Cubs Prospect Notes: Howard's Injury, Sanders and Swarmer and Kilian, Outfielders Raking, Award Winners, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Howard’s Injury, Sanders and Swarmer and Kilian, Outfielders Raking, Award Winners, More

Chicago Cubs

A variety of Cubs prospecting bits to get into on your Monday minor league off-day …

⇒ The Cubs aren’t yet officially saying what last week’s evaluations of shortstop prospect Ed Howard revealed, but it still doesn’t sound good for the hip:

“There’s never good timing for an injury like that, but it’s a shame,” Hoyer said. “He worked so incredibly hard this winter. He got stronger than anyone at our camp this winter. You look at the exit velocities, he brought his strikeout rate down, he was playing his typical good defense.

“It’s a shame that his season’s going to be cut short. He’ll work really hard. His attitude has been really good, despite the fact that he’s been really bummed out about the injury. His attitude’s been good, and I think he’ll come back strong.”

⇒ It doesn’t sound good if you were hoping Howard could come back for any meaningful portion of the regular season. His wording was tricky there, but I don’t think Hoyer was saying Howard’s season is over. At least not yet, and not publicly. HOWEVER, that is now how I’m proceeded mentally. Based on the tenor of the comments, I am anticipating that Howard will not return this year.

⇒ White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who has been a big supporter of Howard’s, offers to Howard that you have no other choice but to keep going in these situations, and try to use the downtime to study the parts of your game that you can (NBC).

⇒ Cam Sanders made his Triple-A debut this weekend, and he showed out a pretty good example of what he is right now (mostly for the better, though the walks – and the control, in general – are gonna be the threshold question on whether he can start in the big leagues or if he moves into the bullpen):

⇒ Matt Swarmer followed Sanders in the Iowa rotation with yet another great outing of results:

⇒ For those who are unfamiliar, Swarmer, 28, was the Cubs’ 16th rounder back in 2016. He reached Triple-A as quickly as 2017 for a fill-in start, and then in 2019 for a more permanent stay. But that season went poorly, and then you had the pandemic year in 2020, and another stop at Triple-A in 2021 also came with bad results. He was already 27 at that point, so he wasn’t going to get a lot of prospecting attention. This year, Swarmer is finally getting results at Triple-A, but there’s not necessarily a lot of “scouting”-oriented belief that it’ll play at the big league level. There’s a lot of deception in his extreme delivery (funky leg kick, very over-the-top), and that doesn’t always translate. This would really be the first year that the Cubs would realistically think about giving him a big league look, though, so I suppose we’ll see what comes.

⇒ Staying in the rotation at Iowa:

“Once you get to Triple-A as a pitcher, so much of it is about refining your craft,” Banner said. “He has the stuff, so it’s about hitting your spots, executing game plans, things like that. And he’s done a really good job with it. He’s in great shape, great arm, knows how to pitch, does everything we ask.”

Using an approach centered around a sinker, cutter and curveball (plus a changeup still in development), Kilian has turned in a 1.57 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 12 walks in 28 2/3 innings (seven starts). It is still very early in the season, and the righty is not currently on the 40-man roster, but the big leagues are only a phone call away.

What will it take for Kilian to get to Chicago?

“Keep dominating and make it obvious, you know?” Banner said. “That’s really the messaging. And he knows. He knows he’s close. So, it’s just a matter of going out and performing and getting a little bit better every day.”

⇒ Yohendrick is still Yohendingering:

⇒ Pinango, who only just turned 20, is hitting .252/.314/.432 at High-A (110 wRC+), with an 8.3% BB rate and a 19.8% K rate. That .180 ISO is what you love to see from Pinango. If that power comes along at all, he’s gonna keep climbing the minor league ladder at a young age.

⇒ Speaking of young outfielders at South Bend … you don’t want to yet say Owen Caissie has “figured out High-A” or even “turned the corner,” but after a miserable April, the signs are so much better in May:

⇒ I suppose I should be similarly cautious in saying guys like James Triantos and Kevin Alcántara have figured things out at Low-A, but I feel like all they do now is hit. Every time I check in. Alcántara is going to be so powerful when he fills out:

⇒ Go on a homer binge, win honors:

⇒ Garcia, 29, is hitting .291/.410/.686 (181 wRC+, 35.2% K rate, 17.1% BB rate) at Iowa right now. Mervis, 24, is at .350/.389/.650 (186, 24.1, 4.6) at South Bend.

⇒ If you missed it, the Cubs’ farm system as a whole had a scorching hot week.

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.