Bryce Windham = Picture by Dylan Heuer/Iowa Cubs

One of my favorite players in the Cubs’ system is Bryce Windham. The former Swiss Army knife from Old Dominion University played a variety of positions in college and came to the Cubs where he played a variety of positions early in his career. However, Windham switched to catching full time in 2022 and is having an excellent season in Iowa in 2023.

At almost every level, Bryce has pretty much hit. He did well in rookie ball, skipped low-A because of the pandemic, he hit well in South Bend, but struggled in 2022 at Tennessee where he was catching full time for the first time. There’s no surprising in that at all and no shame either.

This year he missed a little bit of time but since returning, he’s been hitting over 300 in the last month. Bryce even mention Bryce got some shout outs from Lance Brozdowski on the “Road to Wrigley” last week about how much pitchers love to throw to him. and that Bryce has a chance to be a back up catcher in the majors. He’s not gonna hit a ton of home runs, but he’s going to give you a good ABs, he’s going to handle the pitchers, he’s going to be prepared, and he’s just an outstanding athlete and defender behind the plate.

But what are the keys to the Bryce’s success as a catcher?

Being on the precipice of the majors is quite an achievement because if another catcher goes down, Bryce Wyndham could be the next man up. He has several qualities that have helped propel him to this point.

1. Athleticism.

These guys are all freaky athletes, but only the freakiest of the freakiest make it to the majors. Bryce actually had a basketball scholarship to go play guard at University of Toledo. We’ve seen him play second and third as a prospect. In college, he played an amazing centerfield for Old Dominion. He is not your ordinary catcher.

2. Baseball IQ

He’s got one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever met in my years of covering the Cubs minor league system. He’s one of my favorite guys to talk to you about basketball as well as baseball. He knows what to do in every situation and he doesn’t really have to think about it, which is odd considering That he did not play baseball full-time for most of his youth. He’s also the best base runner I’ve ever seen. I’m not talking about stealing bases, I’m talking about guys that can read the ball off the bat and know where it’s going. One time in Beloit, he was on first base and he knew the second the ball left the bat that he could score from first. And he never stopped running, and it wasn’t even close at home. It was amazing to see him make that decision in real time.

3. Basic Maturity

One thing that I was always impressed with Bryce about was that he was the ultimate professional as a minor leaguer. He would get to the ballpark and was all about getting his work in and going through the process of being a minor leaguer. That meant going over the game plan with the pitcher, getting in some batting practice in the cage and the tee as well as out on the field, and there was no time for screwing around. And he didn’t tolerate it from those who did. He also realized that one bad at bat was not the end of the world. Sure he was disappointed if it didn’t go right, but he also got over pretty quick because he knew he had a job to do as catcher and there would be another AB coming up.

4. A Quality AB Every Time

That is what you were going to get from Bryce each and every time he goes to the plate. He’s not going to be a 15 to 20 home run guy as a backstop. That’s just not physically possible. He’ll occasionally sneak one out, but for the most part, he uses the entire field to hit. He works counts, he has great pitch recognition skills, and he can drive the ball into the gaps and down each line. He’s basically a professional hitter.

5. He Can Do the Job

In 2021, Bryce did a little bit of everything because South Bend needed him to. He played third, played second, and he caught. However, it was while catching that one thing stood out and that is that he can control a running game. He caught almost 40% of guys stealing in 2021 and 30% at Double-A in 2022. 2021 was the year that minor league baseball began restricting how many times a pitcher could throw over the first and yet he was still able to get a high percentage of them stealing.

What Bryce has done has been to put himself in position to be a guy that the Cubs can call on if the need arises. That could be this year, but more than likely 2024 is a reasonable expectation. It’s pretty exciting either way. I am sure that he is mentally acute enough to know this, but to not let it overwhelm him because it’s not really his decision. Bryce is the type of guy that he’s only going to control what he can control. And he does, very well.