August 20, 2022

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Chicago Cubs minor-league notes: Yohendrick Piñango’s swing, a brand new setup to problem hitters and a couple of pitchers to look at at Triple A

Chicago Cubs supervisor David Ross is inherently targeted on the right here and now together with his staff.

However one perk of the lockout meant Ross hung out on the again fields on the Cubs advanced in Mesa, Ariz., and bought a glimpse of the longer term. A few of these gamers bought time in Cactus League video games, too, and will assist the Cubs quickly. Outfielder and prime prospect Brennen Davis most notably ought to arrive for his major-league debut someday this yr.

Towards the tip of big-league camp, Ross remarked on the great impression Davis made in six spring coaching video games, transferring effectively within the outfield and hitting two house runs in eight at-bats.

“It’s laborious to evaluate guys off such a brief spring coaching, however you may inform he’s simply beginning to fill out that physique and he seems the half,” Ross stated. “He had an important season final yr, continues to construct on that and hopefully we see him actually quickly.

“He’s a man that’s a kind of future items you see and form of watched him develop and put in loads of laborious work this offseason.”

Davis wasn’t alone in standing out. Outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong and Owen Caissie, infielder James Triantos and shortstop Ed Howard had their moments too. Caissie notably went 5-for-9 with two doubles and an RBI within the Cactus League.

With the minor-league season getting underway final week, it’s time to empty the pocket book from the advanced’s again fields — together with a take a look at two pitchers value maintaining a tally of at Triple A.

Yohendrick Piñango and his ‘God-given’ swing

Yohendrick Piñango all the time has liked baseball.

Rising up in Venezuela, he was consistently across the sport. Piñango realized he possessed a particular expertise whereas attending Future Stars Baseball Academy in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

“Once I was there, I began seeing the way it was daily,” Piñango instructed the Tribune by way of an interpreter. “I knew I had the talent, I had the expertise, however doing that on daily basis, that grind — that’s once I knew I used to be captivated with this and that I had the expertise to proceed to develop.”

Piñango, ranked the Cubs’ No. 10 prospect by Baseball America and No. 20 by MLB.com, is thought for his pure hitting capability. Baseball America rated him the Cubs system’s greatest energy hitter and he has elite contact-hitting capability, with the publication noting he’s a “consensus future plus hitter.” The left-handed-hitting outfielder stated he all the time has had a knack for hitting since he was younger and first moving into baseball.

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“I’ve had that God-given capability to have swing, be hitter,” Piñango stated, “but it surely’s additionally one thing that, though I do have that capability, I do work on it on daily basis and began since I used to be younger once I was a little bit child within the streets of Venezuela enjoying ball.”

Piñango, 19, didn’t have a typical offseason. He bought hit by a baseball in late November and required surgical procedure in December on his left pinky finger, which required three screws to be inserted. The freak harm was the primary time Piñango had any well being issues in his profession, making it powerful to take care of at first. However his physician reassured him after the process that it wouldn’t have an effect on his 2022 season.

By early March, he was 100% recovered and full go in camp. The Cubs are loaded with outfield expertise within the minor-league system, and Piñango shouldn’t be neglected. He’s opening the season at Excessive-A South Bend, the place he collected three hits in his first seven at-bats.

How pitching machines put together minor-leaguers

The setup was inconceivable to disregard.

Two pitching machines had been positioned on both aspect of the mound for minor-league batting follow. One was calibrated to throw left-handed sliders, the opposite right-handed fastballs. The differing speeds and angles challenged the younger hitters’ timing.

And that’s precisely why the Cubs have carried out this BP strategy for his or her minor-leaguers. They need to put them in a clumsy state of affairs and allow them to determine it out.

The message to the gamers: This can be a problem. Go determine it out and attempt to beat the problem.

“Quite a lot of the old-school baseball hasn’t challenged sufficient in a few of our batting follow settings,” minor-league hitting coordinator Dustin Kelly instructed the Tribune throughout camp. “So we’re establishing a constraint of a machine doing two various things. And it’s like, you guys, go be athletes and determine it out and let the baseball and the flight of the baseball form of inform us what we’re doing versus focusing an excessive amount of on mechanics.”

