In yet another seemingly dry offseason, we look at a few prospects in the Cubs pipeline that could make an impact on the team this season.
In the Theo Epstein era, whether it be on or off the field, Cubs fans have learned to never say never. From coming back down 3-1 in the World Series, to Dexter Fowler showing up at Spring Training after everyone thought he would sign elsewhere, Epstein and his team have found ways to pull the rabbit out of the hat and fans should not take that for granted.
It’s been another slow offseason (and that’s putting it mildly), but we can never rule out something big in store by the front office. That being said, if the signings do end up being limited again this winter, the Cubs have a few prospects that could make an impact this coming season.
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The first name comes in the form of the 2019 Minor League Player of the Year, Brailyn Marquez. Marquez has front-of-the-rotation potential and has something the Cubs organization has been in dire need of, velocity. The lefty can touch triple digits on the gun and has shown signs of dominance from his time in the minors. In 2019, Marquez started 22 games combined with Myrtle Beach and South Bend, posting a 9-5 record with a 3.99 ERA and most importantly, 128 strikeouts through 103 innings pitched.
The potential is there for Marquez, but only 20 years old, so he has a lot of room to develop. With some uncertainty with the back-end of the Cubs rotation, the opportunity may very well be there for Marquez to make a few starts for this team in 2020. With his upside, the opportunity may be the only thing the lefty fire-baller needs to make his mark on this organization.
The next name is one Cubs fan should be somewhat familiar with in Adbert Alzolay. The 24-year-old right-hander made four appearances for the Cubs in 2019. Although unimpressive, giving up 10 earned runs in 12 innings pitched, he showed flashes of some serious potential. Through 69 innings pitched for Iowa and Myrtle Beach, Alzolay went 2-5 with a 4.80 ERA.
Not great, but in those 69 innings, he managed to strikeout 94 batters. His upside is there and with his punch-out ability, we may find Alzolay making an impact out of the bullpen for this team this season.
The last one should already be a household name for most Cubs fans in Nico Hoerner. With uncertainty as to whether the second baseman will start the season in the minors or not, the prospect status should still remain for this sake. Chicago called up Hoerner up toward the end of 2019 to provide a spark to a desperate Cubs group. In 20 games, the 22-year-old out of Stanford batted .282 with an OPS of .741, along with 17 RBI. He easily became a fan favorite and was one of the few bright spots for the Cubs at the end of 2019.
The Cubs are still in need of a second baseman as we enter this season. No one knows if an outside acquisition will be made or not to fill the need. Regardless, Hoerner should have an opportunity to play meaningful innings for this team in 2020.
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The Cubs are slowly building up the farm system again, as much was cleaned out in pursuit of the World Series. It will regain form eventually and it’s good to see there’s a few players in the pipeline that have a chance to help out this group in the upcoming season. Whatever happens the rest of this offseason, we can agree the future is bright for these three players.