Chicago Cubs: These three young arms could be difference-makers

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Duane Underwood, Jr.

The Chicago Cubs took Duane Underwood, Jr. in the second round of the 2012 amateur draft, during Theo Epstein’s first year on the job. Like Alzolay, he’s taken a long path to the majors, but it looks like the right-hander may have finally stuck with the big league club in 2019.

Underwood pitched mainly as a starter in the minor leagues and pitched well in the lower levels in 2014 and 2015. He stalled a little bit in Double and Triple-A  earned a ranking as the 17th-best prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization in 2017, and then he jumped up to #9 in 2018. The right-hander was called up to make one start in 2018, allowing one run in four innings on June 25 against the Dodgers.

Underwood got another chance at the big league level late in 2019, this time as a reliever. At Iowa, he posted a 5.07 ERA in 33 appearances, including ten starts. He mostly pitched well during his callup, as he did not allow a run in eight of his first ten appearances before giving up two runs in each of his last two.

Walks have been a problem for Underwood; for example, in Iowa in 2019, he allowed 41 free passes in 81 2/3 innings. Indeed, command has been an issue for him, while he hasn’t always shown as much dedication as he should.

At age 25, it looks like he may finally be ready to contribute at the big league level. With a good spring, Underwood could earn a bullpen spot.