Kevin Alcantara – Picture by Todd Johnson
It’s only been a week since Tennessee, South Bend, and Myrtle Beach began their seasons, and it’s been a full two weeks for Iowa. And in that short amount of time, there are still a lot of things that we can take note of that can either hint at bigger things to come, or a warning for the future.
Here are some things I’ve been thinking about regarding those two constructs.
1. The Hits Part 1
It’s still pretty early and I am a long way from attaching a grade to last year‘s draft class. But there’s been several things I’ve seen that I really like. I have the power potential of both Andy Garriola and Haydn McGeary is tremendous. Whether they can hit for average at their respective levels is something that’s going to be seen shortly.
2. The Misses Part 1
Of the 15 pitchers the Cubs took in last year’s draft, five of them are on the shelf with Shane Marshall, Nazier Mule, and Will Frisch are likely done for the year. That JP wheat is already throwing is a good thing, but he’s a long ways away. I’m not quite sure on the specific injury for Garrett Brown. We’re just going to have to wait and see how that goes.
3. The Hits Part 2
The three big college arms the Cubs took on day one and day two of the draft last year look to be pretty good. I got to see Brandon Birdsell on Sunday in Davenport. After a horrible bullpen session, he got it together, and I was really surprised at how deceptive his short arm delivery is. He hides the ball really well which makes it hard for the hitter to pick up. In addition, Connor Noland looked very good and very polished in his debut on Tuesday night against Beloit. That left Cade Horton to view on Wednesday for Myrtle Beach.
4. The Hits Part 3
It’s clear the Iowa Cubs lineup is the most potent line up in the system with Matt Mervis, Christopher Morel, Darius Hill, and Brennen Davis. It’s becoming quite evident that Morel and Mervis are not going to be long for Iowa. At some point in the next six weeks, they could and should find their way to Chicago.
5. The Misses Part 2
Usually the first month of the year in the Midwest League is a bit of a struggle to hit in the cold environment. Luckily, it’s been warm with temps above 70 for almost every game so far. That makes it seem a little strange that South Bend has been struggling to put runs on the board (until last night), even though they swept Quad Cities. That was more about the pitching dominating than the bats doing what they needed to do. Heading in to last nights game, only Fabian Pertuz had hit a home run and Kevin Alcântara looked to be scuffling a little bit at the plate and needs to just relax and everything will fall in line.
6. The Misses Part 3
The Myrtle Beach team already reminds me of the 2021 team that really struggled in the first half of the season. Last year in Mesa, there weren’t really a lot of superstar performances turned in, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not talent there. It just needs to blossom. Hopefully Buddy Bailey can do that in the first half and have a team they can come out and play really well in the second half. Right now it’s unclear who this team is going to be especially on the hitting side of things. I love Hernandez and Ballesteros and Chavers and Franklin, but we’ll see who else is going to step up and take charge over the next 2 to 3 months.
7. IL Stints
When Zac Leigh and DJ Herz come back here shortly, it will be interesting to see just exactly what the role is going to be going forward. Both of them will probably be at Tennessee, but there’s a few other guys like Ed Howard who we still need more information on.
8. Hits and Misses Summation
April is such a funky month because guys are getting back in the swing of things at the plate and getting stretched out on the mound. Sometimes it takes a month or two for things to click. Some guys are just naturally slow starters, while other players seem to click from day one. I’m going to err on the side of caution when it comes to evaluating a lot of talent. It’s not that I’m giving the player the benefit of the doubt, I’m just going to be patient and let the players figure some things out over the next couple of weeks.
We shall see who steps up this weekend!