The Cubs are promoting left-hander Luke Little to the majors, reports Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register. Little isn’t on the 40-man roster but the Cubs already have a vacancy there. A corresponding move will be required to get him onto the active roster.
It’s a belated birthday present for Little, who turned 23 years old just a week ago. The ironically-named Little, listed at 6’8″ and 220 pounds, was selected by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. He made an 11-inning professional debut in the Complex League in 2021 before getting a larger body of work after that.
He split 2022 between Single-A and High-A, tossing 65 2/3 innings with a 2.47 earned run average. His 13.3% walk rate was on the high side but he paired that with a huge 35.4% strikeout rate. This year, he’s gone from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A with a combined 2.12 ERA in 63 2/3 frames. He’s still giving out walks at a high clip of 15.1% but is punching out 37.6% of batters faced.
Those strong results have gotten the attention of prospect evaluators, with Baseball America currently ranking him #19 in the Cubs’ system, highlighting his fastball velocity. He’ll now get a chance to try his hand at getting major league hitters out and will be making his major league debut as soon as he gets into a game.
The club hasn’t had much of a left-handed presence in its bullpen this year. Brandon Hughes made 17 appearances earlier in the season but has been out of action for a few months dealing with a knee injury. Anthony Kay has an ERA of 6.35 in his 13 contests and is currently on optional assignment. That leaves Drew Smyly, who struggled in the rotation and got bumped to the bullpen, as the club’s only southpaw reliever at the moment.
Bringing Little up to the big leagues will give them another option in that department as they enter the final few weeks of the playoff race. Their 75-64 record puts them 2.5 games back of the Brewers in the Central and in possession of the second National League Wild Card spot.