Bailey Clark

Player Update: Bailey Clark Turned in a Mature Performance Sunday

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By Todd Johnson

I don’t think there’s any secret of my admiration for Cubs prospect Bailey Clark. The 2016 5th round pick out of the Duke has been a favorite of mine since he pitched at Eugene last summer. I already wrote about him once this year, and it’s not often that I write about a prospect more than once in the season, let alone a month. But yesterday, his start against Hillsboro made me want to examine the pitching job that he did.

I called his last start frustratingly magical. I don’t have any illuminative adjectives to describe yesterday’s start other than that he pitched extremely well. I know this is going to sound strange, but he scattered four walks across 5 innings while striking out three and allowing just three hits and an unearned run.

I thought it was his most efficient outing when it comes to pitchability. Heading into the fifth inning he had only thrown 50 pitches. He did finish the day with 72 and I think he could’ve gone one more inning if needed. But with a 9 to 1 lead, why push it.

From the beginning, Clark looked to be in command. He did give up a single in the first and had a pickoff attempt go down the first base line, but other than that he was able to get two pop-ups and a fly out against one of the top offenses in the Northwest League in Hillsboro.

The second, third, and fourth innings were pretty inconsequential. He was locating his fastball (low 90s), he was getting his curve across, and he wasn’t wasting any time nibbling on the corners. Aside from a walk in the third and a walk in the fourth, he looked to be around the plate all day long.

In the fifth, he did run into some trouble after giving up a walk, a single, and another walk to load the bases. He did give up an unearned run on a throwing error that would’ve ended the inning. However, he got the next batter to line out and the damage was kept at a minimum.

This is about the fourth different Bailey Clark I’ve seen this year. There was dominant Bailey Clark who struck out nine against Boise and eight against Everett. There was also the wild Bailey to go along with the nibbler Bailey. However, I really liked the Bailey I saw on Sunday a lot.

He didn’t get rattled. He stayed in control. He didn’t begin nibbling or throwing 59 foot curves in the dirt. He looked like a pitcher navigating his way through a lineup – a very good one at that. He looked poised and mature.

I think I can handle this incarnation of Bailey Clark, too.

11 Young Cub Pitchers Dominating in July

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By Todd Johnson

It has been a busy few days for me. I started getting ready for my real job as a history teacher by doing some long range-planning this week. But I am ready to get back to baseball writing.

I was able to take a few breaks and watch some outstanding pitching performances from Cubs prospects this week. As I mentioned last week, the Cubs farm system has shifted towards being pitching heavy. The past few days have proven that with some serious games thrown across all levels. When I go to pick the monthly prospect All-Star team in less two weeks, these guys will make my job very hard.

Duncan Robinson – In his third start at high A Myrtle Beach, Robinson put his excellent command to good use going 5 IP with 5 Ks while only allowing 1 hit. This was clearly his best start since being promoted. It lowered his ERA for the month to 3.27 and for the year to 2.28.

Manny Rondon – He got off to a rough start to begin 2017. I found it surprising as he was the Northwest League pitcher of the year in 2016. On Monday afternoon, the lefty went 6.2 IP and gave up only a run while striking out three. It was one of his best starts of the year. After a 3.60 ERA in June, things are beginning to look up.

Jose Albertos – At short season Eugene, the young 18-year-old top prospect has put up a 2.70 ERA so far. He has a really good fastball in the mid 90s that he can command most days. His curve is a work in progress. I wish he would use his change more as that could be his most devastating pitch.

Justin Steele – He has quietly put up one of the best seasons of any pitcher in the Cubs’ system in 2017. He credits a new mental focus that includes stir-fry and meditation before every game. His major league type arsenal is looking very good. On Sunday, in a rain shortened game, he only gave up 1 run in 4 innings, which is about the norm for him this year.

Thomas Hatch – In June, the Cubs 2016 third round pick put up a 0.98 ERA. He got roughed up in one start this month but still sports a 3.21 ERA in just July. With improved command of a “new” four seam fastball in his pocket, he has been changing eye levels all summer.

Jen-Ho Tseng – He might have the most underrated story in the Cubs’ system this summer. After a rebirth that made one think of his 2014 summer at Kane County, Tseng hung up a 2.99 ERA at AA Tennessee. Most impressive in his statistics arsenal were his 83 Ks in 90.1 IP. In his second start at AAA Iowa, Tseng went 7 IP with 8 Ks and did not allow a run on Monday night.

