Pitcher of the Month: RHP Ben Brown (25 Years Old)
5 G, 24 IP, 3.75 ERA, 25 K, 1.25 WHIP, .210 BAA
Ben Brown has become the biggest name in the Cubs minor league system since… Kris Bryant? He dominated AA in April and if we had done a minor league player of the month last month he would’ve certainly won it. He may have won it for all of AA, not just Tennessee, with how many strikeouts he racked up and his sparkling 0.45 ERA.
If you remove the game that he gave up seven runs in, he’s been exactly as dominant as he was in AA. His strikeout rate is identical at AAA to what it was at AA of 13.5 K/9. His walk rate has increased a bit from 2.7 BB/9 to 4.5 BB/9.
This month Brown went 5.2, 5.0, 4.0, 4.0, and 5.1 IP in his five starts and aside from that aforementioned seven-run game he never struck out fewer than six batters and struck out double digits twice. As the averages above show, he’s walking too many guys right now, but the stuff is good enough that it’s hard not to be excited about him when he’s ready.
In the Epstein days, this team was built around position players getting the call to the major league squad and that was fun. Anthony Rizzo, and then Javier Baez, and then Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, and on and on. So as Cubs fans we’ve become accustomed to that trajectory that position players tend to follow rather than the slow-burn that is associated with a pitching prospect.
Brown has repaid our patience (although patience may not be the correct word because at this point we’ve had him for less than a full calendar year and moved him from High-A to AAA in that time) by being lights out at every possible turn. He won’t be the last arm that we can get excited about, but it is telling that when the Cubs needed bullpen help at the major league level they called on Hayden Wesneski and not Brown. What that tells me is that they don’t want to mess with Brown and his progress in any way whatsoever, and that’s exciting.