Thompson’s Ups, Rivas’s Issue, Swarmer’s Tipping, Palencia’s Upside and other Cubs bullets

It’s NBA Draft Day! For those of you who love the Chicago Bulls, be sure to follow our coverage there. That could be challenging, as the Bulls are reportedly very open to business with Choice 18 (and Coby White?).

  • There’s a playoff seat up for grabs tonight for the Cubs! Well, the Low-A Cubs affiliate anyway. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are a win – or defeat in Charleston – away from winning the championship in the first half, which brings them to a place in the postseason. Go birds.
  • Keegan Thompson has now had the two best starts of his consecutive career, and the fact that they came right after a hiccup from multiple starts is really encouraging. We know there will be ups and downs as pitchers develop in the big leagues, and it’s nice to notice the highs as well as the lows.

  • It’s nice to see the Cubs finally on the other side of an “oh wow it’s been a long time historically since this silly and embarrassing thing happened”:
  • Alfonso Rivas scored a grand slam last night, which is always fun, even if coming out of a position player certainly distorts the evaluation value:
  • Since returning to the big leagues to replace Frank Schwindel (defender), Rivas has scored big numbers in a small champion, but still manages to beat more than 30% of the time. It’s a real oddity for his career track record, but the league realized last year into this year that he has serious problems breaking fields. He’s sniffing them a little more than last year, and he’s chasing them more often (and sniffing on just about every breakthrough he chases). And besides, when he comes into contact with things that break, he more or less he never makes good contact. He’s handling quick balls and shifts pretty well, but if the improvements don’t come particularly against the sliders, he won’t survive in the big leagues.
  • Ian Happ’s high school coach was at the game last night to see Happ homer again, and had as much praise as you can for a former player:
  • Happ is up to .291 / .390 / .480 / 141 wRC + in its All-Star campaign.
  • Well, that makes a lot of sense given how duped the hitters looked on his first two starts and then how they looked completely on him in the next few starts: The Cubs think Matt Swarmer has overturned his shots (Tribune). It seems to become more of a problem when he’s struggling with his mechanics and / or he’s already going through hard work, because then the game speeds up and it’s a little easier not to protect yourself from rolling over. So if you are a little wild (like he was), if you get hit (like he was) and if you only have two throws (which he does) then it’s a recipe for a poor start to become a disaster very quickly. . The Cubs and Swarmer are working on it.
  • Of course, while it does fix this, it won’t fix any control issues or limited pitch mix, but I’ll be curious to see if there will be any noticeable improvements in contact quality in the coming weeks. It was weird to see a guy like Swarmer getting a lot of puffs, but then also being completely shattered when the hitter makes contact (and not just on the fastball).
  • Oh, meanwhile, yeah, the Cubs and Swarmer are also still working on a change as a third court, but it can be pretty hard to get one into playable form when a guy is even just trying to stay afloat in the big leagues. My guess is that if and when the rotation returns to full health and Swarmer returns to Iowa for a while, the Cubs will want him to work more aggressively on the gearbox so they can evaluate it before the off-season.
  • I’m hoping to get to some Cubs Prospect Notes soon, but in case it wasn’t soon enough, I didn’t want to not mention this ridiculousness:
  • Palencia, who joined the Cubs last summer in Andrew Chafin’s swap, is a potential star. He hits triple digits with his fastball (and has held it for five innings), his slider is ugly and hits 95 (!) Mph, and this year he’s pitching at High-A despite having only 31.1 innings of professional experience. TOTAL before this season. The risks remain sky-high with any 22-year-old pitcher who is alone in high A, and Palencia still has a lot to develop to do, but he is among the few who have a real advantage at the front of the rotation. He was acquired as a pure scouting game in that deal, and it seems the Cubs were right.
  • If you want to see Jordan Wicks starting tonight, pay attention:
  • The official USA collections for this year:
  • This is nice to look at:
  • Speaking of Clay Holmes, we talked yesterday about organizations that are very good at improving big league pitchers after acquiring them (the Yankees were in the top four), and Holmes is a pretty extreme example of that. He went from mediocre rescuer with the Pirates to super elite rescuer with the Yankees practically overnight at last year’s deadline. The Yankees helped him improve his already good platinum, improve his slider considerably and get out of his curveball. They had clearly explored it so well in advance that they knew exactly what they wanted to do. He keeps working for this, Chicago Cubs …

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