Position Analysis – Low Minor Leagues Pitching
Today, the CCO completes its off-season look at the Cubs’ minor league system. After viewing the possible pitching staff for Triple-A Iowa, Double-A Tennessee, High-A Myrtle Beach and Low-A South Bend, it’s time to focus on the pitching prospects in the lower minor leagues.
Low Minors Starters and Relievers
While he will show up on a lot of top prospect lists, a word of caution is in order when talking about 18-year old Jose Albertos. A product of intensive scouting efforts by the Cubs in Mexico, Albertos had his debut with the organization cut short last summer. After his first outing in the Arizona Rookie League, in which Albertos allowed only one hit and one walk in four scoreless innings while striking out seven, he was shut down after experiencing a forearm issue. With a mid-90s fastball that has touched up to 98 mph, a curve which can be considered a plus-pitch, and a changeup, Albertos has been able to show improved command. It is too early to tell whether the Cubs are being overly cautious, or that there may be signs of injury problems with Albertos that have plagued other pitchers in the minors. If it is the former, the Cubs may have a true gem in Albertos.
Another product of Mexico, it does not seem as if the Cubs know what to do with Javier Assad yet. The 19-year old appeared in 10 games (seven starts) with the AZL Cubs and was 2-2 with a save, a 2.87 ERA, 1.381 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Assad has a mature frame for his age, but has a very clean delivery. Sporting a low-90s fastball and a big, sweeping curve, Assad, like all young pitchers, needs to work on his control.
Selected in the eighth round of the 2016 draft, Stephen Ridings has yet to see the field as a professional. A monster at 6-foot-8, 200 pounds, the 21-year old is said to have both problems with his mechanics and inconsistent secondary pitches. What Ridings does have is a fastball that can reach 98 mph. While it is uncertain whether coaching can iron out some of these issues, like the old saying goes, you can’t teach speed.
Another player that garnered a lot of attention from the top prospect people, Bryan Hudson showed he has a long way to go last season. At an imposing 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, the 19-year old lefty had his bumps while playing for Short Season-A Eugene last summer. Hudson had a 5-4 record with a 5.06 ERA and 1.653 WHIP with 56 hits allowed, 41 walks and 41 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. Currently a two-pitch pitcher with a low-90s fastball and breaking ball, Hudson also has a changeup that needs a lot of work. The Cubs do not want to rush Hudson, so a return to Eugene is not out of the question.
Drafted in the 33rd round in 2016, 19-year old Nathan Sweeney could also see time for Short Season-A Eugene. At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, Sweeny has a low-90s fastball and was 0-1 with a 12.46 ERA, 2.077 WHIP and a strikeout in 4.1 innings for the AZL Cubs after signing.
Two other pitchers that could join the Eugene rotation directly from the Dominican Academy are Jose Mac Donna and Alfredo Colorado. Twenty-one year old lefty Mac Donna is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and went 5-3 in 15 appearances (eight starts) for Cubs-1. Mac Donna had a 2.06 ERA, 1.112 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound 20-year old Colorado was 3-7 in 14 starts, with a 3.61 ERA, 1.262 WHIP and had 62 strikeouts in 67.2 innings for Cubs-2 last season.
A possibility for the closer of the Emeralds could be 20-year old Eugenio Palma. The lefty was nearly untouchable in the Arizona Rookie League, going 3-0 with two saves in 14 appearances. Palma had a 1.91 ERA, 1.134 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 42.1 in a league where the average age was a year and a half older than him.
Heading into next season, here are some of the pitchers you may be able to look forward to in the Arizona Rookie League.
One of the highest profile players in the Dominican Academy, 17-year old Brailyn Marquez had a great debut. The lefty was 4-2 in 12 starts with a 1.48 ERA, 1.226 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 54.2 innings for Cubs-1. Currently, Marquez has a low-90s fastball along with a curve and a changeup.
Twenty-one year old Moises Ramirez had one of the best seasons in 2016 of his career after toiling in the Cubs’ foreign leagues for three years. Ramirez was 3-1 with a save in 15 appearances for C-1 with a 1.79 ERA, 1.388 WHIP and 31 strikeouts in 40.1 innings.
Another 17-year old, lefty Faustino Carrera was dominant for the Cubs-2 team in the Dominican Summer League. The Mexican national was 7-2 in 13 starts with a 1.06 ERA, 0.969 WHIP and 55 strikeouts in 76.1 innings.
Yet another product of Mexico, 18-year old Hector Garcia greatly improved in his second season with C-2. Garcia was 5-1 in 13 starts with a 1.67 ERA, 0.916 WHIP and had 62 strikeouts in 75.1 innings.
Out of Venezuela, 20-year old Maikel Aguiar currently profiles as a closer. In 12 appearances for Cubs-2, the 6-foot, 185-pound Aguiar was 0-1 with two saves, a 2.82 ERA, 1.433 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.
This concludes the CCO’s look at the Cubs minor league system. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did bringing it to you. I would like to thank Neil for giving me this great opportunity for the past six years. I have accepted a new position at another website. It has been a pleasure to bring you all of the information from the Cubs’ minor league system.
This is Tom U., signing off.
Cubs Position Analysis Reports
- First Base
- Second Base
- Third Base
- Left Field
- Center Field
- Right Field
- Triple-A Starters and Relievers
- Double-A Starters and Relievers
- High-A Starters and Relievers
- Low-A Starters and Relievers