4 under the radar Cubs prospects to watch in the Spring Breakout Game

You all know the top prospects already, but the five guys on this list are going to greatly impact this team in one way or another and nobody is talking about them.

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The Pitchers

Michael Arias RHP

We’ve written a fair amount about Arias and while MLB Pipeline has him as the Cubs’ 14th-best prospect, we left him off of our top 30 which just goes again to the depth of this system. Arias had a spectacular start to the season in Low-A last year where he was striking out just about every batter he saw but as he was promoted to High-A he fell off a bit. 

While the Cubs would surely love to keep Arias in mind for a starting role, and with the depth in this system they certainly have the luxury to let him take his time to round out those hard edges, he’s also the kind of player that could be an impact arm in short stints out of the bullpen.

The thing that this organization is still lacking, despite their depth, is arms that miss bats. If for whatever reason the Cubs’ bullpen struggles to start 2024 in the same way that it struggled out of the gates in 2023 then Arias could see some time at some point this season.

As far as what to expect in the Spring Breakout game from him, expect him to get about an inning's worth of work and I’ll set the over/under at 1.5 strikeouts. This is a showcase so he won’t be worried about walking a guy or two so long as he gets some swings and misses and he’s shown a propensity to do just that. 

Drew Gray LHP

Outside of Cade Horton, Drew Gray is probably the highest-upside pitcher the Cubs have in the entire system now that they’ve traded away Jackson Ferris. MLB Pipeline had him as the Cubs’ 17th-best prospect and when we did our rankings we had him at 21, but we both agreed on the very high upside and the very low floor.

MLB Pipeline pointed out in their rundown that after being drafted and signing an over-slot deal in the third round as a high school pitcher, he blew out his elbow and hasn’t thrown more than three innings or 60 pitches in any of the three seasons since becoming a pro.

That’s disconcerting, to say the least, but that appears to be the Cubs’ MO with regards to young pitching. While Ferris was dominant in just about every start in the first half of the season last year, they kept the leash very tight, so it’s not necessarily a knock on Gray so much as it is an organizational mindset. 

Gray, much like Arias, can miss bats but it comes at the cost of walking a few guys; last season he walked 29 in just 34 innings. That being said, there’s a ton to like here and showcases are what (former) prep pitchers live for. Expect him to walk a guy or two but also expect his stuff to look every bit as filthy as top prospect, Cade Horton’s.