When I ranked Bijan Rademacher at No 21 in the Top 40, I also wrote the following:
His walk rate is among the best in the system (15.5%), and I can’t argue with a guy who walks more than he strikes out (strikeout rate was just 13.9%). His .109 ISO was suspiciously weak (more on that in a second) and his 4 home runs are not the mark of a slugger. He isn’t a base clogger, but with just 7 steals last season he isn’t exactly a weapon on the base paths either. The profile adds up to a guy who hits for a decent average, gets on base a lot, and does not give away at bats, but who doesn’t have any other dimensions to his offensive game. In other words, the profile of a backup outfielder.
Here’s the problem – I’m very suspicious of that ISO. Currently, the best ISO of Rademacher’s career (limited to stops where he had at least 100 PA) came in 2014 in the Florida State League. The FSL is notorious for sapping power, not augmenting it, but Rademacher hit 10 homers and slashed .281/.363/.448 there in 2014. Compare that to his 2015 line of .261/.379/.370, and the drop in SLG sort of stands out.
I thought he should be showing more power than he did last season, but I wasn’t expecting this. Rademacher hit two more home runs last night, and has now tied his 2015 total. At the same level. In 101 fewer games. His SLG is currently .871. His OPS last season was .748. Sample size alerts apply, but it is already hard to ignore an early season uptick in power.
So, what changed? Could be health. Could be comfort level. Could be Rademacher is one of those guys who is going to bloom late. Could be a little of all of that mixed in with a healthy dose of baseball streakiness and sample size mischief.
Whatever it is, it sure is fun to watch.
- Giovanni Soto: 1 IP, 1 K. The LHP version of Soto made his Cubs debut in this game.
- Felix Pena: 2 IP, 1 BB, 3 K
- Arismendy Alcantara: 3 for 5, 3B, SB
- Willson Contreras: 1 for 3, BB
- Dan Vogelbach: 1 for 3, 2B, 2 BB
- Albert Almora: 3 for 4, SB
- Brad Markey: 5 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 4 BB, 3 K, 2 HR.
- Josh Conway: 1 IP, and nothing but 0s.
- Jacob Hannemann: 1 for 5, HR
- Bijan Rademacher: 2 for 4, 2 HR (watch below)
- Chesny Young: 1 for 3, 2 SB (he’s up to five)
- Jonathan Martinez: 6 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K
- Yasiel Balaguert: 2 for 4, HR
- Gleyber Torres: 1 for 4, HR. Normally Torres hitting his first homer (watch below – it’s an oppo shot) would be the first part of the headline, but, well, he got Rademacher’d.
- Jason Vosler: 2 for 4
- Jeffrey Baez: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
- James Norwood: 1.2 IP, 1 K. The other three pitching lines for this game are ugly and should not be viewed those with weak stomachs. You’ve been warned.
- P.J. Higgins: 2 for 4, BB
- Daniel Spingola: 3 for 5
- Andrew Ely: 3 for 4, 2B
- Ian Rice: 2 for 4
- Almora was removed from the Iowa game as part of a double switch, but so far as I can tell (as of midnight, anyway), there was injury reason for it. It is an odd move to pull one of your best hitters of the game and best defensive outfielder as a part of a double switch in a fairly close game, but that appears to be the case here. We’ll see if he’s right back in the lineup tonight.
- That Brad Markey line was not a typo. Somehow, despite allowing eight hits and four walks in just five innings, he only allowed runs on two solo homers. Ground ball pitchers can get away with games like from time to time, but only from time to time.
- Daniel Spingola has been putting up some nice early season numbers. If that keeps up, we’ll have to take a closer look at this left-handed hitting outfielder.
Gleyber Torres’ homer:
Here’s Bijan Rademacher’s second homer from the Smokies’ game, his 4th on the year: