The Cubs continue to try and pick up arms in anyway possible and the latest waiver claim is 25 year old RHP Zach Putnam, who pitched for the Colorado Rockies last season. Putnam is a 6'1", 225 lbs. reliever with a strong, athletic build but who has trouble repeating his delivery, which as you know, can affect command. The stuff is there as Putnam can reach 95 mph but more often sits in the 90-92 mph range. Ironically, most of Putnam's struggles through most of his careers have come vs. RH batters as he's been able to neutralize LH hitters with a good splitter.
Putnam's long term success ranges on two things, fine-tuning his command and tweaking his slider and turn it into an out pitch vs. RH batters. It's going to be a tall task for Chris Bosio, but Putnam has the starting kit the Cubs like -- good athleticism and a strong arm. And while Putnam doesn't have ideal command right now he does have decent control, walking an average of 2.9 batters per 9 IP while striking out 8.2 batters/9 IP in his career.
His best year was 2011 for the Indians AAA affiliate Columbus when he struck out 8.87 batters per inning and put up a 3.65 ERA (3.40 FIP). He walked 3 batters per 9 innings. Last year he pitched for the Rockies AAA team and finished with a 4.15 ERA then pitched 2 scoreless innings with the Rockies.
Signed as an overslot pick in 2008 for $600,000 (5th round), Putnam was ranked as the Cleveland Indians' 10th best prospect entering the season but that may be a little deceptive as the Indians have a pretty weak farm system and Putnam projects more as a middle reliever.
All in all, it's a nice pickup as the Cubs continue to scour the bargain bin for bullpen arms rather than spend big money in free agency. If Putnam turns out to be a middle reliever, it's a bargain.
The move brings the Cubs roster count to 34.
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