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Intriguing flamethrower joins Cubs bullpen after emotional path to majors

6 days agoTony Andracki

Hunter Bigge finally got the call he had been waiting years for.

The first 10 minutes after he found out he was being promoted to his first big-league roster, Bigge couldn’t stop smiling.

Then in the next 10 minutes, he couldn’t stop crying.

Bigge found out he was on his way to Chicago on Saturday evening when he was called into Triple-A Iowa manager Marty Pevey’s office.

As he went through the full gamut of emotions, he called his wife, family and friends to share the good news.

“I flashed back through a lot of memories of playing in high school, playing in college, getting drafted, going through the ups and downs of pro ball,” Bigge said. “All the hard work and time that I put in and all the sacrifices my family and I have made to get to this point.

“It’s been my dream since I was a little kid so I think all those emotions just came up.”

[WATCH: Bigge explains the emotions behind his MLB call-up]

Bigge is a 26-year-old right-handed pitcher who was the Cubs’ 12th-round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft. He has dealt with injuries on his path through the minor leagues, including a torn labrum in his hip in 2021 and an oblique injury this spring.

He spent 5 seasons – plus the pandemic – working his way up through the Cubs system but has put it all together this season.

His fastball routinely approaches triple digits now, which is up 2-3 mph from where it was even last year, Bigge said.

That velocity jump helped put Bigge on the map for the Cubs during spring camp in Arizona.

“Hunter was somebody we were really excited about in Spring Training,” Craig Counsell said. “He wasn’t in big-league camp but he had come over. The arm talent excites you right away. He had a bunch of good outings in Spring Training.”

After the strong showing in Spring Training, Bigge came back from the oblique injury and picked up where he left off.

In 11 appearances in Triple-A, he carried a 0.77 ERA and 0.69 WHIP with 19 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. He allowed just 2 hits and 6 walks.

So when the Cubs had a need and an open roster spot in the bullpen due to Colten Brewer’s self-inflicted injury, Bigge got the call.

“Somebody that [we’ve] definitely been thinking about for a while with Hunter,” Counsell said. “He hasn’t had a ton of outings this year but in every outing, he’s really impressed.”

[WATCH: Scouting report from Alex Cohen on Hunter Bigge]

Bigge first reached Triple-A last season but struggled initially. He felt like he was too focused on getting to the big leagues at that point and was putting too much pressure on himself to be perfect.

But his year, he has been able to come into his own.

“A lot of it was confidence, trusting in my stuff and the shapes of my pitches and being confidence and filling up the zone,” Bigge said. “I think I’ve been able to attack hitters better this year. I started throwing a little bit harder too and I think that is confidence as well.

“A lot of it has been mental for me, so I was just practicing believing in myself.”

Sunday marked only the second time Bigge has ever been at Wrigley Field. He previously came to a game with his family during an off-day when he was pitching for High-A South Bend.

Now that he’s here in “The Show,” he can carry forward the lessons from his strong Spring Training experience.

“I learned that I am capable of pitching in the big leagues,” Bigge said. “And it doesn’t matter who’s in the box. If I’m playing my game, I’m gonna be able to have success.”

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