Chicago Cubs: Pitching prospects are starting to show up

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
2 of 7
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Adbert Alzolay, RHP

The Cubs signed right-hander Adbert Alzolay out of Venezuela in 2012. Alzolay made his professional debut at the age of 18 pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League. In 15 games (12 starts), Alzolay amassed a 1.07 ERA and struck out 61 batters in 67 innings pitched.

More from Cubbies Crib

After enjoying success in the summer league, Alzolay joined the Cubs’ minor league system. In 2014, the 19-year-old Alzolay made ten appearances (three starts), between rookie-level ball and Low-A.

Over 27 1/3 innings pitched, Alzolay went 2-5 with a 7.90 ERA. While his strikeout rate was impressive (9.2 per nine), Alzolay struggled with command, walking 12 batters in his body of work.

Alzolay rebounded nicely following the 2014 season. In 2015, at 20 years of age, Alzolay posted a 2.04 ERA and cut his walk rate almost in half.

Following a promotion to full-season Single-A, Alzolay came back down to earth. Over a career-high 120 1/3 innings pitched, Alzolay went 9-4 with a 4.34 ERA. While the 21-year-old cut down on his walks yet again, his strikeout rate fell from 24.5% in 2015 to 16.3% in 2016.

After proving he could handle an increased workload, Alzolay was promoted to Single-A Advanced in 2017. There, Alzolay posted a 2.98 ERA in 15 starts. In addition to that, Alzolay struck out 78 batters in 81 2/3 innings pitched.

Once again, Alzolay was promoted, this time mid-season. In seven starts at Double-A, Alzolay posted a 3.03 ERA and struck out 30 batters in 32 2/3 innings pitched.

In total, Alzolay amassed 114 1/3 innings in 2017 and posted a sub-3.00 ERA for the season.

Outlook and ETA

Alzolay has a solid fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and can be thrown for strikes fairly consistently. Alzolay’s off-speed pitches include a curve-ball that has been reported to be better than his change-up.

With two better than average pitches already, it would seem as if Alzolay would remain in the rotation at the major league level. In the lower levels of the minor leagues, Alzolay has proven that he can handle a starter’s workload, further assuring his role moving forward.

As Alzolay continues to move up the levels of the minors, his change-up will continue to get better, hopefully evolving into a reliable third pitch. If that happens, Alzolay could become a back-end of the rotation starter as early as late 2018, early 2019.