Christian Franklin – Picture by Todd Johnson
Every September, I look back at the season and reflect upon some storylines that probably did not get enough publicity. It could be a change in the system or a prospect’s performance. Today, though, is all about prospects that should have been written about quite a bit more than they were.
Bryce Windham put together a summer that should’ve been written about more. He hit .302, with an .802 OPS at Iowa. While Bryce does not hit for a lot of power, he does give you a good AB every trip to the plate, and even his outs are productive as he’s a very good situational hitter. He’s also a great catcher who’s athleticism shines through. What I like most about Bryce is that he is so situationally attuned to every moment in the game. He’s at that point in his career where he could head to Chicago and be a back up catcher and play once or twice a week and hold his own. We’re probably gonna hear his name a lot more next summer and, who knows, maybe in spring training, he’ll get to see a lot of action with the big league club.
Brody McCullough did well pitching at two levels this year, although he did have to do a little adjusting at South Bend. Between Myrtle Beach and South Bend, he had 108 Ks in 86.1 IPs with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. What has impressed me the most with him was seeing how hard he worked, and the attention to detail he did all summer long. Going from D2 to pro ball is no easy task as it’s a huge jump in the level of competition. His ability to adapt to to the rising competition has been amazing.
When it comes to Frankie Scalzo, there was a little bit of buzz about him, but not enough. He had a strange year because he started out in a long relief back in April. By the end of the year, he was pretty much a set up man and occasional closer. He threw 67.1 innings with65 strikeouts and a 2.27 ERA. What I find most interesting about him is that his batting average against has gotten lower and lower throughout the year. He wound up with a .205 for the year at South Bend. He did not give up a hit in his first three games at Tennessee.
The Christian Franklin that we saw in the second half of the year is the Christian Franklin that I envisioned the Cubs taking in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. He displayed power, athleticism in the field, and the ability to work an at-bat. From June 30 to the end of the season, he had .294 average with 9 home runs and 29 RBI to go along with a .440 OBP and a 180 wRC+. He has that kind of presence should be talked about a lot more.
If you want to talk about a wild and wacky season, Pedro Ramirez had it. His monthly splits for the first three months, which also included a trip to the Arizona Complex League, saw him hit under .200 twice. Starting in the last week of July, Ramirez put together a pretty solid seven week stretch that saw him hit five home runs and drive in 25 runs while hitting .349 with a .459 OBP and a wRC+ of 181. It’s been a pretty impressive almost 2 month run for someone who appeared to be lost back in May. What was most impressive about that run was that he cut his strikeout rate from over 30% down to 11.1% during that stretch.
How the Cubs handled and dealt with Parker Chavers this year is one of the big mysteries of 2023. As soon as early June, he was clearly ready for South Bend. The problem was he was not playing every day. He finally got promoted in August, but only played eight games for South Bend. But in 76 outings at Myrtle Beach, he hit 11 home runs with 54 RBI and a wRC+ of 119. Not sure what the Cubs are doing here because he’s quite clearly a very talented player that’s had some injuries. I don’t know if the Cubs were trying to protect him or if he was in Buddy Bailey’s doghouse. I don’t know. He’s now 25 years old. I am just totally confused as to what the plan is. Looks like he will start out 2024 in South Bend.