Chicago Cubs could have a big long-term piece in Adbert Alzolay

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs depleted much of their prospect depth in recent years, but have a potential impact arm making his way through the ranks in Adbert Alzolay.

When the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series championship in over a century, many of the guys on the field worked their way to the bigs through the Cubs farm system.

Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora Jr., Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras were all drafted or signed as an amateur by Chicago. And all have played integral roles in the team’s recent three-year run of success. It’s these same guys who make the future on the North Side increasingly bright.

But when the team added necessary pieces – namely Jose Quintana and Aroldis Chapman – the last two years, they gave up the next crop of impact talent. The team traded the likes of  Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease within two years – leaving the farm system near the bottom of most rankings.

Pitching, pitching, pitching

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In coming years, though, there is more talent on the way. And a lot of it is pitcher-focused. The team took a pair of hurlers with their first two picks of the 2017 MLB Draft. But the man who continues to draw attention is Adbert Alzolay.

Carrie Muskat of put together a really well-written piece on Alzolay recently – and it’s absolutely worth the time. She talks about his recent performance, his work to-date with the organization and what may lie ahead for the 22-year-old. ranked Alzolay as the Cubs’ third-best prospect – and with good reason. In 81 2/3 innings with High-A Myrtle Beach this year, the right-hander posted a 2.98 ERA and 1.065 WHIP. When he got called up to Double-A Tennessee, he was winless, but put up a 3.31 earned run average in seven outings.

He’s had his struggles. In 2014, his earned run average spiked north of 7.00 in 10 games, including three starts. In 2016 with South Bend, his 4.34 ERA and mere 6.1 K/9 left plenty to be desired. He bounced back in a big way. Last year, he totaled 22 starts and pitched to a sub-3.00 ERA, averaging 8.5 strikeouts per nine.

A future rotation staple for the Cubs?

Without having thrown a pitch at Triple-A Iowa, you can’t know what you’re going to get from Alzolay at the big-league level. That being said, if he opens the year with Tennessee and pitches effectively, a September call-up in 2018 isn’t completely out of the question.

"“If he reaches his potential, he will someday be one of the five [starters], and closer to [No. 1] than five,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of Alzolay, describing him to Muskat  as “an interesting high-ceiling starting pitcher.”"

Once the decade turns over and 2020 hits, the Cubs’ young core will experience heavy turnover. No one knows who will stay and who will go – probably not even Epstein at this point. But, around the same time, the next round of young talent will break onto the scene.

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Once that roster turnover hits, it’s hard to imagine what the Chicago Cubs may look like. But with talent like Adbert Alzolay proving his worth in the minors, there’s plenty of cause for hope.