Chicago Cubs: Cory Abbott on the fast track to Wrigley

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs drafted Cory Abbott in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Could he join the rotation as soon as next year?

The Chicago Cubs selected a pitcher from Loyola Marymount in the second round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. That guy was the first pitcher to throw a perfect game in school history. That guy was Cory Abbott. He actually didn’t know he had a perfect game going until the ninth inning:

"“I did not know I was throwing a perfect game until the very end,” Abbott told me in a recent interview. “I was more concerned with the amount of strikeouts I was getting and focused on that.”"

He was projected to be drafted somewhere in the later rounds but flew up draft boards after tossing the perfect game. Several teams contacted him prior to the draft but he had very little interaction with the Cubs scouting department:

"“The Cubs sent me a questionnaire early on in the season and that was all the contact I had with them. I had more contact with the Dodgers, Tigers, Rays, Yankees than any other teams. A lot of the teams had scouts come talk to me at the local Starbucks right down the street. Nothing too crazy, I mostly let my advisor handle all of the draft stuff while I focused on school and baseball.I had a pre-draft dinner with my agency in Los Angeles and they had told me that they have heard Rounds 3-5 for the most part. The first day of the draft comes up and I wasn’t really expecting anything but had a get together with some family and friends. We cracked open some beers and had an awesome bbq while waiting it out. My agent gave me a call and said I might go at the back end of the second round but don’t expect anything crazy. I got a call from the Dodgers, they low balled me so I turned it down and about two minutes later the Cubs called and asked if the slot would’ve been good. I agreed to it and here I am.”"

That’s often how the Cubs operate, under the radar and get their guy when it is least expected. It’s how they got Jon Lester when he agreed to sign with the team during the night back in December 2014.

Not long after signing with the Cubs, Abbott was assigned to short-season Eugene to get his feet wet in professional baseball. He made just five starts there and struck out 18 batters in only 14.0 innings to the tune of a 3.86 ERA. Come 2018, he began with Single-A South Bend in his first full professional season.

Abbott made nine starts with the South Bend Cubs. In 47.1 innings, he struck out 57 batters with a 2.47 ERA. He also allowed an opponent’s batting average of just 0.207. That was good enough for the Cubs front office to promote him to High-A Myrtle Beach to finish out the 2018 season. He made 13 starts there, tossing 67.2 innings with 74 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA.

Another new season in 2019 came with another new Cubs affiliate. Abbott was promoted to Double-A Tennessee and has made eight starts with the Smokies. He’s thrown 45.2 innings with 46 strikeouts and allowed just seven free passes all good for a 2.96 ERA. I asked how he has been to walk so few batters:

"“I think consistency with my delivery has helped me a lot with my command. Being able to throw in the pitching lab in Arizona and breaking everything down with the footage that we have helps give you another look. I feel that all my pitches are out pitches if you have the right plan and consistency that day.”"

At this rate, he is likely due for a promotion to Triple-A Iowa in late June or early July and could finish out the season there. If all goes well, Abbott could very likely be part of the big-leaue rotation in 2020 that figures to have an opening with Cole Hamels set to become an unrestricted free agent.

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When I asked him what areas of his game he needs to still improve, his primary goal is just to be consistent.

"“Consistency of stuff from start to start would be it for me. How to manage when one of your pitches is off that night and when to throw it to keep the hitters off balance.”"

A special thank you to Cory Abbott (@Cabbott40) for taking the time to speak with me.