Prospects of the Week for Chicago Cubs Affiliates for the Week for 5/21-5/28

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Chicago Cubs Double-A Pitcher of the week: RHP Porter Hodge (22 Years Old)

1 G, 5 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K

This looked like it would go to Kohl Franklin this week, and I would’ve been happy about it. The 23-year-old was solid this week, pitching 5.2 and only giving up two runs on five hits and no walks, but he only struck out three. 

Porter Hodge on the other hand struck out plenty and allowed fewer runs and hits in his start. The former 13th-round pick has had some ups and downs, but one of the things that I find most interesting is the fact that the Cubs have stuck with him as a starter despite the mass exodus of starting pitching prospects that the Cubs have transitioned to relievers this year which includes: Luke Little, Ryan Jensen, Riley Thompson, and Daniel Palencia. It’s not to say that the Cubs don’t believe in those guys as much as they believe in Hodge, but it is telling that as they were pushing buttons and pulling levers, the Cubs chose not to push the button that would move Hodge to the pen. 

What that tells me, even though MLB Pipeline said “If he ends up as a reliever, his fastball/slider combination might make him a high-leverage option,” that the Cubs intend to keep Hodge as a starter long term and if he continues to make starts like the one he had last week we are all very lucky.

Last year he had a 2.01 ERA at High-A, but this year he has a 4.54. There are a myriad of reasons that could be, his strikeouts are down, walks are up, his BABIP is up pretty significantly and his strand rate is much lower than last year’s. That being said, I’m ok with all of that because last year’s numbers were not sustainable. His strand rate last year was nearly 86% and the league average is 73%. His strand rate his year is only 63% which could imply that we will see that progress to the mean and he’ll be closer to his FIP of 3.15 (which is better than last year’s) than he will be to his 4.54 ERA. If that’s the case then we should be seeing him climb prospect boards by mid-season.