The Prospects Joe Maddon Noticed, Red Sox Owner Walks Back Shots at Davis, and Other Bullets

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The Prospects Joe Maddon Noticed, Red Sox Owner Walks Back Shots at Davis, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I had some leftover pizza yesterday that I was really, really excited about eating for lunch. It was about two servings worth. But I was so excited that … I ate it all yesterday. So now, today, I really want more of that same pizza, but Yesterday Brett was an a-hole and didn’t save any for Today Brett.

  • One of the most fun things about Spring Training is hearing about which youngsters are surprisingly standing out to the coaches and observers who don’t usually get to see them this much. It can give you a clue as to which prospects really took a leap forward in the offseason, and/or which guys to maybe keep an extra close eye on this year. For Joe Maddon, the three prospects he mentioned by name in this piece? Starting pitchers Oscar De La Cruz and Duane Underwood, and reliever David Garner.
  • If you watched De La Cruz’s televised outing the other day, you know why he stands out – why he’s always stood out. He just looks like a big league starting pitcher, both physically, and in the way he delivers his pitches. Stay healthy, young man, and you’re a big league pitcher. As for Underwood, he’s obviously not been the guy the front office hoped they were getting when they made him one of their earliest pitching selections, but the talent is still there, and maybe it’ll finally click this year. And Garner is an interesting one, since he’s been one of the few relief-only prospects at the lower levels who was always well-liked for his stuff. The 25-year-old righty repeated at AA last year after struggling in his debut there in 2016, and pitched well enough to get a bump to AAA. He could be on the radar for the reliever shuffle at some point as soon as this season, though he’s not on the 40-man roster.
  • De La Cruz figures to start the season out at AA, if he’s healthy, and Underwood may get the bump to AAA. Each of those two, unlike Garner, are on the 40-man roster.
  • After taking some apparent shots at his former hitting coach (now current Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis), Red Sox owner John Henry walked things back a bit to the Globe: “When you watch 160 games you see certain patterns that really should not have repeated over and over again. By the time the playoffs started there were a number of factors that were going to be looked at during the offseason. I thought [hitting coach Chili Davis] and [assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez] were terrific hitting coaches and two men who did a great job for us and are great people. In 2016 we led the league in scoring runs. What changed? Dave [Dombrowski, president of baseball operations] could answer that better than I could, but the game is changing and players sometimes can stop listening. Dave thought we needed new voices in the clubhouse. We thought the whole club could improve by having a new staff, the right staff, with different ideas and philosophies that are not necessarily where the Red Sox have been over the last 15 years.”
  • We earlier discussed the Cubs taking a flyer on former top pitching prospect Danny Hultzen, and Bob Nightengale has the particulars on his deal, which could net him a little more money than a typical minor league signing:

  • Last night Michael discussed the latest study – with freaking X-rays! – that shows the baseballs are different now than they were before the 2015 All-Star break. And now, a noted sabermetrician has shared yet another piece of data that strongly indicates the baseballs, themselves, have something to do with the home run surge. That sabermetrician is … Justin Verlander? Fun:

  • Verlander’s extremely apt point is that when you remove exit velocity and launch angle from the equation, there’s STILL a surge in the home run rate. At that point, what else is left besides the ball? Because you can’t just say it’s the changing player approach or guys hitting it harder.
  • Spotted in the wild:

  • Very tough break for an old friend:

  • Wood figured to have a very real shot to earn innings with a rebuilding Detroit club after a down 2017 season. Now he’ll be on the rehab trail, and will have to really work hard to find a job in 2019 and beyond. That really sucks.
  • On a lighter note:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.