The Cubs have struggled to develop homegrown pitchers during Theo Epstein’s regime, though senior VP of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that “this is probably the first year I can confidently sit here and feel like we have the guys that can help this team in the major leagues this year, if needed.” The Cubs are already overloaded with veteran rotation options on the 25-man roster, with Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish, swingman Mike Montgomery, and Tyler Chatwood all on hand to make starts. Of course, those seven account for over $100MM in salary next season, as the Cubs have been forced to spend big on starting pitching to account for a lack of help from the farm.
Jen-Ho Tseng and Duane Underwood Jr. are Triple-A arms who cracked the big leagues in 2018, plus a variety of 2016 draft picks (Thomas Hatch, Michael Rucker, Duncan Robinson) could potentially make the MLB level this season, possibly in the bullpen if not the rotation. The 2016 class is noteworthy, as McLeod said the player development staff has been “more aggressive” with how it brings along its pitchers given the lack of results in earlier years. “We tried to fit everyone neatly into a box,” McLeod said. “Do these mechanics lead to what we think is going to be long-term health? And has he thrown enough strikes that we think prior performance is going to equal this type of performance going forward? We put so many checks on guys…that probably hamstrung us a little bit.”
More from around the National League…
- The Reds have been linked to the center field market since parting ways with Billy Hamilton, though Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link) suggests the team could like its internal options enough that “a late-inning defensive specialist” could be acquired. None of Scott Schebler, Yasiel Puig, or Nick Senzel profile as anything more than an average defender in center, so it makes sense that the Reds could aim for a glove-first bench player that would allow the team to keep those bigger bats in the lineup for the bulk of a game. A defensive specialist, additionally, would also come at a much lower cost than an everyday-type of center fielder.
- Reports from earlier today suggested the White Sox had interest in Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, and The Athletic’s David O’Brien (Twitter link) opines that the Braves also make sense as a Pederson suitor. Atlanta is in need of an outfielder to line up next to Ronald Acuna and Ender Inciarte, and Pederson offers some power and two years of team control. The Braves also have right-handed hitting bench options (Charlie Culberson, Adam Duvall, Johan Camargo) to platoon with Pederson, who struggles against left-handed pitching.
- The Dodgers announced their minor league coaching staffs earlier this week, including the item that former outfielder Jason Bourgeois was joining the staff of the team’s A-ball level Great Lakes Loons. This would seem to indicate that Bourgeois is calling it a career after 19 professional seasons. A second-round pick for the Rangers in the 2000 draft, Bourgeois appeared in 317 MLB games with the White Sox, Brewers, Astros, Royals, Rays, and Reds from 2008-15, hitting .253/.300/.326 over 761 career plate appearances. Since last appearing in the Show, Bourgeois played for the White Sox and Diamondbacks at the Triple-A level, and he spent last season in the Mexican League. We at MLBTR wish Bourgeois all the best in this next stage of his baseball career.