Cubs Prospects: 3 pitchers primed to breakout in 2023

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3 breakout candidates - 2. Daniel Palencia

Sticking with South Bend here, we move into candidate number two, Daniel Palencia. Acquired from the Andrew Chafin trade from Oakland in 2021, Palencia might wind up being an absolute steal for the Cubs. On the season, he recorded a 3.94 ERA over the course of 20 starts and 75.1 innings pitched. His FIP on the other hand was down at 3.72, suggesting he was slightly the victim of bad luck. More importantly, Palencia ended the year with 3 scoreless outings, punching out 15 over a combined 12 frames.

Palencia possesses a fastball that tops out over 100 mph, a solid slider that cruises into the 90s, and a curve ball that Fangraphs gives a 50/55 grade to. The most intriguing part that lands Palencia in the potential breakout category next year is not the raw stuff, It's his rapidly improving control and ability to start limiting walks. His BB9 went from 5.2 in 2021 to 4.2 in 2022. That wasn't the whole story, however. For reference, in April this year, over the course of 12 innings of work, Palencia walked 12 batters. Following that, between May and June combined he issued free passes to only 10 during a stretch of 35.1 innings.

Palencia, like Luke Little before him, is just 22 years old and has fiery high potential stuff that can potentially turn him into an elite prospect. Looking at Northside Bound's new list of Cubs' top 30 prospects, Greg Zumach had this to say regarding Palencia:

"Report: No one in the organization can throw a fastball like Daniel Palencia. It is truly elite and probably the only 80-grade I have ever given to a tool. The fastball has excellent ride and upper tier velocity. Currently he’s starting and I would expect that to continue into 2023, but if he had to move to relief, it’s an MLB caliber arsenal right away."

Greg Zumach