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2021 Season Review

October 6, 2021 - International League (IL) - Iowa Cubs News Release

DES MOINES, IA - After not playing a single game in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, getting to play baseball again at Principal Park in 2021 was meaningful for everybody involved with the Iowa Cubs' season.

Iowa finished the regular season in last place of the Triple-A East Midwest division, 22.5 games below the first-place Toledo Mud Hens. The I-Cubs finished with a record of 51 wins and 78 losses, tied with the 1992 team for the second-lowest number of wins in any season, one more win than the 2018 I-Cubs.

Although the record may not have been what they wanted, Iowa succeeded in their main role, which is preparing players to play in the majors with the Chicago Cubs.

Thirty-seven players suited up for both Iowa and Chicago, including major league rehabbers Adbert Alzolay, David Bote, Willson Contreras, Matt Duffy, Jason Heyward, Nico Hoerner, Jonathan Holder, Dillon Maples, Jake Marisnick, Trevor Megill, Shelby Miller, Alec Mills, Austin Romine, Justin Steele, Rowan Wick and Trevor Williams.

Fourteen players went through Iowa to make their major league debuts with Chicago - pitchers Cory Abbott, Scott Effross, Trevor Megill, Tommy Nance, Manuel Rodriguez, Michael Rucker and Keegan Thompson.

Infielders Trent Giambrone and Alfonso Rivas, outfielder Greg Deichmann and catchers Erick Castillo, Taylor Gushue, P.J. Higgins and Tyler Payne all made their debuts this year after playing for Iowa.

At 30 years old, Nance finally made it to the big leagues and did not allow an earned run with the Cubs over his first 12 games. In those 11.1 innings, he surrendered just two hits and six walks while striking out 13 batters, holding his opponents to a batting average of just .057 against him.

Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega, Sergio Alcántara and Frank Schwindel had already made their Major League debuts before playing for Chicago, but had a much greater impact this year with Cubs than previously in their careers.

With Iowa, the four totaled 58 games, while combining to play in 354 games with Chicago. In 106 games, Wisdom hit .231 (78-for-338) with 13 doubles, 28 home runs and 61 runs batted in. His 28 long balls led all National League rookies and broke a Cubs' rookie record of 26 home runs set by Kris Bryant back in 2015.

Ortega hit .291 in 103 games with Chicago, leading the active roster with 12 stolen bases. Alcántara hit .205 in 89 games and in 56 games, Schwindel hit .342 with 19 doubles and 13 home runs.

His 19 doubles were good for second on the Cubs' active roster, behind Ian Happ and Contreras, both with 20. The first baseman won rookie of the month in both August and September, hitting a combined .344 with an OPS of 1.006. Over the two months, he clubbed 13 home runs and drove in 40 runs.

Iowa saw records in both total players and transactions in the 2021 season, seeing 99 different players with 249 total transactions. Through all of that movement on the roster, just two of those 99 players stayed on Iowa's roster from Opening Day on May 4 to the I-Cubs final game on October 3.

Those two players were infielder Abiatal Avelino and outfielder Ian Miller. The two tied for the team lead, each playing in 106 games with Iowa. Avelino led the team in hits (101), doubles (18) and was second in stolen bases (16) while Miller led the I-Cubs in triples (4) and stolen bases (20). He finished the season second on the team in hits, just five behind Avelino with 96.

Avelino's 43 walks marked a career high, 11 more walks than his previous high of 32 set back in 2015. He led the team with 31 multi-hit games followed by Miller with 25 multi-hit efforts.

The roster was full of young talent coming up through the system, including top prospects Brennen Davis and Christopher Morel. Davis and Morel were among the 40 players to make their Triple-A debut with the I-Cubs this season.

Iowa's pitching staff had an up-and-down season. As a staff, they allowed the most home runs in the Triple-A East this year, with 203, just nine shy of the Reno Aces for the most allowed in all of Triple-A.

203 home runs allowed set a franchise record, 12 more than Iowa's previous high of 191 set in 2019. Another franchise record the staff set this year was hit batters, with 85, surpassing the record of 70 set back in 2009.

On the other side of the coin, they threw two combined no-hitters; a nine-inning no-hitter on May 9 and a seven-inning combined no-hitter on July 11. The nine-inning no-hitter was the first since May 7, 2014, and the seven-inning no-hitter was the first for an Iowa pitching staff since June 14, 1976.

Cory Abbott finished the season ranked second in all of Triple-A with 130 strikeouts, seven behind the top-spot in 41.0 less innings pitched.

After a 2020 season in which the I-Cubs didn't play a single game, Principal Park saw just over 300,000 fans throughout the course of the 2021 season. This put the park's all-time total just under 14 million and Iowa's 52-season total just under 18.5 million.

The Iowa Cubs' 2022 season begins on April 5 in Buffalo, with the home schedule slated to kick off on April 12 vs. Toledo. Season tickets are available by calling 515-243-6111, visiting or at the Principal Park front office.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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