Mar 9, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks (79) throws during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs Pitching at Lower Levels On The Rise: Part Two

Mar 14, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks (79) throws during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

(Read part one here, the first on Cubs pitching prospects.) Dillon Maples is another pitcher with a power repertoire. Hits mid 90′s with the fastball, and a sharp nose to toes curve. It might just be his most impressive pitch. Both plus pitches, but his command is rough due to poor mechanics which makes it hard to repeat his release point on his delivery. He has top of the rotation stuff, but a change to reliever may be necessary, however he’ll have another shot at Kane county to turn it around. If he doesn’t make it as a starter he could have one heck of a career as a power arm coming out of a some teams bullpen be it here, or somewhere else should he be part of a trade.

Kyle Hendricks is a far cry from the prospects I’ve mentioned so far. Average stuff at best. 88-91 MPH fastball, and breaking balls that are enough to get by with, but by no means lights out special. He relies on command, and guile to get through a lineup, but on an exceptional level. He probably maxes out as a 4th starter because of not having an electric arm, but he can be one hell of a 4th or 5th starter. All I read about when it comes to Hendricks is this kid just knows the science of pitching. If the Cubs make a trade, get an injury, or just have a lack of performance from anyone in the rotation he’s probably the next call up behind now veteran pitcher Chris Russin. Once in the rotation don’t expect him to be out of it anytime soon.

Duane Underwood Has all the raw tools to be an ace, but the inconsistency, and lack of command to have him as a mop up reliever bouncing around from one bad team to another. Boom or bust I believe is the industry term. Of course he’s still very young not far removed from high school and basically a teenager. There’s a lot to work with here. Size, athleticism and a canon arm. This is where Minor League pitching coordinator Derek Johnson and the minor league developmental pitching instructors he oversee’s come in. Once the prospects reach the bigs it’s than up to Chris Bosio to continue to ensure they continue to progress, and once at the top of their game maintain it for as long as possible. If the Cubs want to emulate organizations like St. Louis, and the one the current management team came from Boston, and have a farm system that consistently brings up front line pitching talent in waves, than they need to develop raw pitching talent like Underwood to reach their full potential.

The collection of talented arms I’ve highlighted doesn’t end there. There are more in the pipeline that will step up and make an impression, and start to appear on prospect lists, and enter the radar. I’d like to post the pitchers I didn’t mention yet that you should to keep an eye and ear out for this season. I’ll include links to their profiles, and scouting reports you can access by simply clicking on their first (profile), and last (scouting report) names.

Ivan Pineyro
Rob Zastryzny
Corey Black
Eric Jokisch
Trey Masek
Jen-Ho Tseng
Corbin Hoffner
Ben Wells
Ryan McNeil
Scott Frazier
Josh Conway
Trevor Clifton
Tyler Skulina

As you can see the Cubs organization has several arms that have the potential to make an impact either directly on the roster, or in trades to acquire other badly needed pieces for contention. So far these names are all considered starting prospects, but of course some of these names may find their way to the bullpen should their development fall short as starters. That’s ok though. those power arms they have in the best bullpens in the league helping teams contend are all former starting hopefuls too. After all like a chain, a pitching staff is only as strong as its weakest link.

Tags: Chicago Cubs Chris Bosio Derek Johnson Dillon Maples Duane Underwood Kyle Hendricks

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