Chicago Cubs Wrap Up 2022 Fall Instructs - Lots of Prospects Notes to Get Into

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Chicago Cubs Wrap Up 2022 Fall Instructs – Lots of Prospects Notes to Get Into

Chicago Cubs

On Friday morning on the backfields of the Cubs Spring Training complex, the final game of the 2022 Instructional Season was played, with Phil at The Cub Reporter giving us the details on the Red team’s 2-0 victory over Blue.

This year, the Cubs ended up inviting 64 players to their postseason Instructs camp, though many of those players didn’t participate in the formal scrimmages that happened a few times per week. After a short break, the Cubs will then begin their Prospect Camp, which The Athletic mentioned is growing in size and scope considerably this year.

A few rogue notes that I collected regarding the brief Instructs season:

  • Brett mentioned Wilber Rodriguez in his Prospect Notes on Friday, a new name for me that Arizona Phil mentioned threw 95-97 mph during his final appearance at Instructs. I dug in a bit on Rodriguez, and I think he’s one to immediately start thinking about as a serious relief prospect. Thanks to the Mets DSL YouTube feeds, I found video of Rodriguez from this summer below, which gives you a good idea of his skillset.
  • A big imposing right-hander, Rodriguez doesn’t actually use his height in his pitching motion, getting deep into his back knee and releasing from a low 3/4 slot. Rodriguez steps pretty far to the 3B side, creating significant cross-fire in his delivery that without question will create some deception. He was about 92-94 mph in the video I watched, so a move up to 95-97 would be another big win for the Cubs pitching development crew. His frame looks to have room for more muscle growth, so I’m not going to write off the the possibility of upper nineties down the road.
  • I heard it was a really good month for Cristian Hernandez, as optimism remains high despite an ACL season that might have fallen short of the sky-high expectations he had created. Hernandez ran into some timing problems that I think are created by such a significant load in his swing. The Cubs are being very deliberate in their development of Hernandez, not wanting to change much quite yet. In time, his pre-swing movement will be quieted down, and I think there’s a feeling that his contact rates will then see big improvements. The ACL season did give onlookers a lot of confidence that Hernandez will stick at shortstop, which is great news. The next question is whether Hernandez will begin the 2023 season in Myrtle Beach on Opening Day, or if the Cubs will opt to give him some extra time in Extended Spring Training before he begins his South Carolina assignment.
  • Max Bain made some delivery changes during his stint on the Developmental List at the end of the year, and they debuted at Instructs to great success. Bain’s move to relief will likely stick for the 2023 season, and if the new delivery allows for more strike-throwing, he’s going to succeed.
  • 2022 draftees who pitched formally in Instructs games: Brandon Birdsell, Nick Hull, Mason McGwire, Brody McCullough, Branden Noriega, Luis Rujano. I’m told that Cade Horton, Jackson Ferris, and Naz Mule all pitched a good amount in bullpens, Live AB’s, and Pitch Lab sessions. I keep hearing good reports on McCullough as one to watch, and it’s definitely a good sign that the Cubs felt confident enough in where McGwire and Rujano were at to throw them into action.
  • Definitely noteworthy that the Cubs had James Triantos spend a large amount of time at second base during October, given that he played exclusively at the hot corner during his season in Myrtle Beach. I always felt like Triantos’ body type was a perfect fit for second, so I’m happy in the decision to keep that available as an option. You figure the Cubs will have Triantos, Ed Howard, and Kevin Made all in South Bend next season, so it will be interesting how they decide to juggle those guys between the three non-1B infield positions.
  • I’ll be really interested what the developmental plan with Michael Arias is moving forward. The former infielder was up to 98 mph at Instructs, and the team is working hard to refine his secondaries. Arias started all 10 games he pitched in during the summer, but topped at three innings of work. Will he remain a starting pitcher with a delicate and slow development, or head to relief with the idea of moving quickly?
  • A similar decision awaits Kenyi Perez, who I’ve been told was the Cubs best pitching prospect in the ACL, despite the 10.9 BB/9 that he posted there.

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Author: Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.