There’s nothing quite like the doldrums of winter and the middle of January. In about another week we will reach the halfway point of the season and there’s still a lot of things left to take place. There are several prospect lists that have yet to come out and there are two big events happening next weekend. The Cubs convention will take place on Friday night and Saturday and then the international free agency signing for 2023 begins next Sunday.
I will be live blogging both events throughout the day. That means that there will be no “Weekly” next Sunday. That day is going to be all about international free agency.
Strangely, the Marquee Sports Network has been pretty silent about how they will be covering the convention next weekend. Hopefully, the Cubs’ own network will be covering the Cubs’ own convention. I have tweeted at them a couple of times and no response has come from my queries.
In the meantime, there was plenty of stuff happening this week.
Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register talked with Jared Banner, the Cubs Director of Player Development, about 5 possible Iowa Cubs and the Cubs’ plans for each this winter and spring..
Here is a brief sentence on each player.
On Brennen Davis – “He’s feeling healthy. He’s been spending a lot of time at our complex this offseason with our staff. I think he’ll be in a great place physically when camp starts.”
On Alexander Canario – “The doctors are pleased with where he is. So, he’s going to have a little bit of a longer road back, but so far so good.”
On Matt Mervis – “I think the key is for him to show up to camp with something to prove all over again,”
On Miguel Amaya – “We expect Amaya to be a full go at the start of camp. I don’t know what the specific timeline is, but he should be healthy.”
On Caleb Kilian – “I just think the main focus with Caleb is just getting his delivery back to a place where it’s been in the past where he’s commanding his pitches at an elite level and using his lower half well,”
All of these items/updates were good to hear. While Canario is not going to be ready for spring training, it is good to know his recovery is going well. In addition, that Kilian news is intriguing because if 2021 Caleb Kilian returns, that would be pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good for the Cubs.
Yesterday, Banner was on 670 The Score’s Inside the Clubhouse and I transcribed most of that interview for you on NSB.
Porter Hodge Publicity
Former Tribune correspondent Mark Gonzalez wrote an article on Porter Hodge yesterday for Baseball America that I loved! In it, Gonzalez talked to Porter and South Bend pitching coach Tony Cougoule about Porter’s transformation and pitch selection. Great stuff! I love this love this note from Tony about how the slider plays with Porter’s fastball: “Guys aren’t used to that movement, and his velocity is up to 98 (mph). He’s very comfortable throwing in the 93-96 range, which is plus velo with the secondary offerings he has.”
*Alfonso Rivas was officially released this week. He could be headed overseas, Rivas became expendable simply because he lacked power. He could always hit, but his ability to drive the ball over the fence was not his calling card.
*Relief pitcher Erich Uelmen was traded to the Phillies for cash considerations.
*Pitcher Brad Wieck was re-signed to a MiLB deal and assigned to Iowa
*Catcher PJ Higgins has been outrighted to Iowa. That’s good for catching depth there,
*In addition, the Cubs signed veteran backup Dom Nunez to a minor-league deal. He was signed to provide some depth for the major league squad at Iowa in case of injury.
Cards of the Week
I went with some late model templates this week, all with Luis Devers via the South Bend Cubs.
Tweet of the Week
North Side Bound put out a tweet this week about which prospect has a lot of talent but has not been getting any hype. The tweet got a lot of responses with a lot of different players; some of the responses were a bit head scratching and others were fun to discuss. Not sure I agree with many of the responses except for the one guy that picked Luis Verdugo. ; )
MLB Pipeline Article
What would a “Weekly” be without a MLB Pipeline article. This week, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo put out an article about which prospects they think will breakout in 2023. They picked #1 Draft Pick Cade Horton. They said:
The best college pitcher in the 2022 Draft, Horton missed all of 2021 following Tommy John surgery but came on late in the spring to push Oklahoma to a second-place finish at the College World Series. He reached 98 mph with his fastball and 90 mph with his wipeout slider at the CWS, and he could move quickly after making his pro debut this year.
Yesterday, I wrote about some possible names of guys who could possible breakout next year in the system and it’s a big list.
Video of the Week
The Cubs continued their prospect hype machine and James Triantos gets the star treatment this week. I really like this video. In a couple of weeks, he will be featured in the “5 Series” where I talk about some things I’m looking forward to seeing him do in 2023. Keep an eye out for that.
Coming Up On Next Week North Side Bound.
On Monday, I will be back with a look at the top Left-Handed Starting Pitchers in the system in the Position Breakdown Series. On Tuesday, Cubs on Deck will drop Episode #5 and on Wednesday I will take a sneak peek at the Pelicans’ starting rotation. And Friday will see Sheldon Reed examined in the 5 Series.
Album of the Week
Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator) is a classic album from the 1990s. As a connoisseur of acoustic music, this is right in my wheelhouse. To me, there’s nothing better than a couple of people sitting around playing guitar and singing songs. On Time, Welch and husband David Rawlings spin several tales of life in the South and this record soon became a classic for a new generation of musicians who played bluegrass and Americana music. Check out the playlist including my favorite, the beautiful, “Everything Is Free.” Then again, the title track is also amazing!