Adbert Alzolay’s emoji recreation acquired a exercise this previous week.
Alzolay tuned in for each of Chicago Cubs teammate Javier Assad’s stellar reduction appearances for Team Mexico within the World Baseball Classic. And as Assad racked up the scoreless innings on the worldwide stage, Alzolay made certain to offer his performances a shout out on Twitter, punctuated with the suitable emoji.
“I mean, he’s just electric,” Alzolay advised the Tribune. “Seeing him growing up in the minors and now seeing him on the biggest stage right now doing what he’s doing against the hitters and the teams he’s been doing it against tells you that this guy is already ready for the playoffs.”
Like Alzolay, most of Justin Steele’s profession has overlapped with Assad’s on the minor- and major-league ranges.
“That’s Assad, baby,” Steele mentioned. “That’s just how he is. He’s really good.”
Assad’s success within the WBC constructed off his Cactus League work. In six appearances between the 2, Assad has recorded 9⅔ scoreless innings with two hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. He notably has produced an uptick in his fastball velocity, sitting between 94-95 mph and has hit 97 mph.
Assad’s stuff mixed together with his spring manufacturing has put him in competition for an opening-day roster spot, even when meaning utilizing him within the bullpen. Manager David Ross mentioned Assad is within the combine to begin the season on the crew. Ross isn’t ruling out Assad being utilized in reduction.
“I think that’s all that matters to him,” Ross mentioned. “It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s beginning or relieving. When he’s pitching like that, he can actually assist us. So so long as he continues to try this, he’s setting himself as much as make actually powerful selections for us. And these are good selections. The extra powerful ones we have now, that’s a superb factor.
“You’re talking about a young man that put himself on the map last year and worked this offseason to get better and he’s proving that early, it gets you excited.”
For the second consecutive offseason, Assad used a program the Cubs created for him, centered on plyo-ball work to extend his velocity. After witnessing the speed beneficial properties he remodeled the 2022 season, they took a “rinse and repeat” strategy to his offseason work. Assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos cited the power Assad added within the weight room, the place “he took on maybe a little more ownership and challenged himself,” can also be contributing to extra life on his fastball.
When Assad reported to camp and threw his first session within the pitch lab, the Cubs instantly witnessed a special model of the Assad they’d seen final 12 months. Before he departed for the WBC, Assad touted to the Tribune how a lot his plyo-ball routine helped him keep his mechanics, no matter its impact on his velocity.
“He’s more physical so you’re seeing the lower half making more aggressive moves down the slope,” Moskos advised the Tribune. “So everything is synced up. He looks great right now.”
The most encouraging ingredient of Assad’s improved velocity is the way it hasn’t lessened his glorious command. His capability to harness fastball command speaks to Assad’s talent and repeatable mechanics.
“You get excited because oftentimes we can create velocity, but if the guy doesn’t own the delivery, it can lead to a lot of spray fire and the velocity is not as impactful because he’s not in the zone or around the zone,” Moskos mentioned. “So for a guy who already knows how to be in the zone to now add some tools to his tool belt, that’s where you see guys really take off.”