Max the Bain of the Inland Empire's Existence at Sloan Park

SP Max Bain fired three innings of one hit shutout ball with six strikeouts and combined with five relievers on a four-hit shutout with 14 punch-outs, and Ed Howard IV singled twice, drove-in a run, and scored another, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Lo-A affiliate) blanked the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Lo-A affiliate) 4-0 in Cactus League Minor League Camp game action Monday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.    

The Defensive Gem of the Day was a spectacular back-handed diving catch in left-centerfield by Pelicans LF Jacob Wetzel, proving the old adage, "You can take the boy out of centerfield, but you can't take the centerfielder out of the boy." 

Meanwhile, 23-year old 6'5 240 Max Bain has emerged as one of the Cubs top pitching prospects, and today he showed why.

Doing his best Trevor Bauer impression, Bain absolutely smoked the 66ers with overpowering gas, throwing mostly his electric 97-99 FB (which sat at 98-99 throughout his three innings of work) and mixing it with a high-velo 86-88 MPH SL/CT and an 84 MPH CH combo. I think it's likely that Bain will be the Opening Day SP for Myrtle Beach, but he probably won't remain there for long.   

Bain had an unusual path to affiliated ball (to say the least), signing with the Cubs as a non-drafted free-agent just before Spring Training 2020. He pitched for four years in obscurity (and mostly ineffectively) at NCAA D-2 Northwoods University in Michigan 2016-19, and then spent the summer following his senior year pitching for the Utica Unicorns in the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League in suburban Detroit. The Cubs signed him only after he lost a considerable amount of weight, which is why the timing of his signing (January) was so peculiar. 

Since signing with the Cubs, Bain has embraced the 21st century technology available at the Cubs Pitching Lab in Mesa and he has become an expert in the lab's various tools. He has also worked extensively with ex-Cub Luke Hagerty at Hagerty's 's X-2 Athletic Performance training center in Scottsdale.  

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only): 

1a. Darius Hill, CF: 0-2 (K, BB, P-6, R)
1b. Jacob Olson, LF: 0-1 (F-8)
2a. Ethan Hearn, C: 0-2 (K, F-8, BB, R)
2b. Jake Washer, C: 0-1 (K)
3a. Ed Howard IV, SS: 2-3 (K, 1B, 1B, R, RBI)
3b. Scott McKeon, 2B: 0-1 (4-3)
4. Jacob Wetzel, LF-CF: 0-3 (K, K, F-9)
5. Yohendrick Pinango, RF: 0-3 (3-1, E-3, 1-3, R, SB)
6. Jake Slaughter, 3B: 1-2 (1-3, 1B, HBP, RBI)
7. Ryan Reynolds, 1B: 1-3 (4-3, K, 1B)
8. Grayson Byrd, DH: 0-3 (K, 4-3, K)
9. Yeison Santana, 2B-SS: 0-2 (K, F-9, BB)

1. Max Bain: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 1/1 GO/AO, 47 pitches (30 strikes) 
2. Tanner Jesson-Dalton: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GO/AO, 27 pitches (15 strikes)
3. Richard Gallardo: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/1 GO/AO, 18 pitches (11 strikes) 
4. Graham Lawson: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 10 pitches (8 strikes)
5. Eury Ramos: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/AO, 9 pitches (7 strikes)
6. Ben Leeper: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/AO, 13 pitches (11 strikes) 

CF Darius Hill - batter thrown out 8-6-5 attempting to stretch double into triple, this play also featured an outstanding middleman laser relay throw from Ed Howard IV irom short CF to 3rd base...  


WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80's 


"Just because it isn't official doesn't mean it didn't happen" 


And despite what you might read elsewhere, It was - NOT - a "hot" gun.  

PHIL: Any velo readings on Ramos? Earlier reports also had him sitting 98-99. Thanks!

K-DUB: Eury Ramos FB was 97-99. 

Thank you, kind sir.

K-DUB: Eury Ramos FB velo was down to 95-97 last night (Monday night) and he couldn't command his slider. 

PHIL: Thank you so much for the update on Ramos. 

The Cubs have released LHP Ryan Kellogg, RHP Alex Moore, 3B Fidel Mejia, OF Jose Gutierrez, OF Eddy Julio Martinez, and OF Zac Taylor from Minor League Camp. 

