Cubs Minors: Smokies starter earns ‘Pitcher of the Week’ honors

Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Minor League Baseball is in full swing. At the forefront are the Cubs‘ Double-A affiliate,Tennessee Smokies, and a starting pitcher who has grown into a key contributor over the past couple of seasons. In a system chock-full of underrated talented arms, the newest member of the Smokies is already making his presence felt.

Cam Sanders is a two-time draftee, first in 2017 as an 18th-round selection and then in 2018 as a 12th-rounder. Born and raised in Louisiana, Sanders forewent his selection in 2017 to attend LSU for a year before the Cubs drafted the right-hander. Following a rough year for the Tigers, Sanders may have become a diamond in the rough for the team and is now beginning to grow into a reliable arm.

Cubs Minors: Making the most of an opportunity

Sanders earned the honors for his first two starts of the season last week. His first career start at Double-A came against the Montgomery Biscuits, the affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays. Their lineup included a top 30 prospect and Sanders rose to the occasion.

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In an anticipated debut for those minor league buffs, Sanders spun five shutout innings without allowing a hit, walked one, and notched seven strikeouts. He found the zone quite well, with 61 percent of his pitches going for strikes along with four ground balls.

Sanders’ second start was a bit chalkier in which he allowed three earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. However, the right-hander did record another seven strikeouts, which gave him 14 punchouts over his first 9 1/3 innings.

Last night he made his third start, again facing Rocket City, his second start in a row versus the Trash Pandas. It went similar to his previous start, where this time he allowed four earned runs over four innings with five strikeouts. Things have slowly moved in the wrong direction. However, across three starts opposing hitters are batting just .173, and Sanders is rocking a 35.8 percent strikeout rate.

The home runs over the past couple of starts have been an issue, yet with each start does come some growing pains. It will be the tale this season, most likely as the goodwill inevitably come with the bad. Part of the development in moving up the ladder is the improved competition, and Sanders will need to learn how to adjust.

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As of now, however, Sanders is moving in the right direction with a lot of positive steps, and that is all the Cubs can continue hoping for in developing arms.