This week, the Cubs claimed right-hander Robert Stock off waivers from Boston.
OK, so this is a pretty cool piece I get to write. Not because the news of the Cubs adding reliever Robert Stock off waivers from the Red Sox is earth-shattering news, but because I actually covered Stock a decade or so ago when he was a newly-converted catching prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals system.
St. Louis drafted Stock in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of USC. A few short years later, the Cardinals moved him from behind the dish to the rubber. The year I worked in the Quad Cities, he made 38 appearances, largely out of the bullpen, working to a 4.56 ERA and 1.535 WHIP. Even then, he possessed an overpowering fastball – something that hasn’t changed over time.
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He still boasts an upper-90s fastball – and it’s helped him rack up more than one strikeout per inning since breaking onto the scene three years ago as a 28-year-old with the Padres. He spent 2020 with the Red Sox and battled through control issues all season long.
This signing falls firmly in the vein of what we saw last year when it came to building out a bullpen. Add a group of arms, hope you have a few diamonds in the rough that you can polish up and trot out there over the course of a 162-game schedule.
Stock has the stuff. But he’s never consistently shown he can deliver at the big league level. He pairs that fastball with a change-up and an above-average slider, so hopefully pitching coach Tommy Hottovy can get him in the team’s famed Pitch Lab and unlock his potential.
Chicago hasn’t had many overpowering arms in the back end of the bullpen in recent years. I love bringing in a guy like Stock, especially given the fact I suspect we’re going to be in re-tool mode in 2021. Getting him a real chance to develop could help him turn the corner and become an impactful presence in the bullpen.
Factor in the fact Stock is under team control through 2026 on the cheap and it’s abundantly clear why Chicago’s interest was piqued. The stuff is there. It’s just a matter of whether or not it’ll translate on the field.