Cubs Stocking Up On Pitching Prospects
CHICAGO — Most of the progress made in the first year of the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime has involved adding and developing hitters, but know they need a lot more prospects as they try to build a competitive pitching staff.
With that in mind, they have been aggressive at the start of the offseason. They added former first-rounder Carlos Gutierrez and Zach Putnam on waiver claims and got Marcelo Carreno from the Tigers as the player to be named later in the Jeff Baker trade.
Gutierrez, 26, and the 25-year-old Putnam were added because the Cubs believe they can contribute to the bullpen in 2013 and perhaps beyond. Carreno, a 21-year-old Venezuelan, adds to the inventory of arms in the lower minors who are on their way to Wrigley Field.
Gutierrez has battled health problems the last couple of years, but the Cubs believe he'll be fine next season after arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder, which ended his 2012 season prematurely. He was Minnesota's first-round pick in the 2008 draft after closing games for Miami.
When he's been healthy, Gutierrez has thrown a heavy, mid-90s sinker, but he hasn't been able to develop a secondary pitch to go with it, and the Twins got tired of waiting for him to improve. They were trying to slide him off the 40-man roster when the Cubs claimed him.
Putnam, a fifth-round pick from Michigan in the 2008 draft, got to the big leagues with Cleveland in 2011 but went backward last year after being traded to Colorado for Kevin Slowey. He worked as a closer at times for Triple-A Colorado Springs but made only two appearances with the Rockies. His fastball is 88-93 mph and he complements it with a splitter. His slider has been inconsistent.
Carrero was solid all season in the Midwest League, going 9-8, 3.23 in 27 starts. He's likely to open next season at high Class A Daytona while Gutierrez and Putnam will pitch for Iowa if they don't land spots on Dale Sveum's roster.
• The Cubs hired 39-year-old Anthony Iapoce to serve as their minor league hitting coordinator. He spent the last three years as the roving hitting coordinator for the Blue Jays.
• Infielder Logan Watkins was assigned to the Arizona Fall League to replace shortstop Javier Baez, whose season ended when he suffered a fracture in the tip of his left thumb.