Talking About Heuer and Morel Throws (But Differently), the 2014 Not-So-Parallel, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Talking About Heuer and Morel Throws (But Differently), the 2014 Not-So-Parallel, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

If you missed it last night, it’s looking like we’re going to get Cubs pitching prospect Hayden Wesneski coming up today, and making his big league debut sometime this week. That’s gonna happen in conjunction with Justin Steele going on the IL (still the lower-back issue?), so hopefully that’s not anything major. More on that soon, I’d imagine.

Oh, and if you missed it over the weekend, Wade Miley is finally returning tonight to start for the Cubs.

Meanwhile …

  • This is a really great sight to see, Cubs reliever Codi Heuer out in Arizona throwing a bit:
  • That’s just the first step for Heuer, who had Tommy John surgery back in early March, and is reportedly expected to have a longer rehab than most because it was a more involved procedure. For a reliever, you might typically expect a healthy return to game action in about 12-13 months, which would open up the possibility for a full-ish season for Heuer in 2023. But with his procedure, it might be that he doesn’t return until at least a couple months into the season (then again, maybe he wasn’t going to be able to throw more than 40 or so innings anyway, so what’s the difference?).
  • Anyway, point here being: it’s great to see that Heuer is now throwing, even lightly, and you’d love to hear a happy surprise update that he’s going to be able to participate in Spring Training. Either way, I think we should mentally prepare for the possibility that he starts the season on the 60-day IL, and then debuts a couple months into the season – hopefully thereafter becoming a key bullpen contributor. It’s impossible to know what to count on when a guy has Tommy John surgery, but you also never rule out the possibility that he could come back stronger – sometimes guys are pitching through a slowly-deteriorating situation, and once it is medically addressed, they realize how much better they feel (and their performance follows). In other words, Heuer may yet wind up a key arm for the Cubs in 2023, and we shouldn’t forget about him.
  • Speaking of guys who are throwing … As we’ve discussed, Christopher Morel’s arm strength is tremendous, but his accuracy needs work, particularly from third base. He and the Cubs are clearly taking it seriously, as this Tribune piece details. Drills up on drills upon drills. Remember: Morel is still very young, essentially skipped Triple-A, and is a rookie trying to figure out how to play multiple big league positions while also staying afloat at the plate. It would be nuts to be “worried” about his throwing accuracy at this point. It’s just something he needs to be working on. That’s all.

“He’s got a real legit 70 (grade) arm from over there,” Ross said. “It‘s about getting reps. I mean, we’ve moved him all over the diamond. … Utility-wise he’s played a lot of different areas that we feel comfortable in.

“A lot of those are just trying to figure out what fits best for him and how to maximize and continue to develop. He’s such a young kid and works really hard. He’s grown a lot this year and continues to grow.”

For Morel to become a viable regular option at third base next season, he needs more consistent and accurate throws. At times, the Cubs see his arm stroke fall into a longer, outfield-type action. They want him to shorten his arm movements, which begins with smoother footwork and proper positioning.

  • It’s easy to forget how much of a difference the “types” of throws can make at the big league level, and when you’re trying to let a player stay instinctual, it probably takes a really long time and a lot of reps for the different instincts to take over and stay consistent. Since Morel’s best value to the Cubs in the years ahead might be as a guy who moves around a lot, all the more reason to be working so hard on this stuff. Good on him. Good on the Cubs.
  • Patrick Mooney writes about the mythos surrounding the 2014 Chicago Cubs team, viewed as the year the club turned the corner into becoming a contender for 2015 (I think a lot of us could feel it in that second half, even as the team was barely even close to .500 for those final two months). We’ve talked a lot about how difficult the parallels between 2014 and 2022 can be, particularly when looking at the impact-tier of top prospects who are just about ready to break out in the big leagues (the current system is much deeper, but it’s just not in the same spot as 2014).
  • Mooney touches on that farm system stuff, but he also gets into an interesting different angle, writing about the ways that some things were still looking like a mess late in that 2014 season. Look at the Labor Day lineup from that year:

Chris Coghlan, LF
Javier Báez, 2B
Starlin Castro, SS
Luis Valbuena, 3B
Jorge Soler, RF
Welington Castillo, C
Arismendy Alcántara, CF
Chris Valaika, 1B
Jacob Turner, P

  • It’s been easier to see that late-2014 stretch as a turning point with the benefit of hindsight, but it was far from a lock at the time that Anthony Rizzo would stay healthy and consistent, that Javy Báez would become a dependable big leaguer, that Jake Arrieta would truly explode, or that Kyle Hendricks would become a Cy Young finalist type. Heck, it wasn’t until Joe Maddon became surprisingly available after the season that Rick Renteria was let go. And it wasn’t until the Cubs added Jon Lester, Miguel Montero, Jason Hammel, David Ross, and Dexter Fowler that you could REALLY see a contender forming.
  • Of course, one could point to all of that as all the more reason that things can accelerate quickly with the right offseason … just sayin’ …
  • I adore this tweet, to which I would add that Aaron Judge is DEAD LAST in pitcher wins:

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.