Justin Bour was the 25th-round pick of the Cubs in 2009.
Most guys chosen in rounds that low become organizational players, or never play much at all; no one else selected in that round has played even one game in the major leagues. There are a lot of players picked that low in the draft that are college seniors, as was Bour; that likely means they don't have much chance of getting to the show.
That's how little the Cubs thought of him, too. He hit pretty well in the Cubs system, but not well enough to give him any real chance to make the big leagues. In fact, the Cubs thought so little of him that they didn't protect him in the minor-league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 draft. He was chosen by the Marlins, who sent him to Triple-A. With fewer people blocking him in that system, he had another year comparable to his Cubs minor-league campaigns in 2014, and he made the big leagues and hit a few homers for Miami last year.
This season, suddenly, Bour has become a major power source. He hit a three-run walkoff homer against the Giants Thursday, and Friday, his sixth-inning homer off Jason Hammel was the difference in the Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Marlins on a gorgeous afternoon, the nicest day of the summer so far. (Low bar to hurdle with all the rain and wind and chill and clouds during June, I know.) Bour has homered in four consecutive games and has 10 on the year in only 140 at-bats.
After Christian Yelich homered in the first inning, Hammel didn't help himself when he failed to cover first base with two out. Bour, who has to be one of the slowest men in baseball (he has never stolen a base nor attempted one in the big leagues), beat Anthony Rizzo to the bag. It didn't result in any more runs, but Hammel, apparently rattled, walked J.T. Realmuto before getting a comebacker to end the inning. It did result in extra unnecessary pitches being thrown.
Hammel did settle down and wound up retiring 14 straight Marlins before Bour's home run just barely made it over the wall into the first row of the right-field bleachers. The Cubs had tied the game in the bottom of the first on a Kris Bryant double and Miguel Montero single, but couldn't do anything else with Marlins pitching. They did manage to get Chris Denorfia to third with two out in the fourth, but he was stranded when Hammel grounded out. The eighth brought another runner in scoring position when Bryant walked and stole second with two out -- stranded again.
In the ninth, Chris Coghlan led off with a single.
Would you have bunted in that situation? Joe Maddon did, granted that he had one of the best bunters on the team, Jonathan Herrera, at bat. Herrera bunted a bit too hard toward second and Coghlan was forced.
Or was he? Coghlan signaled safe with his arms, and Maddon went to the top step of the dugout, and we thought a review was coming. But none happened, and Coghlan trotted off the field. At that point in the game, why not ask for a review? Couldn't have hurt.
Starlin Castro, who got the day off from starting, grounded to short, with Herrera taking second, but Addison Russell struck out to end it.
There are times when good teams -- and the Cubs are a good team -- just can't beat certain other teams even though those other squads appear clearly inferior. Maybe the Marlins are that team this year. The Cubs did pretty well in holding them to just the two solo homers, but there's no reason the Cubs shouldn't be able to score more than one run off a starter like Tom Koehler. They are simply going to have to figure out ways to generate more offense. I understand Maddon's desire to give guys days off, but at this point perhaps it's got to be "all hands on deck." The offense will be helped with the return of Jorge Soler, who is expected to play all nine innings tonight at Triple-A Iowa.
The bleachers, at last, were completely open for Friday's game, with new lower concourses containing concession stands with quite a number of new food choices. I'll have a separate post on the new bleachers coming up a bit later this afternoon or early evening.
And if you were one of the 40 percent who voted for "someone from outside the organization" in this week's post asking who the 2,000th Cubs player would be, you were right. It will be Richard. Hope this milestone makes for a successful Cubs debut.