There are some important minor league and Cubs prospect items to get into today …
- NBC Sports Chicago got an update on Cubs outfield prospect Brennen Davis’s absence from the Arizona Fall League the last couple weeks, and it’s pretty non-specific. The Cubs told NBCSC that it was just “general soreness” and not related to the back surgery Davis had earlier this year, which cost him most of the regular season (which is why he’s making up ABs in the AFL to begin with). There is a chance, according to NBC, that Davis returns to action “soon.”
- It’s good to hear Davis’s absence isn’t specifically related to the back issue, though it seems like “general soreness” is intentionally vague – feels like “general soreness” doesn’t get you pulled in the middle of a game and then sat down for nearly two weeks and counting. It is plausible that there was something specific on the day he got pulled, but then maybe Davis just wasn’t recovering as quickly as you’d like (in terms of overall soreness), and no one is going to risk a real injury in the AFL. The fact that Davis missed so much time, and both he and the Cubs have said he’s not quite as strong right now as he usually is because of the surgery and rehab, I think it would be understandable that a little something might feel off and then he’d sit down for a good long while.
- All that said, while being overly cautious with Davis’s health in the AFL makes plenty of sense, it’s a reminder that the Cubs cannot make offseason plans at the big league level with Davis, specifically, in mind. Yes, you can still have very high hopes for his role in the long-term. And yes, you’d love to leave an outfield spot wide open so that Davis could explode in the early part of the 2023 season at Triple-A and come up to claim the spot. But how likely is that? Heck, how likely is it that all three big league outfielders are perfectly healthy all year in any case? I think the Cubs just have to get a short-term, glove-first option for center field, and then take it from there. Needs and opportunities and what-have-you will almost certainly pop up organically.
- Speaking of center field in 2023, and the whole “who knows what happens” of it, you are reminded that Alexander Canario can play center field:
- Canario, 22, is coming off a breakout season where he hit .252/.343/.556/133 wRC+ across three levels, and wound up so hot at Triple-A that his numbers there arguably improved on what he’d done at the lower two levels. If it weren’t for Matt Mervis doing a better version of that same thing, we would probably be talking a whole lot more about Canario’s impressive season.
- That said, it was just 20 games at Triple-A, so I don’t think there should be any expectation that he’ll definitely be a cog in the big league outfield next year at any point. You kind of just have to see how things shake out, and, as I’ve mentioned before, if an opportunity emerges where you can give Canario some real runway at the big league level – i.e., give him that time to struggle, work, and adjust – maybe that winds up good for the long-term.
- This is indeed interesting. A look at the balls and strikes challenge system in action, of which Commissioner Manfred is a fan (rather than full robo umps):
- That is the Automated Balls and Strikes (ABS) challenge system in action in the Arizona Fall League. You may recall that the AFL is home to the three new rules coming to MLB next year (pitch clock, shift limits, and larger bases), as well as one additional rule that is not YET coming to MLB: robo umps. Specifically, they are using an ABS system that allows players or managers to challenge the umpire’s call up to three times per game (you get the challenge back if you’re right).
- That video above shows how it is playing out in the AFL, and I’ve gotta say, that’s not terribly obtrusive, is it? The entire process, from the batter signaling a challenge, to the result showing on the screen, was 15 seconds. Obviously you’re not looking to ADD more dead time to any games right now, but that seems relatively minimal for improving the quality of calls, right? Or do you hate it?
- I very much enjoyed this joke, but it is also fun for me to note that, thanks to the current state of the Cubs’ system, he almost certainly would not be in the top 30:
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