There are two essential aspects to rookies receiving quality playing time on the big-league roster.
1: The team is in rebuild mode, where all viable options are used.
2: The team is unhealthy, allowing players to move from AAA to the major league roster.
The 2022 Cubs fit both of these areas, as many big-league players are on the IL and the Cubs sit eight games below .500.
I wrote about Christopher Morel a few weeks ago. His first-pitch debut home run was incredible.
Morel has reached base in all 19 games to start his career. That’s a franchise record for the Cubs. Morel provides an elite bat at the top of the order. Dexter Fowler was the last consistent leadoff hitter for the Cubs. Fowler’s peak with the Cubs was six years ago. Since Fowler left to join the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs have looked for an elite leadoff hitter. Anthony Rizzo hit leadoff numerous times, homering in many games. Kyle Schwarber also received time as the leadoff hitter, but it didn’t stick. Morel also hit his first career walk-off, a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Morel has played well in his position, showcasing his impressive abilities as a 23-year-old.
Matt Swarmer made his major league debut on May 30th, throwing six innings and allowing one earned run against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Swarmer followed that start by dominating the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. In a 6-1 win, Swarmer pitched six innings, allowing two hits and one earned run. Swarmer added five more strikeouts in the start. In the two starts, Swarmer has a 0.83 WHIP. The most impressive part of his two first major league starts: he dominated the two best NL Central opponents. The Cardinals boast two top hitters in the National League: Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt went 0-2 with two walks, and Arenado went hitless in four plate appearances. Nolan Gorman has been elite from the plate through 44 At-Bats. Gorman went 0-4 on Saturday’s first game, as well.
Caleb Kilian, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, was called up to start the second game of the Saturday double header against the Cardinals. The Cubs acquired Kilian in the Kris Bryant trade from the San Francisco Giants.
Kilian was a top prospect in the Giants’ system before being sent to the Cubs. In nine starts with the Iowa Cubs, Kilian has posted a 2.06 ERA. Kilian pitched flawlessly through three innings in his debut, throwing an efficient 31 pitches. Things began to tumble for Kilian in the fourth as the Cardinals scored three runs. Kilian’s slider went wild, scoring the first run for the Cardinals. Brendan Donovan doubled, scoring two more runners. Kilian bounced back, getting out of the inning, and pitched through the fifth inning. Despite the three runs, Kilian showed great promise in his debut.
His ability to bounce back from a rough inning was special. In the fifth, Kilian closed his night, adding two more strikeouts.
“It was breathtaking when I first walked out there to see this place,” Kilian said.
Kilian was elevated to the big-league roster on Thursday, his 25th birthday. Kilian is one of the many pieces the Cubs received from dismantling the 2016 core. In the Javier Baez trade to the New York Mets, Pete Crow-Armstrong was added to the Cubs system. Crow-Armstrong is a heavy-hitting 20-year-old outfielder playing in A ball. His potential is through the roof.