The first and probably most important offseason league finished its season today. The Mesa Solar Sox played in the championship game which included Kris Bryant being named the Arizona Fall League's MVP. The Solar Sox lineup included another top 30 type prospect in Jorge Soler. But that half of the Cubs Big Four prospects failed to register a hit between them and instead the show, from a Cubs minor league perspective, was stolen by a guy who would struggle to be named a top 30 Cubs prospect.
Dallas Beeler was added to the Arizona Fall League to regain some of the innings he lost in AA. After having a strong start to the season he suffered a finger injury which prevented him from making a start after May. John Arguello at Cubs Den does a nice job of breaking down his season:
He's the kind of pitcher the Cubs like as he fits their philosophy of keeping the ball down and in the park (0.49 HRs per 9 IP) and inducing ground balls (an incredible 3.67 GO/AO ratio in a smaller 54.2 inning sample size). Like Wells, Beeler is the kind of pitcher that can probably consistently out pitch his peripherals (posting a 3.13 ERA despite a 3.90 FIP) because he can induce weak contact in the infield. Like Loosen, Beeler has the potential to surprise and be a #4 starter, but Beeler needs to stay healthy. He has stalled at AA for now but needs better command, which he will work on this fall in the AZL
Today's performance highlighted what Dallas Beeler possibly could be as a starter. Beeler went 5 innings allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 earned run. He also managed to strike out 5 batters. I stopped myself from tweeting that Dallas Beeler might have pitched his way onto the 40 man roster with this performance. There is a lot to like with Dallas Beeler, but despite being rule 5 eligible can the Cubs afford to spend a precious 40 man roster spot on him?
John Arguello at Cubs Den again provides some solid analysis on Beeler at the start of the Arizona Fall League. Beeler certainly seems to fit the framework of what the Cubs front office likes in a pitcher. He throws a heavy sinker. Beeler was a football player in high school and is another athletic pitcher that the Cubs seem to love. However, the stuff is pretty fringe as evidenced by the low strikeout totals. Beeler hasn't managed higher than a 15.4 K% above A ball. The situation reminded me of Cubs minor league pitcher of 2012.
Nicholas Struck was another guy coming off a very strong AA season. Struck was actually better than Beeler pitching a full season in 2012. Struck also went to Arizona Fall League but was left exposed in the rule 5 draft. I thought for sure that some team would pluck him up as a close to major league ready arm that showed success last year. Struck of course was passed over as opposed to the very raw Starling Peralta who was taken but returned last year. Is Beeler as a guy with more pitchability than stuff and an inability to be a reliever (pitch to contact guys with command issues don't tend to make go relievers) likely to get passed over like Struck?
The answer is no one knows at this point. Beeler does offer more in terms of stuff than Struck does despite the difference in K% (19.0% in 2012 for Struck compared to 15.4% in 2013 for Beeler in AA). Struck averaged 89.92 MPH on his 4 seam fastball compared to Beeler's 92.35. Beeler also has the advantage of being an extreme groundball pitcher.
The Cubs can't afford to give a spot to Beeler though with only three 40 man roster spots available at this point. The Cubs are likely to add another starting pitcher, a reliever, and a backup catcher at the very least. The Cubs also might add another outfielder. The Cubs also have to add top 100 type prospect Arismendy Alcantara to the 40 man roster. The Cubs despite the nice outing are going to have to risk Beeler being taken in the rule 5 draft, but the odds of him being taken are probably low. Teams tend to take gambles on raw arms with plus stuff than guys whose ceiling is a backend of the rotation. Those pitchers often times end up being more valuable when it is all said and done, but Beeler is likely to be part of a surprisingly talented Iowa rotation next year.