Chicago Cubs: Rex Brothers hoping to find the fountain of youth in 2020

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

Once ranked as a top prospect for the Colorado Rockies, Rex Brothers found great success. Now, as a non-roster invitee, Brothers hopes to find the fountain of youth for the Chicago Cubs in 2020.

The Cubs recently released their list of 21 non-roster invitees for Spring Training this year. While there are many intriguing prospects included on this list, one veteran hopes to reclaim his once-dominant nature on the mound, and that is Rex Brothers.

Brothers, a compensatory first-round selection by the Rockies in the 2009 first-year player draft, utilized a wicked three-pitch mix to quickly work his way through the pipeline, reaching the Show in 2011. He was able to do something many pitchers before and after, could not do, and that was dominate in the thin air of Coors Field.

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Now, after spending last year with the New York Yankees, Brothers will be officially a part of the Cubs’ spring training matrix. Despite being 32 years young, Brothers brings a level of intrigue to that of the relief corp in hopes of once again showing what made him a first-round pick years ago.

Chicago Cubs: A dominant debut and beyond

Brothers began his career in a different spot than most. Following his selection by the Rockies, Brothers went straight to Low-A instead of rookie ball. It was a good decision for Colorado at the time as Brothers threw straight fire on his way to a 40.9 percent strikeout rate and a 3.38 ERA in his first professional stint.

After spending eight games with Tri-City, the Rockies former short-season team, Brothers earned a promotion to Class-A Asheville. Brothers posted the same ERA across nine games. However, he did see his strikeouts go down while his FIP and xFIP grew exponentially.

Between 2010-11, Brothers found his groove, moving from Class-A Advanced Modesto to Triple-A Colorado Springs within two seasons, posting a sub-3.00 ERA twice. In 28 innings for the Sky Sox that year, Brothers struck out batters at a 35.7 percent clip and carried a 3.01 xFIP.

The Rockies called Brothers up midway through the 2011 season, and he showed everyone why he was a first-round pick. The flame-throwing left-hander appeared in 48 games, posting a 2.88 ERA with a 34.3 percent strikeout rate and 2.88 FIP and 2.65 xFIP, respectively. Brothers pitched for the Rockies until 2015. In his career in Colorado, Brothers posted a very impressive 3.42 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .243 average across 242 1/3 innings.

Chicago Cubs: Grinding his way back to the Show

Colorado designated Brothers for assignment in 2015. Shortly after, the Cubs acquired Brothers for a brief period via trade before the club released him. Brothers missed the entirety of 2016 and caught on with the Atlanta Braves in 2017. He rebounded well, posting a combined 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.

The Braves called Brothers up, where he appeared in 27 games, but things did not go well. Brothers struggled in all facets of his game as he saw his ERA balloon to 7.23 while he struggled to limit the long balls.

He moved between Double-A and Triple-A for Atlanta in 2018, making one appearance with two walks. After the 2018 season, Brothers signed with the Yankees, where he improved quite a bit despite not reaching the big leagues. In 45 2/3 innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, Brothers posted a 38.6 percent strikeout rate, holding hitters to just a .218 average.

Chicago Cubs: Low-risk, high reward

Brothers is officially back with the Cubs for the first time in five years. While his first time around never panned out to much of anything, the improvement he found in the Yankees’ system last season at least offers a glimmer of hope.

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At 32 years old, it remains to be seen what Brothers has left in the tank. From the looks of it, he at least offers intrigue as the Cubs hope he can arrive at Spring Training with gusto. Thankfully there is little risk involved with Brothers and a reward of exponential value. It will be fun to follow his journey this spring with the goal of reaching the big leagues once more.