Cubs hope triple-digit-throwing prospect turns into something soon

(Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Opening Day’s enthusiasm and the beginning of a new season outshone a recent under-the-radar deal between the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres. It has become apparent the two clubs have found a mutual benefit in swapping players, and now the Cubs hope they’ve acquired a gem.

Relief pitcher James Norwood, a former seventh-round pick by Chicago in 2014, was designated for assignment at the beginning of this month. Instead of losing out on value for the 27-year-old, the club swung a deal with the Friars, as San Diego sent back RHP Dauris Valdez.

Cubs: Dauris Valdez adds more flame to the fire

Last month, Baseball America‘s Josh Norris wrote a piece on prospects in 2021 who can reach the heights of triple digits on the radar gun. Valdez was the name given by Norris as the representative for San Diego before his trade to Chicago.

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The 6’8″, 254-pound right-hander is not only a mountain of a man. He holds true to his size with a fastball that has touched 102 MPH. Naturally, his control is lacking because he’s thrown so hard and is known for his fastball. However, Valdez also throws a slider and changeup to go along with the heat.

Valdez ranked this year as San Diego’s number 18 overall prospect in their top 30 before the trade. He was initially signed for only $10,000. Reports have given praise to Valdez, who has grown into his size with improvement. His slider sits in the upper-80s. Valdez’s changeup carries an above-average sink and comes in closer to the upper-80s to 90 mph, giving him the possibility of a nasty out pitch.

Valdez most recently spent time at Double-A for San Diego in 2019. He put up less-than-stellar numbers in terms of ERA or FIP but did notch a 27.5 percent strikeout rate and has sat around the 30 percent rate. He will need to cut down the on the fly balls but should continue to develop his arsenal for him to become a solid addition to the bullpen.

The Cubs will undoubtedly monitor his movement in the minors, and Valdez will more than likely begin the year at Double-A when the minor league season kicks off in a few weeks. If he does start at Triple-A, Valdez could move quickly as situations allow.

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Not often do teams benefit from designating a player for assignment, but, in this instance, an under-the-radar move could prove fruitful for the Cubs in the future. Only time will tell.