The Chicago Cubs are in a full-blown rebuild. Acknowledging this fact still makes it a harsh reality to swallow. Could the owners have done a better job in locking down the core? Why couldn’t the Cubs have been more consistent after 2016?
These questions have been beaten into the ground too often over the last year. However, it’s time to look forward, and it begins with the direction of the starting rotation and bullpen. Can the Cubs foster this area of development? To get it rolling, here are five unknown arms fans should take time with to get familiar.
Chicago Cubs: DJ Herz, LHP – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Low-A)
DJ Herz has jumped onto many fans’ radar this season simply because he’s holding his own for the Pelicans, and he’s only 20 years old, just a couple of years removed as an eighth-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
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Herz never made it to the University of North Carolina, and by and large, that is OK for Cubs fans and the front office. The lanky lefty pitched 10 1/3 innings of solid baseball in his first season in 2019 in the Arizona League. He allowed just three earned runs giving him a 2.61 ERA. Although Herz struggled with command that first year to the tune of eight free passes, he also matched that number in strikeouts.
Fast forward to a year removed from the pandemic, and Herz is off to a fast start. Through 15 starts at Myrtle Beach, the kid from North Carolina has notched a 3.83 ERA over 56 1/3 innings with a ridiculous 90 strikeouts to just 33 walks. To translate the strikeouts, that is a 40 percent strikeout rate in a league where he is two years younger than the average prospect.
As a multi-sport athlete of also basketball and football, Herz has the natural ability to succeed. He holds a fastball that ticks into the mid-90s as well as a slider that may end up being a hair above average if he can get his control handled, which he seems to have done at least this season.
Herz still has a ways to go, yet there are promising signs for the 20 year old, and each step forward moves him one step closer to achieving his major league dream.