Michael Rucker – His transformation has been stunning this year. As a reliever, he was a strikeout machine at South Bend. He was promoted in early June and was doing the same. All he does is attack the zone. It’s a simple plan that he can execute. The 2016 11th round pick out of BYU took over the injured Oscar de la Cruz’s spot in Myrtle Beach’s starting rotation and has never looked back. Check out this line from Monday night – 8 IP, 10 Ks, 2 hits, and 0 runs.

Preston Morrison – He’s had an up and down year. After a 1.88 ERA in May, it ballooned to 6 in June, and he is killing it in July with a 1.50 ERA. I enjoyed watching him last year at South Bend where he used what I call a “whiffle ball repertoire” to confound hitters. His last two starts saw him go 6 IP apiece and only give up 1 run in each.

Adbert Alzolay – He was promoted from Myrtle Beach to Tennessee two weeks ago. He proceeded to strike out ten in his five inning AA debut. So far, he has a 2.70 ERA in two AA starts. With a fastball that he can maintain deep into games, he bears a lot of watching.

Jesus Camargo – He comes across as a sneaky pitcher who I love to watch pitch. Currently at short season Eugene, he is having a good season after missing all of 2016. He has upper 80s/low 90s heat with a mid 70s curve and a changeup that is just plain filthy and that he can add and subtract mph. It is really a devastating pitch. The 21-year-old righty has a 1.73 ERA in six appearances and has struck out 31 in 26 IP. I really enjoy watching him work.

Jose Paulino – His last two starts saw him throw 12 scoreless innings with 12 Ks. His ERA for July is 0.55. Just six weeks ago, he was taken out of the rotation and placed in the bullpen. The young lefty has returned with a vengeance.

There should be even more great performances coming on a nightly basis. Hopefully Oscar de la Cruz will return to action along with Jake Stinnett. Stinnett made a rehab appearance this week down in Mesa. Trevor Clifton will look to bounce back in his next start and Bryan Hudson looks to recapture his ground ball magic. Even Bailey Clark has shown signs that he was a good gamble. Last night, he struck out 8 in 5 IP. He struck out 9 a couple of weeks ago. It’s getting deep when it comes to Cubs’ starting pitching.

Mind you, these 11 are just the starters. I did not talk about the relievers. I will be covering some of them the next few days.

Player Update: Bailey Clark’s Frustratingly Magical Start

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By Todd Johnson

One of the great joys over the past two summers has been sitting back and watching the Eugene Emeralds play on TV. It’s great to see some of the Cubs’ youngest prospects begin their careers. Last summer, for only two games, I got to see Bailey Clark, the Cubs 2016 5th round pick, dazzle hitters with his mid 90s fastball. I expected him to begin 2017 in South Bend mowing down hitters in the Midwest League. That did not happen. Whether it was shoulder related or the aftereffects of him missing time due to finishing his degree at Duke, he’s back in Eugene to start his season.

I really like what Clark brings to the table. He has a nice low-to-mid 90s fastball, a curve with a nice 2 to 7 break, and he has a pretty good frame at 6’4″ in which to go deep into games and a season. Most importantly, I think he has a bulldog type mentality. He is not going to give in to a hitter, he is going to attack and attack. These are all the kinds of things you want in a major league starter.

I see all these things and I’m really pulling for this guy to make it. The Cubs really need an arm like his. But, he’s not going to develop overnight. I think when it clicks for him, it’s going to click fast. Basically what needs to happen is he needs to improve his command.

Last’s night start against Boise was a perfect example.

It was a tale of two games. In the first part of the game, Bailey Clark had trouble commanding his pitches. He gave up a couple of ill timed hits, a walk, and next thing you know it was 2-0 after an inning. 

But when you start to dig deeper, he was not getting in good pitching counts. It’s not that he was laboring to get through the inning, but a 25 pitch 1st inning is not conducive to a long start. I initially thought that there was no way he was going to make it through even three innings. But as they say in Mexico, the worm turned. He came out in the second and struck out three out of four hitters.

The third saw the frustration creep in again. Three singles, a balk, and a wild pitch lead to two more runs. It was 4-0. I thought he was done for the night. I was wrong.

In the fourth and fifth innings, Bailey Clark looked like a major-league pitcher toying with the Boise Hawks lineup. He only needed 7 pitches in the fourth to dispose of the Hawks. In the 5th, he just needed 12. By the end of the fifth, he was at 79 pitches and had struck out nine batters in total. I don’t know if something clicked or he just finally get warmed up, but he got in a serious groove. You don’t see that very often in the minor leagues.  Then , you ask yourself, why can’t you do that all the time? I remarked to a friend, “He just needs to start in the second inning and he’ll be fine.

