Chicago Cubs: Checking in on the Cubs top five pitching prospects

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Cubs were close to calling up Alzolay last season before he suffered a season-ending injury.

The Chicago Cubs signed Adbert Alzolay at the age of 17 in the international amateur market out of Venezuela. Standing at 6′-0″ and weighing 180 pounds, Alzolay has been in the Cubs farm system since 2012. He is currently ranked as the number 4 overall prospect for the Cubs and could potentially see time at Wrigley Field this season.

Alzolay began his Cubs minor league career pitching in the Venezuelan league and finished with a 1.07 ERA in 67 innings with 61 strikeouts and gave up just one home-run. He would remain in the Venezuelan league in 2014 but was promoted to Class-A short-season Boise at the end of the season. In 2015, Alzolay began the season with the Class-A short season, pitching 53 innings while striking out 49 batters to the tune of a 2.04 ERA. That was good enough to get the nod for promotion to Low-A South Bend in 2016.

With South Bend, he pitched 120.1 innings with 81 strikeouts in 20 starts and finished with a 4.34. He continued to work his way up the minors and played last season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. Alzolay spent much of the 2018 season battling injury and was shut down after suffering a lat injury on May 29. He actually came close to being called up to the big league club after Yu Darvish was injured, but Alzolay was shut down shortly after suffering his own injury.

Scouts have determined that he is capable of being a number one starter. Alzolay has a pitching arsenal with a fastball that sits in the high 90’s, a curveball that is in the low 80’s, and a changeup he’s still developing (via

"During an AFL outing on Oct. 27, he struck out two batters, getting the first on a 97-mph fastball and the second on an 83-mph curve. He’s still fine-tuning his changeup. “That’s my third pitch, and I need to get it ready,” Alzolay said of the change. “If you want to play in the big leagues, you need to have that pitch, you need to be able to throw that pitch in any count. I can throw my fastball and breaking ball whenever I want. Sometimes with my changeup, I’m like, ‘Should I throw that pitch or not?’ I don’t trust that pitch too much, so I’m working on that really hard.”"

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Alzolay’s arrival with the big league club could be delayed to 2020 due to his recent injury and the low number of innings he pitched with Triple-A last season. He has yet to make his first start with the Iowa Cubs this season.