There are prospect rankings that don’t even mention Christopher Morel or Brandon Hughes, but Cubs fans will have to get to know them regardless, with the two set to make their big league debuts this week at Wrigley Field.
We will start with Morel, whose name Is appear in the top 30 of the MLB Pipeline organization rankings, registering in 21st place. The all-around prospect hasn’t even played a game at Triple-A Iowa in his career yet, but his work with Double-A Tennessee seems to have impressed the brass enough that he got the call.
This year with the Smokies, Morel carries a slash of .306/.380/.565, hitting a career-high .945 OPS. Sure, there’s a huge gap in the level of talent he’ll face on the mound with the Cubs compared to what he’s seen so far, but he’s always been known as a very outrageous talent.
Looking at Chicago’s infield options right now, it’s not hard to see why Morel is watching. Jonathan Villar seems to have lost a step (or 10, for that matter), was terrible both defensively and offensively – and Ildemaro Vargas has just barely surpassed him. With Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal still on the sidelines and knowing you’re unlikely to get much offense from Andrelton Simmons, it’s definitely worth seeing what you might get in Morel.
Cubs add new life to impressive bullpen mix in Brandon Hughes
Hughes, meanwhile, is a guy who has certainly gotten a lot less attention so far. But in the end, the results speak for themselves. Since being drafted in the 16th round from Michigan State in 2017, the southpaw has a 1.96 ERA, 12.2 K/9s and racked up 124 punches in just 31 walks.
This year between Double and Triple-A, the southpaw has made 10 appearances covering 16 2/3 frames, striking out 22 and walking just 3 – and has yet to allow a run. Every step of the way this guy has put in numbers and with Chicago’s lack of backup options for southpaws, similar to the situation with Morel and the midfield mix, there’s nothing to lose in kicking him.
Hughes, 26, is not a blazing speed guy. His fastball is usually in the 90s and he can run it into the mid-90s when needed. his slider is his wipeout pitch and he has other tools in his arsenal of off-speed variety.
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They might not be the top-notch guys we’ve all been looking forward to in Chicago, but Morel is versatile, has a ton of different tools, and is known for his infectious clubhouse enthusiasm. Hughes can add depth to a bullpen that’s been surprisingly strong so far – and, again, if 2022 is all about valuation, then there’s no time like the present to do. a pair of moves like this.