The Chicago Cubs leaped when they selected Cole Roederer in the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft. While his first season at South Bend has undoubtedly been a grind, the month of August has been very good to the 19-year-old center fielder.
There are almost no guarantees with the Chicago Cubs or the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. When teams calculate the risk associated with investing in their future, they want to make sure the plan pans out. More often than not, this is not the case.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came into 2018 with the goal in mind to continue building on what they have collaboratively executed since Epstein arrived in 2012. It included Cole Roederer, a left-handed kid from California, who the club selected with the 77th overall pick. Included with the selection was an investment of $1.2 million, the kind of money given only to players believed to have a bright future.
Roederer forewent his commitment to UCLA for a chance at cementing his future in professional baseball. He began in Arizona like all picks, slashing a robust .275/.354/.465 with five home runs and 24 RBI. It earned him the call to Class-A South Bend. On paper for Roederer, it has been an up-and-down affair. August has become his breakout month, however, and there is definite hope for that bright future moving forward.
Struggling out of the gate
For Roederer in 2019, his first month with South Bend was a struggle. In logical terms, it was not a surprise. The 19-year-old left-hander doesn’t turn 20 until the end of September, and there has been the learning curve of navigating the higher levels of professional baseball.
Through his first 18 games with South Bend, Roederer slashed a meager .229/.296/.314 with a .287 wOBA and well below league average 78 wRC+. He struck out at a 25.9% rate and carried a lowly .611 OPS.
In that span, there was still much to be excited for, however. Roederer’s first game saw him drive in two runs and through that 18 game sample size, he posted four multi-RBI games and three multi-hit games.
His second month for South Bend, Roederer did see improvements. His slugging percentage and OPS improved as well as his wOBA and wRC+. While Roederer hit only .203, there was much more to be excited about.
June and July seemed like the beginning of his breakthrough. Sure Roederer did slash .219/.337/.377, but his OPS rose to .715, and his wOBA and wRC+ rose to .339 and 111, respectively. Roederer also did decrease his strikeout rate and saw a jump in his walk rate, both big positives.
Finding his groove
Moving into August, Roederer built momentum in his game and his season. Through 20 games this month, Roederer has been on an absolute tear. He is slashing .279/.370/.471 with three home runs and 14 RBI. Most impressively, Roederer has decreased his strikeout rate once again, down to 21.0% and increased his walk rate to 13.6%.
Roederer’s ISO is sitting at a whopping .191, and he has posted an insane .386 wOBA and 141 wRC+. Over the past three games this week, Roederer is playing on a video game level. In his previous 12 at-bats, the 19-year-old is slashing .583/.615/1.167 with two home runs and five RBI.
Each of these games entails multi-hits, and while the strikeouts are still there, the overall improvement of what Roederer has been able to accomplish is terrific. Roederer is still a baby, and there is so much time to grow. As he has an estimated arrival time to the Show of 2022, it’ll be fun to see what he can continue to accomplish. Fans may just be looking at the next great bat for the Chicago Cubs, and that would be just dandy.