Jacob Wetzel

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): 

Cubs Get Long Ball from Strumpf and Wetzel at Sloan Park

Chase Strumpf belted a two-run HR halfway up the LF berm and singled and scored, Jacob Wetzel clubbed a two-run HR halfway up the RF berm and walked and scored, Andy Weber stroked a single and a two-run double, and Alfonso Rivas drilled an RBI single, walked twice, and stole a base, in Cubs AZ Instructional League intrasquad game action Wednesday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.  

Ed Howard Stars as Cubs Rally to Tie Giants at Instructs

Cubs 2020 1st round draft pick Ed Howard IV (Mt. Carmel HS - Chicago, IL) drilled a pinch-hit RBI double in his pro game debut and Jacob Wetzel (2020 NDFA - Frederick CC) laced an RBI triple and scored on a Fabian Pertuz RBI single in his pro game debut, as the Cubs rallied to tie the Giants 5-5 in AZ Instructional League Opening Day game action Wednesday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Rob Emery belted a three-run HR and Marco Luciano followed with a monster solo shot (both off Cubs SP Cory Abbott) to give the Giants an early 4-0 lead, before the Cubs came roaring back in the late innings.  

Besides Howard and Wetzel, three other Cubs made their pro game debut on Wednesday. LF Jordan Nwogu (2020 3rd round pick - U. of Michigan) reached base on an HBP in his first pro AB and later scored from 1st base on the Wetzel triple, 1B Matt Mervis (2020 NDFA - Duke) drew a walk in his first pro AB and later scored on the Howard RBI double, and RHRP Ben Leeper (2020 NDFA - Oklahoma State) threw one inning in relief.