Bryce Ball, the hulking first baseman acquired in the Joc Pederson trade, made his Cubs organizational debut with High-A South Bend Saturday night. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound left-handed hitter was given part-time duty as the designated hitter with skipper Michael Ryan slotting him in the five hole between Nelson Velazquez and the very hot Ryan Reynolds.
The first thing you notice is about Ball is that he is a rather large human being. It looks like he’s going to generate easy power, but he has some really long levers in his swing that might make him susceptible to offspeed pitches. That hypothesis could take some time to evaluate, but we’ll get plenty of opportunities to do just that in the second half.
Ball fell behind quickly with two straight strikes in his first at-bat. Then he got just a little bit underneath the third pitch and hit a towering fly ball to right field for the final out of the 1st inning. It was a powerful swing, he simply didn’t square the ball up.
As Harry used to say, another biscuit for breakfast… pic.twitter.com/lrmlfcV5PA
— Todd ⚾️🐻 (@CubsCentral08) July 17, 2021
In his second AB, he got out ahead with a 2-0 count and then proceeded to hit a towering pop-up to the shortstop. After getting ahead 1-0 in his third trip to the plate, he extended his arms for a nice double off the wall. I like that it went to left-center as he got it off a lefty and just stayed on the pitch to drive it the other way.
Bryce Ball doubles to the wall for his first Cubs hit! pic.twitter.com/7OR1jdxhrk
— Brad (@ballskwok) July 18, 2021
Ball’s final trip to the plate was a five-pitch walk in the bottom of the 8th. It’s very clear that he tracks pitches clearly and doesn’t seem to be fooled by what he is thrown. He is also able to lay off pitches out of the zone, which should help him to get more mistakes to pound as his career continues.
Though it wasn’t spectacular, going 1-for-3 with a walk and a run is a pretty good debut. If he’s able to build on that, perhaps the Cubs will get to see more of why this young man was dubbed “Ball Bunyan.”