a hitting streak now at seven games, Beesley continues to get into the lineup for the Cubs on a more regular basis. He was also the hero back on Tuesday night, as he had the walk-off single up the middle to propel the Cubs over the Chiefs. That was part of a comeback where South Bend trailed 4-0 in the 8th inning. Beesley’s glove is also a weapon for manager Lance Rymel to use. Beesley can play any outfield spot and also can hold his own at second base.

Joe Nahas, RHP: The South Bend Cubs starting rotation is not just five or six guys deep. One could argue that seven or eight pitchers could belong in the rotation to start games, but tough decisions have to be made. Joe Nahas will get an opportunity this week, however, to make his first start. That’s after Nahas worked his best outing of the season this past week against the Chiefs. On Wednesday morning, Kohl Franklin started things for the Cubs and went the first two innings. In some serious long relief, Nahas was the first man out of the bullpen and he guided the Cubs to victory. In six innings of one run baseball, Nahas struck out seven Peoria hitters and only walked two. The six innings were a season high, but all appearances on the season for Nahas have been four innings or more. The Cubs have some reliable guys in the bullpen who have turned into inning eaters. Let’s see if that can continue this week against Fort Wayne.

Kohl Franklin, RHP: As he is still fully building strength in his right arm to go deeper into games, Kohl Franklin is slowly but surely getting more quality out of his outings on a weekly basis. In his last two times pitching at Four Winds Field, Franklin has gone a combined four innings, while giving up just one earned run and pairing that with five strikeouts. Franklin’s stuff is powerful. He can also get some revenge on the TinCaps, who handed Franklin his shortest start of the season back on April 16 in 0.2 innings. He’ll look to get the series started with a bang on Tuesday night.


Tuesday, May 10 - 7:05 PM ET: RHP Kohl Franklin vs RHP Ryan Bergert

Wednesday, May 11 - 7:05 PM ET: RHP Manuel Espinoza vs LHP Jackson Wolf

Thursday, May 12 - 7:05 PM ET: RHP Daniel Palencia vs LHP Noel Vela

Friday, May 13 - 7:05 PM ET: LHP Jordan Wicks vs RHP Efraín Contreras

Saturday, May 14 - 4:05 PM ET: LHP DJ Herz vs LHP Danny Denz

Sunday, May 15 - 2:05 PM ET: RHP Joe Nahas vs LHP Robert Gasser

Catch the entire six-game series in South Bend on Sports Radio 960 AM WSBT, online at, or on with Brendan King and Max Thoma on the call.