Feature photo of Max Bain by Rich Biesterfeld (@biest22)
So here’s the thing about Max Bain… there’s a reason why you’ll find me constantly saying, “I would never bet against this kid.”
I was originally going to tweet this out and then the thread became too long and I thought, well this is why I have a blog. So let’s get some thoughts out in writing about Max on the day he was promoted up to Double-A Tennessee.
We often find ourselves referencing Bain’s “great story” that led him from being an undrafted D2 guy who took it upon himself to remake his body and buy into Driveline development strategies all the way to a pitcher in the Chicago Cubs organization. It’s commonplace for people to acknowledge his incredible ability to connect to fans, whether that be through his super-accessible social media or his entertaining offseason podcast.
But I worry that lost in the mix of all the feel-good stories and “easy to root for” qualities is the fact that Max Bain has worked his ass off to become a damn good pitcher.
His 2021 results on the mound were less than ideal (5.52 ERA, 1.48 WHIP). But what you don’t get by reading his box scores is the fact that he stayed healthy the entire season long. The righty made every start he was scheduled to make, outside of a quick (and wildly productive) trip to the Development List. He spent the entire season making adjustments. He grew accustomed to the life of an MLB-affiliated team. He tweaked his windup. He altered his pitch uses nearly every month or so.
And what has all that work during last season and over the winter months turned into?
Bain was re-assigned to High-A South Bend to begin the year and has absolutely shoved. Working as a piggybacker for a few games and a starter for a couple, he’s pitched himself to a 2.84 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. In addition, his underlying numbers are brilliant, too. Opponents are hitting just .127 off the 24-year-old with a comically low .511 OPS.
The velocity is holding true in the mid-90s and he’s got a couple secondary offerings that are not only flashing like there’s something there, he is using them consistently to generate swings-and-misses.
Not bad for an undrafted D2 guy. Not bad for a top prospect.
So while I implore you to never stop referring to Max Bain as the feel-good story that has made himself into a fan favorite, keep in mind that you’re not being a homer if you say you believe he is a future Big Leaguer.