Are these guys out of the org now? 

Anything on Gallardo, of interest, from today?

TIM: Richard Gallardo doesn't seem to be progressing as a SP, so he has apparently been moved to the bullpen.  He has a tendency to labor through innings and nibble too much and throw a lot of pitches. 

Wow, that's a pretty spectacular miss. He was so highly thought of when he signed.

DJL: How about Eddy Julio Martinez as a spectacular miss? A $3M signing bonus out of Cuba and he never made it out of AA. 

Phil, serious question: How good is the Cubs Player Development Department? Scale of 1 to 30 with 1 being best.  I mean, I can think of 5 teams right now who don't have near the Cubs resources but do better year after.

I mean there are organizations across sports who seem to coach the crap out of their draft picks and signees. They just got 4 teenagers for Darvish, but do they have the coaches to get any of them to the show? 

My pessimistic grade would be about 24. rated the Cubs 22 out of 30.

This season figures to tell quite a bit. No teams are terrible at player development anymore, and no teams look at the draft as a hopeless puzzle.

20s sounds about right. Considering they have gotten pretty much nothing out of pitching development in the last decade and only number one picks and Bote on the hitter side in the same time frame, that's pretty telling. I guess Contreras falls into that too but he had been around quite a while before Theo and Jed

Trading away some good prospects during the win-now phase is a confounding factor, since some of those guys *could* have gone on inside the organization to bolster the reputation. But one can hardly blame those trades for the lack of pitching development.

i know some are willing to fight me on this one, but i still can't believe the cubs gave up gleyber torres for a slew of innings of a.chapman.  yes, he was -the- best available, but it's not like the other guys (like mark melancon) were crap or the cubs were in some close chase to win the division.

Aroldis was 100 percent about the 2016 post-season.

I'm good with liking the trade. I'm good with not liking the trade. I'm not good with liking the trade because "Torres was blocked". A shortstop is very rarely blocked. A player like Vogelbach was blocked.

I'm OK with whatever happened that led to the Cubs winning the World Series, because I don't know that they would have won it without Chapman. Maybe. But also maybe not. So no regrets.

Now, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease for Jose Quintana? Not OK. 

I've actually come around on the Quintana trade just a bit... still don't love it, but rather than just feeling furious comparing the players on paper & wishing for EJ's bat in the lineup, I try to remind myself of the context.  2016 WS; middle of very competitive 2017 season; Q seemed like a great fit in providing innings for '17 & the next couple years. Lackey & Arrieta were leaving; Lester was starting the "maybe eek out 1 more good year" phase of his career (with respect); maybe they already had eyes on Darvish... so locking up a cost-effective LHSP 3/4 seems smart on paper. Puts you at '18 & '19 with 1) Darvish, 2) Hendricks, 3/4) Lester &  Quintana, 5) ____ .  

Now the fact that Q travelled 10 miles up the Red Line and became 20% worse sucks & raises questions when combined with head scratchers Edwin Jackson & Tyler Chatwood. But at least Q had a solid track record the previous 4 years & wasn't just an advanced metrics crush. 

Extra credit to Q for bedeviling the Brewers for a few years.  And while there are regrets about the Q trade, I doubt it will be perceived as badly down the road when compared with Hahn's trade of Tatis Jr for Shields.

I was thinking that too, Phil. EJM failing so badly was another spectacular miss. Guess they should have let sleeping dogs lie when his first deal fell through (Dodgers or Giants, I think?)

Marquee to televise 14 I-Cub games, starting on 5/6...

about time they realized iowa really isn't that far away and hiring talent to produce a 3+ hour sports product there isn't a huge investment.

that said, hope people watch it.  i don't get Marquee (just feeds of cubs games), but i hear they need help with original content very badly.

I'm a bit surprised MiLB isn't pitching a fit. Because they want all the moneys.

The I-Cuba production is rather good, and not much needs to be added.

nice.  my local AAA (Durham Bulls) has a really nice broadcast put out by one of the dominate local cable providers.  it started rather modest in the pre-HD years, but it's become really polished.

