Three homers in yesterday’s game? Spring Training or no, three homers in a game is a HOMER PARTY!
It’s just good to see the highlights flowing again after a long (OK, actually rather short) offseason:
That was a pretty healthy blast by Tommy La Stella to kick things off. For a “contact” guy, he’s developed some sneaky pop with the Cubs, after showing virtually none with the Braves (or even at the upper levels of the minors). His .135 isolated power (ISO) with the Cubs won’t win him any Silver Sluggers, but it’s only a hair under the NL average for second basemen last year (.148).
Overall, La Stella hit .270/.357/.405 (106 wRC+) in a part-time role with the Cubs last year, and it’s not hard to see why – from a purely baseball perspective – the Cubs would be willing to do what they can to accommodate and keep him in the organization. The guy can hit.
We talked about Albert Almora’s blast yesterday, and the physical maturation process:
The last few Spring Trainings, Albert Almora Jr. has showed up to Cubs camp looking thicker and stronger than the year before. It’s the kind of maturation process you’d expect from a young man whom the Cubs drafted as a teenager, and who still won’t turn 23 until the first month of the season. It can be easy to feel like he’s been around forever and is not progressing as well as the other Cubs prospects, but Almora is – for one example – still just a little bit younger than Kris Bryant was in his rookie season.
I don’t know that I’d peg Almora as a future slugger, but I do think a little more power is coming, and will organically improve his low walk rate. Still, be patient this year. He’s young.
And then you’ve got Willson Contreras ripping a homer, as he did 12 times last year with the big league team in half of a season. It will be interesting to see if his power increase from 2016 holds going forward. It was easy not to notice, because he was so good in every other way, but Contreras did not have a huge power year in 2015 when he broke out as a prospect at AA (the .333/.413/.478 line was stellar, but note that the .145 ISO was more or less average). In 2016, however, that ISO shot up to .240 at AAA and .206 in the big leagues. He combines good bat speed with solid plate discipline, as well as good leg speed, and so there is plenty of reason to believe Contreras has become a legit and consistent power threat. We just don’t have a ton of track record yet on that front.
Heck, he could even take another step forward on that front in 2017.