Good morning, frents!
Another rough night out west for the Cubs, but David Brown has a feature this morning on one of the team's bright spots this season.
Anyone know if Patrick Wisdom can make a spot start or two?
Padres 9, Cubs 4
Blue Jays at Sox (7:10, NBCSCH)
Cubs at Padres (9:10, Marquee)
Getting to know Patrick Wisdom
Patrick Wisdom was named the National League player of the week on Monday, an honor that was roughly 3,500 minor-league plate appearances and a few cups of coffee in the making.
The numbers posted by the Cubs third-baseman have been incredible. Unbelievable, even. Heading into Monday night's game in San Diego, Wisdom was batting .412/.444/1.088 with seven homers and 10 RBIs in the 13 games since he was called up on May 25.
According to Stathead, Wisdom's 1.088 slugging percentage is the highest in team history for a Cubs player appearing in his first 13 games of a season.
His hits haven't been empty calories, either. Wisdom hit two home runs against Johnny Cueto on Sunday to help the Cubs win 4-3 and avoid getting swept at Oracle Park. As the injury bug has felled other key members of the Cubs lineup, Wisdom's bat has been able to fill the gap.
"If we can just get it to Wisdom with guys on base, we'll be all right," Ian Happ joked (but maybe not really) to reporters over the weekend.
But the question remains: Just where did this guy come from?
Explaining a slugging percentage over 1.000 would be tough to do for most players. Looking at Wisdom's brief record in the majors and extensive one in the minors, he has showed the chops to play with the best.
Also, if you listen to his own statements as a young ballplayer, he was definitely expecting to reach this level. Looking at where he was drafted — 52nd overall in the 2012 draft — pro evaluators thought he was a future big leaguer.
But it's still been a long road.
A knee injury Wisdom sustained while playing football in high school limited his college choices, but his time at St. Mary's in California worked out well. He then advanced through the St. Louis system, ascending to the No. 11 prospect ranking for the Cards at one point. But he stalled at Double-A when he struck out too much and didn't connect for enough power. The Cards even demoted him to Class-A Jupiter for a while so he could reconstruct his swing. He did and has said he has the bloodied hands to prove it.
Wisdom didn't really turn on the power until he reached Triple-A — where he twice has topped 30 homers. It got him noticed, for sure, but he also got stuck there for 427 games over five seasons. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak admitted in 2018 that Wisdom had nothing left to prove at Triple-A.
Wisdom said not being promoted to the majors was disappointing but also served to stoke the fire in his belly to "prove everyone wrong."
Derrick Goold in the St. Louis Post-Dispactch wrote in 2018:
Wisdom understood that just because his season was missing something doesn’t mean he was.
“Thinking, well, whatever I did wasn’t good enough so I’ve got to change myself — that’s not necessarily the answer,” Wisdom said.
Wisdom did get a shot with the Cardinals for 32 games late in 2018 when he hit .260/.362/.520 with four homers in 58 plate appearances. That look helped to get him traded to the Rangers for Drew Robinson, the player who has made headlines this year for surviving a suicide attempt and returning to baseball.
Wisdom was up with the Rangers for nine games in 2019 and, after an offseason with the Mariners, two games with the Cubs in 2020. He was batting .160/.353/.560 — hey, does he know Yasmani Grandal? — with three homers and 11 RBIs for Iowa when the Cubs called in 2021.
Wisdom said the game has slowed down during this latest promotion, although he wouldn't go as far as saying the ball looked bigger than usual.
"That would be really nice," he said. "It's just a matter of slowing down. The homers come when I'm not trying to do too much."
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Wisdom, along with Trevor Story of the Rockies in 2016 and Aristedes Aquino of the Reds in 2019, are the only players to hit as many as seven homers in their first eight starts with a team. Even though the Cubs expect to get some of their injured players back eventually, Wisdom is making lineup decisions easy for manager David Ross.
"For what he's been doing, it's hard to not put him in the lineup," Ross said. "He's almost carried us here for a little while. He's been a big part of our success as of late."
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks said Wisdom has provided a huge lift since the Cubs lost Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner and David Bote to the injured list.
"Wow, just wow," Hendricks said. "He's not missing mistakes and he's laying off really good pitches."
Like a lot of professional ballplayers, Wisdom says his affinity and savvy for baseball started early. In a video interview with the Peoria Chiefs from his second pro season, Wisdom said his love for baseball goes back as far as his own memories do. And others' memories of him.
"I think my parents say I just naturally grabbed a bat — you know — one of the little baby toys we had," Wisdom said.
It wasn't long before Wisdom started dominating.
"When I got older, tee ball, and those kind of steps, my parents would say that I was the best on the team and that I always liked to be in control of the game," Wisdom said. "Through the ranks of pony ball, me and my brother would play on the same team growing up, and we were always known as the powerhouse team. We always had the powerhouse teams and it was always fun because we'd always win a lot."
So what else do you need to know about Patrick Wisdom? He loves donuts, and In-N-Out Burger, but he also works out on a Peloton. He has a wife, Caroline, and a young daughter. He looks good dressed like an elf.
As hot as Wisdom is, he'll cool down like every player does. And others will push for playing time. Wisdom says he's not going to worry about what might happen.
"If you try to play that game, it kind of drives you nuts mentally," Wisdom said. "I think it's just staying in the moment, not trying to worry about what the future holds and what tomorrow holds. Just trying to play my game. They're rolling me out there, so I've got to perform."
Name the future Cub drafted by the Oakland A's with the 11th pick in the 2012 MLB draft — 41 picks ahead of Wisdom.
News and results
No homers for Wisdom (0 for 2 with 2 walks) in this one. And no wins for the Cubs, who fell to 12-17 on the road and 1-4 on this West Coast swing. Both Manny Machado and Brian O'Grady had a homer and 3 RBI apiece for the Padres.
- More bad injury news for the Cubs: Javier Baez missed Monday's game dealing with the thumb injury sustained in Sunday's game. And Adbert Alzolay was lifted in the fourth inning with a blister. The issue was clearly bothering him as he gave up four runs, five hits and five walks in just over three innings of work.
Next: Zach Davies (2-3, 4.94) gets tonight's start against Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 2.50).
- Mitch Trubisky explains why he chose the Bills. The News-Herald
- Greg Braggs Jr. reports that Bears fans will be allowed back at Halas Hall for training camp this year. Windy City Gridiron
- Joe Binder did a nice interview with Nancy Faust. Sox on 35th
- Kris Bryant says he isn't worried about the Cubs future. Tribune
- Do Chicago restaurants have enough workers to handle Friday's full reopening? Eater Chicago
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Trivia answer: Addison Russell