I have to confess, I was pessimistic on Ian Happ entering this season. At the time he was drafted I liked the pick, I'm a big fan of polished bats in the first round, and who could argue the Front Office's process after the immediate success of Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. Still, Happ underwhelmed me in his first exposure to pro ball. You hope for better than a .348 wOBA and 23.6% K% from your Top 10 college bat in Low A. Especially one like Happ who has questions about his future position and if he'll provide any defensive value. Visions of Eric Patterson danced in my head. With that in mind I didn't consider Happ in the top tier of Cubs prospects, and slotted him #9 when I put together a list to start the year.Add a comment
If you've heard Theo Epstein talk about player development, you've probably heard this phrase: Control the Zone. Short hand for how Theo wants Cubs players to use the strike zone to their advantage, people generally understand the application when it comes to hitters. Work counts in your favor, and attack pitches you can drive, not just pitches that happen to be strikes.
The same logic applies to pitchers as well. The Cubs want to control the zone, which means throwing strikes and more importantly, not walking people. What's missing in that equation is the corollary to 'attack pitches you can drive'. Just like the Cubs want hitters to focus on strikes that they can drive, they want pitchers to throw strikes that are less likely to be driven. This isn't easy to do, and almost as difficult to measure, but I think contact management is something the Cubs put a lot of weight behind.Add a comment