This Chicago Cubs prospect has insiders salivating over his potential in 2024

Ben Brown had significant ups and downs last season; 2024 is going to be about limiting those downs.

2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training
2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

Ben Brown has been dominant since he got to the Chicago Cubs’ organization and now the national media is starting to take notice.

Andrea Arcadipane and Eno Sarris, previously of FanGraphs and currently of the Athletic, utilized advanced metrics to determine four MLB pitching prospects that have the potential to break out this season and Brown appeared on that list.

Of the things they discussed there was a little bit of good, and a little bit of bad.

The Good: Brown’s pitch mix is filthy

Last season Brown threw six pitches ten or more times. Of those six pitches, he had a Stuff+ rating of 100 or higher on five of them, meaning that when you look at those pitches' ability to generate whiffs, chases, and poor quality of contact he is better than the average for five of those pitches.

Beyond that, he had two pitches with a 135 or better Stuff+ rating with his Sweeper (172) and his slider (137). 

The best thing with those numbers is that those were his two most utilized pitches outside of his four-seam fastball which still came in above average with a 105 Stuff+ rating despite being utilized a whopping 747 times.

What this means is that Brown already has a three-pitch mix that can get hitters to swing and miss. He has a 97+ MPH fastball and two breaking balls that he leaned on heavily last season that were great as well as a cutter and sinker that he used sparingly to great results.

The Bad: Brown’s command has led to questions

Despite the Stuff+ numbers looking great, Brown’s Location+ numbers look more like a reliever than a top-of-the-rotation starter. 

According to Sarris “Among the 50 young pitcher breakouts in the Stuff+ era, only one (Andy Ashby) did so without above-average command of the four-seamer, sinker, or slider.”

Unfortunately Brown is coming off a season where his Location+ on those three pitches were 94 (four-seamer), 111 (sinker), and 95 (slider).

That doesn’t look problematic, considering how close to league average he was. However, when you look at the sinker being the only one that was better than average and then see that he only threw it 13 times last season, the numbers get a little more concerning.

Pitchers miss their pitches sometimes. It happens. However, to have success at the major league level managers have to mitigate risks, so the question coming into the 2024 season is:

Can Ben Brown limit the big innings/outings by improving his command? Or will he become an extremely valuable (if a little disappointing) relief option in the back of the bullpen?

We’ll find out later this year.

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