Triantos making up for lost time, slugs first Fall League homer

October 13th, 2023

Around the first week of August, the Cubs called James Triantos and told him they wanted him to see some center field before the season was out. So, on Aug. 8, he left second base to make his professional debut on the grass and made five starts there the rest of the way with High-A South Bend.

“I like running,” Triantos said. “I like getting dirty, so going out and diving for balls, running all over the outfield, having so much ground to cover, it’s a lot of fun. I like that responsibility."

As it turns out, that’s an approach that has served him well of late offensively in the Arizona Fall League too.

Making his AFL debut in center, the No. 9 Cubs prospect homered and tripled out of the leadoff spot in the Solar Sox’s 7-4 loss to the Javelinas on Thursday at Peoria Sports Complex.

The right-handed slugger’s triple -- a 103 mph rocket to the gap in right-center field in the ninth inning -- gave Triantos three straight games with a three-bagger. Following Thursday’s action, he leads the Fall League with three triples and is one of only two players on the circuit with more than one.

“I just keep running when I hit second,” Triantos said of the triple trend. “I’m just gone. That’s about it.”

Triantos’ homer was also noteworthy in that it was his first of the Fall League. The dinger came after a lengthy delay in which the Peoria grounds crew worked to fix irregularities on the mound in the fourth inning. After play resumed, Triantos lifted a 1-1 offering from Guardians left-hander Ryan Webb down the left-field line. The homer traveled 346 feet (the foul pole marks 340 feet) and left the bat at 98 mph.

The 2021 second-rounder’s two-hit showing extended his hitting streak to six games and improved his slash line to .417/.563/.833. His 1.396 OPS through 32 plate appearances ranks second in the showcase circuit, trailing only Jakob Marsee’s (SD No. 12) 1.493 mark.

Triantos’ hot start shouldn’t come as a huge shock, considering the player has long drawn above-average hit-tool grades with scouts likening his ability to find the barrel to fellow third basemen Alex Bregman and David Wright. His opportunity to show that off was put on pause when he suffered a torn right meniscus in the spring that required surgery and delayed his 2023 debut until May 9.

“It was a slow start,” he said. “It made me appreciate the game more, take more pride in it, I’d say. When I got back playing, I was having so much fun, whether [I was] failing or succeeding, just being able to be around the guys and not take it for granted. It made me realize how much I love this game, and I’ve been doing my thing since.”

Triantos put in a solid showing in the Midwest League, hitting .285/.363/.390 which resulted in a 115 wRC+ over 80 games.

When the Cubs told the 20-year-old, who had only experienced third and second in the pros to that point, that he’d be seeing some center, the primary goal was to keep that promising bat in the lineup however they could. His Fall League assignment -- which he was alerted to in August -- has a similar goal in terms of making up for the lost at-bats, but an extra look in the outfield can’t hurt either.

“It’s about getting my angles right, keeping the ball in front of me and making sure the ball stays in my glove and goes in my glove,” Triantos said of his defensive approach from the grass. “That’s about it. As long as the ball goes in my glove, we’re good.”

Triantos wasn’t truly tested Thursday, catching the balls he should have and keeping the hits that did fall in front of him. So does he have a preferred position out of the three? Yes and no.

“I’d say somewhere in the infield, but anywhere as long as I get to hit,” he said. “I don’t care as long as I get to step in the box.”