Ezequiel Pagan – Picture by Todd Johnson
When the Cubs announced that Ezequiel Pagan was named their hitter of the month for June, a lot of heads turned because they didn’t really know that much about him. The current Myrtle Beach Pelican is having a heck of a year and has been hitting very well since 2019. The issue, for him, is having a team to play. With the bat producing the way it currently is, that’s become quite easier and I expect to see him in South Bend before too long as I’ve been calling for his promotion since the middle of June.
The first thing most people notice about Pagán is his size. He is not a physical specimen that the Cubs have been known to take. However, once the bat hits the ball, most people are beginning to forget about that.
For a long time, the Cubs were kind of stuck in this mode of we must have this type of hitter that fits in this box. It’s been nice to see the last couple years guys like Pagán and Darius Hill just hit and get on base. They are now being valued more in the organization.
The Cubs drafted Pagán in the 13th round of the 2018 draft. He grew up in Puerto Rico and went to the Puerto Rico ProBaseball Academy and was only 17 when the Cubs took him. He spent that summer in Mesa hitting just . 217 and learning how to adapt to a different level of competition than what he saw in Puerto Rico.
In 2019, it was no surprise that Pagan was back in Mesa where he did much better. This time he hait. 283 with a. 357 onbase percentage. Those are very good numbers and he was also productive driving in 28 runs in 50 games. He did have one home run, and that was probably going to be about the norm, or so we thought.
The pandemic messed with everything including Pagán’s developmental path. When the 2021 season began, I saw him in Beloit for a couple of games before he was sent back down during that rash of injuries and Covid cases. He wound up going to Myrtle Beach for a while and then went back to Mesa and tore the cover off the ball hitting .336 but more importantly he also showed he had some power. It does it look like he put on about 10 pounds of weight during the pandemic. He came up to Myrtle Beach for a while and then was sent back down and then came back up. I bet he felt like a yo-yo.
He began this year with Myrtle Beach and things did not go very well in April. He was pretty much a back up. Things changed greatly for him when an injury to another outfielder resulted in him getting more playing time. Then, Pete Crow Armstrong got bumped to South Bend. And he’s been in the lineup almost every day since.
Since then he’s been encendido.
For May 1 to July 9, he hit .339 with a .418 OBP while slugging .532 with a 167 wRC+. In other words, he’s been on. WHat I like is that he’s been pretty consistent during this run. He doesn’t have a lot of games where he goes 0-4, he tends to show up, hit, and get on base on a regular basis.
What I am digging most is that he went from the skinny kid at 6-foot-1 and 165 to close to 180, maybe 185 and the power has improved. He has seven HRs this year and we are just past the halfway point.
I am looking forward to seeing him playing with South Bend, again, very soon.