Pitching Prospect Depth

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CubsWin
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Pitching Prospect Depth

Postby CubsWin » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:09 am

The Cubs pitching prospect depth has really filled out over the last two seasons as the front office focused heavily on pitching in the draft and on the IFA side in 2015. Some assignments could still change with 4 days left before full season minor leaguers break camp, but this is likely how the staffs will line up to start the year.

AAA

There are still question marks about a lot of the Cubs pitching prospects in Iowa. Tseng walks a fine line needing consistent command of his pitches to be effective. Alec Mills is coming off a lost season due to injury. Underwood finally stayed healthy last year, but he's got a lot to prove as far as being effective, especially in a hitter's league like the PCL. Alzolay and De La Cruz could join mid-season depending on health and performance, of course. Both seem to be fast risers at this point.

The bullpen has some bright spots. Maples struggled with his control during ST but has plenty of time to work on it now, and his ceiling is still very high. Justin Hancock impressed in Mesa this spring, as did Randy Rosario. Shae Simmons was throwing 95 today on the backfields. Lefty Alberto Baldonado was bringing heat this spring. And Craig Brooks and Daury Torrez showed promise last season.

AA

With how well De La Cruz looked in ST and his subsequent promotion to Tennessee, the Smokies rotation looks fairly exciting. Alzolay, De La Cruz and Hatch form a solid top 3. Rucker and Robinson put up solid numbers against younger and less experienced competition last year. It will be interesting to see how they'll do against AA hitters. And Clifton has an opportunity to have a bounce back season.

Dakota Mekkes, Jake Stinnett and James Norwood are all interesting arms at the top of the bullpen.

High-A

Alex Lange looks like he'll break camp with Myrtle Beach. He, Bryan Hudson and the oft-injured Erling Moreno create the top and middle of the Pelicans rotation. Jose Paulino and Tyson Miller look to fill out the bottom with 2017 3rd rounder Keegan Thompson the main piggyback.

Not much to get excited about in the relief corps. Chad Hockin and Wyatt Short will likely share the closer duties. Yapson Gomez, an older IFA guy, has had some success at the lower levels.

Low-A

This group is probably the 2nd most exciting next to the rotation in Tennessee. Jose Albertos and Brendan Little are both top 10 prospects within the organization. Javier Assad has a MOR ceiling. Cory Abbott has pedigree as a 2nd round draft pick, and Jesus Camargo put up excellent numbers in Eugene last year and likely has the best change up in the organization next to Kyle Hendricks. 2017 4th rounder Erich Uelman and 7th rounder Ricky Tyler Thomas are likely the piggybacks for South Bend.

The pen is pretty interesting too. The latest reports had Bailey Clark hitting 97 on his FB with a wipeout slider. The Cubs may have him piggyback to get him more innings, but I see him having the potential of a power pen arm. Manuel Rodriguez and Jhon Romero put up dominant numbers last season. Rodriguez's stuff is reportedly a bit better, but Romero's 91-93 FB with excellent control and an above average breaking ball steamrolled MWL hitters last season.

Eugene/Mesa

With 3 rosters to fill (1 in Eugene and 2 in Mesa), there's a lot of pitchers to follow in extended spring training this year. Jeremiah Estrada (19), Brailyn Marquez (19) and Danis Correa (18) are the most interesting of the bunch for me. Estrada was sitting 95 in Mesa last year. Marquez sits 92-94 from the left side, and Correa was sitting mid-90s while reportedly touching 99 which is surprising given his 5'11", 155 lbs. frame. Estrada and Marquez will likely start in Eugene along with 6'8", 2016 8th rounder Stephen Riddings. If Correa does also, it will be a very pleasant surprise.

Including the arms already stateside, several pitchers currently at the Dominican Academy will come north for ExST. One would imagine Yovanny Cruz, Didier Vargas, Jonathan Bruzual, Ferrol Heredia and 2017 IFA signee Florencio Serrano would be among them.
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Re: Pitching Prospect Depth

Postby Bear Cub » Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:34 am

CubsWin, excellent report.
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Re: Pitching Prospect Depth

Postby Donzo » Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:32 am

With Alzolay in AAA and Underwood's fast start, Iowa's rotation is very interesting.
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Re: Pitching Prospect Depth

Postby CubsWin » Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:04 am

Donzo wrote:With Alzolay in AAA and Underwood's fast start, Iowa's rotation is very interesting.

Alzolay looks for real, but I'm leery of Underwood still (fast start notwithstanding). I tend to discount starts to a season in general (fast or slow), especially when it's the player's first at a new level, but I'll take a fast start any day...

The Cubs FO focus on pitching is finally populating legit prospects at every level which includes AAA for the first time in a while. But as much as the rotation has improved, the pen has also. Maples got off to a bumpy spring and start to his AAA season, but he's still got a very high reliever ceiling. The rest of the pen provides some of the best reliever depth the Cubs have had in Iowa in the several years. Outside of Zach Hedges, the rest of the pen arms each have major league stuff. Any one of them could be called up during the season with the decision likely going to the hot hand. That kind of depth comes in handy during a championship run.
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