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Ask BA: Why Have The Cubs Struggled To Develop Homegrown Pitching?

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Dylan Cease, now in the White Sox organization, is the best recent Cubs pitching draft pick. (Four Seam Images)

Have a question for Ask BA? Tweet it to J.J. (@jjcoop36) or email it to askba@baseballamerica.com.


Q: What has been the biggest catalyst for the Cubs’ inability to produce homegrown pitching talent and depth?
—DAVE N @JR4151947

A: I don’t think there is one easy answer, but there are a multitude of contributing factors for the Cubs’ dearth of homegrown pitching.

The first is a deliberate decision to emphasize bats at the top of the draft. The Cubs had top 10 picks in five straight drafts and picked hitters every time. The Cubs went 5-for-5 with Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. all regulars. The Cubs are also adept at evaluating international bats—see: Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez.

Over the past eight drafts, the Cubs have picked 26 pitchers in the top five rounds. They’ve struggled to develop almost any of them. The best pitcher so far out of those draftees is Zack Godley (traded to the D-backs in 2014 for Miguel Montero).  The Cubs’ best drafted pitching prospect is Dylan Cease, who was traded to the White Sox for Jose Quintana.

It’s not as easy as just scapegoating the Cubs’ drafting strategy. The team has fared no better on the international market. That would seem to indicate that there are issues on the player development side.

Cubs pitching development has lacked continuity. Brendan Sagara is taking over as the organization’s pitching coordinator. He’s the team’s fourth pitching coordinator in the past seven years.

The Cubs do a great job of drafting, signing and developing hitters. They have yet to figure out how to do the same with pitching despite myriad efforts to fix that.
To see the Cubs' top 10 prospects for 2019, which includes five pitchers, click here. 
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Baseball America Prospect Report -- May 1, 2019

Dylan Cease strikes out a career-high 11 batters, Jeter Downs has a three-hit game and Jarred Kelenic shows up yet again.

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