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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Hunter Bigge

In the expansion era (since 1961), just eight baseball players from Harvard have made the big leagues. Bigge hopes to be the ninth.

Hunter Bigge
Courtesy Harvard University

These articles often start with the reasons for writing them. Occasionally, the rabble of Cubs fans get rather dismissive toward developing players over whichever reasons apply. “(Insert name here) is sunk because of his (insert numeric marker, here).” “The other guy can’t stay healthy. And that reliever’s numbers are hideous.” It would be amusing if it were a Second City sketch, but people actually believe that the numbers they’re looking at tell 85 percent or more of the story. Something rather basic gets lost between actual organizational executives and weekend worriers looking at a statistical encapsulation between bites of a microwaved burrito. While numbers tell part of the story, a more important angle could be missed or ignored.

Hunter Bigge, right-handed pitcher

Born June 12, 1998. Los Gatos, California.
2019 Draft (12th Round, Cubs) Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

When Bigge was drafted, he came with more hype than some 12th round choices. Paradoxically, coming from the Ivy League might have helped in the Cubs prospect universe. If he’d been from a mid-major in the south, the novelty factor might have waned. With Bigge and his fastball (mid-90s), there was interest. At least, more than with some pitchers.

With the velocity also comes a bit of wildness. Which should come as a bit expected. Pitchers tossing mid-90s don’t necessarily slip to the 12th round. (Maybe they do, now, as velocity is king, even more than before.) What seems to happen is, the attributes and detractions are all written on a board, and the prospect fan is expected to prioritize one side or the other, but not both. Or something.

Bigge hasn’t figured out commanding where the ball is going.

He might never figure out that aspect of pitching. Or, he might figure it out next May or June, improving from there. We don’t know this stuff in advance, any better than we know how healthy the player will be. We can be supportive, or not supportive. I choose being supportive. If he lacked “a camel through the eye of a needle’s” chance, he’d be released.

As that hasn’t happened yet, the Cubs still believe in Bigge enough to presumably give him housing througfh the next minor league season. Bigge’s Advanced-A ERA in 2021 was 5.66. He walked 17 hitters in 20⅔ innings. Which doesn’t mean he’s a terrible pitcher. It means the lightbulb hasn’t gone on at the High-A Level, and little else. If a player still has a roster spot, someone still believes in him, someone who has studied his prospect flight plan quite a bit more closely than I have.

When talking about developing players, it takes very little to be respectful. I’ll even be respectful of players who get released, if they didn’t embarrass the organization. I’d expect Bigge to repeat Advanced-A Ball, hopefully with better zone command.