Hoyer and Hawkins are still trying to develop that system product who can become a team leader.
Justin Steele, Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner all are system products and solid contributors, but they haven’t shown the ability to be aircraft carriers. Hoyer and Hawkins thought they might have one in Matt Mervis, a first baseman whose slugging tore up Triple-A.
But when they released Hosmer and brought Mervis up, he batted .167. an average even a power game couldn’t sustain. In due course, Mervis was sent back to Triple-A Iowa.
Mark Leiter Jr. has provided some stability to a turbulent bullpen. Son and nephew of former major league pitchers, Leiter has a 2.41 ERA in 33 innings of labor and has become one of the reliable assets manager David Ross can call on.
The new faddish played in Chicago is another first baseman, Jared Young. A week into his career, Young has caught the Cubs fans with a .364 start, two triples and a homer in his first 11 plate appearances. We will see whether he can keep it up.
The other first year assets are fringe players: pitchers Javier Assad, Jeremiah Estrada, and Caleb Kilian among them. Kilian was among the team’s most touted prospects when he debuted to great fanfare in Miami in late April. The Marlins lit him up for seven runs inside of four innings, and he was returned to Triple-A with thanks.