With the Major Leaguers taking swings at Sloan Park, the backfields at the Cubs complex was all about the prospects Sunday.
Ryan Williams, Carl Edwards Jr. and Pierce Johnson threw live batting practice. And both Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr. put on a show during coach-pitched batting practice.
Sunday started with pitchers fielding practice (PFPs) and infield drills. While those practices sound boring, they are really interesting to watch. With pitchers it is easy to tell which ones are the better athletes of the group. Andury Acevedo did not pitch Sunday, but he stood out in PFPs.
The day started on a bad note when Christian Villanueva was carted off the field. News surfaced after practice that he will miss significant time with a broken right fibula. Villanueva was off to a good start in spring practices and was looking to build off his performance in Winter Ball and make the team.
Ryan Williams threw live BP on Field 6 and was very sharp. What contact he gave up was all on the ground and would have been routine outs. Everything Williams threw was down in the zone.
Williams appeared to throw four pitches: fastball, curve, slider and changeup.
Williams worked out of the wind up. Very good mechanics, repeated his delivery extremely well. His release points seemed to change based on the pitch he was throwing. Just a slight difference, but there was a difference. Gun readings are not made public, so not exactly sure how hard he was throwing.
Appeared to have a lot of movement on all his pitches. Not many flat, straight fastballs.
Ryan Williams was rather impressive Sunday in a controlled environment. A ton of upside with him.
Carl Edwards Jr.
Carl Edwards Jr. followed Williams on Field 6 and was outstanding. Edwards Jr. has an easy, fluid motion with just incredible stuff. Edwards Jr. has excellent arm action, just effortless. Like playing catch.
Edwards Jr. pitched only out of the stretch and did an excellent job repeating his delivery and release point.
Taylor Davis caught his session.
Pierce Johnson threw live BP on Field 5 under the watchful eye of Chris Bosio. Johnson had Willson Contreras behind the plate and looked very good. Repeated delivery, easy arm action. Johnson, like Edwards Jr., threw only out of the stretch.
Johnson’s stuff and ability has never been in question. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field and off the DL. Johnson looked good Sunday, exactly what was expected.
Cubs Spring Practice Notes
• Albert Almora Jr. has bulked up, added muscle and really drove the ball well Sunday during coach-pitched batting practice. Smooth swing, very good contact. Barreled up a lot of balls and several of them left the park. Rather impressed from what I’ve seen in practice from Almora Jr. The defense is not the question with him. It’s the offense and there’s been a lot of improvement.
• Willson Contreras caught Pierce Johnson. Hard to tell from the angles, appeared to let the ball come to him. Was not stabbing at it, good receiver. In BP, Contreras makes very good contact, lots of movement in the box. Makes that wonderful sound when he squares up a baseball.
• John Andreoli lacked consistency with his swing path Sunday. When he was on, good contact with unexpected lift on the ball. When he was off, it was obvious. Athletic player that could be a good fourth or fifth outfielder in the majors if he can hit enough.
• Sunday was shorts day for the players. Pitchers and catchers started the day in shorts and t-shirts and changed into uniform for live batting practice. But the rest of the players donned “Do Simple Better” and “In Blue Out Red” t-shirts. By now, everyone has seen the front and back of the “In Blue Out Red” t-shirts, but on the sleeve there is a “W” flag followed by “hen It Happens.”
• Kerry Wood and Jon Lieber were on the backfields Sunday with gloves and decked out in “In Blue Out Red” t-shirts and shorts.