Some notes for your minor league consumption this morning, fresh off the Monday off-day …
⇒ With Nelson Velazquez going to Triple-A Iowa, there was a theoretical spot open in the Double-A Tennessee outfield, and I know we were all hoping for this:
And Alexander Canario is now a Tennessee Smokie!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/xdkQAgC0Im
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) May 9, 2022
⇒ Canario, who just turned 22 this weekend, is already on the 40-man roster, so you definitely wanted to see him at least reach Double-A this year. He did one better by blowing out at High-A (.281/.360/.584, 166 wRC+), and forcing the promotion after just one month. Not entirely unlike Velazquez, Canario has superlative power but also strikes out a ton (for him, it’s a little less about swing-and-miss, and more about struggling to get out of it in the times when he gets down in the count). So that’s what we’ll see for him at Tennessee, most likely: a load of strikeouts early on, and then hopefully adjustment in a few weeks.
⇒ Meanwhile, this promotion chain leaves a possible spot open in the South Bend outfield rotation, and while it COULD be Pete Crow-Armstrong given his hilarious production at Low-A, it’s maybe more likely it’ll be Cole Roederer (UPDATE: Sure enough, it’s Roederer, together with several other promotions today). Remember, Roederer, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, is at Low-A Myrtle Beach on a rehab assignment. High-A South Bend is to be his actual assignment. The 2018 second rounder is just 22 and still has starting-caliber upside. I’m as eager for him to get to South Bend as I am for PCA.
⇒ Caleb Kilian is so fun to watch:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 9, 2022
Caleb Kilian so far: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 K, 2 BB.
On an inconsistent radar gun here in St. Paul (1-2 mph hot), Kilian has hit 99 mph five different times.
Only 55 pitches for Kilian. Season ERA down to 1.52.
— Alex Cohen (@voiceofcohen) May 8, 2022
⇒ LOL. Imagine if Caleb Kilian, who works with four pitches and has some of the best command in the system, were actually throwing 99 mph. That’d be just ridiculous. So, yes, the gun is definitely hot. THAT SAID, he was touching 97 mph in the fall when he was looking incredible, and it’s not like he couldn’t have a whole lot of success at 95-97 mph (that’s really, really good for his total skill set!).
⇒ Kilian is still turning it on, by the way. He has been off in a couple of his outings, and the ERA kinda hides the fact that the peripherals (26.0% K rate, 10.0% BB rate, 3.12 FIP) aren’t quite at that level. Still, it’s certainly not like those are bad numbers, and the whopping 63.5% groundball rate is going to help you out a whole lot. Kilian, who turns 25 next month and is Rule 5 eligible after the season, will very plausibly see some big league action later this year. From Sahadev Sharma: “The Cubs believe [Kilian has] gone from a command and weak contact guy to someone who has real swing-and-miss stuff and could impact the rotation later this summer. They also feel like he’s not even at his best command-wise just yet. But clearly, they’re not complaining about what he’s done so far.”
⇒ Look who’s back:
Why hello there Mr. Little. He is making his 2022 debut pic.twitter.com/6LKYMdGkOv
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) May 8, 2022
⇒ Little, a former Cubs first rounder, broke out as a reliever last year at AA/AAA, and then a stress reaction in the fall had him shut down until now. Love to see him back. The Cubs remain exceedingly flush with upper-level relief arms (which, in some ways, is damning with faint praise re the starting pitchers, but is still a good thing to have). Little, another guy who is Rule 5 eligible this fall, has a chance of pitching for the big league team at some point this year if it looks like he’s a future contributor.
⇒ James Triantos is back into rake mode if you missed that discussion yesterday.
Triantos is having himself a day so far. In game one of a doubleheader he is three for three pic.twitter.com/JDpUKs3GhF
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) May 8, 2022
⇒ Nelson Maldonado was almost out of baseball after his senior year at Florida, but then the Cubs gave him a shot:
Then the Cubs came calling. Well, his teammates did with the news the Cubs drafted him. https://t.co/oyKO0pg8l1
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) May 3, 2022
⇒ Maldonado, 25, got the bump to Triple-A a couple weeks ago, and while the results haven’t come yet (.286/.295/.357, 73 wRC+), I would bet strongly against that lasting. The guy just hits. Odds are good he’ll hit at Triple-A. Going forward, though, the question is whether he’d hit enough in the big leagues to justify a bat-only role (it’s still not even clear how regularly he can play first base). I don’t know that he’ll get a big league look this year during the season, so the Cubs are probably going to want to see just how much he hits with Iowa before making a 40-man decision on him this offseason.
⇒ Michael is a Mets fan (and a great baseball follow, by the way), so this tweet is extra poignant:
Top 2 minor league hitters under the age of 21 to start the 2022 season:
Pete Crow-Armstrong 200 wRC+
Alex Ramirez 196 wRC+
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 9, 2022
⇒ So far, the Javy Báez/Trevor Williams for PCA trade is looking pretty solid. (Williams came with an extra year of control for the Mets, by the way, but he’s currently pitching to an 8.59 ERA this year, albeit with solid peripherals.)
⇒ The South Bend Cubs pulled off the rare six-game sweep:
Oh, how sweep it is!
The first 6-game sweep of an opponent in #SBCubs history. And we got it done in shutout fashion for the final 20 innings of the series!
— SBCubs Fly The WWWWWW (@SBCubs) May 9, 2022
⇒ Siri show me a tweet that will give me the vapors:
Christian Hernandez just hit a long HR to left center in #Cubs extended spring game. Halfway up the grass berm, so estimating 430-450 feet.
— Bill Mitchell (@billazbbphotog) May 9, 2022
— Rich Biesterfeld (@biest22) May 9, 2022