Matt Mervis – Picture by Todd Johnson

Let’s begin today by congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Greg Huss who were wed this weekend!!!!!! It’s a pretty big deal and we here at North Side Bound are excited for them to begin their life together as they now head off to their honeymoon aboard the North Side Bound jet. Congratulations again!

Back to Baseball

The Chicago Cubs announced their two player awards for 2022. It was no shocker to see Matt Mervis get the Player of the Year and Luis Devers get the Pitcher of the Year. Both awards were pretty clear-cut and not a surprise in the slightest. Both guys probably had each award locked up in late August. North Side Bound will have our awards the week of the 24th as we have five awards to hand out..

Carter Hawkins Talks MiLB Depth

Carter Hawkins, the Cubs General Manager, appeared on 670 The Score’s “Inside the Clubhouse” this morning. While he talked mostly about the big league club and players, he did weigh in a couple of times about the MiLB system.

On the Depth of the System…

To really unpack the depth question, it’s interesting looking back at where the Cubs came from. What happened in that run leading up to 16 was that it was unheard of to have that many heralded prospects all who made significant impacts to an organization. I have not seen that outside of that one time. Everywhere else, all other 29 teams, they don’t know; they don’t know who’s going to make an impact at the major league level. No one knew that Jose Ramirez was going to be Jose Ramirez. People thought Shane Bieber was good. Did they think he was a Cy Young winner? Absolutely not. And then you can look at the Cubs and guys like Kyle Hendricks who wasn’t even on a top 30 list going into the season that he made a really large impact on the Cubs in 2014 or 2015.

So the answer is having more lotto tickets, having more depth is certainly the strength of the farm system. That’s a great strength to have rather than the alternative because you can look at all these other systems who use “top guys” that never pan out. The answer is, “Hey, let’s just develop these guys as best we can and give them as many opportunities to grow and that will put us in a really good place.

On Brennen Davis…He didn’t really talk about him much or give us too many soundbites. Very briefly, he said that Brennen’s getting some reps in the AFL after missing most of the year. He did add that Brennen would “impact MLB outfield soon.”

AFL Action

It turned out to be quite the week out in the Arizona Fall League. On Monday, Brennen Davis  had one AB and was pulled from the game. Haven’t heard about why as he had not returned to action as of yesterday. It’s concerning. Then again, if it was serious, we probably would have heard something by now.

As well, Sheldon Reed got touched up a little that day as did Riley Martin, but Bailey Horn continued his scoreless streak.

Owen Caissie went 1-for-4 on Tuesday while Matt Mervis was hitless in  3 attempts but Zac Leigh threw another scoreless frame.

The highlights of the week came on Thursday and Friday. Matt Mervis went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, and four RBI.

Owen Caissie had a 1-for-3 night and BJ Murray hit a two run homer.

Bailey Horn threw 2.2 scoreless innings but did walk three guys. Sheldon Reid had the two inning save and struck out 2. It was a good outing for him!

Mervis struck again on Friday as he went 1-for-3 with a two run jack while Riley Martin had a much improved outing as he threw 1.1 IP with 3 Ks.

On Saturday afternoon, only Zac Leigh stood out with a scoreless frame while Mervis, Caissie, and Murray went hitless. Brennen did not play again.

Fall Instructs

They came to a close this week. It seemed liked they just began but they had been there a month. We did find out why they only played four intrasquad games from Arizona Phil. When he wrote this comment, they had only played three.

The AZIL Cubs have played only three games in the last ten days, instead spending most of their time working on ocular training, situational hitting, baserunning drills, fielding practice, cut-off drills, bullpen side sessions, and “live” BP, in addition to matriculating in the Pitch Lab and the Hitting Lab.

In the two games played this week, James Triantos and Cristian Hernandez went off while Max Bain looks to have been retooled into my favorite Max Bain, “efficient Max Bain.” In both outings, he was dominant just pounding the zone. Arizona Phil was impressed with Bain, too, adding:

“Max Bain really seemed to get it together by the conclusion of instructs. It looks like the Cubs may be priming him to be one-inning high-leverage reliever, where he can combine his 95-97 FB with one or two secondaries he can throw for strikes. “

My guy, pitcher Carlos Garcia, was good too as were relievers Wilber Rodriguez and Yoendris Gonzalez, two names to watch next year at Myrtle Beach. Mason McGwire also had a good instructs!

Most of the players that participated in instructs will have a chance to earn a roster spot except in Myrtle Beach for a few players. Bain, for one, will probably be at Tennessee to start the year along with Michael McAvene. A few hitters will gravitate towards South Bend along with pitcher Nick Hull who was dominant in camp.

Pictures of the Week

Mason McGwire got in some work out in Arizona and his father was there to see it. Nice shots by Rich Biesterfeld.

Other News

There really wasn’t a lot of other news other than a couple of items from MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs.

For MLB Pipeline, their article was about a stand out stat by a player from each organization. I would’ve thought it would’ve been 119 RBI by Matt Mervis, but Pipeline went with Alexander 

Canario’s 37 home runs which is very impressive. Here’s what they said.

Cubs: 37 HR
Alexander Canario, OF (No. 9)
Though first baseman Matt Mervis led the Minors with 78 extra-base hits, 310 total bases and 119 RBI, his 36 homers weren’t the most in Chicago’s system. Canario topped him and ranked second in the Minors with 37, the most by a Cubs farmhand since Kris Bryant topped the Minors with 43 in 2014.

Meanwhile, FanGraphs now has six Cubs in their top 100. I don’t think they’re done yet as I’m pretty sure Hayden Wesneski should be included in their group. It was cool to see two top 40 prospects in PCA and Brennen Davis. Both Kevin Alcantara and Cristian Hernandez were in the 50s while James Triantos was at 91 and Owen Caissie just snuck in at 100. 

There are several other names you could make a case for and that includes a pitcher Cade Horton as well as Matt Mervis. One of the most exciting storylines this winter is seeing just exactly how many Cubs will make the top hundred lists and just exactly how other people see this organization. I’m not even sure if we see it the same way at North Side Bound.

Coming Up Next Week on North Side Bound

I always enjoy writing up the series that will come out starting on Monday. It’s going to look at what will be the top storylines in the system in 2023. I have broken it down into hitting, starting pitching, relievers, the draft, and rookie leagues. Will also have our third mail bag post and any breaking news from the AFL! Stay tuned!

Jam of the Week

From the film “Stop Making Sense.” It is such an incredible performance! Love it! The song gets taken to another level!