The first of the Chicago Cubs' "big three" pitching prospects has arrived at the Major League level over the course of the past month.
Entering the season, all eyes were on left-handed pitching prospect Jordan Wicks and right-handed pitching prospects Cade Horton and Ben Brown. Brown and Wicks were believed to be the closest to the Major League level and that has proven to be the case as Wicks has quickly become a mainstay in the starting rotation and Brown is expected to be with the team before the end of the season.
While Wicks was the first of the three to the Major League level, he is actually the prospect with the lowest ceiling but his floor is what should have fans excited.
Wicks has been excellent over the course of his first three starts at the Major League level. Wicks has allowed four runs in 16.2 innings pitched while striking out 13. It has been confirmation of the type of pitcher that Wicks projected to be at the Major League level.
Wicks is not going to be the starting pitcher that is lights out on a nightly basis but his floor is one that still could have him trending toward the top half of a starting rotation as he rarely will look overmatched.
That is the aspect of his arrival that should be exciting for Cubs fans.
For as good as Wicks has been, Brown and Horton have the ceiling of being front-end starting pitchers
The floor of the Cubs' pitching development has never been higher. That is going to be a key factor for the Cubs moving forward as they move toward the territory of becoming legitimate World Series contenders.
Part of the reason why the last Cubs' contention window slammed shut abruptly was that the team did not have the infrastructure in place to develop homegrown starting pitching. The team was forced to spend money on Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood and the team was handcuffed given the struggles of each pitcher at the start of their tenure with the Cubs. Darvish, of course, was able to regain his form as a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher but by the time that he did, the front office was forced to trade him as a way to save money.
If Wicks is the floor of what to expect from the Cubs' top pitching prospect, that will signal the streamline of success that the previous rebuild did not have as that will continue to allow the Cubs to have the financial freedom to spend intelligently instead of being forced to put a band-aid on their lack of pitching development.