Cubs Organizational Breakdown, Pt 9: Thin But Powerful Left Handed Starting Throw

Of all the positions in the system, the left-handed starting pitcher is probably the slimmest. At the same time, this is where you’ll find some of the best Cubs talent and we could look at the best aspect of the system on a pound-for-pound basis. There are arguably three Top 10 prospects in this collection and there is a fourth that could be there by the end of next summer.


Check out last year’s breakdown


As we’ve done throughout this series (see end of article for more), let’s take a look at how left-handed starters will be deployed in minors in 2022.

Iowa

Brailyn Marquez is unlikely to start the year as a starter, but is expected to take on that role by July. Cubs go manage your workload after he hadn’t pitched at all in 21 outside of some bullpen sessions. It is still unclear where Marquez will ply his trade next summer. He could start the year in Tennessee and make it to Iowa, or the Cubs could start him at Triple-A and travel to Chicago depending on what happens with the major league club.

A wild card to add is Jack Patterson, who messed up all last year after having Tommy John surgery. This followed the end of the pandemic, so we’re talking about a long layoff from competitive pitching. He could be put straight back into the rotation or he could end up in the bullpen to build innings. After his magical 2019 season, it’s hard to see him returning to pen other than out of short-term necessity.

I loved this pitch from Jack Patterson’s last outing with South Bend. It’s an 89 mph slider that was preceded by a 95 mph fastball. Cubs Pitcher of June – incredible value in Round 32 of the 2018 Draft. Real pitching prospect. A ⚔️ who @PitchingNinja would be proud of. https://t.co/3QTsLC8XTY

Tennessee

This level is a bit tricky. the original plan for Scott Kobos last year was to work as a starter, but he was dominated as a reliever after taking a late start due to COVID. Bringing him back to rotation changes the mix in Tennessee a bit, but he could end the year in Iowa if he stays in a relief role. Bailey Horn, who was acquired from the White Sox last summer, is in a similar situation.

Is there a possibility for him to compete in South Bend or Tennessee? He didn’t react too well in a relief role last year, but assigning him to High-A as a starter would put three lefties in the rotation. What it has improved on over the winter will likely determine what its role will be in 2022 and where.

south bend

As mentioned above, South Bend will be the perfect place to witness some great southpaw action. DJ Herz and Jordan Wicks are both set to start the year with Cubs affiliate High-A and are expected to deliver a devastating punch every week. It obviously remains to be seen how long these guys stay at South Bend, but a June promotion in Tennessee for both players is somewhat expected at this point.

Cubs first-rounder Jordan Wicks looks terribly comfortable on his first start here. Nice change away on a full count for the strikeout. https://t.co/9hYiiooJqr

Myrtle Beach

The other big arm who could be in the top 10 prospects by the end of the season is 2021 third-round pick Drew Gray, from Belleville, Illinois. The long southpaw played a few games in the Arizona Complex League at the end of the year and comes to dominate. A two-way street star in high school, Gray is likely to focus on promoting the pros.

Viral sensation Luke Little hasn’t pitched much in 2021 after being a part of The Cubs Short Draft Class in 2020. He showed up at the end of the year and looked pretty good, pitching in the mid-90s and pitching well enough to likely earn a spot in the Myrtle Beach rotation this spring. The key is that he continues to gain strength and stay healthy this winter.

Cubs pitcher, prospect Luke Little, got 5K in 2 innings. Here is the 5th #CubTogether https://t.co/HsCqkbBuDA

Joel Machado only pitched two games last year, but flashed enough to turn heads before being shut down for the year. Although he was signed in 2018 as an international free agent, he is still only 19 years old and has plenty of time to develop. I wonder if the Cubs are going to put him in the pen to keep him healthy before stretching him back.

My breakout pitcher for 2022 is Carlos Garcia, a 19-year-old international free agent who the Cubs left Cuba at the end of last spring. He pushed into the Dominican Republic’s second half with a 1.67 ERA in 43 innings, including not allowing a run for the entire month of September. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a plus curve, Garcia can make do with a few pitches for a few levels before the Cubs start working on new ground.

Hopefully he comes to Mesa, succeeds in spring training, and maybe ends up on the Myrtle Beach roster. The most likely career route is probably to work at an extended spring training and then report to Myrtle Beach in June.

The only other great marque left-hander is Luis Rodriguez, who has had an exceptional 2021 as a longman in Mesa and reliever in Myrtle Beach. Your guesses about her role and eventual mission are as good as mine, but feature on Myrtle or South Bend at this point.


Here are the first eight failures. We’ll be wrapping up this series next week with lots and lots of well-trained vaulters.

Second base
Third base
First base / DH
Seeker
Left-handed lifters
Right-handed starters
Right-handed lifters
Short stops

Aubrey L. Morgan