Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
High-A Affiliate
The Official Site of the South Bend Cubs South Bend Cubs

Ruoff Mortgage Homestand Preview - April 9-14

Cubs return home for Opening Week at Four Winds Field against Wisconsin
April 8, 2024

With the first road series of the year wrapped up in Quad Cities, the South Bend Cubs now get some home cooking in their first home series at Four Winds Field in 2024. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Midwest League affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, are set to travel into town

With the first road series of the year wrapped up in Quad Cities, the South Bend Cubs now get some home cooking in their first home series at Four Winds Field in 2024. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Midwest League affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, are set to travel into town for a six-game series.

The Cubs dropped two of three games on the road in Davenport, but played in harsh weather conditions all weekend with rain, wind, and cold weather. Saturday and Sunday, the gust was blowing in off the Mississippi River, knocking down any ball that was hit in the air.

Still, some bright spots for the Cubs included the starting pitching all weekend. Drew Gray got the Opening Day start for South Bend, pitching three scoreless innings with six strikeouts. The lefty Gray is only 20-years-old, and fixes to be a key piece in South Bend’s rotation this season.

Grant Kipp started for South Bend on Saturday night, looking sharp in four innings with two runs allowed. A returning South Bend Cub from 2023, Kipp talked during Media Day about his excitement to have added some velocity on his fastball, as well as the development of his changeup. Credit Sam Armstrong and Hunter Viets out of the bullpen as well, as they combined for four scoreless innings and struck out seven River Bandits together.

On Sunday, it was Tyler Schlaffer starting a game at a Chicago Cubs affiliate for the first time since July of 2022. The right-hander from the Chicago suburbs pitched in one game in the 2022 Midwest League Championship run before needing Tommy John Surgery. After a-year-and-a-half of grueling rehab, Schlaffer returned on Sunday to toss three shutout innings.

Wisconsin enters Four Winds Field this weekend fresh off a series win over the Peoria Chiefs. The Rattlers took two of three games away from Peoria, and a key early season West Division duel is primed and ready to go Tuesday night in Downtown South Bend.

Players to watch on Wisconsin…

Mike Boeve, INF - The former Milwaukee second-round pick and Nebraska-Omaha man, Mike Boeve, is one of the better contact hitters on an Opening Day roster in the Midwest League this season. Boeve finished last year with the Timber Rattlers, hitting .250 with 18 RBI in 19 games. The opening series against Peoria was kind to Boeve though, as he put together a 5/11 weekend in all three games, along with an RBI and a walk. He struck out only once. Boeve was a Cape Cod League All-Star in 2022, and in college baseball before being drafted at Nebraska-Omaha, he finished his final season with a strikeout rate at a minuscule 4.3 percent. Milwaukee’s number-15 prospect, writes “His ability to focus on balls in the zone helps him build a solid on-base percentage on top of the strong average, and that’s the entire foundation of his offensive profile.”

Will Rudy, RHP - A ‘Rudy’ back in South Bend. This Opening Week series at Four Winds Field has just about everything. The right-hander is scheduled to start on Thursday in what will be his Midwest League debut. The 22-year-old was the Brewers fifth-round selection in the 2022 MLB Draft out of Cal Poly Pomona, and started 18 games in his rookie campaign a year ago in the Carolina League. With a 5-3 record with the Carolina Mudcats last year, Rudy posted a 3.46 ERA in 80.2 innings thrown, along with 26 walks and 69 strikeouts. He did start one game last season against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, so he does have experience versus Cubs prospects. The start was on July 14, and his adversary on the mound was Grant Kipp. Rudy pitched six innings with only one earned run allowed, six hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. Of the current South Bend roster, five 2024 South Bend Cubs were in that Myrtle Beach lineup.

Dylan O’Rae, OF - At just 5’7’’ and 160 pounds, Dylan O’Rae doesn’t jump off the power page in the game, but he packs a punch. The former third-round selection of the Brewers in 2022 was drafted out of high school in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Much like former South Bend Cub Owen Caissie, O’Rae is one of few players to be drafted out of Canada. However, O’Rae plays a great center field, and hit .330 last year in 23 games at Low-A Carolina. He also posted some sharp numbers in the Arizona Complex League in 37 games, hitting .362 and walking 40 times with 23 strikeouts. He also walked more than struck out in Carolina. To start this season in Wisconsin, O’Rae has three knocks, three RBI, and three walks. He’s currently ranked as the Brewers number-21 prospect, and writes, Standing just 5-foot-7, O’Rae doesn’t have a very big strike zone, and he does pitchers no favors by not going outside of it to swing. Starting from a slightly open stance, he shows quick hands from the left side that help produce a healthy amount of contact. It would be all the makings for a true plus hitter, if he had any modicum of power.”