If not is if the Cubs are bereft of starting pitching in the minors, they are not. However, there are only a handful of guys you can say, “I can see that guy pitching in the majors,” or “I could see him pitching for the Cubs.” I can see Bailey Clark pitching in the majors for the Cubs. I can see him starting. I can see him relieving. I can see his 2 to 7 breaking ball wiping out hitters. 

While his start last night was frustrating, it was also magical. I think that is who he is right now. Hopefully, he moves to magical side in the coming starts. With 18 Ks in just 15.1 IP, that is something to hang a hat on. On the other hand, a 1.63 WHIP is not. They key, as I see it, is to ignore the bad stats and focus on his development. He did a lot of things right last night. Sure, there were mistakes, but you can learn just as much in baseball from succeeding, if not more, than you can from mistakes. It might be best to play to his strengths.

After watching his last two innings, I am a little excited to see how he does in his next start in about a week’s time. If all goes well, I hope to see him in South Bend in August.

Other Bailey Clark Articles: Better, Faster, Stronger

Cubs Have More Prospects to Breakout in the Second Half

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By Todd Johnson

As I have said before, it is hard for a prospect to break out anymore. There is press coverage almost everywhere in addition to photographers and people who can take video. With Mesa and Eugene ready to begin play, here are some names of prospects who I think will grab a few headlines in the second half and propel themselves up several prospect lists.

I did not include top prospects Miguel Amaya and Aramis Ademan on this list. Technically, they should break out, but most people already know about them. For me, it’s just a matter of seeing them do it this summer on him MiLB.TV.

Photo by Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard

Joe Martarano – At 6’3” and close to 240 pounds, Joe is quite the presence in the batters box. I saw him for the first time on opening night at Eugene. The thing I took away from his performance was that he does have a really good eye at plate. He might be a little “roller-coastery” this summer as he gets used to playing every day after not playing for two years.

Delvin Zinn – He is beginning this year in Mesa after missing most of spring training. He’s a great athlete and it looks like he’s gonna play second base. With college draft picks coming, I think he’ll be at Mesa most of the summer.

Bailey Clark – I love this kid. While technically a bearded monster, he also has a 95 to 98 mph fastball. He is starting out at Eugene and should eventually spend most of his time this summer playing at South Bend.

Brailyn Marquez – At 6’6” and only 18 years of age, I look forward to seeing what this young left handed pitcher can do. Last year in the DSL he put up an ERA of 1.48. He struck out 48 in 54 IP in the DSL, I doubt he does that in Mesa. I am intrigued to see how he does stateside.

Faustino Carrera – He’s a bit small, so I don’t think he’s destined to be a starter, but for right now he is. He put up a 1.06 ERA in the DSL last year and, like Marquez, I wonder if he if he can do that in Mesa with the same success.

Jonathan Sierra – He looks like Darryl Strawberry, but does not have Darryl’s skills yet. Then again, Sierra is only 18. He hit .264 in the DSL last year with a .384 OBP. That shows me he has a good eye at the plate. He did not have the greatest spring training, but I am interested to see how he hits in Mesa and whether his power stroke begins to develop. Hopefully, he begins to breakout this year. If not, it could take him 2-3 years to do so.

Gustavo Polanco -Last year, he lead the Mesa Cubs in hitting at .322. He is already off to great start at Eugene. Although he started off as a catcher, the 20-year-old moved to first base and is also a designated hitter. At 6′ and 190 pounds, he is pretty much maxed out physically, but he has a great eye for the ball.

Under the Radar
Image may contain: one or more peopleI am sure there will be other players who do breakout. More than likely, most will be players the Cubs recently drafted. I wrote the following at BP Wrigleyville about two top hitters I think might fit the breakout bill.

3B Austin Filiere (eighth round pick) and OF Chris Carrier (ninth round) both have a lot of potential for power. Carrier comes from Memphis while Filiere comes from MIT—neither of which are powerhouse college programs. Carrier is a sculpted physical specimen at 6’2” and 225 pounds, while Filiere’s experience in the wooden bat Cape Cod League might give him an advantage as they begin their pro careers, most likely in Eugene.

