Matt Mervis – Picture by Todd Johnson

In the last week and a half, we’ve seen a bevy of prospect lists. There were two more this week as MLB Pipeline and the Marquee Sports Network both put out top Cubs lists. And there were a lot of differences between the two as well as Baseball America’s which came out the week before. 

I’m interested to see what Prospects Live’s Cub list will look like this fall. I doubt if they do one anytime soon as they would just turn around and redo it in November or December. The same is probably true for FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.

Pictures of the Week

Surprises of the Year

This has been a year full of surprises. None have been bigger than the stories of Matt Mervis and Jake Slaughter who both reworked their swings and approaches and they had outstanding years. The fact that they keep producing a Double-A and Triple-A is a testament that the results you’re seeing are real. I am more surprised by Mervis hitting for average than I am for Slaughter. Jake had shown some penchant for hitting back in Eugene in 2019. Mervis had really only shown the potential for power last year at Myrtle Beach.

When it comes to starting with starting pitching, Javier Assad has been a pleasant surprise this year. We started seeing this coming at Tennessee. We saw the increased velocity that people wondered if it was still for real. There was a thought he would get exposed at Triple-A and he’s only pitched  better. He’s probably worked himself into a 40-man spot as the Cubs can’t afford to lose any starting pitchers who are doing well at Triple-A. He is a minor-league free agent this year and the only way the Cubs can probably keep him is to give him a 40-man spot or a rather large successor contract.

Two other mild surprises when it comes to starting pitching are Luis Devers and Porter Hodge. I thought they would both break out this year but not to the extent where they’re dominating two levels of class A. It’s almost as if every start improves upon the last one. Right now, they could find a way to Tennessee to start next year or they might be right back in South Bend. How much they continue to grow and improve over the winter is unknown. Hodge will probably work on improving his lower half and add some more muscle in his gluteus maximus, calves, and thighs. As for Devers, he could add muscle everywhere. They don’t need to add that much as I think it might take away from their athleticism on the mound.

When it comes to surprises for relievers, I don’t really know if there is anyone that we didn’t foresee coming. The biggest surprise to me is actually the Cubs are rewarding dominance in the relief corps. The fact that Jeremiah Estrada has gone from South Bend to Tennessee to Iowa in the span of 2 1/2 months has been fun to watch and cool for other guys to see that if they can produce and dominate, they will be rewarded. 

Once he get healthy and back in the swing of things, Zac Leigh got his promotion to AA. He doesn’t seem fazed by it either.

When it comes to surprises next year, I don’t think you need to look any further than the draft class the Cubs just took this July. I think we’re going to see a few guys from that collection break out. Ke’Shun Collier looks to be fun as he debuted this week and Haydn McGeary also had a good week in Mesa. More about them will come in today’s Rookie League Recap at noon.

Play of the Week

PCA just wowing us at every opportunity.

Coming Up This Week on North Side Bound

The usual things will be happening – The Breakdown, Draft Pick Profiles, and Transactions. One of the more exciting things that could and probably should happen will be Wednesday Transactions. Say what?!?!? Well, on Tuesday night, the Arizona Complex League concludes its regular season. The next day, Wednesday, should see a few of these players head up to Myrtle Beach to get a head start for 2023. We might see ACL regulars like Cristian Hernandez, Pedro Ramirez, and Christian More head east along with some draft picks such as Haydn McGeary, Ke’Shun Collier, Andy Garriola, and Christopher Paciolla. That should be exciting!.

Jam of the Week

Yeah, early 70s Elton John will probably be remembered more for his pop songs. But he also rocked with albums chocked full of great music and “Madman Across the Water” was one of my favorites.