Line of the Week: Southpaws Rising


In my coverage of the Cubs draft, I commented that I was surprised the Cubs had not spent more picks than they had on left handed starting pitching. I knew there were several quality arms in the low minor, but I still viewed left handed pitching as a need for the organization.

And then I started going over the pitching stats for the Cubs a little more closely. The result is a three way tie for this week’s Cubbies Crib Minor League Line of the Week.

There are plenty of good right handed pitchers in the Cubs farm system as well. Guys like Nicholas Struck, Robert Whitenack, and Hayden Simpson all are likely to have solid major league careers. But there really are more lefties out there than I expected.

This week I’m giving the line of the week to three of them: Christopher Rusin with Tennessee, Zach Rosscup with Daytona, and Austin Kirk with Peoria. All three of these guys are leading their teams in strikeouts.

Chris Rusin is not an overpowering pitcher, but he doesn’t give up many walks and consistently keeps the Smokies in the game. I think Rusin could be a candidate to come to Wrigley if the Cubs have very many more pitching injuries, and that he will certainly be a candidate to make it to the majors sometime during 2012.

Zach Rosscup came over from Tampa in the Matt Garza trade, and don’t be surprised if he emerges as the second best pitcher in that trade behind Garza himself. Rosscup is averaging just over a strikeout per inning, and hitters are batting just .227 off him. Rosscup could be moving up to Tennessee by year end, and could be in the conversation for a trip to Chicago by the end of next season.

Austin Kirk, the ace of the Peoria staff, might be the best of the bunch and one of the best pitchers in the Cubs entire minor league system. As a starter he has a batting average against of just .179 and is striking out four times as many as he is walking. Kirk has the distinction of being the highest drafted high school pitcher by the Cubs since Tim Wilken took over the scouting operations, and so far he is more than paying off that confidence.

Of course these guys are far from the only quality lefties in the Cubs minor league system. Take Peoria, for example. The top five by strikeouts are Kirk, Cameron Greathouse, Eric Jokisch, Hayden Simpson, and Graham Hicks. Of that group, only Simpson is not a southpaw.