I've been in Arizona this week golfing and watching baseball (though less of the latter than I'd like). I've seen a couple of Cubs games, and I've got a couple of thoughts to share that are too developed to share through twitter. (Which, by the way, follow me on Twitter at @TommyECook!)
- Mike Olt has a very quick bat. I've never had the chance to see Mike Olt in person until this week, so this was news to me. I knew he would have a fast bat just based on his minor league power numbers, but seeing it in person was something else. Against Felipe Paulino today, he was actually early on 95mph gas. Needless to say after this short preview, I'm extremely excited to watch Olt this season. That kind of bat speed leads to some really fun results.
- Olt also looks to be pretty good on the basepaths. Not going to steal many bases, but it's always nice when a player can read the ball off the bat well and take extra bases.
- Neil Ramirez looks really legit. I saw him twice this week, and he was sitting 95-97 (according to the stadium gun) with a 90-91 mph cutter/baby slider that was a true weapon. He retired 5 of the 6 batters he faced by strikeout, with 3 or 4 of them coming on that cutter. I don't know what the Cubs plan to do with him this season, but I think he'd be an effective reliever the second he's on the roster.
- I can also see why Ramirez has had shoulder injuries in the past. In more than a few deliveries, his front knee locked up with his foot strike, as opposed to a flexed knee at foot strike.
- I think we're going to be really happy with Bonifacio on this team. He's not a great ballplayer, but the ability to play a ton of positions with at least a little bit of offensive production is an upgrade over the bench players of the last few years. Having a player with his speed on the bases should also be nice from a "stolen bases and fast guys are fun to watch" perspective.
- Matt Szczur has a future in a MLB outfield, even if it is just as a fifth outfielder type. Did you see that catch he made today!? He ran a long way and laid flat out to make an amazing catch. Not many outfielder can make that play.
- Jose Abreu (new White Sox 1B) was late on a 90mph fastball from James Russell. I don't know if he guessed wrong or what, but it was a chest high fastball and he was noticeably late on it, which was surprising to me. He's a large dude, and I haven't seen enough of him to have an opinion of him one way or another, but seeing him whiff on that pitch wasn't what I was hoping to see.
- Abreu also sets up strangely at first base as he's getting ready to receive a throw - his foot is either in-front of or behind the base, and way deep in the base. In other words, his foot/ankle are in prime position to get stepped on if he doesn't yank away his foot at the last second. My guess is that set-up wont last very long.
- Avisail Garcia is an enormous human being. I saw him from about twenty feet away and he's built like a linebacker.
- The book is also out on the current version of Garcia, and that book says, "throw him spinning stuff." He looked really bad against all off-speed and breaking offerings.
- Adam Eaton made a similar grab to the one Szczur made, and had a good day at the plate to boot. Still really like that acquisition by the White Sox.
- For the love of God, everybody, please stop calling them the Chi-Sox. Ugh.
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