Being “Early” on a Prospect, Alzolay, First Half, and Other Cubs Bullets

How DARE the Home Run Derby go up against ‘Better Call Saul’ tonight? What am I supposed to do?!?!?

  • Ah, the start of the MLB Draft. It never goes like I expect. Every year. It’s fun to follow, though, even as you basically have to go through all the cycles of cognitive dissonance before you can settle yourself, knowing that you can’t ACTUALLY know anything about the draft’s quality for years and years.
  • I mean, the Cubs drafted Justin Steele EIGHT years ago. He’s only this year fully cemented himself as part of the big league rotation to the point where you can say, hey, that was an awesome fifth round pick, and the under slot strategy with Kyle Schwarber at 4th overall (got the Cubs Steele and Dylan Cease, among others) was a pretty good move.
  • Rounds 3 through 10 go today, starting at 1pm CT, and you can follow on MLB.com. I’ll also be updating the Cubs picks live in a dedicated draft post coming later today.
  • I made a version of this point last night, but it was scattershot and I want to re-state it this morning now that I’m out of the INSTANT REACTION mode. Keep in mind that top pick Cade Horton (1) was a two-sport athlete coming to college, having also been a quarterback, (2) was a draft-eligible redshirt freshman, so he’s closer to a “high school” pick than a “college” pick, (3) barely pitched after recovering from Tommy John, but the performance ticked up considerably after he reached full health, (4) played a ton of games as a position player this year, and (5) only just learned his nasty new slider two months ago.
  • You combine all that stuff, and you can see the ingredients there for the Cubs to have been “early” on a guy who was about to explode into top-tier prospect status once he was fully focused on baseball only, fully focused on pitching only, fully healthy, and fully using his new pitch. That’s the big swing they’re taking on this pick, and sometimes you have to be “early” if you’re actually going to land a front-of-the-rotation type. If Horton had been Horton for a full college season, rather than just a month, maybe he doesn’t even make it to seven, much less the 14 to 20 range where he was initially projected to go. The more I review, the more I see just how high-risk, high-reward both picks last night were for the Cubs.
  • I love the implication of this Adbert Alzolay tweet:
  • That looks almost fully charged to me. I suspect this means Alzolay is finally close to getting into game action after rehabbing his strained lat. I would expect him to begin things with an appearance or two for the Complex League team, and then probably Triple-A Iowa for a bit, where I think he’ll pitch out of the bullpen (albeit possibly in multi-inning spurts). This could mean he’s still in line with the very rough timeline we tried to project all the way back in March: sometime in August, after the Trade Deadline. Ultimately, you’d just like to see Alzolay get in, what, 10 appearances? 20 to 30 innings? Enough that you know he’s still looking like a swing option for 2023.
  • The Cubs finished the nominal first half of the season at 35-57, a half-game better than the Reds for last in the NL Central, and the third worst record in the league. The Cubs and Reds have 12 head-to-head match-ups remaining this year – including the Field of Dreams Game! – so you could really see their relative standing being decided on the field in those games. Winner gets the worse lottery odds, but maybe fractionally less shame?
  • Seiya Suzuki is having fun where he can:
  • I love Paul Goldschmidt’s reaction, with the face like, “Oh god, another fan to indulge”:
  • And you SHOULD indulge him, Paul! Christopher Morel is delightful!
  • This is certainly something MLB has been trying to cultivate in recent years, and you hope it is part of a long-term success story in reaching communities that had previously not been:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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