Spring Training Miscellany: The Kids Come Back, Howard’s Big Day, Maldonado’s Homer, PCA’s Great Catch, More

The outcomes of these Spring Training games matter so little, but I’ll tell you one time when they’re pretty darn fun: when the Cubs are down big (10-4), and then the youngsters come in and stage a huge comeback. A lot of it was against actually-quite-good big league reliever Josh Staumont, too! (Patrick Wisdom’s two homers didn’t hurt.)

β‡’ Ed Howard played a big part in that comeback, with a double, a two-run single, and two runs scored, including one from second base on a wild pitch:

https://twitter.com/CubsZone/status/1508213872234270729

β‡’ There aren’t too many prospects in the farm system ahead of Howard on the list of guys whose prospect stock would be the most impacted by a strong first few months of the season. Everyone seems to believe the glove is going to be plus at shortstop at the big league level … if the bat can get him there. So if the bat projects as even average, he’s instantly a top 100 prospect. It’s just that he’s got a whole lot to prove this year – in the swing decisions and the results – to convince folks he can project as an average big league bat.

β‡’ Darius Hill doesn’t get a ton of attention, but he is right on the border of being a legit outfield prospect, having hit his way to Double-A last year in what amounted to his first full pro season. Although he’s already 24, he was a consistently good hitter in college, he was near league average overall last year at Double-A, and, like I said, he didn’t have a real full pro year before 2021. I’m certainly interested to see how he looks this year.

https://twitter.com/CubsZone/status/1508214860148277253

β‡’ Speaking of guys in the upper minors who should at least be on your radar, Nelson Maldonado just hits. Hits and hits. How did he get this one out to center:

β‡’ Pete Crow-Armstrong worked a great walk in this one, scoring one of the comeback runs, but it was his contribution in the outfield that caught everyone’s eye. He has great reads and great speed:

β‡’ Kyle Hendricks started this one, and, you know the drill: he got in his work. A couple homers, and you never do like to see that, but whatever. He also did this:

β‡’ Daniel Norris followed Hendricks in his Cubs debut with a couple perfect innings. Dude works QUICKLY. Five groundouts and one strikeout. You can presume he will be in that group of pitchers that is either starting or piggybacking to open the year.

β‡’ Meanwhile, Robert Gsellman had a nightmare of a Cubs debut: homer, single, triple, wild pitch, walk, single, line out, double, pulled. “Getting in your work” and all that, but I’m sure no one wants it to go quite like that, even in Spring Training. Gsellman, a non-roster invitee, is trying to win a spot in that multi-inning group.

β‡’ Frank Schwindel returned to the lineup (back) and in an in-game interview, he made it sound like he should have plenty of time from here to ramp up for the regular season. He also more or less proclaimed that he’s the emergency catcher on the roster, so that’s cool.

β‡’ This is just a nasty pitch (and, again, Keegan Thompson just looks like a different guy this year):

β‡’ Good work:

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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