The Chicago Cubs prospect promotions came fast and big this week, with Pete Crow-Armstrong getting the bump to High-A being the biggest of the news.
But these promotions don’t happen in a vacuum.
If you want to ensure playing time for your prospects, a big promotion here means another promotion there, and so on. With the outfield, PCA to South Bend meant a whole chain of other moves, as we’ve discussed would be likely. Darius Hill got the bump to Triple-A Iowa (immediately homering in the process) after Nelson Velazquez came up to the big league team. Frank Hernández joined Myrtle Beach from extended spring training (he’s a 20-year-old outfield prospect making his stateside debut, with extreme contact skills, and he’s the guy who came from Spain(!)). But what about the empty outfield spot at Tennessee? Who does PCA push up the ladder?
Well, I was really surprised to see that it was Cole Roederer, who is still only just returning from Tommy John surgery, and who played only 14 games at High-A before this bump. It’s a very aggressive promotion track for the 22-year-old former second rounder, who missed virtually all of last season with the Tommy John surgery, and missed the previous season because of the pandemic. Clearly, the Cubs felt he was the best bet to rise to the challenge, and I’ll be fascinated to see how he holds up at Double-A the rest of the way. If he even gets the bat to something close to average, he’s definitely going to be right back on the prospect radar. It’s easy to forget that, in his first full season after being drafted out of high school, the Cubs challenged Roederer with a full-season assignment (back in the days of short-season leagues). They saw advanced skills from the jump, and felt he would benefit from aggressive challenges. Maybe that’s still the case.
Other Cubs prospecting bits …
⇒ It finally happened: after another great week at the plate, Owen Caissie is officially hittingleague average at High-A South Bend (100 wRC+). On April 24, it was a -10. Yes, NEGATIVE 10. It’s been a heckuva a hot month.
⇒ Speaking of Caissie:
— Baseball Prospectus (@baseballpro) May 31, 2022
⇒ Cubs farm director Jared Banner was with the Iowa Cubs last night, and Tommy Birch spoke with him about a few Cubs prospects:
I caught up with Cubs farm director Jared Banner yesterday. Some highlights:
⚾️The latest with Caleb Kilian.
⚾️A couple I-Cubs who have impressed him.
⚾️Iowa native Bryce Ball’s strong start.https://t.co/l1vqs9LwGq
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) June 1, 2022
⇒ Among Banner’s comments, Jared Young – who has come out for organizational praise before – gets special mention: “Jared Young’s had a quietly very strong season. He’s had some bad luck in spurts but you look at his underlying numbers, he’s really hit a ton since the season began — he’s been pretty consistent as well. So he jumps out also.”
⇒ Young, 26, is currently hitting .261/.333/.497/118 wRC+ at Triple-A Iowa, and while we don’t have nearly the depth of underlying data that the Cubs have, you can start to see where he might be unlucky. The 7.9% walk rate against the 20.3% strikeout rate, together with a whopping .236 ISO (and a 23.0% line drive rate) tell me this is a guy who is really hitting the ball hard right now, so the .281 BABIP seems extra low (it’s already lower than any other season in his career). Young mostly plays first base, but he can also play the corner outfield spots, which makes him a defensive overlap with Alfonso Rivas, who is currently ahead of him with the big league team. The Cubs have first basemen Bryce Ball and Matt Mervis raking at Double-A Tennessee and pushing for a promotion of their own, so something is gonna have to give here.
⇒ With the complex leagues about to start, Arizona Phil has your extended spring training stats here. Remember, they are entirely unofficial and just him doing his best to cover what he can – AND these are just Spring Training games! – so you can’t go too far with the data. Still, interesting to see the guys who seemed to do the best. (Yes, that included Cristian Hernández, who crushed the ball, but also struck out a ton.)
⇒ Bryan wrote about a whole bunch of Cubs prospects yesterday if you missed it.
⇒ Another breakout lefty reliever for the Cubs in the upper minors:
Bryan Hudson should be heading to the majors at some point this summer.
This is his first month in Iowa. pic.twitter.com/6EfAr88jNH
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) May 29, 2022
⇒ Hudson, 25, was the Cubs’ third rounder out of high school back in 2015, and he was converted to full-time relief last year at Double-A. He’s dominated ever since (his strikeout rate, in particular, has really popped this year), and as a Rule 5-eligible, MLB-ready arm, he’s probably going to be on the 40-man roster come November. So if there is a need/opportunity, we could see him for a bit this year at some point. He is a HUGE dude (6’8″).
⇒ Stray praise for James Triantos:
James Triantos has been incredible in his full-season debut with @Pelicanbaseball
-His 29-game on-base streak is the third longest in team history
-He scored a run in 10 straight games from May 14-26, tied for the second longest streak in team history
— Sam Weiderhaft (@sam_weiderhaft) May 28, 2022
⇒ I love watching Jordan Nwogu get ahold of one. Got that easy power, even to the right center alley:
Nwogu …Yard! pic.twitter.com/uQYVDjKTbt
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) May 28, 2022
⇒ For the Dads:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) June 1, 2022