Chicago Cubs: Trevor Clifton plummets on Top 30 rankings

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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A promising start to a young career

Epstein has focused almost exclusively on pitching in recent drafts – especially with his higher picks. Last year, the Cubs took a pair of pitchers – Brendon Little and Alex Lange – with their first two selections in the draft. But they’re not who we’re here to talk about. Instead, we’re discussing Chicago’s twelfth-round pick from 2013 – right-hander Trevor Clifton.

One year removed from ranking eighth on’s organizational prospect rankings, Clifton is searching for answers.

In 2013, the Tennessee native garnered the fifth-highest draft bonus handed out by the Cubs – $375,000. As The Athletic pointed out earlier this year, all seemed well.

"The 6-foot-4 and 220-pound Clifton used his big fastball and solid secondaries to climb prospect rankings while pitching well in short-season ball in 2014, quite well in the Midwest League in 2015, and exceptionally well at Myrtle Beach in 2016, where he posted a 2.72 ERA (3.05 FIP) over 119 innings while striking out nearly 10 batters per inning, forcing his way onto many Cubs top-10 prospect lists."

2017 – the year the wheels fell off in a big way

Then, 2017 happened.

After getting off to a very solid start (3.34 FIP in his first 11 starts), he absolutely imploded at Double-A Tennesee. Before the sun set on his season, his numbers were as follows:

  • 1.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio (down from a career-best 3.15 in 2016)
  • 7.7 K/9 (down from 9.8 in 2016)
  • 1.565 WHIP (up from a career-best 1.160 in 2016)
  • 5.20 ERA (up sharply from a career-best 2.72 in 2016)