The Chicago Cubs have spent the last week or so claiming players, then shortly after waiving them again to claim someone else. The most recent was Mike Kickham from the San Francisco Giants. A quick glance at Kickham’s numbers at the big-league level won’t catch your eye and lead you to believe he’ll be on his way out soon as well. But his potential is what the Cubs likely see in the left-hander and could keep him around.
Kickham was the No. 17 prospect for the Giants this season, and was as high as their No. 3 prospect last year. His numbers with them – 0-3 with a 10.98 ERA in 30 1/3 inning over two seasons – may not be indicative of the pitcher he can be.
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After his first full year in the minors wasn’t all that successful, the Giants double-jumped him to Double-A ball to start 2012. Kickham met the challenge, finishing second in the organization in batting average against, third in strikeouts and fifth in ERA. He would get the call-up in 2013, but struggled, going 0-3 in 12 appearances, three of them starts. His struggles fell into his high walk count, and home runs allowed. His 2.7 HR/9 has to go down for any chance of success at the Major League level.
What he does have in his favor is pretty good stuff from the left side, hitting in the 90’s on his fastball. Previously it had good sinking action, but he seemed to lose some of that which led to more fly balls. He throws a slider and a curve, as well as a change-up giving him a potential four-pitch mix.
His career numbers in the minors (31-35, 3.97 ERA, with 0.6 HR/9). The walks have been an issue from the start, with a 3.9 BB/9, but the home runs were only an issue in his time up with the Giants. San Francisco has been excellent of drafting and developing pitching talent in-house, so clearly they saw something in Kickham initially.
With Chris Bosio‘s ability to resurrect pitchers who seem to be “lost causes”, Kickham becomes a low-risk, high-reward asset. The Cubs needed to solidify the bullpen with a lefty after Wesley Wright left to free agency. If the Giants eye for pitching was correct, coupled with Bosio’s innate ability to develop pitchers, he could be a valuable low-key addition to the Cubs bullpen.