2B Jared Young and OF Brandon Hughes are two other college names who could do the same as Filiere and Carrier.

When it comes to pitchers, the Cubs did pick some relievers. Most notable are Casey Ryan from Hawaii, Sean Barry from San Diego, and Brian Glowicki from Minnesota. The starting pitchers the Cubs draft pitch short stints (40-50 pitches) as they already have thrown a full season.

It Is Opening Day in Eugene – Let the Title Defense Begin

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By Todd Johnson

The Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs’ short season Class A team, opens up at home tonight to begin defense of its Northwest League title. The roster was released on Tuesday to oohs and ahs throughout the Internet (Well, actually, it was just me and another guy in Louisiana). Still, I find it very exciting as they usually play at 9 Central when most Cub affiliates have just ended their games. They have my sole attention every summer.

This year’s team, for now,  is a mixture of international players and some of last year’s draft picks. Most of the players played in Mesa in Rookie League last year where they made it the AZL playoffs. There are a few players who played in the Dominican Summer League and skipped Mesa this year. There is a lot of talent on this roster. The Emeralds begin their title defense with the following players.

Pitchers: Luis Aquino, Javier Assad, Jesus Camargo, Holden Cammack, Bailey Clark, Enrique de los Rios, Andin Diaz. Elvis Diaz, Hector Alonso Garcia, Yapson Gomez, John Michael Knighton, Mark Malave, Junior Marte, Manuel Rodriguez, Jhon Romero, Andry Rondon, Matt Swarmer

Catchers: Miguel Amaya and Gustavo Polanco

Infield: Aramis Ademan, Jhonny Bethencourt, Joe Martarano, Rafael Narea, Edgar Rondon

Outfield: Zach Davis, Jose A. Gonzalez, Kwang-Min Kwon, and Connor Myers

It is worth noting that short season rosters can contain up to 35 players with 25 active per night. Most of those inactive for a game are pitchers.

Here are a few key players to keep an eye on over the the next 70 games.
1. Bailey Clark – I don’t know how long he will be at this level. He missed spring training finishing up his degree at Duke. He showed up in EXST in May and has been getting ready for the season. To be honest, his upper 90s fastball should be too dominant for this league. I wrote about him last year and I expect to see him in South Bend quickly.

2. Javier Assad – He was the ace of the 2016 Cubs rookie league team that made the playoffs. He struck out 42 in 37.1 IP last year with a 2.87 ERA. John Arguello said that he is more physically mature this year. His unofficial stats from EXST (courtesy of the Cub Reporter) were impressive. He had a 2.55 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in 24.2 IP. He struck out 26 and batters hit only .229 versus him. At the tender age of 19, expect him to be an Em all season.

3. Miguel Amaya – He’s just 18 and he drew rave reviews this spring for his catching abilities and his developing power. Amaya was signed by the Cubs in 2015 as a 16-year-old and he also is still growing. In EXST this year, he unofficially hit .350 with 4 HRs and was on fire as camp ended hitting .531 with a .600 OBP over his last ten games. I am extremely excited to see him play!

4. Aramis Ademan – Aramis is also a member of the 2015 IFA class and he is already considered the top defensive SS in the Cubs system. He will be skipping rookie ball and going right to Eugene. This spring, he proved he his bat is more advanced than previously thought. He hit .270 over 28 games with 1 HR. He’s not going to be a power guy. It is all about defense for him.

5. Joe Martarano – The former Boise State linebacker is now 100% committed to baseball. I like that. I like that he is 6’3” and 235-240 lbs. I like that he can hit for average as well as power. He did play some for the Cubs in the summer after being drafted in 2013. He did not play at all in 2016. He showed no signs of rust in EXST hitting .324 with a .448 OBP. I find that plate discipline to be amazing with how little he’s played after focusing on football for so long. The kid can hit.

6. Rafael Narea – Another IFA, he came on strong this spring. The 19 year-old-shortstop hit .290 and showed a deft bat and plate discipline as he only struck out a 4% rate.

The roster is also notable for the one player not on it. Pitcher, and top young prospect, Jose Albertos is staying behind in Mesa to work on his grip on his curve, which he keeps spiking in the dirt. Eventually, he will make his way to the great northwest.

Last year, over 50+ players flowed through Eugene. Once the draft picks sign, many more players will be coming. Expect to see the college position players arrive in late June. I doubt you will see first rounder Alex Lange as he is in the CWS for the next two weeks. However, top pick Brendon Little should be in the bullpen or making short starts of two innings. It will be exciting to see who all shows up!

