Jeremiah Estrada – Picture by Todd Johnson

There is no doubt that making predictions about the season to come is always fun. Everybody’s optimistic and looking forward to all the games that are going to be played. However, when you look back, those predictions can look a little silly, but with the information we had at the time, we made our best guesses. Sometimes we’re wrong and sometimes we get it right. It’s always more fun when you get it right, but you never know what’s gonna happen.

This is going to be the first of a brief three-part series this week where we look back at our round table discussions we did back before the season began. Today will be the relievers post where we look at who we predicted to be the reliever of the year and also some predictions for stats.

Let’s get to it!

The Reliever of the Year

At the time we made these predictions, the Cubs were coming off of a rejuvenating year when it came to bullpen arms. Several players popped in 2021 that we thought could sustain those gains in 2022.

To begin, Greg Huss went with Brandon Hughes who would not be in Iowa and Tennessee very long. Greg was right when he said, “In my opinion, Hughes is the best lefty reliever in the system and I think he’ll put up the numbers to support that — especially at a level he’s too good for.”

With Hughes in Chicago, that left the door open for a host of relievers and I nailed my prediction of Jeremiah Estrada as Reliever of the Year.

In every category this week. it is extremely hard to pick just one player. These are good problems to have for the Cubs as it shows their depth. My preseason reliever of the year, though, is Jeremiah Estrada. After a successful 2021 campaign in Myrtle Beach, Estrada should be ready to go for 2022 and I’m pretty pumped to see it. After missing 2 and 1/2 years, Estrada rebounded last year and was just dominating in a short 30+ inning stint in Myrtle Beach. Using a changeup, a curve, and a fastball, he made mincemeat out of the Low-A East. I expect him to do the same in South Bend although I might not get to see him very much as he will probably be in Tennessee by mid-summer.

Stat Predictions

When it came to stat leaders for the year, this is where things get a little funny but we also got a few right. Then again, going off of stats guys put up 2021, who could blame us for some of our picks. If we could predict that three of the top stat leaders in 2021 would miss most of 2022, we’d be in Vegas right now.


Jimmy Nelligan gets a cookie for predicting this category correctly as he took Riley Martin who played at Myrtle Beach and South Bend this year. Jimmy said:

Someone like a Locke St. John could take this category because he’ll eat a lot of innings in relief in Iowa, but I’m going to pick a younger arm with Riley Martin. He was a multi-inning reliever for Myrtle Beach after being drafted in 2021, and I think that is his role with rotations throughout the system being bloated with talent. Martin already generates a lot of swings and misses, and if he gets 60+ innings he takes the title.

The two Gregs both went with Bailey Reid who actually had the most strikeouts in 2021 and was likely to repeat. Unfortunately, Bailey spent most of 2022 on the development list at South Bend. Me, I went with Frankie Scalzo who did strike out a lot of guys but missed a lot of time.

Lowest ERA

I got this one as Jeremiah Estrada just dominated three levels this season. I said, “I am shifting gears to Jeremiah Estrada as he is just plain nasty. He should get in a groove this year and see an ERA around 1.50. It could be a little higher or a little lower.” It was 1.30. Wow! He made me look good and prescient.

Batting Average Against

Nobody got this one. So for us to only not get 3 of the 5 categories is actually pretty good. Zac Leigh Is currently the leader at .165. Jimmy and Greg Huss went with Carraway who was very hard to get a hit off of in 2021 and Mr. Zumach went with Ben Leeper, a solid choice. Me, I took Estrada. I was close though.


Jeremiah Estrada repeated as the leader in this stat and we should’ve followed suit because none of us picked him even though I picked him to win three of the other five awards. I picked Zac Leigh while Huss went with Danis Correa, a solid choice. Even Jimmy and Zumach made sound predictions with Burl Carraway. Sometimes, things just don’t go the way you want them to. That’s just how baseball works.


I thought for sure that Frankie Scalzo was going to have a big year in his first full season in pro ball. That’s why I picked him to have the most saves. The two Gregs went with Burl Carraway while Jimmy went with Eduarniel Nunez. The actual winner was none other than Hunter Bigge who currently has 10 between South Bend and Tennessee.

On Thursday, we will put examine our hitting predictions. It’s not going to go well for us. Who could have foreseen the rise of Matt Mervis and Jake Slaughter this year? No one, probably not even them.