Cubs #14 prospect Alexander Canario has spent most of his time as an MLB player sitting on the bench. Canario, 23, was first called up on September 1st. He would not make his first appearance in an MLB game until September 6th when he came in as a pinch hitter late in the game. Canario would not see any more action until he finally got his first MLB start last night (September 19th).
Cubs manager David Ross infamously said, “The guys that got us here are going to play. And the guys that are on the bench, if they’ve got roles, they’ll fill in those roles." He then alluded that it was not the time to develop guys. Okay, yes, it is a September with meaningful baseball and it makes sense to have experience in there. With that said, it was frustrating to see Canario just rot on the bench when there seemed to be opportunities there for him. It went as far as burning a DH spot in the long game against the Diamondbacks instead of using him.
The 23-year-old slugger sent a very strong message to his bosses Tuesday night in the form of an RBI double and grand slam. There is reason to let him play more than once every few weeks and he could not have made that more clear. His RBI double, which came off the bat at 104.4 MPH, was his first career hit. The swing Canario put on the 90 MPH slider from Kyle Nicolas that ended up in the left field bleachers looked effortless, he is insanely strong.
One cannot help but think about how Canario must have felt rounding the bases with the soaked crowd around him going nuts. He clearly showed excitement, but it had to be emotional for him too. Do not forget he suffered horrific injuries to his ankle and shoulder on the same freak play in the Dominican Winter League last year. That caused him to miss many months and not see actual game action again until mid-June. Add the fact that he was sitting on the bench all this time since being called up, it was like he finally truly arrived Tuesday night. His teammates showered him with plenty of Gatorade after the game.
The Cubs are playing in a very tight playoff race while getting a look at several top prospects, which is very exciting. In addition to Canario, Jordan Wicks (#10) has made five MLB starts and sports a 2.67 ERA, Pete Crow-Armstrong (#1) has gotten playing time in the outfield and Luke Little (#25) has made some appearances out of the pen. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to rookies just coming to the Majors, especially when the games are meaningful, but do not underestimate what they can bring when the team needs a boost.
Canario deserved that long overdue chance and he made the most of it.