Chicago Cubs Prospects

Chicago Cubs: Young arms on the farm ready for a big league chance

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Mar 5, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pierce Johnson (80) throws to San Francisco Giants center fielder Justin Maxwell (43) during the fourth inning during a spring training baseball game at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pierce Johnson (80) throws to San Francisco Giants center fielder Justin Maxwell (43) during the fourth inning during a spring training baseball game at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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There are some young arms in the Chicago Cubs system that we could see very soon. After being “hitter-rich”, the pitching is starting to make a name for itself.

In the off-chance that the Chicago Cubs wind-up biting a bullet or two during the next free agency wave by losing some of their top pitchers, the club is well prepared with young arms to fill those voids. And it might not cost a pretty penny to get the job accomplished.

Dylan Cease (1-0, 3.33 ERA)—currently playing in Eugene—is one of those arms that could soon find himself in the big league dugout. He was one of the top power righties in the 2014 high school draft before he hurt his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery.

His fastball can touch 97 consistently, and has a life which is tough for opponents to barrel-up. Once Cease learns how to use his off-speed pitches more effectively, he will be a nightmare for opposing batters.

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Another name making headlines down on the farm is righty Oscar De La Cruz (1-1, 1.38 ERA) from South Bend. De La Cruz was signed out of the Dominican Republic as a shortstop, though he is now the Cubs most physically imposing starter in the minors.

At 6’4” 200 pounds, De La Cruz has shown promise similar to Cease with his powerful, lively pitches.

He can touch 97 with his fastball, though he lives in the 92-95 range. He also has a power curve that will be dominating once he gains some consistency with it. The Cubs expect him to be ready for big league play during the 2018 season, but if he keeps progressing as fast as he has in the minors, his time could come sooner than that.

A player further up the ladder than De La Cruz, but shares similar characteristics is Pierce Johnson (1-6, 7.07 ERA). Johnson currently pitches for the Triple-A Iowa team, and the Cubs could realistically call him up at any time should one of their starters succumb to the injury bug.

He features a steady fastball between 92-94 and a true hammer curve and changeup to complete his repertoire.

Johnson has struggled with his command of late, which is the only reason the Cubs haven’t brought him up yet. The big league club looks to utilize him as a mid-rotation starter once he does make The Show, though scouts currently see him as an ‘enigma’ because of his health and control issues.

Next: Cubs young talent essential to success this season

It’s no secret that Chicago Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein has built a monster of a team on the north side of the city. What’s truly unique about his approach to team management is the forethought given to seasons yet to come. That’s how the Cubs have been able to afford losing valuable prospects to trades without selling the entire farm.

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