The Cubs have named High-A South Bend right-handed pitcher Max Bain the club’s minor league pitcher of the month for August. Double-A Tennessee outfielder Nelson Velazquez was named the organization’s minor league player of the month.
Velazquez, 22, batted .325 with seven homers, seven doubles, one triple, 22 RBI, a .402 on-base percentage, a .714 slugging mark and a 1.117 OPS in 22 games between South Bend (two games) and Tennessee (20 games). He is batting .272 with 51 runs, 21 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs, 66 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 92 games between South Bend and Tennessee.
The 23-year-old Bain posted a 2.96 ERA in five August starts with South Bend, walking eight and striking out 27 over 24.1 innings. He held opponents to a .172 average, a .258 on-base percentage, and a .568 OPS.
On the season, Bain has a 4-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 20 starts for South Bend, walking 46 and striking out 102. His disastrous July — 0-4, 11.34 ERA — makes the award for August even more impressive.
Signed by Chicago as an undrafted free agent in January of 2020 after pitching for Independent League Utica in 2019, Bain’s season, and really his professional career, is proof that hard work and dedication to the process are more important than immediate success. After throwing in the low 90s and tipping the scales at over three bills, he lost 70 pounds and relearned everything about how to pitch.
Now he’s close to hitting triple digits on the radar gun and has a devastating changeup that he had to work on for a year before he was confident throwing it in games. Bain’s slider is also developing into an MLB-caliber pitch, but he believes it’ll be another 6 months or more before it’s really there.
It’s not just the top of the prospect lists that have names worth following. Bain, Velazquez, and several other players across the system are going to keep making noise.