I hope your Friday is going well, and I hope these Cubs Prospect Notes will make it go even better …
- If you missed it last night, Matt Mervis WENT OFF in the AFL, homering twice and hitting a rocket double. B.J. Murray also homered in the game, and Owen Caissie reached base twice.
- Brennen Davis hasn’t played in a few days in the AFL now after leaving a game early. Sahadev Sharma hears that Davis is expected to return to action this weekend, though.
- Also from that Sharma piece, some more love for Mervis and his adjustments:
One concern some had with Mervis was his performance against lefties. According to Cubs internal data, he did well in High-A, but by June, in Double A, he struggled, posting a .286 wOBA. But as was the case with nearly every other aspect of his game, Mervis slowly but surely grew in this area. By July (he was promoted to Triple A late in the month), that wOBA was up to .300, still low, but clearly on the uptick. In August, he only had 17 plate appearances against lefties, but his wOBA jumped to an above-average .360. By September, it all seemed to click. He had 43 plate appearances against lefties and delivered a robust .437 wOBA. In the AFL, Mervis has already slugged a homer. It came off a southpaw.
- And since we’re on Cubs player of the year prospects, the pitcher of the year, Luis Devers, also gets a section in Sharma’s piece, where it’s noted that the Cubs hope he can take another step forward in his velocity this offseason (he went from upper-80s a couple years ago to low-90s this past year). It goes without saying that if Devers somehow got himself up to mid-90s with the fastball, and if his command stayed as good as it has been, he’ll fly up the prospect charts. As it stands, the Cubs still have to figure out whether to roll the dice on him not getting selected in the Rule 5 this offseason. If they don’t want to risk it, he has to go on the 40-man roster by late November.
- Alexander Canario will have to chance to catch back up with Matt Mervis’s home run total, because he’s playing in the Dominican Winter League:
- Quite a group there, including Yoenis Cespedes! That’s also the team that Frank Schwindel signed with.
- Not that you would expect any different, but the young arms in the Cubs’ farm system aren’t looking ahead at the big league team and wondering how they’re going to find innings if the Cubs go out and add in free agency. For example, here’s Jordan Wicks, who might be hoping for a chance at a second half debut in 2023 if everything broke right (The Athletic): “Jed’s job is to make this organization better. He knows a lot better than I do how many that is, or what that (should be). My job is to just continue to make myself better to help this organization. That’s all I can do. But I can tell you right now, whatever decision he makes to help this organization, I’m fired up.”
- The principle is the same with all the prospect depth. Wicks referred to it as “iron sharpens iron,” and they all just want to keep improving and competing and making each other better. They are a long way off from where Wicks is right now, but sometimes when I start thinking about the Cubs’ pitching depth, I remember that they used most of their 2022 draft on pitching, including 13 of their first 14 picks, and only a handful have even debuted yet. Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris and Nazier Mule could just explode next year, and it’d feel like they came out of nowhere because we’re so focused on tons of other prospects. They were top picks!
- It’s a reminder of what Jed Hoyer said this week: it’s the first time he can remember in his time with the Cubs looking through the farm system and seeing at every level arms that they project to impact the big league team.
- Arizona Phil always has the inside skinny on Instructional League down in Arizona, where he finds deep pulls like Wilber Rodriguez, a 22-year-old power-righty whom the Cubs just signed and is throwing 95-97 mph in instructs. Phil could see him moving very quickly next year.
- Another note from Phil on a roster move at instructs this past week: “The Cubs have added RHP Juan Bello to their AZIL roster. Bello was signed as a 17-year old out of Colombia this past February, and spent the 2022 season pitching for DSL Cubs Red. He finished the season hurling a combined eight innings of no run / no hit ball over his last two starts. He is considered one of the Cubs top pitching prospects in the DSL.” I was not familiar with Bello, now 18, but it looks like he held his own in the DSL, with good peripherals. The fact that he’s coming over for instructs at his age is a good sign, too. Might be a guy to have on your radar.
- Some visuals on Cristian Hernández in instructs, including easy oppo power:
- Trevor Hooth dug into a particular Porter Hodge start, and it’s a fun look back: