Could Bailey Horn See a September Call-Up for the Chicago Cubs?

As the Chicago Cubs continue to make their post-season push, the team could look to solidify their bullpen with a prospect promotion such as Bailey Horn.
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The Chicago Cubs weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the final weekend of August featured the debut of 2021 first-round pick Jordan Wicks.

His work in his first two outings gives hope that he can serve a twofold need for Chicago in terms of starting pitching depth and also in left-handed bullpen help, as Drew Smyly moved to the bullpen with Wicks’ arrival.

However, left-handed relief is still a dire need for the Cubs, as Smyly is now the only southpaw in the bullpen. Even though some of the higher-leverage relievers like Mark Leiter, Jr. have been excellent against left-handed hitters, the Cubs may still need help against lefties in lower-leverage situations. Prospect Bailey Horn has been rumored to be one such player all season.

Numbers and Stuff

            Horn experienced a very quick rise through the Cubs’ system in roughly two years. After being acquired from the White Sox in 2021 for Ryan Tepera, Horn progressed from High-A to Double-A in 2022 before advancing to Triple-A Iowa early in 2023.

Horn was nothing short of dominant in six appearances in Double-A Tennessee, pitching to the tune of a 2.00 ERA with a whopping 19 K/9. His numbers in Iowa have been much less impressive in many aspects, with an ERA of 4.73 in 35 appearances. His strikeout numbers are much more in tune with his career averages than his time in Tennessee was, with his K/9 sitting at 10.45.

The stuff is clearly there, as shown above with the nasty slider that he threw at Auburn a few years ago. However, his major issue in Iowa has been his command. Horn is walking batters at a rate of 4.93 per nine innings, but these walks have come in bunches. Dating back to July 27, Horn has walked eight batters in 14 2/3 innings of work, but most of them came in three appearances. He has also given up multiple runs in just one of these outings, but it was a brutal performance of 1.1 innings with six earned runs.

He will most likely not be called up immediately if at all, but the Cubs should continue to monitor his outings to make a final decision on a position of great need for them.

40-Man Concerns

            The greatest roadblock on Horn’s path to being called up this season is the fact that he is not listed on the Cubs’ 40-man roster right now. Fortunately for him, the only active left-handed reliever on the 40-man is his current teammate Anthony Kay, who has been optioned again after Jose Cuas was activated from the bereavement list. Before that, Kay recorded multiple outings that did not offer much encouragement. If Horn’s contract is to be selected to the 40-man, the corresponding move would most likely be designating Kay for assignment. With Kay unlikely to be recalled, and Brandon Hughes still being on the IL, a move like this could happen in the coming weeks.

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