Williams Impressing, Arrieta's Curveball, Workman, Kimbrel, Arrested Prospect, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Williams Impressing, Arrieta’s Curveball, Workman, Kimbrel, Arrested Prospect, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It’s really nice to see everyone talking together about the NCAA Tournament again. I don’t care about it much, myself, but I like to follow along with the games and the conversation. It’s just fun, and it’s been missed the last two years.

•   Trevor Williams, who has himself looked mighty sexy this Spring Training, has compliments across the board for his teammates:

•   Typically we associate the non-sexual “sexy” comment with high velo and spin rates and insane breaking stuff, but hey, perfectly executed pitches for command and control can be its own kind of sexy, too, at least according to Williams. Get the outs at a rate significantly better than the rest of the league, and I’ll gladly concur. His manager has been impressed by Williams (Cubs.com): “Trevor’s looked great,” David Ross said before his great outing yesterday. “He’s identified some things and has continued to get better every time I’ve seen him out there. I’ve thought he’s thrown great.”

•   More fun from Williams:

•   Speaking of Jake Arrieta and how guys are making things work, for him it might be a whole lot more curveball deployment this year, given how impressively the pitch is working right now (he’s also still throwing his slider/cutter, as well as a more traditional slider with depth, giving him three breaking pitches to go with his sinker and changeup (he doesn’t really throw the four-seamer anymore)). Over the last few years, presumably in an attempt to acknowledge his aging and need to be a little different style, Arrieta’s sinker usage shot way up (it also aligns with his time with the Phillies, so there may have been a philosophy difference there, too). Most of that came at the expense of the four-seamer, which went away, but he also was throwing far fewer curveballs than he was with the Cubs. Maybe he lost the pitch a bit? And maybe he’s getting it back? Sure sounds like it, as well as the two versions of the slider.

•   Great read on all that went sideways for Brandon Workman last year, who’d otherwise broken out into a top-tier reliever the year before, and then just totally fell flat:

•   To be fair, if more teams believed 2020 was ENTIRELY a fluke, he would’ve been able to land more than a $1 million deal for 2021 (plus $2 million in incentives). Clearly, there were some identified mechanical issues that gave teams pause. But if the Cubs can help him work it out, he could wind up a key piece of a bullpen loaded with guys like him (i.e., low-cost, enormous upside, lotta questions types).

•   Speaking of the bullpen, I wanted to see what the after-his-appearance chatter would be about Craig Kimbrel, who looked really good yesterday (and for whom the radar at Sloan was reportedly at 97-98 mph (which would be PERFECTLY fine for him in late March)). I don’t see anything out there but people agreeing that he was really locked in yesterday. Given his trajectory last year, each appearance makes me more optimistic that he’s gonna be fine this year.

•   Kyle Hendricks, veteran leader on the pitching staff:

•   The Cubs issued an official statement on the arrest of pitching prospect Jesus Camargo, who was found with 21 pounds of meth in his team bag (Cubs.com): “We were made aware of the arrest of one of our Minor League players,” Cubs senior vice president of communications Julian Green said in a statement. “We are currently investigating the matter in coordination with Major League Baseball and will not make further comment until we gather further details.”

•   Camargo was a borderline prospect in 2019 after a solid season at High-A, and although he was a touch old for the level, there was a chance he would continue to progress from there. But then the shutdown happened in 2020, so it was already unclear how long his leash would be for 2021 (that will be the case for a lot of players in the organization, as there are now fewer teams, and with a year off, it’s not hard to imagine some guys showing up and the team knowing it’s time to move on). That is to say, even before this arrest, the future for Camargo was unclear. As it stands, even if he were somehow cleared of all charges – which seems very unlikely, given his own discussion of what happened – it’s unlikely he’s back in the Cubs’ system this year, or ever. Very sad story, and you wonder what exactly happened, including who and how a supplier of 21 pounds of meth got their hooks into him for $500. That is a life and a world I won’t pretend to know enough about.

•   Dominant stuff from the number one or two pick in the draft this year, whose teammate, Kumar Rocker, is probably gonna be the other top pick:

https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1373341812547588106

•   The Pirates have the top overall pick, so basically they just get to choose which unbelievably dominant Vanderbilt arm they want. It’s reminiscent of the year they drafted Gerrit Cole first overall, rather than UCLA teammate, Trevor Bauer, who went third to the Diamondbacks. That 2011 MLB Draft, man, it had to be the most loaded draft of the last 20 years. You may recall that Danny Hultzen went second to the Mariners, succumbing to injuries, and only eventually making his big league debut with the Cubs nearly a decade later.

•   Cubs owner Laura Ricketts talking with local leaders about female representation and empowerment in sports, in celebration of Women’s History Month:

•   RX Bars, fancy toothbrushes, outdoor tools, baby clothes, and books are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad


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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.