Draft Picks Who Should Be in Eugene by July

The list could include OF Chris Carrier, 3B Austin Filiere, P Cory Abbott, P Erich Uelmen, P Ricky Tyler thomas, IF Austin Upshaw, OF Brandon Hughes, 2B Jared Young, P Brandon King, and closer Brian Glowicki. There might even be a few more.

 

Fangraphs’ Prospect List Is the One Your Parents Warned You About

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If you are looking for a Cubs prospect list that is aggressive, balls to the wall, and different from every other list, I have found it for you. Surprisingly, it is not Baseball Prospectus. It is not Keith Law who ranks someone abnormally high this time; This year, that award goes to Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen.

Fangraphs is one of my favorite prospect lists because it releases a lot of information about the prospect and includes video. This year Longenhagen went 23 deep with Cub prospects. There are several inclusions in the list that some may consider stunning, but I have talked about all of them at some point over the past six months. The names sound familiar, but their placement should not.

eloy 77 2016 futuresThe Normalcy

Eloy came in at number one. Ian Happ was at number two. Trevor Clifton, Mark Zagunis, Dylan Cease, Jeimer Candelario, and Albert Almora also made the top 10.

What is different is they are all over the top 10. We are used to seeing Candelario somewhere around number four and Almora in the top five for the past year. Trevor Clifton ascended into the top five on many other lists. For Fangraphs, he comes in at number eight.

After that, all hell breaks loose

Oscar de la Cruz came in at number three while Jose Albertos shook things up at the number five slot. The sight of de la Cruz it number three I find strange because he missed half the year last year. What I think Longenhagen is doing is projecting out how that prospect will be doing in the future. In that sense, I think Oscar could be a top-five prospect at the end of the year, but he has top three talent now.

As for Albertos, this is his highest ranking on any prospect list. I also find that interesting because he only pitched four innings last year. However, he did dazzle man throughout spring training and extended spring training last year, including Arizona Phil, Jim Callis, and John Arguello. With upper 90s heat and excellent command, if Jose is healthy, he might be the one pitcher to watch. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be in Eugene to limit his innings and exposure coming off an injury that caused him to miss most of the year. Even though I know he has all this talent and command, I don’t know yet if he’s that much better than Dylan Cease who is ranked a little lower.

And I think that’s going to be the true nature of any prospect list for the Cubs the next couple of years. There’s gonna be a lot of movement up-and-down the list as players begin to develop and, even more importantly, begin to produce at the minor-league level.

Other surprises: We are not done yet

Jose Rosario made the top 10 as well. That caught my eye because he’s only a reliever. If he was a starter, I might find it more plausible. I don’t disagree with the selection because the arm is at an elite level.

As for other prospects on the list, DJ Wilson just missed the top 10 at number 11. Eddy Martinez got the number 12 spot. Even Felix Pena made the list at number 15. Thomas Hatch and Isaac Paredes came in at 16 and 17, respectively. Duane Underwood dropped all the way to 22 and Bailey Clark, who I have sung the praises of for the past six months, taps in at number 23. 

I think the biggest surprise in the second 10 is Aramis Ademan at number 13. The young 17-year-old shortstop has yet to even play one inning in the states.

Photo by John Arguello
Photo by John Arguello

What I find most interesting is that Fangraphs’ list is much more about projection than it is about production and current skill levels. For example, here’s what Longenhagen said about Aramis Ademan.

His hands and actions are smooth in the field and quick and angry in the batter’s box. Ademan takes aggressive hacks and makes surprisingly loud contact for a player his size. His patient approach and advanced pitch recognition have allowed him to avoid excessive strikeouts so far. He has the bat speed to become an above-average hitter if things get polished up; given that he’s just 18, that’s really all I care about. He likely won’t ever have more than 40 game power, but an above-average hitter with below-average power who plays an average shortstop is a good everyday player. I think there’s a chance for that here.

I truly like that brashness of how Longenhagen compiled this list. I completely understand it, I just don’t know if I would have the cajones to rank some of these players that high this early in their career. It’s clear he values projection more than production. After all, isn’t that what a prospect list is for?

Sometimes, I wonder if some lists should be more about production and development. And that is the crux of the matter as a prospect list is supposed to evaluate talent in the system and assign a value to that talent. It’s not about what they do in the minor leagues, it’s more about what they could do in the majors.

