Ray Renfield is still overseas staking out the opposition, so here I am again, interviewing Brandon Palmer. We’ll try to take it easy on the Gouden Carolus but no promises.
CT — Good evening, Brandon. Congratulations on the victory. Sorry if I messed up the Matrix by using the wrong location...
BP — Hey, that stuff happens. It’s all IO, you know. 45 wins! We’re a half-game in the loss column behind Cleveland for best record in baseball.
CT — Indeed. Jon Lester is having a renaissance of sorts for you. He looks locked-in and determined to get his option picked up. 10 wins already!
BP — And how! Jon is SUCH a competitor. He hates to lose at Go Fish. I can imagine the Mrs. is looking forward to having the World’s Greatest Dishwasher hanging around all the time after he retires ... though I suspect a lot of golf and fishing might be more on his mind.
CT — 200 wins is about as much as anyone can expect these days. Jon usually gets a decision because he stays in the game longer. Is that because you trust Jon and Kyle Hendricks to get out of jams? I can’t help but notice that Tyler Chatwood rarely makes it to the fifth no matter how he’s pitching... and Yu Darvish is inconsistent. Ryan Yarbrough gets the benefit of the doubt also.
BP — More or less. Tyler and Yu seem to fall apart all at once. I try to anticipate when that might happen and get a fresh arm in there. Professor hasn’t gotten lit up all year and Jon’s just had the one iffy performance. Ryan is just good — we’re very pleased with him. That’s why they’re all over the leaderboards ... and both are strong contenders to be on the All-Star team, too. Willie is gonna make it, and Javy, and we’re making a push to get JHey on that crew, too. He’s having a terrific year with the bat — his numbers are comparable to KB’s, and that’s good.
Anthony is probably going to be there, too. We’re blessed to have so many quality players. Happer is a dark-horse candidate also. And our whole bullpen could go. Man, they have been special. They take it personally when someone gets on base — if they give up a run we have to call the crisis hotline.
CT — That speaks well of their determination and competitiveness...
BP — Absolutely. Right now, Willson Contreras leads in batting WAR. We have guys near the top in almost every category except for walks, and we’re working on that. We HAVE to stop swinging at the slider low and outside. And KB leads the league in strikeouts, and that’s just weird. He’s doing okay but he’s not having a KB kind of year. Leading off didn’t help his numbers, but he was trying to help the team, and we appreciate that.
However, we have the GLOAT on hand, and he loves it. Anthony is just a treasure. His attitude is the best. He doesn’t take off a pitch. I can’t complain. We’re 45-19 and guys at Iowa are suing to get to come up. But there’s no room. And those guys are being pushed from underneath by the kids at Tennessee. The Smokies’ record isn’t the best but they’re competitive and the recent draft will definitely help that team in 2021.
CT — Right! Tell us about those players.
BP — In the first round, we took right-handed Cuban-born second baseman Willy Lorenz. Willy has a high floor and will debut at Double-A, I’m sure. He has decent speed and can steal a bag, makes excellent contact, especially against lefties, has a terrific glove with a plus-plus arm, and has a bit of growing to do still — he’s 5-11 and 167 lbs. He’ll develop a little power and we’re going to see if he can adapt to switch-hitting.
Cuba also yielded our second-round pick, 18-year-old starter Johnnie Rosado. Johnnie has plus-plus velocity, good control, and the scouts say that he’s just a horse. He’s 6-2 and 200 lbs and throws two kinds of fastballs with a deadly changeup. He’ll get in the lab and learn a slider or curve, and we expect him to rise through the system swiftly.
Our third-rounder is Robby Volpe, a strapping young lad from California. He’s also just 18, signed right out of high school, and throws five basic pitches. Both four-and-two seam fastballs, change, curve, slider, with plus-plus-plus velocity and good control. He needs to learn to not put the ball over the middle of the plate and he’ll be fine. Plus he’s a good hitter from both sides of the plate... which may or may not be necessary by the time he gets to the bigs.
In the fourth we got a guy we’ve been watching, Catcher Henry Alecio. Henry’s 19, from the Dominican Republic, a tall, skinny drink of water with a rifle arm who should grow into a little power. He’s probably going to start in A ball but we have high hopes for him. He reminded us of the young infielder Willson Contreras, has that kind of motor.
In the fifth we took close Alberto Piniero, who throws a plus-plus four-seamer, plus-plus cutter, and plus curve and change. He’s from Puerto Rico but went to school at Florida State and piled up the good numbers there. He has maybe the highest ceiling of any of our picks and is big and strong at 6-2, 225.
The sixth round yielded 18-year-old lefty-swinging outfielder Michael Compton, who has wheels to burn and a special glove. He came from Gates/Chili High School, just outside Rochester, New York, and had been courted by SUNY and Cornell, but he signed with us and is going to get some instructional league action. He’s got some power too, at 6’2” and 220 pounds. We see him as maybe the leadoff man of the future ... or a utility man for now. He can play all over the diamond.
This year we were looking for some tools, especially the kind we’re in short supply of, and of course for the good character our players are known for. We wanted to get stronger up the middle and add some effective arms to the organization, and I’d have to say it looks like we accomplished that. We have a lot of college players in the system and we wanted also to get some real young raw talent in for our guys to work with and turn into Cubs.
CT — Great stuff! Thanks, Brandon. Let’s toast the Cubs and the new Cubs, and we’ll do it again next week!
BP — Sounds good to me!
NOTE: The players in the simulated draft are also simulated.