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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Michael McAvene

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He’s been injured, but still has talent.

Michael McAvene pitching for Louisville in the 2018 ACC Championship game
Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I enjoy music reaction videos. Not all of them, mind you. I enjoy watching people enjoying music that I happen to enjoy, already. When I know the hook is coming in the track, I get to see the look in a music-lover’s eyes when “it” happens. I have a few artists (on the music and reaction angle) that I enjoy in these sorts of situations. While music reaction videos have nothing directly to do with relief pitchers developing, this still serves as my entry to my Michael McAvene prospect perspective.

Michael McAvene

Right-handed pitcher. Born August 24, 1997. Indianapolis, Indiana.
2019 3rd Round pick (Cubs), University of Louisville

I’ll get this out of the way first. McAvene created a bit of a divide getting suspended for three games in the NCAA tournament in 2019 by arguing balls and strikes. As a pitcher, that got him suspended for three games. His Cardinals got through to the next round, getting McAvene back involved.

With McAvene on the mound, three questions loomed. One had largely been answered. He was an upper-nineties reliever with the ability to hit triple-figures. In 12⅔ innings for Eugene (in the old Northwest League) in his draft year, he fanned 20, walking only four. Would he begin 2020 as a starter, or as a reliever, in Low-A South Bend? Alas, no, as the 2020 minor league season never began. (You’ll never convince me that players like McAvene wouldn’t have benefited from some sort of practices that year. But, MLB owners limited team to only 60 players getting to practice, per organization. So self-sabotagingly stupid.)

When minor league games returned in 2021, McAvene missed almost the entire season due to injury, getting a late cameo in Mesa, with similar results to what Brailyn Marquez had about a year before, albeit for possibly different reasons. McAvene had at least returned to the bump from whatever malady it was.

One of the music video I like to watch people react to is “Whiter Shade Of Pale” by “Procol Harum”. Many of us old farts remember the version from the late 1960s. The video that gets reacted to is a live orchestral remake from 2006, recorded in Denmark. The full string accompaniment makes it an even more lush and beautiful piece of music. People with no idea what they’re walking into are often stunned by this performance.

What strikes me is how often I hear people comment on how “I love the strings.” I can’t argue. (I often recommend they listen to “Conquistador” from the same concert, which is less pretty, but slightly more frantic.) When I hear people say they like the strings, or whatever, an alarm bell goes off in my mind every time. However, I’m not forward enough to go there. “If you like the strings, why don’t you look more aggressively into Brahms, Mozart, or Beethoven? Their strings are much better than those adapted from Procol Harum songs.”

If something works, it works. McAvene, as a draft choice, made sense. I don’t know if he’ll ever stay healthy or have a secondary pitch worth bragging about, but drafting high 90s and up works. If the pitcher can actually pitch. McAvene could, pre-injury. I doubt using him as a 50-pitch arm is realistic after his injury (whatever it was) in 2022. Having him as a 20- or 30-pitch guy in Myrtle Beach in 2022 would be fantastic. Whether McAvene works out or not, he was a logical selection. (“Was a good draft choice?” and “Has he developed exactly as hoped?” are entirely different ideas, and should be treated as such.)

The Cubs pipeline, unlike a decade ago, has arms enough at every level to represent, health pending. If the best level of baseball we can follow during the lockout is college, Louisville’s is a totally legitimate one to prioritize. (As is Kentucky, if you think I’m taking sides in the Bluegrass Baseball debate.) Take a side, and spend the time you would have listened to Rob Manfred shill for the owners, and learn about a team of kids wanting to play ball. Or watch reaction videos. I refuse to acknowledge Manfred’s screeds, much less pay specific attention to them.

Poll

Which Procol Harum song is better?

  • 52%
    A Whiter Shade of Pale
    (65 votes)
  • 16%
    Conquistador
    (20 votes)
  • 13%
    They are equally good
    (16 votes)
  • 17%
    No opinion
    (22 votes)
123 votes total Vote Now