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2015 was the first season for the South Bend Cubs. And it was a very good year for the Cubs’ Low-A affiliate. The Midwest League franchise signed a four-year Player Development Contract with the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and changed its nickname from the Silver Hawks to the Cubs to align itself with the parent club.
The SB Cubs posted a 65-72 record which was good enough for eighth place in the East division of the Midwest League. However, the Cubs enjoyed a good second half, going 36-34 and challenging for a playoff spot before finishing in third place. Jimmy Gonzalez led a constantly changing roster that featured prospects Ryan Williams, Gleyber Torres, Ian Happ, Chesny Young, Jeffrey Baez, Kevin Encarnacion, Cael Brockmeyer, Charcer Burks, David Bote, Erick Leal, Jake Stinnett, Trevor Clifton, Jeremy Null and David Garner during the season.
Brockmeyer, Burks, James Farris, Null and Torres were all named Midwest League All-Stars, with Null Brockmeyer and Torres named as starters. Jeremy Null was designated as the starting pitcher for the East squad and after fanning the side in his only inning of work, was named the game’s MVP.
Gleyber Torres spent a majority of his season in South Bend and was named Baseball America’s Midwest League Prospect of the Year.
In the first season, the South Bend Cubs set a single-season attendance record (347,678) with a record-setting average attendance of 5,039 at Four Winds Field.
Ballpark Digest’s 2015 Team of the Year
Ballpark Digest named the South Bend Cubs its team of the year for 2015.
“The ingredients are all there: Record attendance, sellout crowds, engaged ownership and a great front office devoted to a notable fan experience” is how the well-respected publication described the SB Cubs.
The turnaround for the franchise started in 2011 when Andrew Berlin purchased the team. Joe Hart was brought in as General Manager in 2012 and Berlin focused on becoming the Class-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs last year. Ownership spent $7 million in improvements to Four Winds Field and the player facilities, including the construction of the South Bend Cubs Performance Center.
Darin Pritchett and South Bend Cubs Radio
Not only did the players excel on the field and the franchise received the recognition it deserved, the radio coverage of the South Bend Cubs was an award winner in 2015.
Darin Pritchett and WSBT AM received the Spectrum Award for Excellence in Broadcasting at the 28th annual Indiana Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet. South Bend Cubs Radio won the Best Sports Coverage for Radio Market #2.
It was the fifth IBA award for Darin Pritchett since 2005, who will return as the play-by-play voice of the South Bend Cubs in 2016.