I think it hit me a week ago Monday morning, when I was watching Rob Zastryzny pitch against the Mississippi Braves. I had seen him pitch once as a pro, and that was due to a field trip to Burlington, Iowa. Other than that, nothing. The Florida State League has no MiLB.TV participants. The Midwest League has some, but they are scattered. Now, any Zastryzny start (with a few exceptions) will be aired from now until he is traded, released, or otherwise. Similarly, no succeeding pitcher figures to be on stealth mode either, once they hit full season ball. Even if you don't subscribe, your knowledge of the Cubs prospects will be aided by the surprisingly large number of us that still create time to follow the minors.
Information is power.
The longer I follow the minor leagues closely, the more I feel comfortable reaching back for data points. One of the recent historic comps I look at this year looks at Zastryzny and Jake Stinnett. Both were second round drafted pitchers, in the 2013 and 2014 respectively. In 2014, Zastryzny was entering his first full professional season, and performed fairly well in spring training. Due to a relative lack of depth of pitching depth in Daytona (then, the Cubs Advanced-A team), Zastryzny was assigned to the Florida State League.
This time around, Stinnett was very solid in Arizona. However, with the current Myrtle Beach pitching staff (the equivalent of Daytona in 2014) flush with talent, Stinnett had to settle for being the Opening Day starter in the Midwest League. The Cubs system is ridiculously deep in talent on both the pitching and hitting fronts.
Since this seems to be the Zastryzny edition, a switch-hitter batted lefty against Zastryzny yesterday. They had never opposed each other, and Zyzy had reverse splits last season. The result was a strikeout.
It seems other teams have less concern trotting out high draft selections to pitch in the Midwest League than the Cubs do. The Twins ran out Kohl Stewart last season. He did well until he had a shoulder impingement. The Cardinals sent out Jack Flaherty (34th overall selection) on opening day, and he lasted three innings, walking three, fanning three and surrendering an earned run. The Brewers started Kodi Medeiros (12th overall selection), and he threw six no-hit innings. He fanned seven, walked one, and nobody took him out of the infield. What's more, it was against the Cardinals.
I prefer slow-playing pitchers, and building their endurance.
I will be over-analyzing Gleyber Torres. I admit it. I'm as interested in his approach as I am in his results. In his first two games, he went hitless. In his last two at-bats in the second game, he swung at the first pitch and had weak results. In his first at-bat on Saturday, he scratched out an infield hit, and let out a big grin. The only weak at bat he had all night long was in extra-innings, when asked to bunt after the hitter before him led off with a double. Torres fouled off strike three for his only out of the night. The next evening, he responded with a two-hit night.
If his bat is OPS .700 good at this level at this age, that's a plus. In case you're wondering, it's at .764.
I have to get more familiar with the South Bend pitchers. Jeremy Null was very solid, but I have no book on him. Tommy Thorpe sounds like a standard lefty reliever, albeit with a fastball over 90 miles per hour. A known quantity out of Oregon, he shouldn't have lasted until round eight.
Myrtle Beach is lefty-hitter dominated. Only three of the hitters are listed as right-handed-only hitters. Look for them to see a heavy dose of lefty starters.
A bit short this week, as I have only four games to go on. I haven't seen them all, either.
Three Up-Three Down
Iowa's Junior Lake has an OPS of .399, and has fanned five times versus one walk.
Iowa's Donn Roach (2.06 WHIP) had a rough first start.
Tennessee's Zach Cates is one batter retired from having an ERA of 54.00. At least the other three runs were unearned.
Iowa's Addison Russell and Kris Bryant both have an OPS over 1.000 coming into Monday's action. Russell is at 1.032 and Bryant is at 1.066. It's odd that nobody thinks either should be considered for a callup.
I thought Tennessee's Felix Pena was a one-shot deal when he pitched Boise into the league championship in 2012. Apparently not. His WHIP three levels up is 0.67 so far.
Of all the offensive threats for Myrtle Beach, Daniel Lockhart leads the Pelicans in OPS at .964.
Rashad Crawford is 4-10 with three walks and a pair of steals for South Bend.
South Bend's Cael Brockmeyer has an OPS of 1.371.
Jeremy Null leads the SB Cubs in strikeouts with seven in five innings. Ryan McNeil is second with five in three.