Spring Training Miscellany: Seiya Suzuki Day, Cubs Get Thumped, Nick Knocks, Frazier Saves, More

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Spring Training Miscellany: Seiya Suzuki Day, Cubs Get Thumped, Nick Knocks, Frazier Saves, More

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs got stomped by the Rockies today from the jump – the Rockies didn’t even need Kris Bryant!

⇒ Alec Mills was not locating, and it was rocket after rocket. Any worries that you may or may not have already had about Mills as a starter should remain the same after today, because, as usual, these spring outings are simply not about doing everything possible to get outs. Sometimes it is about working on a specific pitch in a specific zone (even if you get wrecked). Sometimes it *IS* about pitching to a report and trying to see how your out-getting is coming along. But we don’t really know that as outsiders, so all the really matters are the past results and data, and then what the pitch data is looking like right now. So the best we could do is say, I don’t know, he left a lot of fastballs at the belt and that seems bad? But is that a worrying signal that he’ll keep doing that in April, or was that just something about the ramp-up plan today?

⇒ That is all to say, there were already reasons to be unsure about Mills as a starting pitcher, which go back to a mostly rough go of it in the role last year. The weird thing about today is that he was getting obliterated by righties, when usually, that’s his bread and butter. The reason he got killed so often last year was because lefties did so much damage. Anyway, I think the state of the pitching staff’s needs are such that Mills will probably open up “in the rotation,” but will be more like a multi-inning opener. If you can artificially limit his exposure to lefties, and if the command is reasonably good, he’ll be adequate. If he faces a lot of lefties and/or he’s missing his spots by a little bit? Well, then he gets hit hard. Such is life for a command/control guy, even one with a nice variety of pitches like Mills.

⇒ Today was Seiya Suzuki Day, and although the results gave us no time for fun (two at bats, two strikeouts looking (at pitches that were probably not strikes)), there was certainly some pageantry:

https://twitter.com/CubsZone/status/1507449485370216457

⇒ Nick Madrigal had a couple hits in the game, including this one that he really smoked to the gap:

⇒ You love to see that. Power is not going to be a part of Madrigal’s primary repertoire. Poking singles here and there is his game, but you gotta have a little thump to keep the defense and the pitchers honest (and keep those holes open for the pokes to fall in). So even just flashing this from time to time will keep the outfielders from cheating TOO much to really start crushing the BABIP.

⇒ Jason Heyward, playing center field to accommodate Suzuki, lost one in the sun, but Clint Frazier was on the spot to back up and make the play:

⇒ Frazier had another hit and another walk today, by the way, and although Spring Training can and does fool you very often, he looks really good right now. Just looks like a good player. Not sure if that makes sense, but if you watch him right now, you’ll see it. Athletic, very confident at the plate, hard swings and hard contact, all that stuff. Here’s hoping last year is truly explainable exclusively by health issues that he’s now fully over.

⇒ Ethan Roberts, who is on the 40-man, looked good once again, and the natural cutting action on his fastball (from a low release height) is just magnificent:

⇒ Ben Leeper, who is not yet on the 40-man (and was sent out to minor league camp today), followed Roberts with a dominant inning of his own. If he stays the course at Iowa, he’ll get his shot at some point this year. The stuff is too good.

⇒ Oh, and Brandon Hughes – a lefty relief prospect who has also had some nice runs of dominance – got in a nice inning work today, too. He is in that next wave of future relief arms, maybe getting a look in the second half.



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.