When the Texas Rangers decided not to renew their PDC with the Carolina League’s Myrtle Beach Pelicans after the 2014 season, the CL franchise was left looking for a new parent club. It did not take long for the Pelicans to get that new ML affiliate-in fact, they got one of the most storied franchises in ML history, the Chicago Cubs.
Yes, the same Chicago Cubs who are often referred to as the “Lovable Losers”, the same team that has the longest pennant drought in baseball today-no NL pennant since 1945, no World Series championship since 1908.
The Chicago Cubs, a truly iconic franchise, signed a 2-year PDC (through 2016) with a franchise that is based in a rather iconic city itself. Myrtle Beach gets numerous rewards for being a great family vacation destination, and baseball fans and those who flock to the “Grand Strand” for summer vacations will see future Wrigley mainstays.
The inaugural season of the Cubs at the Strand was a smashing success, as the Pelicans won the franchise’s first Mills Cup since 2000. While a slew of Cubs prospects played here, giving the Wrigley faithful hope for the future, leading the charge were a pair of former Virginia Teach Hokies, P Brad Markey and OF Mark Zagunis.
Markey, drafted in the 19th round of the 2014 draft out of VT, worked his way up to Myrtle Beack approximately a year later, and he delivered in a huge way. As a Pelican, he went 7-0 with a 1.15 ERA in 9 games (8 starts). In the Mills Cup finals, he started Game 2, and pitched 7 hitless innings. Remember this name, Cubs fans!
Earlier in the same 2014 draft, in the 3rd round, the Cubs drafted a decent bat out of VT, Zagunis. After 57 games with 3 different affiliates in ’14-during which time he batted .288 with a .420 OB%, Zagunis was assigned to Myrtle Beach for 2015, and he came through. In 115 games, Zagunis batted .271 with a .406 OB%. He finished the season in the Top 10 in the Carolina League in OB%, hits, and RBIs. MLBPipeline.com, which ranks the Top 30 prospects in each system, had him at 18th in the Cubs system entering 2015-when the 2015 minor league season ended, he shot up 9 spots to 9th place, essentially forcing himself into the radar of Cubs management!
Brad Markey. Mark Zagunis. 2 former Hokies. 2 future Cubs.