5. Duane Underwood, RHP
The Cubs drafted Duane Underwood as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft. The right handed pitcher had mild success in rookie league and short-season A-ball his first two seasons, before really bursting on to the scene at Low-A last year.
The now 20-year-old Underwood is a big (6-foot-2, 205 pound) right-handed pitcher with electric stuff. In 21 starts and one bullpen appearance in the Midwest League last season, Underwood pitched 100.2 innings with 84 strikeouts and 36 walks. He posted an impressive 2.50 ERA and 1.202 WHIP in his first full professional season.
Underwood has the raw ability to be a great pitcher. His fastball that sits between 94-97 is his best pitch at the moment, but he also features a curveball that shows a ton of potential. Underwood mixes in a changeup at times, but that pitch needs a lot of work before he can make a real push for the big leagues.
The fastball alone is an intriguing pitch, and his curveball has a ton of movement. Underwood clearly has great pure stuff, but the knock on him has always been the lack of control and command. That being said, most pitchers straight out of high school struggle to locate their pitches are in their careers, and Underwood showed a lot of improvement with his control late last season.
The Cubs will likely send Underwood to High-A Myrtle Beach to start the season, where he will pitch in the traditionally pitcher-friendly Carolina League.
Expect Underwood to have a lot of success in the pitcher-friendly league, and if he develops his changeup and keeps his control in order, a call-up to Double-A later in the season is certainly possible.
Underwood will be a very young player at High-A, and if he shows improvement, his stuff could carry him on a fast track as a top prospect and to the big leagues.