kris bryant cubsA handful of prospect news bits to catch up on …

  • Cubs pitching prospect Rob Zastryzny, who was given quite a challenge in starting out his first full professional season at High-A, left his start yesterday after being hit in the left (pitching) arm by a comebacker. Sean Kernan reports that Zastryzny went for x-rays, and it sounds like more could be known today. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, and hopefully he can also continue to adjust, as it’s been a rough start for him so far: 8.33 ERA over 27 innings, featuring 46 hits. At least he’s showing a good strikeout rate (26 in those 27 innings) and a manageable walk rate (9 in 27 innings). But, as Luke pointed out this morning, you don’t give up *that* many hits by bad luck alone – clearly teams are teeing off on Zastryzny in certain situations, and you just hope it’s tied to the process of reworking a mechanic or working on a particular pitch, to the exclusion of trying to perform well. That does happen in the minors, you know.
  • Interesting statistical aside: according to Minor League Central’s stats – pretty much the only place you can find this data – his line drive rate against is just 16%, which isn’t really all that bad. That makes me question how line drives are being classified there, but it’s certainly interesting. His BABIP against is a robust .438, so maybe there is, in fact, some bad luck going on (together with some other stuff).
  • Speaking of interesting stats, how about AA second baseman Stephen Bruno? A college draftee in 2012 (7th round, slightly overslot signing), Bruno came out of the gate hitting at Boise, and then was promoted all the way to Daytona to start the 2013 season. Unfortunately, after a hot start, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery, and missed most of the year. Even after that, the Cubs had enough confidence in him to send him to AA to start this season, and he’s still hitting: .302/.412/.469 over 114 plate appearances. At 23, Bruno is age-appropriate for the level, and you obviously love to see that kind of production out of a second baseman. His BABIP is high – .378 – but that’s actually considerably lower than it was for him the last two years, and his line drive rate (18.7%) is 16th best in the Southern League among guys with at least 100 plate appearances (57 qualifiers). So he’s making solid contact. He’s also got a decent strikeout rate, and a decent walk rate.
  • The only knocks against Bruno, I suppose, would be that his power is almost exclusively coming from doubles, which doesn’t always translate from the minors to the bigs, and he’s also getting a healthy OBP bump from 10(!) HBP already. (Then again, he’s been hit by a ton of pitches all three years, which you’d expect because low minors, but it also could be that he’s just a guy whose approach nets a lot of HBP – it’s not quite a “skill,” but there is year-to-year correlation there in league leaders.) All in all, he’s a legit prospect, about whom we’d have been hearing a whole lot more if not for the surgery last year.
  • The Cubs have released pitcher Ryan Searle from AA Tennessee. The 24-year-old righty from Australia flashed some good stuff at times, but never quite put the whole thing together with the Cubs. He could probably easily catch on with another organization if he wants to stay in the States.
  • The Cubs also sent outfielder Zeke DeVoss to Boise, in order to open up room on the roster for Jorge Soler. DeVoss, the Cubs’ 3rd rounder in 2011, has been a walking machine for the Cubs, and has good speed, but hasn’t done a whole lot else. Being sent from AA to short-season Low-A could be a transitional move, either for where he’ll be reassigned more permanently, or for a departure from the organization. DeVoss turns 24 in July.
  • Kris Bryant had three hits, including two homers, and a walk last night. He’s awesome. Here’s his second home run for your swooning needs:

  • Oh, and speaking of awesome video highlights, here’s Matt Szczur’s diving catch that sealed Chris Rusin’s no-hitter yesterday. It’s not the best catch you’ve ever seen, but consider the circumstances, man. This was the *last* out:

  • Kyle

    I don’t worry too much about hits in the minors, even exceptionally high hit totals like Zastryzny’s. The only thing is that it skews the K and BB per 9 IP ratios, because he’s facing far more batters per nine innings than other pitchers do. So his “true” K and BB rates are both probably lower.

    I think he’ll be “fine,” in the sense that he’s a second-round pick so he’s probably not very good, but no worse than I expected coming into the year.

    • SenorGato

      Nice little breakdown of Zastrzny…agreed. Also saw a comment that he was drafted as a control guy – disagree with that take. He probably threw his fair share of strikes in college but he was nothing exception in that area. Taken more because he was cheap and somewhat projectable for a college guy – more a Chris Rusin/Brooks Raley replacement (so he’s depth) than a hopeful rotation cog one day.

