Catching (as in watching not actually catching) minor league batting practice was probably my favorite part about my visit to Spring Training.
It’s one thing to see your favorite prospects in a game (obviously that can be very exciting), but it’s a bit more interesting to me getting to see them take rep after rep at the plate.
For example, I stood just a few feet away from Dan Vogelbach as he crushed pitch after pitch, showing off some of the prodigious power we’ve been hearing about for years. I didn’t expect it to be nearly as interesting as it was, but I’m glad I walked over to the back fields.
- Yesterday, four Cubs Minor League affiliates played in three games simultaneously on fields 4, 5 and 6. In the first game, Vogelbach drove in five runs with a grand slam and a bases loaded walk in Iowa’s win over Nashville, Shawon Dunston, Jr hit a two-run HR as the Smokies lost to the Rockhounds and Gleyber Torres hit an RBI single, hit an RBI double, stole two bases and scored a run in the Pelicans win over the South Bend Cubs. With an assist from John Arguello (Cubs Den), Arizona Phil has a recap of each game and the results at The Cubs Reporter.
- Gordon Wittenmyer writes about Willson Contreras as the Cubs’ catcher of the future, as he’s been impressing everyone this year in Spring Training.
- At Cubs.com, Cubs minor league catcher Taylor Davis comes in for some love from players and coaches around the Cubs system, as well as from the Cubs former Farm Director Tim Wilken. Davis, 26, has a very pronounced leg kick that Wilken once tried to remove, but found that Davis was better off when he was using it. Across stops at AA and AAA last year, Davis slashed .311/.361/.483 with just a 13.3% strike out rate. Catchers typically develop much later in their careers, so maybe there’s time for Davis yet.
- At BP Wrigleyville, Rian Watt takes a much needed look into Eddy Julio Martinez, relaying information he gleaned from the Cubs Assistant Director for International Scouting and Player Development Alex Suarez, as well as some other scouts from around baseball. The biggest take aways are EJM’s ability to play above average center field (which is a hugely important piece of the puzzle), the plan to start him out in South Bend, and how the Cubs are using the Spring to better acquaint themselves with his abilities and develop a long-term plan. His is one of my most anticipated MiLB story lines to follow in 2016.
- Billy McKinney, recovering from a hairline fracture in his knee, is finally back in action and Brett has been seeing some good things from one of the Cubs top prospects.
- Aside from Eddy Julio Martinez, Dylan Cease has the most of my attention for the upcoming minor league season. As a first round talent taken in the sixth round, Cease underwent Tommy John Surgery back in 2014. After slowly recovering and coming back last season, 2016 looks to be a big developmental year. Luckily, he already has scouts buzzing around camp:
Lotta buzz about Dylan Cease today. Command understandably not there yet but FB was 96-99 and lots of positives about the CB today. Stud.
— John Arguello (@CubsDen) March 16, 2016
- At Cubs Den, Arguello has much more on Cease, including notes on how his pitches looked, how his comeback is going and details on his at bats against Ian Happ, Donnie Dewees and Gleyber Torres:
Dylan Cease vs. Gleyber Torreshttps://t.co/KY8Wxebczj
— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) March 17, 2016
- Will Almora ever stop being awesome? Probably not.
— John Antonoff (@baseballinfocus) March 17, 2016
- And lastly, this made me smile:
— Gleyber Torres (@TorresGleyber) March 17, 2016