In just a couple hours (dang you, Pacific Time Zone and Arizona day heat!), Cristian Hernández and Moises Ballesteros and a number of other young Cubs prospects will be making their stateside debuts in the Arizona Complex League. I am juuuuust a little geeked to finally get some game stats to obsess over and read way too much into.
Meanwhile, some other Cubs prospect bits to get into this evening …
⇒ It makes me VERY happy to see all three of these pitchers – Adbert Alzolay, Brailyn Marquez, and Manny Rodriguez – getting in work in Arizona:
Saw @BMarquez_103 @adbert29 & @manrod_77 working out on the field on Saturday. Even though it was on flat ground, Brailyn appeared to be throwing with much more 'pace' than I had previously seen! #Cubs #CubsProspects #rehabtrail #pitcherswhothrowgas pic.twitter.com/W8bGTFoeAD
— Rich Biesterfeld (@biest22) June 6, 2022
⇒ We know that Alzolay is doing only light throwing right now, and is probably still a ways off from being on the mound. Rodriguez, who got non-surgical treatment for his elbow is similarly on an unknown timeline. Marquez, however, is ramping up in a very careful way after another bad case of COVID in the offseason and last year’s shoulder issues. He was said to be throwing off the mound “soon” as of two weeks ago, so hopefully that’s underway. If so, it’s possible we’ll see him appear in an ACL game in the coming weeks before being assigned out to Double-A Tennessee or Triple-A Iowa (pretty hard to predict what assignment makes sense for a guy who barely even pitched at High-A two years ago!).
⇒ Is it just me or does Marquez look a little more fit right there compared to the guy we saw a couple years ago? I hope that’s the product of a nutritional and exercise regimen, rather than any kind of sickness aftereffect. There was talk that the Cubs were working with Marquez the last couple years to improve his conditioning, and the thinking was that it could help his development in the process, so hopefully that’s what we’re seeing. I am extremely eager to see him get out to an affiliate this year and just pitch. I have zero expectations on him starting, relieving, showing plus velocity, or getting great results. No one should expect anything after being out for so long. He just has to get back into game action and everything resets from there. We’ll see what we see.
⇒ After a very successful big league debut, Caleb Kilian was optioned back to Triple-A Iowa this weekend. That was always the expectation, as he’s still very much in that Triple-A-adjacent development mode as compared to the starting pitchers ahead of him at the big league level. The hope was that a successful big league debut would not only give him confidence and experience facing big league bats, but would also provide specific items to work on at Iowa in advance of his next call-up.
⇒ And it seems like that’s exactly what happened, and sounds like it’s exactly what the Cubs talked with Kilian about when sending him down. Per NBC, that conversation included manager David Ross, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, and president Jed Hoyer – you think they have high hopes and expectations for Kilian? “We just had a lot of baseball conversation,” Ross said. “It was great. I think he understands he’s going to be a major league pitcher for a really long time and help us win …. Just about go down and continue to work on the things that you identified and that we saw. I think it’s always about trying to get better. I think he wants to grow, and he wants to be the best he possibly can. Just a lot of back and forth on feedback, to be honest.”
⇒ For now, Brandon Hughes is in the big league bullpen, but I reckon it’s still fair to think about him as a “prospect.” In any case, this read at The Athletic on the converted outfielder is a good one, and includes thoughts from AGM and VP of Pitching Craig Breslow on pitcher conversions that is interesting in a general way, too: “The reality is oftentimes these things don’t work. But when you have someone with the arm strength, the athleticism, the aptitude and the willingness to dive in, if it’s going to work, it’s going to work with a guy like (Hughes). When you ask a guy to get on the mound, you get a pretty good idea right away if this is something that might stick. Now that we’ve got technology that measures every shred of data that you can possibly derive, we understood pretty early on that there were some unique attributes to Brandon as a pitcher that should have foreshadowed future success.”
⇒ If you missed it earlier, the Cubs named their minor league player and pitcher of the month, giving love to Owen Caissie and Luis Devers.
⇒ I kept thinking of the right context to share this information, but never came up with the perfect way, so here it is so as not to completely lose it when I clear my browser tabs:
Today we focus our Minor League Progress Report on the NL Central.
— Advocates for Minor Leaguers (@MiLBAdvocates) May 25, 2022
⇒ The Cubs are the only NL Central organization that paid their players for extended Spring Training AND provided every player with his own bedroom in apartments.