The Rundown: Horton Makes MLB Top 100, Suzuki and Hughes Close to Returning, Rule Changes Working as Expected
“Smooth… my… floatin’ like a butterfly. Notes set afloat, sung like a lullaby. Brace yourself as the beat hits ya… Dip trip, flip Fantasia.” – US3, Cantaloop
The Cubs were rained out on Wednesday in Cincinnati and they have a day off today, so the news cycle is slow. They’ll make that game up on September 1 and Chicago now comes home for a weekend series against the Rangers.
If you’re looking past this season already, Cade Horton is the newest addition to the MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects. Orioles rookie shortstop Gunner Henderson lost his eligibility, so Horton slid in after everybody else moved up. You might remember that Horton was a bit of a surprise first-round pick by the Cubs in last year’s draft. Industry experts obviously believe in this kid, who appears to be on a fast track to the majors.
Well, fast for a Cubs prospect. Horton has an MLB-ready four-seam/slider combination and a decent curveball. Chicago’s pitching instructors believe there’s more to tap into, specifically a changeup. The organization is hoping that four-pitch combination will make him a dominant starter. Horton had Tommy John surgery prior to his final season at Oklahoma, so his workload will be managed accordingly.
The addition of Horton to the Pipeline 100 gives the Cubs’ very underrated system four entries in the list’s latest iteration, including Pete Crow-Armstrong (27), Kevin Alcántara (86), and Brennen Davis (91). The Cubs probably have another half-dozen who could theoretically be in the next 100 and they should start to matriculate up a number of top prospect lists before next winter. Chicago also has the No. 13 selection in this year’s minor league draft and should select a premium player that high.
Cubs News & Notes
- Sahadev Sharma makes a great point in his latest for The Athletic. Sharma noted that the Cubs are working hard to identify their floor ($) and that they had too many role players starting last season. On Opening Day 2022, Chicago started Frank Schwindel, Alfonso Rivas, Jonathan Villar, Rafael Ortega, Jason Heyward, and a still-recovering Nick Madrigal. Now Madrigal is in a reserve role and players like Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Trey Mancini, Edwin Ríos, Miles Mastrobuoni, and Eric Hosmer have taken their places.
- Mastrubuoni is not among the players who are current fan favorites, but perhaps we should give him a chance. He’s been stinging the ball, but he’s also hit into some very bad luck.
- Seiya Suzuki is feeling much better and was scheduled to face LHP Brandon Hughes yesterday in a simulated game. The return of both players would give the Cubs a nice boost.
- The Cubs revealed their minor league rosters on Wednesday.
- Chicago’s pitchers were the story in the team’s opening series against the Brewers, but the hitters took center stage against the Reds.
- Bellinger is starting to heat up and mentioned he appreciated the opportunity to bat behind solid hitters like Swanson, Nico Hoerner, and Ian Happ.
- The Cubs will have nearly $9 million in bonus pool money in this year’s draft.
Odds & Sods
Fergie Jenkins obviously chose pitchers from his era, but it’s tough to leave out guys like Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Nolan Ryan, Catfish Hunter, and Don Sutton. Jim Palmer belongs in that group, too. In fairness to Jenkins, that’s a tough question to answer. Heck, you could make a case for Vida Blue, Ron Guidry, Phil Niekro, and Gaylord Perry.
Steve Carlton https://t.co/1RmgGq1p7L
— Fergie Jenkins (@fergieajenkins) April 5, 2023
- St. Louis: The Cardinals (2-4) are in last place in the NL Central, and top starter Adam Wainwright (groin) is still a few weeks away from returning.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers (5-1) have a nice mixture of rookies and veterans, and just swept the Mets at American Family Insurance Field in Milwaukee. Joey Wiemer and Garrett Mitchell have been instrumental in the team’s hot start.
- Cincinnati: Today’s Reds-Phillies contest has already been postponed. The Phillies have rescheduled the game — their home opener — to Friday.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates swept the Red Sox and could be the surprise team of the NL Central. Pittsburgh is 4-2 and has yet to play a home game.
How About That!
Shohei Ohtani was cited with two pitching clock violations Wednesday night, one as a pitcher and one as a hitter. He did that on purpose, right? That’s an uncontested layup in his collection of MLB milestones.
Manny Machado became the first player to be ejected for arguing a pitch clock violation, also an uncontested layup.
The new MLB rules are working as expected. Games are being played quicker than at any time since the 1980s and shift limitations have raised BABIP from .279 to .297.
The league also enjoyed record TV viewership on Opening Day and credits the new pace of play rules as the main reason.
According to MLB.com, the Rays’ six consecutive wins by four or more runs are the most by any team during its first six games in the modern era, dating all the way back to 1884.
T-Mobile is partnering with MLB on a multi-year deal that includes the testing of MLB’s automated ball-strike system on T-Mobile’s 5G private mobile network during certain Minor League Baseball games this season.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Jesús Luzardo – The Marlins’ new ace won Wednesday’s battle against former teammate Pablo López, fanning 10 batters in a 5-2 win over the Twins.
- Tampa Bay Rays – They’re 6-0, have outscored their opponents 44-13, and everybody is contributing.
- Matt Olson – Atlanta’s third baseman was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, two runs scored, and three RBI as the Braves upended the Cardinals 5-2.
Christopher Morel looks like he’s ready to rejoin the Cubs.
Christopher Morel gets us on the board with a deep fly to dead center field! pic.twitter.com/WzPJ17bgzT
— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) April 2, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- Twitter put a “US state-affiliated media” tag on NPR’s account, a loaded label that suggests it’s an accessory to the US government. The White House, of course, objected, and the tag doesn’t really make much sense.
- Cash App creator Bob Lee, a former CTO at Square and most recently an exec at MobileCoin, was stabbed to death in San Francisco.
- If you’re looking for an earworm or two, Boogiehead put together a compilation of the most popular songs every month since January 1980.
- A 15-foot red spoon that was stolen from a Dairy Queen in Phoenix and recovered by a 52-year-old Pokémon Go player. You can’t make this stuff up. Why would you want to?
- North Carolina legislators are seeking to ban sports participation trophies. How about inviting them to the White House instead?
- Pop music icon Sting earns about $5,000 per day thanks to P-Diddy’s 1997 track “I’ll Be Missing You.”
They Said It
- “I’m not perfect, I’m not going to be perfect, and I’ll definitely make mistakes. I also know part of sitting in this seat, part of this job is getting scrutinized. I also know that in my job I can’t worry about what everyone else thinks. I’ve got to trust the people around me. I’ve got a very good support staff here. … So I want to continue to take it day by day and game by game to do the best I can. But I’ve never expected not to win, I promise you that.” – David Ross
Thursday Walk-Up Song
My favorite song from 1965, better than anything by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, or Motown records from that year. That’s saying something.