#2: Daniel Palencia
If the Cubs are well within the playoff race after the All-Star break, it wouldn't be a shocker to see them tap their fireballing prospect Daniel Palencia to give a boost to the bullpen. I only say that because they reportedly considered that very scenario last year after he broke out in a major way. Since coming over in the Andrew Chafin trade, Palencia has posted some eye-popping numbers throughout the minors. While his ERA hasn't been spectacular, he managed 11.7 strikeouts per nine in High-A last year along with a groundball rate of 45.7 percent and a league-leading 19.6 percent swinging strike rate.
While the Cubs would still likely prefer to make a starter out of Palencia, it's entirely possible they'll be tempted to tap him to add another power arm to the bullpen for a playoff run. They still lack an extreme flamethrower that can touch triple digits and Palencia showed he can do it and still keep a manageable 4.18 walks per nine in 2023. This one is pretty contingent on multiple factors, namely injuries or ineffectiveness requiring further relief help, whether or not Palencia continues his torrid pace, and how competitive the team is. Given that he only seemed to get better as time went on though, there may still be room to grow for the young Palencia.
It wouldn't be until later in the year, but Palencia could find himself knocking on the door of the majors if he continues his rapid ascent. I wouldn't rule him out from pitching meaningful innings for the Cubs in 2023.