Chicago Cubs: Michael McAvene has the stuff to be an elite reliever in the future
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Another 2019 draft pick, Michael McAvene was the closer for the Louisville Cardinals in the CWS and flashed his dominant pitching repertoire. He was recently coming off Tommy John which explains his slide to the third round, but the Cubs were so confident in his ability to bounce back, they originally tried to make him a starter once again.
McAvene would be much better off coming out of the pen going forward, however. The righty sits as the 25th-best prospect in the system currently, but he has maybe the second-best fastball in the system behind only Brailyn Marquez.
Pipeline gives McAvene a grade of 65 on his fastball, 55 on his slider, but his changeup lags behind at 45. The lack of a truly reliable third pitch is why he’s likely to be best suited to come out of the bullpen, but McAvene has the stuff to be a future closer on the North Side.
McAvene hasn’t pitched in the minors yet in 2021, instead starting the year in extended spring training, but he was absolutely dominant when he pitched in minors in 2019. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs try to use him going forward when he gets back into game action, but sooner or later, Chicago will probably have to convert him to a reliever.
While it may seem like the Cubs are heading toward an unfixable situation, if they approach the deadline correctly, the opposite is actually true. The minor league system has been getting better and better as time has passed and there are plenty of minor leaguers as is that could help the team in the future. The current core group of players may be on the way out now, but hopefully, we’ll see a new core emerge in the near future.