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

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Chicago Cubs PED
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The Chicago Cubs selected both Alex Lange and Brendon Little in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft. They figure to be key pieces of the Cubs pitching staff in the near future.

The Chicago Cubs selected their two prized possessions in the first round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. Alex Lange was taken in the first round out of LSU. There he was absolutely terrific with the Tiger, going 30-9 with 403 strikeouts and lead them to two College World Series appearances.

Lange was assigned to Class-A short-season Eugene after being drafted and posted a 4.82 ERA in just 9.1 innings with 13 strikeouts. He was assigned to High-A Myrtle Beach in 2018 and finished the season tossing 101 strikeouts in 120.1 innings, allowing just six home runs. So far in 2019, Lange has started two games with Myrtle Beach but has gotten knocked around. He’s pitched just 4.2 innings in those two starts, allowing eight earn runs while striking out just two batters to the tune of a 15.43 ERA. It’s still very early in the season, so let’s hope he can right the ship.

Scouts love Lange’s curveball, but they have some questions about his ability to remain a starter long-term (via

"Lange had one of the best curveballs in the 2017 Draft, and while it remains his best pitch, last year he often didn’t have the low-80s hammer he had at LSU. His fastball ranged from 89-92 mph after operating at 92-96 early in his college career, and he never has commanded his heater particularly well. He did improve his fading changeup and had to use it more often out of necessity, and there were nights when it was his best offering. Even when Lange was thriving in college, scouts questioned the effort in his delivery and some projected him as a reliever. He did a better job of throwing strikes in 2018 than he did with LSU, but he also didn’t miss nearly as many bats. His competitiveness allows him to get the most out of his ability, though he looked like a back-of-the-rotation starter in his first full pro season."

Brendon Little was taken in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft as well. Little was selected with the compensatory pick given to the Cubs by the St Louis Cardinals when the signed Dexter Fowler. He’s had a rough go of it so far. After being drafted, Little was assigned to Class-A short-season Eugene. With the Emeralds, Little posted a 9.37 ERA in six starts striking out 12 batters while also allowing nine walks.

Given his rough start in 2017, Little was assigned to Single-A South Bend in 2018 where he posted a 5.15 ERA in 101.1 innings with 90 strikeouts and 43 walks. Both scouts and the Cubs have emphasized the importance of Little developing his changeup.

"At his best, Little has two plus offerings in a low-80s hammer of a curveball and a 91-96 mph fastball with life and downhill plane. He rarely overwhelmed hitters in 2018, often sitting around 90 mph with his heater and having a good-not-great curve. He’s slowly making progress with his changeup, which the Cubs have emphasized after he had little need for one as an amateur. Because Little had just 89 innings of college experience, Chicago knew he would require time to develop. For now, he’ll focus on trying to repeat his delivery and keep it in sync, which may help him reclaim his fastball and curve. He throws with effort and has little history of throwing strikes, so he may have average control at best."

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