Players to watch on South Bend…

Brett Bateman, CF - Anytime your lead-off man gets on base nine times in a three-game series that’s a huge success. When it comes on opening weekend in harsh conditions, it’s a massive development. The scouting report on Brett Bateman coming up from Low-A Myrtle Beach was pretty simple: Good defense, quality at-bats, great contact ability, and solid base-running. We saw all of that in Quad Cities. He played a superb center field with all the crazy wind, picked up four base hits, walked five times, and stole three bases. Bateman hit .298 last year with Myrtle Beach, and after being selected in the eighth round by the Cubs out of the University of Minnesota, was playing in the Cape Cod League. Pro ball then called, and he made his Cubs organization debut. South Bend has a long history of great defensive center fielders over the last number of years. From Chris Singleton, Cole Roederer, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcántara, and now Bateman, it’s quite the ‘captain of the outfield’ fraternity at Four Winds Field.

Nick Hull, RHP - Tuesday’s opening night starter for the South Bend Cubs is a familiar name to those at Four Winds Field. One of the best right-handers South Bend had on their pitching staff last year, Nick Hull, begins his first fresh-season with the Cubs and will pitch Tuesday. Drafted by the Cubs in the seventh-round in 2022, Hull pitched at Grand Canyon for his college baseball, and hails from Edmonds, Washington. The 24-year-old was a key piece of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans rotation last season, posting a very good 4.30 ERA into 18 games and 15 starts in 2023. Batters only hit .212 in 75.1 innings against Hull in the Carolina League, and he struck out 77. Towards the back end of summer, Hull pitched in five games with South Bend, starting one, and managed a 3.24 ERA, winning two of those appearances. He walked only five men in just north of 16 innings, and batters were fooled with a .179 average against him. Hull said he was extremely happy with his off-season training regime, and has high expectations now that he feels stronger and leaner in 2024. He’ll have the chance to get started on the right foot on Opening Night.

Jonathon Long, INF - In a series where it felt impossible at times to hit in normal conditions, any ball in the air was usually knocked down by the wild wind in Quad Cities. Long still managed a pair of doubles in the game on Sunday afternoon, with one burning the head of the River Bandits left fielder, rolling all the way to the wall. Long picked up four hits on the weekend, and probably should have had five as an official scoring call did not go his way. Still, the new Cubs first baseman (splitting time there with Brian Kalmer) also drove in a run and drew one walk. Long, who was selected by the Cubs last year in the ninth-round out of Long Beach State, made headlines last season at Myrtle Beach along with Kalmer for their home run power. Kalmer rocked 10 home runs with the Pelicans, while Long blasted six in just 23 games. South Bend’s heart of the order is filled with a ton of power, and with Bateman at the top with his patience, but contact ability mixed in the rest, this can be a dangerous South Bend lineup in 2024.

Schedule and Probables…

Tuesday, April 9 - Opening Night - 7:05 PM ET: RHP Patricio Aquino vs RHP Nick Hull

Wednesday, April 10 - 7:05 PM ET: LHP Mark Manfredi vs RHP Will Sanders

Thursday, April 11 - 7:05 PM ET: RHP Will Rudy vs. RHP Sam Armstrong

Friday, April 12 - 7:05 PM ET: RHP Brett Wichrowski vs. LHP Drew Gray

Saturday, April 13 - 4:05 PM ET: RHP Alexander Cornielle vs. TBD

Sunday, April 14 - 2:05 PM ET: RHP Edwin Jimenez vs. RHP Tyler Schlaffer

You can catch opening night on television via WCIU ‘The U’ with Max Thoma and Brendan King on the call.

In South Bend, The U is seen on WMYS, Channel 69.1, XFINITY 15/194/1034, Mediacom 17/717, RTC Fiber 53/353, DISH Network 69, U-Verse 69/1069 and Quality Cablevision 69.1.

In Chicago, The U is seen on WMEU, Channel 48.1 and WCIU, Channel 26.2, XFINITY 230|360, Astound TV 35, Dish 48, Spectrum Charter 191 and U-Verse 24 and YouTube TV.

The radio call is available via Sports Radio 960 AM WSBT,, and also on MiLB.TV.