It has been a tough first half for a number of Cubs pitching prospects, particularly at the upper levels. Injuries have shortened or contributed to rocky beginnings for not only Duane Underwood Jr., but also Ryan Williams and Pierce Johnson. This has left the organization thin on options in the event of an injury at the MLB level. Rob Zastryzny has been the best among the top prospects in AA and AAA, but he has yet to excel at either level. The decision to send down and stretch out Adam Warren in the weeks prior to the All-Star break speaks volumes regarding the faith the organization currently has in the starters at Iowa being able to step in and contribute in Chicago during the second half.
The Myrtle Beach staff has continued to make strides. Jake Stinnett and Trevor Clifton get the headlines, but Erick Leal and Zack Hedges have quietly put up strong numbers, relying on control more so than swing and miss stuff. A pair of heralded starters slated to begin the year in South Bend have been injured (de la Cruz) or struggled (Steele), and now Carson Sands has also begun to falter of late despite being named to the MWL All-Star game. It is still too early in the development cycle of each player to panic though. Meanwhile, the recent college draftees (Morrison, Kellogg and Miller) have begun their careers on the right foot and have held the rotation together.
The picture is much rosier in Eugene Oregon. Dylan Cease, prior to leaving his last start early, was missing bats with his great upper 90s fastball and high 70s curve. Big lefty Bryan Hudson has been inconsistent, but has flashed the stuff and ability to generate ground balls that make him so intriguing. The two strongest starts have belonged to Jose Paulino, a left hander with a mid 90s fastball, and Jesus Castillo, who was the second pitcher acquired in the Tony Campana deal.
While I have greatly expanded the number of starting pitchers below, the relief pitcher list has been trimmed to 15 names and focuses mostly on relievers in the upper levels. Frankly, if a pitcher is throwing one inning stints in A ball, even as a closer, the chances that pitcher ever establishes himself in the majors is slim. Many MLB relievers are failed starters, so a number of pitchers appearing in the starter list, such as Johnson, Zastryzny and Markey, have a better chance of forging a role in an MLB bullpen than a starting rotation. I considered cutting the reliever list even further, but I know there are a number of people interested in seeing the statistics on more.
|Great||< 3.20||< 5.5||> 24.0|
|Average||~ 3.80||~ 7.7||~ 20.0|
|Poor||> 4.40||> 8.5||< 15.0|
NOTES: The numbers tend to skew a little different for relievers, especially K rates, which should be a few percentage points higher to be considered great, so I used < 18.0% and > 27.0% cutoff in their chart below.
Filed under: 2016 Top Prospects