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Kelly stated that, as an trade, the emphasis on mechanics may be an excessive amount of at occasions. He has seen with the Cubs’ prime hitting prospects that they should be challenged extra. Whereas common BP nonetheless is used, generally extra constraints should be launched. The 2-machine setup was integrated all through the minor-league minicamp. It challenges every hitter otherwise.

“That battle of going backwards and forwards creates a little bit little bit of inner competitors,” Kelly stated. “Some guys are actually dangerous at it and a few guys are actually good. After which it simply organically creates a very enjoyable environment.”

Caissie has a selected plan when he faces these machines. When the left-handed-hitting outfielder faces the left-throwing slider machine, he tries to take it up the center, whereas he seems to remain again and drive the pitch off the fastball machine.

“All the pieces’s path for me and I simply attempt to maintain every thing to heart discipline,” Caissie stated. “The balls could not go to heart discipline, however my physique is transferring towards heart discipline. … Doing these drills within the discipline, it’s good for recognition as a result of we all the time get seems, seems, seems — it’s simply extra repetitions.”

Cayne Ueckert is a reliever to look at

Huge-league camp was every week from ending in Mesa, and Cayne Ueckert nonetheless had a locker within the clubhouse.

Ueckert, a Twenty seventh-round decide by the Cubs in 2019, was stunned to have acquired an invite to major-league camp not to mention nonetheless have a chance to indicate the employees what he might do days from the MLB season beginning.

The 25-year-old right-hander impressed in 4 Cactus League appearances — aided by an efficient two-seam fastball — placing out 5 and never strolling a batter in 3⅓ innings. Coming off a stellar efficiency at Double-A Tennessee, the place he had a 1.61 ERA in 24 appearances in 2022, Ueckert is opening the season at Triple-A Iowa.

It’s the primary time he has pitched at that stage and he’s nearer than ever to the majors. Getting a chance to indicate what he might do in 3½ weeks in camp put him extra on the radar. If the Cubs want aid assist through the season, Ueckert might pressure his manner onto the 40-man roster and into the massive leagues prior to later.

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“It means a little bit one thing, like perhaps they’ve plans (for me),” Ueckert stated. “However on the finish of the day, if I don’t carry out, it’s not going to pan out. So simply staying wholesome and do what I must do out there may be the largest factor.”

Caleb Kilian unlocks a key pitch

It’s laborious to enter an offseason a lot better than Caleb Kilian’s ending to 2021.

The fitting-hander, certainly one of two gamers the Cubs acquired from the San Francisco Giants for Kris Bryant, tossed six good innings within the Arizona Fall League championship recreation to win the title. It served as a springboard into an vital offseason through which pitch growth grew to become a focus.

In contrast to his curveball, which he bought to spin tougher and sharper in 5 AFL outings, Kilian couldn’t fairly get his new changeup grip. That work carried into the offseason, and it lastly began to really feel good two weeks earlier than he reported to minor-league minicamp in February.

“For me, it’s simply ending the ball, ending with the wrist on the very finish and throwing it like a fastball as an alternative of considering changeup, which was a tough factor to get out of my head,” Kilian stated. “Having a changeup is big. Quite a lot of hitters suppose that’s the perfect pitch within the recreation, so now that I even have a good one, I feel it’s going to make all my pitches higher.”

Kilian used the Cubs’ pitch lab to find out what grip works greatest action-wise after which the best way to throw it effectively. He stated pitch lab information is useful as a result of he didn’t notice he had a bizarre changeup grip all final season. It was a really common pitch for him, generally serving to him induce grounders, however he didn’t incorporate it a lot. Now Kilian makes use of a circle change grip.

An improved changeup to pitch off his fastball will assist Kilian at Triple A, his first time at that stage.

“You’ve bought to have fastball command. That goes a very good distance,” Kilian stated. “When you may command the fastball, you may have success and it makes the opposite pitches look that a lot better.”

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