Top Cubs pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is slated to miss the remainder of the season, GM Jed Hoyer told reporters including Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). The recovery timeline for the lat injury he suffered recently is too lengthy to make a return plausible.
Clearly, that’s disappointing news for the Chicago organization and its prized young hurler. The 23-year-old was seen as a rising talent entering the year, topping most lists of the best prospects in a generally low-rated farm.
It surely seemed possible, at least, that Alzolay would factor as soon as the current season and certainly by 2019. He had not exactly dominated in eight starts at Triple-A, working to a 4.76 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 over 39 2/3 innings, but was (and is) still seen as a big talent within the organization.
As Hoyer put it, via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat (on Twitter): “It’s a setback for 2018 but we don’t see it as a setback for his career. We love the makeup, love the stuff. We think he’ll help us a lot in the future.”
It’s obviously still possible that Alzolay will be a notable part of the Cubs’ depth chart next year. But the loss will tell. He will miss a lot of development opportunities, while the team will not get to evaluate him as fully. Most notably of all, perhaps, is the simple question of innings. Alzolay had not previously topped 120 1/3 in a full season. Even if he is able to log some frames in fall or winter ball, that’s not going to make the Cubs comfortable pushing him out next season.
Fortunately for the Cubs, the 2019 rotation is already fully accounted for (assuming full health). Still, Alzolay’s injury situation will impact the team’s planning. Per Hoyer, via ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers (on Twitter): “We’ll be on the lookout for rotation depth and in the bullpen, no matter what, but this [injury to Alzolay] underscores that a little bit.”