MILB.TV finally updated their website and announced that all four Cubs full-season teams will be televised this year with a subscription:

2021 Subscription Includes:

  • More than 5,000 games
  • 95% of games streamed in HD
  • Games involving all 30 Triple-A teams
  • Games involving all 30 Double-A teams
  • Select games from other classifications

Subscriptions are NOT YET available, but they're coming soon!

Recent comments

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  • tim815 5 hours 39 min ago (view)

    The rush to 70 players.


  • Arizona Phil 5 hours 56 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have released OF Luis Berrelleza, INF Rochest Cruz, LHP Misael Garcia, OF Orlando Guzman, C-1B Brayan Mancilla, RHP Yander Montero, OF Carlos Pacheco, and OF John Rodriguez. 


  • crunch 8 hours 40 min ago (view)

    it screws up stats.  i know you play for wins/losses, but real money is on the line for players and makes agent/player homework selling their client a bit harder.

    it also makes historical comparisons difficult.

    the amount of time i've seen a fresh inning starting out...bunt guy to 3rd for an out, IBB, IBB is too high.  what would amount to a leadoff single following that can easily turn into 2 runs (1 earned) with guys on the corner...which usually leads to another IBB.


  • Charlie 9 hours 45 min ago (view)

    Jay Jaffe has a timely argument against the runner on second rule over at fangraphs:

    I still don't know why we don't just have ties. Obviously, the Cubs could have dodged most of these situations by simply hitting a little bit during the regulation innings.


  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 29 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed free-agent RHSP Adrian Sampson to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa, and RHP Michael McAvene, LHP Jack Patterson, and OF Donnie Dewees have been placed on the 60-day IL to open up slots for Sampson, Trayce Thompson, and Kyle Ryan on the Cubs minor league 180-man Domestic Reserve List. 


  • crunch 12 hours 54 min ago (view)

    well that sucked.

    2-game sweep, 2 games under .500


  • crunch 13 hours 20 min ago (view)

    stumbled onto this today...clip from a 2019 ESPN broadcast game with boog, chipper jones, and david ross in the booth...

    boog used to call games for ATL, btw...


  • tim815 15 hours 50 min ago (view)

    Someone on social media was floating Yoelqui Cespedes to the Cubs in a Bryant trade.

    I was clueless if it was permitted. It is.


  • Wrigley Rat 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have traded for outfielder Trayce Thompson, who was with the Diamondbacks at Triple-A, but is formerly of the big league White Sox, Dodgers, and A’s. The Diamondbacks are getting cash in the deal, which is a reflection of the reality that Thompson, 30, is a depth outfielder at this point in his career. Thompson is the younger brother of NBA star Klay Thompson.


  • crunch 1 day 8 hours ago (view)

    i'd like to point out ross feels more comfortable with j.pederson and k.bryant in CF over j.heyward.

    watching heyward not just look human in the OF, but having a bit of a hard time is rough.  he's just not getting to stuff like he used to.


  • crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    bryant out of the game for no apparent reason...that...doesn't seem good...

    he's "under the weather" according the clubhouse.  that's better than screwed up oblique or similar, at least.


  • crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    this shane bieber guy kinda sucks.  1 run in, bases loaded 0 outs.

    i hope 4-5 innings of alzolay and the 5 pen guys after him hold it down.

    ...hey wow, bases loaded 0 out turns into 0 runs...very cubs.


  • George Altman 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Baseball wants more offense, fans want more action -- limit pitching staffs to 12, ideally transition to 11 over a 3 year period. 

    Teams are asking RPs to throw only 45 pitches a week. Think about that.

    SPs who throw 175 IP/Yr will be museum pieces in 5 years.

    It's not shifts. Oh....and electronic Strike zones as soon as possible. 


  • crunch 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    given that the starters are on pace to pitch around 150 innings this year they might need the zillion relievers.

    i'm under the impression that d.ross got a new Fitbit exercise tracker prior to the season and likes to have excuses to walk to the mound for higher step counts.  i'm going with this theory until proved otherwise.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    I get that 40 man rosters are complicated, but now we have 10 GD relievers and 3 bench guys, one of whom is an obviously injured Javy.

    I can't wait until they reinstate the 13 pitchers maximum rule.


  • crunch 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    baez (again) a late scratch because back ouchies.