‘Foundation for growth’: Cubs impressed with Ben Brown before he makes his Triple-A debut

Notes: Prospects Ed Howard, Alexander Canario and James Triantos take steps in their rehab.

SHARE ‘Foundation for growth’: Cubs impressed with Ben Brown before he makes his Triple-A debut
The Cubs promoted Ben Brown to Triple-A over the weekend.

The Cubs promoted Ben Brown to Triple-A over the weekend.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — When Cubs prospect Ben Brown was in the Phillies’ system, he dreamed of showing up early for major-league camp, setting up in the clubhouse and stretching next to players he looked up to.

He achieved that dream in spring training this year, a little more than six months after his trade from Philadelphia to the Cubs. Now he’s quickly rising through his new organization’s ranks.

“It’s no longer, ‘Hey, I want to be on the big-league side just to hang out with the guys,’ ” Brown told the Sun-Times this spring. “[It’s], ‘Hey, we want to get here and get better every day.’ And it’s really cool. Everyone has a common goal.”

Brown, ranked as the Cubs’ No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was promoted to Triple-A Iowa over the weekend, along with left-hander Bailey Horn. On Saturday, Horn made his Triple-A debut and threw a perfect inning.

Brown is expected to make his first Triple-A start this week. He had a dominant 0.45 ERA in four Double-A starts, holding opponents to a .186 batting average.

“Power arm, great fastball, still spins the breaking ball really well,” Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said.

Since joining the Cubs’ organization, Brown has added a slider and changeup, though the changeup was quicker to click this spring than the slider.

“Just trying to round out his arsenal,” Banner said. “But he’s been great. Missing a ton of bats, throwing a lot of strikes. It’s a good combination.”

Brown’s performance in Triple-A will give the Cubs a better sense of how close he is to the majors. But they’ve been excited so far by what they’ve seen.

“Getting to know him a little bit in spring training, he’s an unbelievably professional, thoughtful player,” general manager Carter Hawkins said Monday. “It just seems like he’s been around for a long time, and he’s in his first year on the 40-man [roster]. So there’s a really good foundation for growth there.”

Howard progressing

Shortstop prospect Ed Howard, who had hip surgery last May after suffering a serious injury running through first base, saw game action in extended spring training for the first time last week. He played exclusively in the field at first before taking at-bats Friday.

“Proud of him for how much time, energy and focus he put into rehab,” Banner said. “And we all just want to see him back out on the field again every day.”

As for what the Cubs are looking for in the early going, Banner kept it simple.

“Let him knock some rust off,” he said. “Not having played in a year, just make sure he stays healthy, and then once he’s comfortable again, we’ll get him out to an affiliate.”

In other prospect injury news

Outfielder Alexander Canario (surgery on left shoulder and ankle) is on a running program and taking swings in the batting cage, Banner said.

“He’s finally doing some light baseball activity, which is exciting,” Banner said.

Infielder James Triantos (surgery on right meniscus) played his first game of extended spring Monday, about six weeks after his operation, which is on the shorter end of the estimate.

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