Cubs Prospect Notes: Ramos' Fastball, Strumpf's Three True Outcome May, Injured Players Nearing a Return, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Ramos’ Fastball, Strumpf’s Three True Outcome May, Injured Players Nearing a Return, More

Chicago Cubs

Emptying out the notebook, as I don’t want to get too far behind with the full-season affiliates, what with short-season ball starting up next week as well!

Stray Cubs prospect bits …

⇒ Right-handed reliever Eury Ramos was promoted from Tennessee to Iowa, and should immediately go on your Major League radar. A free agent at the end of the season if he’s not added to the 40-man roster first, Ramos leaves Tennessee with a 0.56 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 32.2 K%. In his final Double-A outing on Saturday, Ramos was 96-99 mph with some sink, one of the better fastballs in the organization. His miss with the pitch is spiking the fastball into the dirt — an issue of release point, probably — but walks haven’t been a huge problem this year. He’ll show both a changeup and slider that flash above-average, and so you have the makings of a Major League short-inning reliever here. (Tiny note: Danis Correa is sort of the next man up in that department. He’s looked much better recently.)

⇒ The Cubs front office was pretty split, from what I understand, about whether Owen Caissie or Pete Crow-Armstrong would be the outfielder out of camp to join High-A South Bend. Pretty great that they’ll share an outfield together there in May, with PCA promoted following last week’s series (funny enough, following the second game all season where he failed to reach base). This promotion is important to Pete’s development, as I think he could succeed in Myrtle Beach with some crutches (locking into middle-third first-pitch fastballs, for instance) that will be less available as he moves up the ladder.

⇒ Look at the insanely strange May that infield prospect Chase Strumpf has had: .227/.426/.467. In 101 plate appearances on the month at Double-A Tennessee, Strumpf has either walked or been hit by a pitch twenty-six times. Absurd. He continues to show plus, 20-30 HR power, and he’s hitting it on the ground less than ever this year. The issue just continues to be the strikeouts, and while I maintain that Strumpf seems too talented a hitter to be a real 33+% K-rate guy, the numbers are the numbers. The development of that skill is truly one of the most important that I see for Justin Stone’s hitting department for the rest of 2022, because this version of Strumpf – minus the huge strikeout rate – is a clear big leaguer.

⇒ Brendon Little had his first walk-free outing of the season on Sunday, and he’s now up to 9.2 innings without a run allowed in Triple-A to start the year. The feel for the slider has improved over the month, and he’s actually struck out righties at a higher rate than lefties. We’re headed towards a Major League debut here (he’s another guy who has to be added to the 40-man by November), though I think it might just be a wait until the team moves on from fellow lefty Daniel Norris.

⇒ Some really good rehab news available within the box scores that Arizona Phil posts at The Cub Reporter from Extended Spring Training. Yovanny Cruz has made it back to game action in his return from Tommy John surgery. Zac Leigh was 95-98 in relief of Cruz; Leigh was a very touted prospect by Cubs brass over the winter. Catcher Casey Opitz, coming off a hand injury, is likely nearing his return to full-season action as well. I expect Leigh and Opitz will head to South Bend pretty shortly here, while Cruz will continue building up (maybe even in the Arizona Complex League) before eventually heading to Myrtle Beach.

⇒ Guys on the farm whose recent performance demands a deeper dive from me soon (keeping myself accountable here!): Manny Espinoza, Angel González, Luis Rodriguez, Chase Watkins, Matt Mervis.

⇒ I really find the tweet below to be so cool. I was really high on Alex Lange when I started writing here at BN, but he had such a weird spring of 2019, it really cast doubt upon what he could be. His rise in stuff came at a time where we began to realize that the ceiling of “high floor” pitchers was universally higher than we thought, because stuff became something that could be taught with much greater ease. The Tigers have Lange throwing his 96 mph fastball just 26% of the time, and he’s dominating with the curveball-changeup combination that was always his strength. And he’s jumped to elite.

⇒ Lange was the other first rounder (with Brendon Little) for the Cubs in the 2017 draft, and was ultimately traded that 2019 season for Nick Castellanos.

Author: Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.