CHICAGO – One of the things that has returned for the Cubs over the last year is the excitement of the debut of a prospect.
That didn’t happen very often when the club was in the midst of their championship window from 2015 through 2020 as the best prospects in their system were at the major league level. But with the trading of the core in 2021 and the emphasis on building up a new one, these debuts have become common again for the Cubs.
Tuesday featured not one but two of these events for the team in a 7-0 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Infielder Christopher Morel had the most dramatic moment in the eighth inning when he stepped up to the plate for the first time in Major League Baseball.
Entering the game as a pinch hitter, Morel smacked a 417-foot solo homer deep into the seats in left field for his first long ball in the major leagues. He became the first Cubs hitter to hit a home run in his first at-bat since current catcher Willson Contreras did so on June 19, 2016, which also happened against the Pirates.
He joyously rounded the bases after the blast, gesturing to the crowd and the Cubs’ dugout after the first homer of his major league career.
But he wasn’t the only player to enjoy a strong debut in the big leagues on Tuesday night, as Brandon Hughes delivered as good of an outing as expected in 1 2/3 innings. He faced six batters during his time on the mound, striking out five and walking one in 31 pitches to aid the club’s second-consecutive shutout.