Results tagged ‘ Kris Bryant ’

The Steady Progression of Paul Blackburn

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It’s finally here, 2015 Spring Training, ignore the negative twenty-five wind chills outside, it’s baseball season.  The talk over the last few years heading into spring training has been how good the Cubs prospects are, and eventually the Cubs will compete with said prospects.  This year publications still love the Cubs when it comes to prospects (Kris Bryant was just named the number one prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America), but the major league team is finally ready to take the next step.  But before we get too far into that I want to talk about a Cubs prospect that is one of my personal favorites, but doesn’t get too much pub yet, Paul Blackburn.

Blackburn is in the group that I would consider the second wave of prospects, which means one of two things.  He either steps onto a Cubs team that is already competing (2017), or he is traded in a package to improve an already competitive team anywhere from this season through the 2016 off-season.  Either way I think that Blackburn can, and will be an effective major league starter, I just hope it’s with the Cubs.

The Cubs drafted Blackburn in the 1st round (supplemental round) of the 2012 amateur draft, number 56 overall out of Heritage High School in Brentwood, CA.  Wasting no time, the Cubs and Blackburn struck a deal, and Pauly was pitching in Arizona for the Cubs AZL team.  It was the end of a long calendar year, but Blackburn handled himself quite well in an offensively heavy league.  Blackburn tossed 20.2 innings, and finished the season with an ERA of 3.48, and a FIP of 5.39, obviously that last number is a little high.  The following season with Boise was trying for Blackburn as his innings were limited, and his command disappeared.  My guess is he was trying to miss too many bats, probably due to the fact that his BABIP was .313 in 2012, bad luck, so he tried to limit contact, just my opinion.  On one hand the strikeouts escalated from 5.66 K/9 in 2012 to 7.43 K/9, but so did the walks, which was uncharacteristic.  In 2012 Blackburn had a BB/9 rate of 3.05, that went all the way up to 5.67 BB/9 in his 46 innings of work in 2013.  With all that happening his advanced stats got better, the BABIP went down to .288, and his FIP went down to 4.47, more strikeouts, more walks, but less long balls.

With only 65+ professional innings under his belt Blackburn took his talents to Kane County for the 2014 season, and broke out.  Blackburn was a key cog in one of the best minor league teams that I’ve ever seen, as well as one of the best rotations.  The command came roaring back, Blackburn could put the ball where he wanted without hesitation again.  The strikeouts went back to 2012 levels, but the walk rate plummeted to 2.38 per nine innings, the FIP followed suit, dropping to 3.84, a career best.  The most impressive thing about Blackburn was his ability to bounce back from a year in which he probably learned a lot about himself as a pitcher.  As Jonathan Mayo points out in his 2015 prospect rankings (Blackburn 15th in Cubs system), Blackburn probably has the best combo of stuff and feel in the system.  He knows how to pitch, kind of like Kyle Hendricks, and has the same type of ground ball stuff but with a little more consistent velocity.  Expect Blackburn to get time at High-A Myrtle Beach this year, and possibly Double-A Tennessee.  I’m excited about the type of pitcher, and person that Pauly is, you should be too.

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Cubs Acquire Dexter Fowler

The Cubs Convention is over, and the brain trust of the Chicago Cubs is back to work.  Earlier this morning the Cubs acquired Dexter Fowler from the Houston Astros for RHP Dan Straily, and bat flipping third baseman Luis Valbuena.  It’s the latest in a string of moves this off-season that signal the Cubs are no longer the doormat of Major League baseball, and have turned the corner in their building process.

Dan Straily was acquired from Oakland last year in the Jeff Samardzija deal, and Luis Valbuena was a waiver wire pickup.  Theo and Jed were able to turn that into Dexter Fowler, who will be the everyday centerfielder for the Chicago Cubs, he might play Fowlersome left field as well.  Fowler is the prototypical lead-off man, the kind that Joe Maddon loves, and that the Cubs have been without for so very long.  Fowler is an on base machine, .366 OBP for his career, and finished 2014 at a .375 clip.  You know what you are going to get with Fowler, he puts the bat on the ball, and isn’t afraid to take a walk, 60+ walks is the norm for Fowler.  This move opens up a number of possibilities for the Cubs heading into 2015.

TIME FOR KRIS BRYANT!!!  Well, not exactly.  I know Cubs fans all over want to see Kris Bryant at third base opening night, I do too, but let’s be realistic.  The Cubs have always pushed the service time issues with their prospects, and I doubt that the Cubs will fold now.  However, if Bryant forces the Cubs hand with a solid Spring Training then he might end up starting the season on the Northside.  Let’s just say that he doesn’t, and starts the season in Iowa, Bryant will be on the bleachers schedule, not ready for opening day, but spectacular when opened/called up.  My best guess is that Mike Olt will be given every opportunity to start the season at third base.  Olt is healthy, and has shown the ability to beat the crap out of the baseball, and play a better than average third base, so he’s the first choice.  I could also see Arismendy Alcantara moving back to second base with newcomer Tommy La Stella, and Javier Baez moving to third.  The important point here is that the Cubs have seemingly endless options with their every day lineup, something Joe Maddon is a wizard with, and I’m excited to see what he will do.

Pitchers, and catchers report in less than a month, and the hype machine is already in overdrive.

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Kris Bryant doing Kris Bryant Things (VIDEO)

Home run number 14 at Iowa for Kris Bryant.  After a mini-slump, Bryant has stormed back at the plate, which is a very good sign.  Sometimes young players can’t get themselves out of a funk, Bryant has been able to, at the highest minor league level.

 

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Kris Bryant Joins the 30-Homer Club (VIDEO)

Kris Bryant and Javy Baez went deep in the same game for the second time this weekend yesterday.  Bryant got all of this one for his eighth home run in Iowa, and 30th overall this season, it’s July 7th.

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What? Oh, Just a Kris Bryant Bomb (VIDEO)

Bryant and Baez hit HR’s in the same game for the first time…. first…. of many….. in Chicago?  We all hope so, for now, enjoy these fireworks (PUN!).

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Kris Bryant Hits Huge Grand Slam (VIDEO)

Wow.  With the Iowa Cubs trailing 5-2 in the eighth inning, Kris Bryant stepped to the plate with the bases loaded….. BOOM!  It was probably the biggest home run that Bryant has hit in his young career, nice to see him come through in a big spot with a huge hit.

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Kris Bryant is on a Homer Binge Again (VIDEOS)

After hitting two bombs on Sunday, Kris Bryant went deep again yesterday, that’s four homers with Iowa already.

Here’s the video, enjoy.

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Bryant Debuts in Iowa With a Blast! (Updated with VIDEO)

Kris Bryant made the wait for the Iowa Cubs game today well worth it.  After a lengthy rain delay, and three empty at bats from Bryant, he delivered.  After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Bryant worked it full and drove the next pitch over the right field wall for his first AAA home run.

The kid is special, the fans in Tennessee learned that quickly, now the fans in Iowa will figure it out, then… well, Chicago.

Here are a couple videos of the HR…

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Kris Bryant Destroys Home Run Number 22 (VIDEO)

Another night, and another bomb from Bryant, twenty-two on the year.

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Kris Bryant Crushes HR Number Nine (VIDEO)

This was from last night, holy crap.  That ball was destroyed, and I like it.  He also hit his 10th HR of the season tonight, as soon as I have video, I will post it!

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