Max Bain – Picture by Todd Johnson
Now that Max Bain has been promoted to AA Tennessee, that is going to put him a couple of throws away from Chicago and it’s also going to change how he goes about his daily job.
2021 was Max Bain‘s first full year as a professional baseball player. He was signed the year before and then became a media sensation in part due to some videos that he posted on Twitter of him increasing his velocity. Going from playing D2 baseball in college to High-A was quite the jump in competition for Bain, who had originally been slated to start the year at Myrtle Beach but injuries forced the Cubs to hand him to move him up to South Bend.
Almost immediately, you could see that there was something there that needed refining. You could see some pitchability to what he was throwing but he was also struggling to adjust to the advanced level of competition in May and June.
In July, the Cubs took Bain aside and rebuilt him. He basically became a fastball, curveball, and changeup guy for the last seven or eight weeks of the season and it worked out really well as he was the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month in August and he really began to show serious command of his pitches and that his new combination of pitches was really working for him.
Heading into the 2022 season, Bain worked on a slider most of the winter as well as putting on more muscle. A minor injury in spring training set him back couple weeks so he wasn’t fully stretched out to begin the season. That resulted in him taking a piggyback role start the year.
After a rough first inning to start the year, he was lights out afterwards. Heading into his promotion, he had a 2.84 ERA and everything seemed to be clicking. When I talked to him in Davenport two weeks ago, he was really focused just on pitching. He felt he could really can compete at this level now and that he could make minor adjustments to what he was throwing rather than struggling to compete and to make major adjustments, which he did in 2021.
Before he made his first appearance for Tennessee, I was looking for him to be the best Max Bain he can be. When Bain is at his best he’s not really striking out a lot of guys, he’s getting them to get themselves out. He’s being efficient and throwing 14 or 15 pitches an inning and going deep into the game. That’s when he just attacks the strike zone with confidence.
Unfortunately, that did not happen in his debut.
He pitched fine. Not great, but fine.
At the end of the day, the box score looked OK as he went 4 innings, gave up 2 runs, and struck out 3. But if you dig a little deeper, you see the 4 walks in 4 frames. You see the homer. But you only see the two runs.
While he did struggle to hit his spots, he pitched around his trouble – the walks. The fact that he had 7 base runners in 4 innings with one HR and only gave up two runs is a satisfactory outing. It is not great, it is not stat-worthy, but he got by and sometimes you have to get by as a pitcher and Bain did.
I’m excited to see him go at it again tonight and to see more of how his slider works at this next level. The curve looked good but both pale in comparison to the devil changeup that fades down and to the right, his arm side. In other words, it slays. Throw that some more.