The Cubs' AA affiliate is playing in Birmingham, which is where I live, so why don't I go to some games!
I skipped Saturday (Matt Loosen walked 7 in 3.2 innings so nice job me) but was definitely not going to miss uber-prospect CJ Edwards on the mound on Sunday.
Boy is this kid skinny. He's super tall, and super wiry. All the scouting you hear about him needing to find a way to fill out is super legit.
I took a video of him throwing a pitch and put it on Instagram so you could see.
I think I cropped the video so you couldn't see CJ and Kris Bryant in the same frame (can't remember right now and I'm lazy), but seeing those two stand next to each other is pretty crazy. Where CJ is a marionette, Bryant is a bruiser: he looks every bit of the 6'5", 215 pounds he's listed at on Baseball-Reference.
For all his size though, Bryant brings a great approach to the plate. In the first at-bat of his I saw, he definitely changed his swing with two strikes and rapped a single into center to plate a run in the first inning. Bryant ended the day with two singles and a strikeout -- I'll have to go to some more games this week to catch a glimpse of his big in-game power, I guess.
On the other hand, CJ throws like a guy that weighs 160 (150?) - he was mostly 88-89 on the Regions Field gun when I looked, and his breaking ball was in the upper 70s. He was super crisp in the first -- three groundouts, none hit very hard at all -- but gave up more solid contact as the game went on. Of course that's true of any pitcher -- the second and third times through the lineup are more difficult -- but for me it was less that hitters started recognizing his stuff better, and more that Edwards wasn't as sharp. In the 6th inning, Edwards pushed the leadoff man to a full count, then bounced a breaking ball about 4 feet in front of the plate on 3-2. He would escape the inning safely -- a hard-hit ground ball turned into a double play, and the next batter flew out weakly on the infield. But the kid definitely has some work to do on building up endurance.
I hope to see Edwards' strength increase over the course of the AA season. And even if his numbers are great for four months, I don't see him forcing his way into AAA anytime this year -- I think he'll get the full season to build up his arm against AA hitters.
Bryant, however, looks like a real pro. I saw Javy Baez hit at AA last year, and on the eye-test alone I would take Bryant over Baez if I had to pick one. But I guess that's what prospects are about: Baez has the higher ceiling, but Bryant the higher floor. We'll see who can reach what.
If you live in a Southern League town and see Kris Bryant headed your way, hurry up and catch a game, because I don't think he's long for the league.
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Filed under: Minor League News