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
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Organizational focus on young pitching

The promising big right-hander, seemingly on the short path to Chicago this time last year now has to battle for everything. He no longer holds a 40-man roster spot. But, still just 23 years of age, he has a lot of time left to get back on the right track.

More importantly, perhaps, he enjoys an organization focusing in a big way on developing pitching. After trading for Jose Quintana and shelling out $165 million combined to Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood this winter, the Cubs need some in-house answers in the years to come.

There’s little pressure on these young prospects to figure it out right now with the rotation under control for the next three years, minimum. But, on the same hand, there’s no way a lackadaisical approach to the game is every tolerated in the Cubs’ affiliates.

Clifton is a part of a larger organizational strategy we’ve mentioned a few times already. In 2016, the Cubs drafted 13 pitchers with 14 picks. Last year, their first five picks were pitchers. Of their Top 30, 21 are pitchers – more than any other club in Major League Baseball.

The main problem for a guy like Clifton is getting lost amongst all the depth in the farm system. You either keep trucking along and gr

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inding it out or risk these low-level guys taking your roster spot. And, believe me, Chicago has a lot of those lower-level talents chomping at the bit for their shot.

Is everything lining up perfectly?

Another interesting bit in the Cubs’ Top 30 breakdown? Looking at when these guys are projected to crack the big league roster. 11 of the 30? Set for a 2021 debut in the Windy City. Which lines up right near the end of the current core’s championship window.

Can Epstein and the Cubs put together another level of enviable young talent – except one pitching-focused? You’d be crazy to doubt the man. And with guys like Trevor Clifton still battling, I think we’re going to see more pitching than you’re used to hit the Confines in the years to come – struggles notwithstanding.