Chicago Cubs: Alex Lange impressive in his first start

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs’ first round pick Alex Lange was fantastic in first minor league outing – but struggled in his second outing.

In this year’s draft, the Chicago Cubs owned two first-round draft picks. The first pick, number 27, was used to select left-handed pitcher Brendon Little. Little, who owns a 17.36 ERA after two starts with the Eugene Emeralds, has not yet settled into professional baseball.

Along with pick number 27, the Cubs also owned the 30th pick in the draft. The North Siders used that pick to select Alex Lange from Louisiana State University.

Lange, who features a fastball, slider and change-up mix, pitched very well in his time at LSU. In 53 college starts, Lange went 30-9 with a 2.91 ERA. The 21-year-old also recorded 406 strikeouts and 143 walks in 350 innings pitched.

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Lange already pitched 124 1/3 innings for the Tigers this season. For that reason, many do not expect Lange to make more than a few minor league starts this year. The starts that he does receive will be short, as demonstrated by his two-inning outing last Friday.

Despite the shortened nature of the start, Lange impressed. The youngster struck out three of the six batters he faced and did not issue a walk. In addition to that, Lange also failed to allow a hit.

On Wednesday, it was a different type of start. The right-hander was tagged for three earned in just 1 2/3 frames, surrendering four hits and a pair of walks.

What does the future hold for Lange?

Because Lange is 21 years old and has three years of college under his belt, the Cubs will likely push Lange up the ranks of the minor leagues. While he is at short-season A right now, he could very well end up in High-A or Double-A by the end of the 2018 season.

Even with his experience, the Cubs will be careful with him. Despite both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey leaving at season’s end, Lange will likely be worked slowly through the higher levels of the minors.

Moving forward, the right-hander has the talent to be a front-end big league starter. At least one scouting report suggests Lange can be a number two starter for the Cubs. If he can keep his command under control, that is exactly where the Cubs will put him.

Current Cubs’ ace Jon Lester is set to become a free agent in 2021, when he is well into his 30’s. Newly acquired Jose Quintana also becomes a free agent in 2021. Kyle Hendricks, who has yet to earn arbitration eligibility, will also hit the free agent market that year if he is not locked up in the coming years.

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Chicago Cubs

With the Cubs not to far away from having to make some decisions about their rotation, it was smart of Theo Epstein and company to draft two arms in the first round.

While Little lacks a third pitch and may be destined for the bullpen moving forward, Lange already has three pretty good pitches. For that reason, the Cubs hope Lange can provide some reinforcement to an aging starting rotation.

After stock-piling position players, the front office turns toward pitching

The rebuild that Theo has orchestrated over the last few years hinged on the amount of position players he drafted. The Cubs’ front office focused heavily on position player talent in an effort to stock pile as much as possible.

Now, that philosophy has payed off as the Cubs’ wealth of position player talent has allowed them to acquire missing pieces.

With a World Series trophy in hand and a team filled with elite position players, the Cubs’ front office has now turned their attention towards pitching. That shift in ideology was clear in this year’s draft as the Cubs selected 25 pitchers with their 41 picks.

By drafting so many pitchers, the Cubs hope at least a hand full will pan out and make it to the majors.

Next: Chicago Cubs: What will the Cubs do without Contreras?

With a core of young position players in place and a crop of young pitchers led by Alex Lange on the way, the Cubs could become a powerhouse for many years to come.