Cubs Prospect Notes: PCA, Martin, Strumpf, Ball, Hodge, Hernández, Davis, Draft, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: PCA, Martin, Strumpf, Ball, Hodge, Hernández, Davis, Draft, More

Chicago Cubs

There is just so much Cubs prospect stuff to get into that has piled up on me the last few days. Good stuff! For as rough as the big league season has turned (and figures to keep turning), it’s been a great couple weeks down on the farm.

Some things to note and enjoy …

⇒ We talked yesterday about how Pete Crow-Armstrong’s early performance has left some in the Cubs organization “taken aback” by just how good he’s looked. Well, he immediately followed that with another multi-hit game, including this rocket homer:

⇒ PCA is now hitting .373/.479/.610 with a 200 wRC+, a .237 ISO, and matching 12.7% walk and strikeout rates. His is the second best wRC+ in his league, behind only a guy two years older. Incredibly, he tells BA that he’s still getting himself back to full strength: “My body feels great. No little hitches, no little kinks, nothing. But I think there’s a lot of work to be done still. There’s a lot of strength to get back. For a while my swing didn’t really feel like my swing and I’m still trying to figure that out too, but I’m giving it time …. The people that have had the same surgery as I have, the people I’ve been able to talk to about it, they’ve all said you don’t’ feel like yourself for a year or so. If that’s the case, then I’m cool with that. I’m just going to continue to take it day by day. I feel great right now and I’m doing what I can with what I got.”

More in that article on how PCA trained with the Cubs when he couldn’t swing, and how he felt it set him up for success once he could. Plus bits on how infielder James Triantos corrected a little mechanical issue in his swing, and how good lefty Luke Little can look.

⇒ Speaking of Low-A players who were performing at a ridiculous clip, pitcher Riley Martin got the early-season promotion to High-A South Bend after very clearly demonstrating that Low-A was not a sensible level for the older relief prospect.

⇒ I really love Chase Strumpf’s swing:

⇒ Strumpf, the Cubs’ 2nd round pick in 2019, has gotten himself above-average by wRC+ (112), but it’s been such a weird year for him so far. It seems clear that there was a conscious effort to get him to tap into his power more (hence that beautiful lofted swing there and a fantastic .254 ISO), but his strikeout rate has *EXPLODED* even as he’s repeating Double-A (38.6%). Might just be a process of betting finding that balance, and we’ll see if he gets a look at Triple-A in the second half if he does find that balance. His last 10 games have been scorching hot overall (K rate still up there at 31.0%, though). Strumpf, 24, is Rule Five eligible after this season.

⇒ Speaking of (hopeful) power breakouts at Tennessee, Bryce Ball has absurd raw power, but he’s not yet been able to convert it into much game power. My eye says it’s because of his whippy, downward swing – I’m #NotAScout, so I could be wrong, but something has always just looked off about it to me; kinda Jason Heyward-like. Has he made some tweaks, though? This homer looks a little more naturally lofted:

⇒ Like Strumpf, Ball just got his wRC+ over 100 at Double-A, and has done so with some really funky numbers compared to his career marks. For one thing, Ball is walking just 5.5% of the time, which is wild for a guy who had historically been closer to 17.5%. He’s also cut his strikeouts to under 20% when he was previously up in the 27.5% range. My guess, therefore, is he’s being a lotttt more aggressive up there. Seems to be paying off, as the power is up slightly and the BABIP is way up. Ball, 23, was the return in the Joc Pederson trade last year, and he’s a first-base-only guy.

⇒ A name to have on your radar if it wasn’t already:

⇒ Hodge, 21, was the Cubs’ 13th rounder back in 2018, and he took a huge developmental leap last year. Looks like it is carrying forward quite well.

⇒ Cristian Hernández has such an advanced swing at such a young age – he’s playing, and homering, in extended Spring Training right now:

⇒ Stray draft bits:

⇒ Now this would have been an all-time weird sports injury:

⇒ Maybe the fish will be a turning point for Davis, who is still having an exceedingly rough go to start his season at Iowa (.194/.286/.313, 36.4% K rate). My hope is that he’s been working on some specific things on his swing/swing decisions that had led to an elevated strikeout rate as he climbed the ladder – if so, you generally find that struggles like these can be a good thing in the long-term for development. It’s worth remembering just how little pro experience Davis has overall, and that it wouldn’t at all be strange for the 22-year-old to only get a cup this year in September, rather than coming up in the summer and being a contributor. It’s possible he wouldn’t come up at all if the struggles persist, but I tend to think that won’t happen, and I also would point out that he’s gotta go on the 40-man roster by November anyway, because he’s Rule Five eligible. Thus, even if the Cubs aren’t expecting him to be an everyday big league regular to open 2023, it still might be worth bringing him up in September to get some experience against big league pitching. Lotta possible paths ahead for Davis, development isn’t linear, etc., etc.

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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.