Chicago Cubs are developing a new bullpen weapon in CD Pelham
Looking for low-cost options to round out the bullpen, the Chicago Cubs may have struck gold when they traded for left-hander CD Pelham earlier this winter.
Sometimes you just have to scratch your head at an offseason. If trades and free agents are falling into your lap or if the name of your team is New York Yankees than an offseason can be pretty exciting. When your team’s leadership says they have everything they need except for a spot or two and pitchers; you know it’s going to be a long dull offseason. That’s why it was interesting to hear the Cubs acquired 24-year-old lefty pitcher CD Pelham from the Texas Rangers in November.
For Pelham, it began back in the 2014 MLB Draft. Milwaukee selected the southpaw in the 25th round, but Pelham turned down the offer to live in the land of cheese and beer and opted instead to return to Spartanburg Methodist College (Spartanburg, SC) to play college baseball.
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The next year, Pelham got drafted again – this time by the Texas Rangers in the 33rd round. In 2018, the Rangers added him to the big league roster, but he’s failed to live up to the hype and promise.
I have to give the Rangers credit for getting rid of what they saw as an untamed arm, unlike the Cubs who kept Carl Edwards Jr. around much longer in the bullpen with similar results. Like Edwards, Pelham suffers from control problems – despite an enticing velocity.
The good news is: Pelham is not a string bean – anything. The better news: he has six-foot arms. Think I’m kidding? Maybe slightly…
At 6 feet 6 inches tall and 235 pounds, Pelham might have some of the longest arms in baseball. His extended wingspan looks like it can reach almost half way to home plate when he releases his pitches. Throw in the fact (no pun intended) that he’s hurling fastballs between 95 and 100 MPH when he’s practically releasing the ball over the plate and there are some good physical things to like about Pelham and the Cubs pitching staff knows it. They want to work on the kid.
Pelham might just be the hard-throwing left hander the Cubs bullpen desperately needs to add from the new bunch of recruits. Pelham’s legacy on the minors is what has the Cubs concerned. Pelham made 42 appearances in Double and Triple-A and he ended up putting up a whopping 11.97 ERA. During that time he struck out some 37 batters in 32 1/3 innings of play.
So it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. He has swing-and-miss stuff. But he can’t tell you where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. Pelham recorded 40 walks last season and although he can throw the lightning, lingering control issues are a major concern.
The Cubs are thinking they can bring Pelham around since he has the tools and the body to be a great bullpen arm for the team. Expect the Cubs to start Pelham off in Iowa where the Cubs can let him slowly progress, although fans might catch a little bit of Pelham at Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona. If he’s in Arizona, that’s because the Cubs are running him through the Cubs Pitching Lab.
With a little help from the experts and technology, the Cubs are hoping Pelham will benefit and learn to control those demons; something Edwards could never accomplish.
By the way, CD stands for, Christian Devont’a but I was just thinking how nice it would be if CD stood for “Cardinal Destroyer”.