Adbert Alzolay Looks To Take Hold Of Rotation Spot
As 26-year-old righthander Adbert Alzolay heads into his ninth season in the organization after signing as a teenager out of Venezuela, he projects to be a big part of the Cubs' pitching plans in 2021 and beyond.
His success would go a long way toward validating the organization's efforts to update and improve its pitching development program.
Already the Cubs are excited about Alzolay learning in camp from Jake Arrieta, a kind of late bloomer also known for his dedication to physical fitness. Alzolay wowed the Cubs at the South Bend alternate training site last year by picking up a new slider and carrying it over into games.
Though Alzolay’s innings will have to be carefully managed this year, the Cubs are counting on him to pick up where he left off last season, when he recorded a 2.95 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 21.1 innings.
“I’ve watched Adbert develop and grow and continue to evolve as a pitcher," Cubs manager David Ross said. "His presence, his demeanor last year was better. His interactions with other players, his knowledge, soaking everything up, the questions he’s asking now, even in spring training, the preparation and the feedback we’ve got from his offseason work—it’s been tremendous.”
The Cubs believe in their overall pitching infrastructure and game-planning system for the big league club. It’s helped Kyle Hendricks exceed expectations and become a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Alzolay is athletic and able to throw multiple pitchers and viewed as someone who had been a leader in the minors. Since 2015 the Cubs rank third in the majors with a 3.66 ERA.
“Rightfully, our lack of pitching development has been something that’s been well-publicized and certainly a source of a lot of frustration internally as well,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said.
“We haven’t done as good a job developing pitchers as we need to. We need to do a better job going forward. That said, we’ve really done a good job at the major league level of preventing runs. If you look year over year, that’s been a real strength of ours.”
— Alzolay has no minor league options remaining, though the Cubs were still awaiting clarity on service time thresholds from last season, to see if that status would change in 2021 for a player who shuttled between the majors and the alternate site.
— The Cubs promoted Jonathan Mota to major league staff assistant. Mota, 33, previously served as the organization’s minor league infield coordinator. He originally signed with the Cubs in 2003 and played in the organization until 2015 before transitioning into coaching.