      • Q-Ball

        I feel like we already have a Brooks Raley/Rusin replacement in the system. His name is Eric Jokisch

        • SenorGato

          Waves upon waves is going to involve alot of mediocre prospects too

    • thrilho

      Hits in general aren’t the be all end all, due to luck factors and bad minor league fielding, but giving up a lot of XBH is cause for concern. In his last two games he’s given up 3 HR and 5 doubles in 8.2 innings.

      I’m wondering if that’s more due to a lack of stuff or bad control, leaving fat pitches over the heart of the plate. Either way, I think there’s got to be a healthy level of concern. He was projected lower than where he was taken and hasn’t shown the fastball he showed in the conference tourney.

  • Darth Ivy

    Bryant stepped into a slim jim

  • JB88

    Is it just me or does it seem like Bryant has changed his stance a bit to be more upright than he was in college?

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    Bryant’s power is so easy it’s ridiculous. No effort in that swing. Simple and absolutely beautiful.

  • Jon

    The kick to the nuts is that some of the pitchers drafted right after Zastrynzy, Ryan Eades, Trevor Williams, and Teddy Tankewicz are all having significantly better years.

    I wish we had drafted Teddy Tankeiwicz, just so I could say and type Teddy Tankeiwicz.

    • Jon


      • waittilthisyear

        i went to high school with jj stankiewicz, the former beat reporter for nortre dame football and current beat reporter for the white sox. in high school, he was a year younger than me and was the sports writer for pretty much all sports i suppose. at least football and baseball, which i played. we all hated him. not because he was a dork, mind you, i never thought there was that much of a nerd/jock hate at my school or vice versa, but because he was such a little asshole. constantly talking shit via “the wednesday journal” and “the trapeze” (prestigious papers, i know). even when we surpassed expectations, his writing was just sarcastic, unfunny joke followed by an attack on a player (something you rarely see about high schoolers, and not one that i remember on myself so this is not me being butthurt).

        tldr: i went to high school with white sox beat reporter jj stankiewicz and he sucked then, inference being that he still sucks now

  • MaxM1908

    What impresses me most about that Bryant video is that if it were anyone else, I would swear it was a flyout because it didn’t look very powerful. Reality is the guy’s power is effortless. Amazing.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Bryant’s swing reminds me a lot of Richie Sexson. Sexson was ridiculously tall, but there are a lot similarities. I just hope Bryant can make better contact than Sexson. I keep hearing the reference to Matt Holliday with that swing, but I don’t really see that. A little of Troy Glaus though.

    • waittilthisyear

      not a bad comp blackhawks, though i would submit that sexson’s was a little shorter, almost as if he had t-rex arms. gotta love the easy power that comes off bryant’s bat

    • jp3

      I said Richie Sexson a couple months ago and that wasn’t met with much jubilation. I’m completely with you, he’s not going to swing and miss as much as Sexson but I definitely do see some similarities.

    • itzscott

      Frank Howard

  • JulioZuleta

    Baez looks like he cover ground quickly in the Szczur video. Just occurred to me, one thing we, or at least I, haven’t heard this year are the people doubting Baez’s defense. Seems like the “he’s a 3B for sure” talk has really quieted down recently. Seems like he’s leaving his offensive struggles in the dugout when he takes the field, which is good.

    Also, yeah—that’s effortless power out of Bryant.

  • JWestfall

    My Chris Rusin autographed ball is gaining value!

    • Webb

      My Jorge Soler autograph is not…

  • Jon

    I’m amazed at the power Bryant gets for being so skinny. If he is going to be damned to the outfield, I say he puts on about 30 pounds of muscle.

  • JakeMac

    Anyone heard any updates on Kevin Encarnacion? I haven’t heard anything since the auto accident, and didn’t know if he had at least resumed baseball activities yet, or if that’s still a ways off.

  • Diego Javier

    “Get Some!”

  • Soda Popinski

    Keith Law just updated his top 100 draft prospects. There’s been some real shake-ups. It looks like the top three are still Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, and then there’s 3 position players (Nick Gordon @ 4) before the next pitcher. Beede is ranked at 14. He mentions in his chat that he thinks the Hoffman injury really blew up the Cubs strategy.

    • Rebuilding

      It’s sad for Hoffman as he lost a few million bucks (and really anyone who is a fan of baseball), but speaking strictly as a Cubs fan I’m surely glad this happened now and not 6 months from now

  • Paddy26

    Whatever that motion that the bullpen/announcers were doing after the Bryant home run was hilarious.

    • Funn Dave

      Yeah, wtf was that about….

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