Chicago Cubs: Hunter Bigge had a dominant first year in the organization
Finding talent in the Major League Baseball draft is a challenging endeavor. Finding talent in the double-digit rounds is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Luckily, the Chicago Cubs may have noticed that needle.
It can be an easy thing to focus on the early round talent in the MLB draft because, well, it is the most “assured” talent, at least on paper. What can be fun with the 40-round event is to look back at players who teams have drafted late, who turned out to be great. Or at least league average.
The Cubs made many collegiate pitching selections, giving way to the fact how the organization values pitching and the desire to continue to develop that pitching. College arms are also much more trustworthy than their counterparts, leading teams to value those players.
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One of the many pitchers the Cubs selected was an Ivy Leaguer hailing from Harvard University. Thankfully the Cubs know a thing or two about ivy leaguers. We are looking at you, Kyle Hendricks. Hunter Bigge is a 12th-round selection and made his professional debut in 2019, and it was quite a year for the 21-year-old.
Chicago Cubs: An ivy-league connection
Bigge chose to go to college following high school rather than straight to professional baseball. For a kid born in Los Gatos, California, and attended high school there, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a long way from home. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Over three years at Harvard, Bigge pitched in 29 games and making 15 starts. The now 21-year-old finished his collegiate career with a 4.46 ERA backed by an 11-3 record. His best season came as a sophomore. Bigge appeared in 10 games with three starts and produced an excellent 3.03 ERA, and no home runs allowed.
As a junior, Bigge swung a hot bat showcasing his abilities both on the mound and at the dish. Bigge slashed .319/.368/.514 with an .882 OBP. Bigge managed to smack seven long balls and carried a .195 ISO.
Bigge is not the first Ivy Leaguer to pitch for the Cubs, making this all the more fun. Starting pitcher and one of the World Series heroes, Hendricks attended Dartmouth. A majority of Cubs fans know that Hendricks fact but, for the ones who don’t, you’re welcome.
Chicago Cubs: An all-encompassing first year
The first inning is always the toughest. Bigge began his professional career in Rookie-level ball. He pitched a single inning and boy, was it a roller coaster of a debut. Facing a total of six batters throughout the inning, Bigge allowed a hit, walked two guys, and struck out two guys. He was promoted to Short-Season Eugene.
Moving Bigge to Eugene helped him in a very positive way. He was a new pitcher, and it showed altogether. Bigge made eight appearances, over a 15 inning stretch. He managed to improve his strikeout rate to a whopping 34.5 percent. Bigge also showcased his precise command, posting a favorable 13.8 percent walk rate. I say favorable because it is his first full professional season.
Bigge finished his stint with an impressively strong 1.20 ERA. Bigge also finished with a 3.45 FIP and 3.36 xFIP, respectively. His ability to handle the long ball is going to play well into his future, especially at the friendly confines.
Chicago Cubs: Following his development
Double-digit round draft picks are typically developmental projects with no expectation of producing. It can be how many teams see this perceived poignancy. Luckily, the Cubs have done their due diligence at the right times.
Bigge will never be a starting pitcher in the major leagues. He did make 15 starts at Harvard over his career. However, he did not start a single one of the nine games last season. And that is perfectly fine.
What I see in Bigge and hopefully it is synchronous with upper management is a future bullpen arm, which has the potential to be great. Bigge has shown he can be consistent and can strike a ton of guys out. The perfect formula. Hopefully, he can continue it into 2020.