The Importance of the Hit Lab, Longest Homers of the Year, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Importance of the Hit Lab, Longest Homers of the Year, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

To you and yours, to Michael, Luis, Eli, and Bryan, to everybody on this floating space rock: I hope you have a wonderful couple days, whatever you do or don’t celebrate. Our family celebrates Christmas, so I’ll wish you a merry one of those. But if you just want to celebrate Tuesday and Wednesday, well that’s swell, too. May they be the best Tuesday and Wednesday of your year.

We’ll probably have limited content today, and then we close up shop on Christmas day barring something EXTREMELY significant breaking. It’s the only day of the year I take completely off – which is not me flexing about the other 364 days, because the truth is I just like my job that much – and we’ll be back in the swing come Thursday.

Until then, some Bullets …

  • Here’s hoping it works, because this is one of the most important stories in the farm system for 2020:

  • Folden, under the direction of new Director of Hitting Justin Stone, is in charge of the organization’s new Hit Lab in Arizona. I’m not sure that’s what the Cubs are officially calling it, but since they already had the Pitch Lab set up there, and now they’re doing the same thing with hitters, swings, tech, etc., I think it’s a reasonable monicker. The goal is to evaluate every player in a much more comprehensive way, using video, biomechanical data, bat data, and everything else you can shove into the metaphorical machine to create more impactful, more efficient swings AND better swing decisions. It’s impossible to overstate how critical this stuff has become in player development, and how desperately the Cubs need to get it right.
  • Ultimately, even if it goes very well, we probably won’t see the fruits of this particular process at the big league level for multiple years (though it’s not as if the Cubs aren’t continuously trying to improve the way they develop players at the big league level, too). But if things are going well, I suspect we’ll see a number of prospects having surprisingly impressive seasons/improvements in 2020.
  • I think, and if you asked Bryan he would agree, the Cubs did see a higher volume of pitching prospects take noticeable steps forward last year, owing at least in part to the Pitch Lab work before the season. Remember, too: the Cubs made a huge developmental change last year, moving instructional ball from after the season to before the season (i.e., from mid-September-ish to late-January-ish). Previously, for a variety of logistical and developmental reasons, organizations believed it was best to do instructional ball (working with minor leaguers on specific adjustments, practices, etc.) after the minor league seasons ended, and then the players could go back home and work to hone those practices and skills. But … that doesn’t actually make a lot of sense, does it? Wouldn’t it be better to work on those things – assuming you could successfully identify them – just before Spring Training, so the players can take those things from the controlled environment (instructional ball) and continue working on them in a semi-controlled environment (Spring Training games) and then really deploy them right away in the regular season?
  • All that is to say: given the way the Cubs have overhauled their process and their personnel the last two years, we’re going to want to be able to sense the tangible benefits of these changes in the farm system.
  • This is fun – before you watch the video, can you guess which Cubs hitter and which Cubs pitcher (twice) show up among the longest homers of the year:

  • No big deal, I would’ve known the answer to both if you’d ask me, [brushes off shoulder, is cool].
  • Merry El Mago:

  • If you saw ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ and had a number of questions that wound up nagging at you after the immediate modestly pleasant glow wore off, this is a great (SPOILER-FILLED) read about those questions, and also how a lot of the missing context winds up coming from a book attached to the movie … which seems like a flaw in the movie, but at least it’s kinda cool that the book is out there? The book, by the way, is here, together with a bunch of other ‘Star Wars’ “visual dictionaries,” which I didn’t realize was a thing … except we HAVE two of them already, and I read them with The Little Boy. The ones we have are of the LEGO variety, and I thought they were just unique LEGO books. I think I might need to do some more ordering.
  • Yup, this is going to be good:

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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.