One of the best parts of tracking Arizona League box scores: spotting rehab appearances that indicate a player is healthy again. Brendon Little and Eury Ramos started for the Cubs two AZL teams on Opening Day, and they’ve been joined recently in Arizona by Zack Short and Fidel Mejia. Nico Hoerner should be joining the list soon.
Once we get these players back to the full-season levels they’re intended to play at, and we get all the 2019 draft guys playing, the depth in the system is going to start to feel healthy again.
- It’s also promotion season, and we got a big taste of that yesterday when Alex Lange made his debut in Double-A Tennessee. Brett posted my initial tweet of the start in today’s Bullets, but I’ll expand a bit on what I saw in that outing. This season, Lange has seen his velocity tick back up a mile per hour or two, sitting more in the 90-92 range, touching 94. It’s made swings and misses on high fastballs a bit more prevalent. You’ll recall last year he slipped down into 88-92 for much of the season. What keeps Lange on the prospect radar is his comfort with his secondaries. The curve isn’t the devastating offering we seemed to read about pre-draft, but it’s a pitch he’ll throw anytime, including 3-1 and 3-2 counts yesterday. The change flashes above-average, and has come a long way in the Cubs organization. The keys: fastball command, which has to be more consistent, probably will need to add a fourth pitch, and needs something nastier when he gets ahead in the count.
- The player I’m most excited about this week: Kohl Franklin, the Cubs above-slot sixth-round pick from the 2018 draft. Franklin already has 13 strikeouts in just 7.2 innings with Eugene, the vast majority of which are coming on a seriously-good change-up. Franklin is tall and skinny, tops at 95 mph with pretty good glove-side fastball command, and has a fringe curveball that has a ways to go. But his change-up is devastating; perhaps the best in the entire farm system. He’s a guy that will factor into postseason prospect rankings around these parts.
#Cubs 2018 6th Rd pick Kohl Franklin, an overslot prep signing out of Oklahoma, struck out 8 batters in 4 innings last night.
Most of his success came on the back of an impressive changeup.
So, let's take a look at a minute of Franklin throwing that pitch throughout the outing. pic.twitter.com/OFF2uLB4jI
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) June 22, 2019
- It certainly sounds like third-round pick Michael McAvene will be signing with the Cubs. The expectation is he will come a bit under slot, which will then allow the Cubs to finalize their verbal agreement with Ethan Hearn. McAvene pitched twice in Omaha for the Cardinals, showing a breaking ball that’s going to be a real problem for right-handed hitters. I’d keep him in the bullpen and be ready to move him up fast.
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Louisville what a ride it’s been…I’m so grateful for the time and opportunity this amazing university has granted me these last three years. Not only that but the band of brothers I’ve been so blessed to be around these last three years. Guys I would go to hell and back for. This has been one the most memorable three years of my life and I’ve gained memories that I will remember forever. To my teammates I love you guys and I know everyone of you is destined for greatness and I will be your biggest fan. I’m excited to get the next chapter of my life rolling and I am so thankful for the Chicago Cubs giving me the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream. One chapter is closed but another begins and I’m so excited. Thank you Louisville from a proud alumni!
- A few of McAvene’s 2019 draftmates have already started to play in Arizona. It’s going to be hard for anybody to top how 25th round pick, and former Illini, Zac Taylor has started his professional career. On Friday, Taylor reached base four times, falling a home run short of the cycle. So he followed that up with home runs in his first two at-bats on Saturday. That’s certainly a blueprint on how you get yourself on a play to Eugene quickly..
- It’s hard to give much credence to numbers from the Dominican Summer League, but that’s not going to stop me from getting excited about 17-year-old Yohendrick Pinango. The Cubs gave Pinango $400,000 last summer, Ben Badler wrote about how he impressed this spring, and now he’s reached base in 16(!) consecutive games to begin his professional career. The Venezuelan is bouncing between left and right field, and is batting .369/.453/462 in 75 plate appearances, adding 8 steals in 9 attempts.
- With the NBA Draft this week, I asked former hooper Brennen Davis to draft his ideal basketball squad made up entirely of Cubs prospects. He came back with this, and I’m here for it.
I can see it. Delvin-Brennen pick and roll in that Lowry-Kawhi action, get the little switched onto Brennen, Kevonte and Hughes ready to drill in the corners, Hudson in the dunker spot. I like our odds!
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) June 21, 2019
- Really awful news from the Dominican Republic: Cubs scout Carlos Reyes was killed in a car accident on Friday. Reyes, the signing scout behind Eloy Jimenez, Arismendy Alcantara, Pedro Araujo and many others, turned 50 this past April. He pitched 558 innings in the Major Leagues, and had been with the Cubs organization for over a decade. Rest in peace.