Organizational Breakdown: Cubs Getting Flooded with Right-Handed Starters – Part One

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By Todd Johnson

cropped-mission-control-31.jpg

The tide is turning. By the end of the 2018 season, there will be a wave of starting pitchers hitting the shores of Chicago. It’s going to be unlike anything Cubs fans have seen. To date, only one drafted player, Rob Zastryzny, made it to Chicago and made one start. By the end of next year, as many as six starting right-handed starting pitchers could easily be ready.

When I look at the Cubs’ right-handed starting pitching prospects, they seem to be in tiers. The first tier contains players who are at AA and AAA. The second tier is at low and high A ball, and the third wave is at Eugene, the rookie level in Mesa, and in the Dominican. Some are more ready than others. The others, however, could be ready and just as equal in performance.

Initially, I just wanted to do one post. Once I completed that post, I decided to split into two parts. Today, I will look at five pitchers on the fringe who could make it to Chicago by the end of 2018 but are not considered to be in the top 5 of RHSP prospects in the system.

stinnett 86 2016 mb11. The first pitcher profiled today is Jake Stinnett. If you ever watch Jake pitch, you know that he gets massive movement on all his pitches. He just has not been able to control the quality stuff that he has. Last year at Myrtle Beach, he got off to a great start and then began to fizzle in July before recovering in August. I am beginning to wonder if the pen is for him. 2017 will tell.

10. Preston Morrison is another pitcher who is blessed with immaculate control but not overpowering pitches. He gets a lot of movement and is able to command his pitches to do what he wants. The question is whether those pitches have enough giddy up on them to succeed at the major-league level. Last year he moved to the third-base side of the rubber and his career really took off at South Bend and again at Myrtle Beach.

9. Erling Moreno pitched his first full season of A ball after 2 injury plagued seasons. The young 19-year-old was dominant at short-season Eugene as he flashed a plus curveball to go with his low 90s fastball. He was pretty much devastating all year long and is one of my favorite pitchers in the system. Still, I’d like to see what he can do in South Bend in 2017. He will still only be 19 and I think that his arm strength will return more and we might see more on his fastball than what we saw in 2016.

clark 70 2016 eug8. Out of all the arms the Cubs drafted in the 2016 draft, Bailey Clark might have the most special arm. In terms of talent, he can throw in the upper 90s and he was excellent in five starts for Eugene after completing a full college season. Even though his college season at Duke was not what one would have hoped for, Clark came in, took some direction, and took off as a member of the Emeralds. I think after a full spring training, he is going to be ready to shine in South Bend.

7. Ryan Williams – What I love most about Williams is that he attacks the bottom part of the zone relentlessly. He has a closer’s mentality in a starter’s body. Although he missed most of the last year, I am still very high on him even if he only has one full year in the system. I think he could have made it to Chicago last year. Although he starts, he does have the experience in the bullpen from college when he was a closer. He’s not overpowering, but he has great command and control of his pitches.

6. Zach Hedges – Hedges, in my opinion, could make it to Chicago, if needed, in 2017. Wow! That was totally strange typing that. After an impressive offseason of conditioning before the 2016 season, Hedges gained 3-4 mph on his fastball. This put him consistently in the 92-95 mph range to go along with a plus slider and what hopes to be a developing change. He works deep into games, he works off contact, and he works quickly to keeps hitters off balance. He is a groundball machine. And he’s close. He should be at AAA to start the year. Working in the Pacific Coast League this summer will present Zach with challenges not seen as the league is predominantly a hitter’s league, especially the mountain range teams in the west.

Bonus Section
markey 71 2016 tennDon’t sleep yet on Jen-Ho Tseng, Jake Buchanan, Erick Leal, or Brad Markey. All have had their moments. To me, Leal and Markey could surprise the most. Leal is a tall, lanky pitcher who seems to improve slightly every year. Markey is a command specialist. Last year was a good year in terms of stats, except he gave up a lot of solo home runs. I am sure correcting that is at the top of his to-do list for 2017.

Buchanan is actually, believe it or not, someone who could spot start in Chicago before any other starter currently in the minors. As for Jen-Ho, he’s the only starting pitcher left from the vaunted Kane County team who has a viable shot of making it as a starter. The problem for him is that they have made so many changes to him, I don’t even know if he knows who he is as a pitcher anymore. We shall find out once more in 2017.

I will be back next week with part two as I examine the top 5 RHSP in the Cubs’ system and some dark horses in the lower parts of the system for 2017.