The Chicago Cubs announced their organizational pitcher and player of the month recipients in the organization for April, and it was an unsurprising duo.
Actually, perhaps there was a slight surprise that Kris Bryant didn’t get the player of the month nod, but you really can’t argue too much with the selection. The honor went to catcher Will Remillard, who pretty much did at Low-A what Bryant did at AA. Before the award was announced, I had a Remillard tab open in my browser, because he was going to get a write-up in one of these things this week. The award is just the icing on the cake of his .394/.474/.561 cake.
Remillard, 21, was drafted by the Cubs last year as a redshirt sophomore in the 19th round (meaning he had plenty of leverage), and initially it looked like the Cubs wouldn’t be able to sign him. He played well in the Cape Cod league immediately after the draft, and the Cubs upped their bonus offer ($150,000) to get him signed. The best thing about his surprising offensive start? It sounds like he has been viewed as a glove-first catching prospect:
Scout says Will Remillard's a legit prospect, can really catch. Production with bat in April was a surprise, so let's see if he keeps it up.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) May 7, 2014
Some quick caveats on Remillard: he’s a college bat tearing up Low-A, which is obviously something we’ve seen before from plenty of players who turned out to be non-prospects. He’s also currently sporting a .439 BABIP, which is going to come down. All of this has occurred, by the way, in just 78 plate appearances. Sample size warnings abound.
Some howevers to the howevers, though: he’s got a matching 10.3% K rate and BB rate, which means he’s clearly having good at bats, not just getting lucky. Further, the .167 ISO in a pitcher-friendly league is also a nice and potentially legit indicator. It’s super early, but, especially given the fact that he can really catch, Remillard is a dude to watch.
The pitcher of the month should be no surprise to you if you’ve been paying attention around here: it’s Tsuyoshi Wada, the 33-year-old Japanese lefty with a particularly interesting story, and who has been destroying the PCL. Even after his recent “bad” start, he’s got a 1.21 ERA over 37.1 innings, striking out 38 and walking just 6.
It seems a fair bet that Wada’s got an opt-out date in his minor league contract coming at some point, so the Cubs might soon have to make a decision on whether they think his AAA dominance (remember, he’s never pitched in the big leagues, despite his age, because he came over from Japan as a free agent, and then immediately had Tommy John surgery) will translate to big league decence (which is not a word, but should be).