Feb 19, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Arodys Vizcaino (47) throws during a workout at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs Pitching at Lower Levels On The Rise/The Starters

June 2, 2012; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Missouri State Bears pitcher Pierce Johnson during the third inning against the Miami Hurricanes in game three of the Coral Gables regional at Alex Rodriguez Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

While reading one of the blogs written by my go to guy for all Cubs news, especially considering prospects, John Arguello of Cubs Den, I was inspired to blog about some of the stock piled Cubs pitching in the minor leagues. We all hear about the positional depth, and with good reason, but the pitching is quickly starting to catch up to the everyday guys.

One of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, CJ Edwards pitched last night and was dominant. It should take him no time at all to graduate to AAA Iowa, and not unreasonable to expect a September call up. His questions are more about physical stamina, and whether his light frame can handle the vigor’s of many innings in a major league baseball career as a starter. The stuff, and make up is there. He’s also a great athlete which should translate into a repeatable delivery, and consistent release point to help command that electric stuff. He’s an exciting athlete, and if he holds up physically a true ace type prospect.

June 2, 2012; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Missouri State Bears pitcher Pierce Johnson during the third inning against the Miami Hurricanes in game three of the Coral Gables regional at Alex Rodriguez Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Pierce Johnson is another top of the rotation talent as is confirmed by the number of baseball media websites, and publications that have him ranked in their top 100. Johnson brings with him a mid 90’s fastball with movement thanks to a tweak in his delivery last season. It helped turn his season around as a matter of fact which started off very badly, but ended very well. To make things even more difficult for hitters he throws four pitches, all of which have a chance to be plus pitches once he irons out his command. He also throws variations of those pitches based on situation, and changes his arm angles to gives multiple release point looks as you can read in the link I added with his interview on fangraphs. As you can also see, the kids a student of the game, and recognizes how to pitch situational ball which should help him to execute a game plan.

Arodys Vizcaino who showed off his impressive arm in spring training with the big club is one level away from the show. It appears the organization has decided he will be a starter, and is being developed as such at AAA minor league affiliate Iowa after there were questions by many on whether he would be better served as a future closer, or in the role they currently have him in as a starter. Again the stuff is unquestioned. Throws a consistent upper 90’s fastball with command. He compliments that pitch with a curve, and a change up. Here’s an older scouting report I dug up on him. Another power arm who could be a number 2 or 3 in what is developing to be a pretty scary looking future rotation.

Paul Blackburn is another pitcher with a three pitch repertoire that project as plus pitches, and a power arm. He was selected as a compensatory pick in 2012, and has been impressive during his short tenure with the Cubs organization so far. He’s added muscle, and with it more miles per hour to his heater, and he now sits in the mid 90’s. He is another kid that projects as a top of the rotation pitcher. Not only is his stuff there, but his make up and competitive drive is equally as significant, and that is what has Blackburn in the mix to be a core piece in the Cubs rotation of the future. Here’s a link to a story that breaks him down at Cubs Den along with a link on that page to another excellent piece by Milb.com

Part 2 coming up as I continue to highlight the Cubs top starting pitching prospects.

Tags: Arodys Vizcaino C.J. Edwards Chicago Cubs Chris Bosio Derek Johnson Paul Blackburn Pierce Johnson

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