Deichmann eager to be part of 'new core'

August 9th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Two eras of Cubs baseball clashed on Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

Dylan Cease was on the mound and Eloy Jiménez was in left for the White Sox, representing the all-in years when the North Siders shipped away top prospects in the name of chasing another trophy. In the batter's box was , who was recently acquired as the Cubs now look to the future.

"They're giving me an opportunity," said Deichmann, sitting in the home dugout prior to Sunday's 9-3 loss to the White Sox. "I've got to make the most of it."

In the days and hours leading up to the July 30 Trade Deadline, the Cubs reeled in a dozen players -- mostly prospects -- in a series of franchise-altering trades. Core players Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were moved, as were three bullpen veterans (Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera), among others.

The 26-year-old Deichmann -- obtained from the A's as part of the Chafin deal -- was the first of the acquired prospects to come up from the Minor Leagues in the wake of the roster reorganization. As president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer talks about building "the next great Cubs team," Deichmann is honored to be viewed as a piece within the puzzle.

"Having those three guys kind of leave," said Deichmann, referring to Báez, Bryant and Rizzo, "and then [the Cubs] trying to, I guess, build a new core going forward, to hopefully be a part of that and really have some success and really help kind of build this team back up, it's things you can't dream of."

Young pitchers like Adbert Alzolay and Justin Steele hope to find themselves as part of that future core. Outfield prospect Brennen Davis could be arriving by next year. There is a pile of young relief arms rising, and a potentially quick-climbing starting pitching prospect in 2021 first-rounder Jordan Wicks. On top of that, the farm system was given a boost by the recent trades.

"And we still have Kyle Hendricks, Willson Contreras here, too," Alzolay reminded. "They still have that winning mentality. For me, that's what I want to pass around to the new guys, too. They should feel proud to be wearing this jersey and keep going and hopefully we can be a good core to win another championship."

In Sunday night's crosstown clash, Cease (10 strikeouts in five innings) and Jiménez (two homers and five RBIs) helped the American League Central-leading White Sox continue their push toward October.

In his second game with the Cubs, Deichmann collected his first career RBI, slashing a pitch from Cease into left in the third inning for a run-scoring single. The rookie right fielder also had a pair of deep flyouts to right -- one falling just short of his first career homer in the second.

Right now, Deichmann is just happy to have shaken off some of the nerves, especially having picked up his first career hit in his Major League debut on Friday.

"It's always the hardest one," Deichmann said with a laugh. "Yeah, you get that one out of the way first game, and now you can relax a little bit and just kind of play your game."

Another thing that Deichmann said helped him relax was the way a veteran like Jason Heyward spent time with him on the bench on Saturday. During the young outfielder's first day off -- giving him a chance to breathe and soak everything in -- Heyward sat with him in the dugout.

"We just kind of talked all game," Deichmann said. "Not really too much about baseball -- just the atmosphere, the city, offseason stuff. ... For him to take the time to come over and kind of say hello and just talk to me, it made me feel comfortable. A guy of that caliber, it really speaks to his character."

Behind the scenes, Cubs hitting coach Anthony Iapoce said Deichmann has made a strong first impression.

"You talk to the coaches in Triple-A, but you still want to see it for yourself," Iapoce said. "I really like how he works in the cage and works with intent and detail. You can tell he's working on something.

"He's not afraid to see pitches. It looks like he can work some counts, sit on pitches. He's got some pull-side juice. He's just got to get at-bats and learn. There's things that the game needs to teach you."

Prior to the trade, Deichmann was batting .300/.433/.452 with four homers and 35 RBIs in 60 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. Where he made a big step forward was in his plate discipline. He had a 23 percent strikeout rate (down from 30.3 percent in 2019 at Double-A) and a 19.2 percent walk rate (up from 10 percent in '19).

Down the stretch, Deichmann will be getting a chance to show if those approach changes on display at Triple-A can carry over in his first taste of the Majors.

"There's real opportunity to play here," Cubs manager David Ross said. "You've got young guys coming up that get to prove to be big leaguers and what they can do. I think that can be really exciting."