The biggest news actually came out of extended spring training camp where Jorge Soler DH-ed. He went 1-4 with 2 RBI’s. He singled home one run and got a sac fly for the other RBI. He also reached on an error. He should be back at Tennessee very soon, and hopefully on the fast track to playing a corner outfield position with the parent club. It’s exciting to think that the time of waiting for these prospects is going to soon be over.
The next big story is the progression of Corey Black who the Cubs got from the New York Yankees in the Alfonso Soriano trade last season, and despite the success Soriano has had it’s looking like a great deal for the Cubs. Black is really dealing. Most feel because he’s a smaller guy that late relief is his calling card, but that doesn’t me it’s so. Black looks like he’s making a case for himself as a possible core starter. His peripherals and his surface stats are both showing there’s possibly a stud pitcher in the making. He needs to build up his stamina and go longer, but I think his control is the biggest key. He’s got a nice SO/9 (8.2), but a 5.1 BB/9 won’t fly in the majors.
Now as far as kris Bryant is concerned if there’s a way to be un-spectacularly spectacular it would appear Bryant has discovered the formula for just such a performance. Just amazingly consistent in a machine like way that you almost don’t notice it, because it’s as predictable as the tides. However make no mistake this kid is indeed spectacular, and does nothing but help a team win in the big ways as well as in doing the small things too. He can hit HR’s (5), 2B (8), can hit for average (.298), Gets on base (.427 OBP, 14.6 BB%, 4 HBP), and even steal some bases (5/5), scoring runs (17), as well as just run the bases fundamentally. Another kid on the fast track to wrigley.
26 year old catcher Rafael Lopez just continues to rake. His last 7 saw him hit .438 and slashing .550/.688/1.238. 4 of his 7 hits were doubles, and he threw in 4 BB’s to boot. It’s good to see a catcher emerge as someone who may be worthy of mention among the teams true prospects.
Getting back to the pitching Pierce Johnson’s last start was kind of bizarre. He waked 8 batters in 4 innings, but only one hit and one run with 6 K’s. It’s still early as he has only 8 innings under his belt but that 13.5 BB/9 needs to come down to say the least. Of course C.J. Edwards continues to rest his injured shoulder with no other news good or bad since the report came out after the MRI.
The Bullpen continues to produce interesting performances from a couple of guys especially considering the need for some arms in the big league club’s pen. Hunter Cervenka continues to be a complete mystery to the hitters he’s faced. In 11.1 innings he’s struck out 14, and allowed only 7 hits and 2 BB’s thus far.
Armando Rivero is the one who gives the most hope of advancing to the next level and being dominant once he gets there. I’ve already discussed his repertoire last week, so we all know how nasty he can be on hitters. he continues to be consistent and as important throws strikes. That nasty stuff has manifested itself in his performance with a tremendous 14.6 SO/9, 2.9 H/9, and batters only hitting 0.98 against him. He also has a very respectable 3.6 BB/9. It would be pretty nice to see production like that coming out of the Cubs back end of the pen.