Cole Roederer had one of those season re-defining games in the South Bend Cubs 1o-4 win in Fort Wayne yesterday, collecting five hits, including two doubles, a triple and a home run. Yes, a cycle for the 19-year-old former second-round pick, the first in the history of the South Bend Cubs (and first for South Bend overall in six years).
How about the drama? He came to the plate in the 9th inning, a triple short of the cycle, and that’s when it happened:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) June 26, 2019
Frankly, that was one of the best offensive games ANY Cubs prospect has had in years. In one game, Roederer saw his average tick up 20 points, his OBP up 17, his slugging up 55 points!
Don’t look now, but Roederer’s wRC+ now sits at 106. For a teenager in that league, his progress now seems tremendous. Let’s talk about all five of his hits as an entryway into talking about his season on the whole.
First Inning — Double
Roederer attacks a first-pitch low-inside 90 mph fastball with a high fly ball double to the right-center field warning track.
The story of this hit, for me, was that Cole’s power is still developing. One day, this ball will be a home run for him. I still see a lot of projection in Roederer’s body composition, with more muscle coming that will unlock more power. Don’t be left thinking that because he has just three home runs in 49 games that his power profile is low. No, there’s still the hope of 20+ home run power, but the Cubs A-ball affiliates are simply not the places to traditionally see that blossom. Roederer has a 5.7 HR/FB% this year, a number that will go up by multiples as he ages.
Again: he’s a high school draft pick in a full season league in his first full professional year.
Third Inning — Single
On a 2-1 pitch, Roederer is thrown a low-inside fastball in a similar location to his first hit, he hits a line drive single down the right field line.
This was the best at-bat for Roederer on the night, working the count in his direction and waiting on his pitch. Roederer has a 8.7 BB% this year, and his walks have oddly come in bunches. He had a 10-game stretch in late April where he walked nine times, but now has gone eight games without a walk. When you watch him, you see a guy that sees the ball really well, picking up spin and waiting for his pitch. I think he’s going to walk more as he ages and perhaps narrows his focus on pitches he likes. He’s susceptible to the high fastball, but he hammers low stuff.
Another thing I saw on this hit: Roederer’s speed hasn’t played at this level quite like I thought it might. He has just six steals in eight attempts on the season, and a single like this would have been a double for the real plus speed guys out there. I think if we’re being realistic about Roederer’s speed from a scouting report perspective, he’d get more of an above-average grade than a plus one for me.
Fifth Inning — Double
The pitcher fails to bury a 1-1 breaking ball, hanging it in the middle of the plate. Roederer capitalizes, lining the ball into the RF corner.
This one fit right into Roederer’s season-long batted ball profile. Cole is a pretty extreme pull hitter at his young age, hitting the ball to right 51.1% of the time on the season. Teams do shift some against him now, but that will only increase as he moves up the ladder. You wonder if his .326 BABIP is a number he’ll be able to replicate as the shifting increases. However, his line drive percentage, aided by this double, is a really healthy 20.9%. Roederer’s average exit velocity has to be well above average for a Cubs prospect, and that’s going to help him keep his BABIP high. It will be a key number for him going forward.
Seventh Inning — Home Run
Against a hard-throwing reliever, Roederer sees a 94 mph two-seam that running to the middle of the plate, and deposits it 407 feet (at a 101 mph exit velocity) into the right-center field stands.
My first thought as I saw this ball carry deep into the Fort Wayne night: thank god it’s summer. In talking to people in Arizona this spring, there was an anticipation that the biggest challenge facing Roederer in an assignment to South Bend was going to be the weather. This is a Southern California kid through and through, and near-freezing temperatures were something he didn’t have experience with. I have been anticipating an uptick from Roederer when the temps increased, I just didn’t see it happening so significantly!
A note here: Roederer now has 21 extra-base hits on the season, and all of them are against right-handed pitching. A substantial development focus for years to come is going to be work against southpaws. That’s normal and was the case for even a guy like Anthony Rizzo once upon a time, too.
Ninth Inning — Triple
In an 0-2 count, the pitcher misses his location on a high 93 mph fastball, leaving it more belt-high, Roederer hits the base of the left field wall, ball scoots away from left fielder.
I loved that Roederer got to the cycle on an opposite field hit, which is actually his sixth extra-base hit to left field this season. The placement on his Baseball Savant spray chart (one of the black circles in the top left) wasn’t quite right, as his was a little more to left field, and it did hit the wall, so it was a little deeper than is shown. He is going to have power to all fields one day.
.@ColeRoederer had a career night on Tuesday by becoming the first South Bend Cub to hit for the cycle. @delvinzinn3 had 5 hits, @Christo66021711 had 4, and @rileythomp19 tossed 5 shutout innings! #EverybodyIn
— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs) June 26, 2019