Key Cubs pitching prospects are off to a scorching start

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

There are certainly more eyes on the Chicago Cubs farm this year than there were at this time last year. The minor league season is still very young, but some of the organization’s top prospects are already thriving. What has really stuck out so far is the pitching, which is something the Cubs have struggled to develop in recent years. Three of the top 10 Cubs prospects ( are pitchers, and they all look to make an impact on the big league level sooner rather than later.

Cubs prospect arms off to an impressive start early in the season

Currently the team’s #4 prospect and highest-ranked farm arm is righty Caleb Kilian. Cubs fans did not know much about him when he came over in the Kris Bryant trade last summer, but he has made a name for himself since coming over. Kilian, 24, has made three starts for Triple-A Iowa and sports a 1.54 ERA, 2.30 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, 13 strikeouts, .200 average against and four walks in 11 2/3 innings pitched. His ETA to the MLB level is listed as this season, and if he keeps it up we could see him sooner rather than later.

Just below Kilian is #5 prospect and left-hander Jordan Wicks, last year’s first-round draft pick. Wicks has been compared to both Jon Lester and Cole Hamels with his build and devastating changeup. Currently pitching in High-A South Bend, Wicks has pitched to a 3.68 ERA and 1.5 WHIP with eight strikeouts and one walk in 7 1/3 innings. This includes getting about 61 percent of his outs on the ground. He only has 14 1/3 professional innings under his belt, but coming out of Kansas State the hope was that he could work through the system fairly quickly. His ETA is listed as 2023.

Want to see filth? Then look for further than #9 prospect DJ Herz. The lefty fireballer continues to look better and better as time goes on. With a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s, Herz potentially brings much-welcomed velocity to the future pitching staff. Three starts in with South Bend, the 21-year-old from North Carolina sports a 0.82 ERA, 2.04 FIP and 0.36 WHIP, with 14 strikeouts, two walks and .059 average against in 11 innings pitched. Keep an eye on him, his current ETA is 2023.

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There is a lot to like about these arms. There is a nice mix of velocity in guys like Herz, and offspeed/durability in guys like Wicks. Kilian has really risen in the prospect rankings and is arguably the most intriguing guy in the entire system outside Brennen Davis.