Cory Abbott Focuses On Moving Forward
Righthander Cory Abbott feels like he’s only scratching the surface of what he could learn from all the teachers, technology and player development tools the Cubs have assembled.
Without a minor league season in 2020, access to the organization's pitch lab in Arizona made his time in instructional league so valuable.
A shoulder issue interrupted Abbott’s throwing program before spring training was shut down in March. A procedural delay also limited his productivity at the Cubs' alternate training site in South Bend, Ind. But he’s trying to make the best of the difficult circumstances and keep himself on the big league radar.
“To be able to see someone else in another jersey is kind of nice,” Abbott said of taking the mound in instructional league. “I am working on stuff. But just being able to do that is really a good feeling, getting my feet wet again, so when we do start up and ramp up next year, I’ll be on schedule.”
The Cubs are facing a decreased budget for baseball operations next year and planning for a transition that should create opportunities for young pitchers. Abbott is 25 and earned the organization’s pitcher of the year award in 2019 after posting a 3.01 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Tennessee.
He struck out a Southern League-leading 166 batters against 52 walks in 146.2 innings.
This summer, the South Bend site offered data-tracking capabilities and the chance to observe major league-caliber pitchers up close. Adbert Alzolay was one of several pitchers who took advantage of the alternate site and opened eyes.
While obviously far from ideal, it also didn’t feel like a wasted opportunity.
“We were using everything the Cubs could possibly give us,” Abbott said. “They approached it (as) focusing on getting better instead of, ‘Hey, you got three innings of batters—good luck.’ They were constantly trying to get everyone better. And I think a lot of people did.”
The Cubs face a 40-man roster decision on Abbott, a 2017 second-round pick from Loyola Marymount.
“You don’t look back,” Abbott said. “It’s about moving forward and constantly evolving and getting better.”
— Due to pandemic-related revenue losses, the Cubs laid off more than 100 employees in business and baseball operations, including some of the people who helped build what was once regarded as the No. 1 farm system in the game. That talent base became part of the foundation for the 2016 World Series champions and five playoff appearances in six seasons.
These cuts deeply impacted scouting, player development and international operations, including area scouts Keith Lockhart and John Koronka, major league mental skills coordinator Bob Tewksbury, special assistant Jim Benedict, baseball operations assistant Matt Murton and minor league managers Jimmy Gonzalez and Carmelo Martinez.
Also let go were Jose Serra, who was most recently the director of operations in the Dominican Republic, and Hector Ortega, a scouting supervisor in Venezuela, helped establish a valuable network and presence in Latin America. There is no quick fix to replace all of the talent, experience and institutional knowledge the Cubs have lost.