Cubs Minors: Three prospects team should consider in the Rule 5 draft

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Cubs: Taking a chance for the future

Last but not least is a guy who should experience his share of an opportunity this week from a team looking towards their future. As the Cubs envelop the next phase as a franchise, why wouldn’t a 22-year-old former second-round pick be worth at least a glance?

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Alex Speas, a right-handed pitcher, selected out of high school in 2016, has also found pockets of success in Texas’ organization. Having bounced between rookie ball, short-season Class-A, and Class-A, Speas has just 71 2/3 innings of professional baseball under his belt.

After struggling between rookie league and Low-A, Speas found redemption in 2018 at Class-A before his season was lost due to an arm injury, leading to Tommy John surgery. He came back in 2019 showing off a fastball, which rose to 102 mph before once again being unceremoniously shut down.

The biggest challenge for Speas is his control, where, as a pitcher, is the last thing you want to hear as a team. His 70-grade fastball, per FanGraphs, is the “go-to” pitch and has helped the youngster post a career 32.5 percent strikeout rate up to this point. He is the classic definition of a project player as it is expected he could rise to that level of major league ready.

One current player who immediately comes to mind when profiling Speas is St. Louis Cardinals closer Jordan Hicks. Projected out, Speas already has a stronger graded fastball than Hicks ever did, and while the projection of command and future value long term values Hicks, Speas is close behind.

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This move would represent the highest risk flyer out of probably any Rule 5 eligible prospect, but how sweet if the floor for Speas is that of a future Hicks-type arm in the pen. I’m pretty sure every Cubs fan would take that without argument.