In just under two months, minor league baseball is going to begin its 2022 season regardless of the status of the contract situation in the majors. At North Side Bound, we are extremely excited for everything to kick off. So much so that we decided to do a little series that’s going to give you a sneak peek of each affiliate over the next two weeks. Normally, we would start with Iowa and work our way down to the Dominican. Instead, it’s just going to be random.
Let’s kick things off with a trip to Myrtle Beach.
There’s going to be a lot of things to like about the Pelicans this summer. They are going to have some of the Cubs top prospects and most talent evaluators are going to be looking at the amazing position players that are there. Today, we are not going to do that. Instead, we’re going to take a sneak peek at what could possibly be a young and amazing rotation that is going to take the bump along the Grand Strand.
There should be a couple of familiar names to start the season. Tyler Schlaffer was very impressive at the end of the year at Myrtle Beach as he flashed a plus changeup to go along with a mid 90s fastball. The young 20-year-old still has plenty of potential and could do even better than his sub 3.00 ERA in August. Luis Devers, who we profiled a couple weeks ago, should also be back as he brings with him a mid 90s fastball and a nice curve.
The rest of the rotation is going to be very exciting.
We should see the Low Class-A debuts of Luke Little, Koen Moreno, and Drew Gray. All three were taken in the draft by Dan Kantrowitz the past two summers and I’m excited to see all three in action. Who knows, I might be seeing some of them in South Bend in July and August.
One of the biggest disappointments in 2021 was the fact that we really didn’t get to see a lot of Koen Moreno and Luke Little. Both spent most of the year on the IL with Little getting in a couple games at the end of the year and Moreno getting in some work during instructs.
For Scouting Director Dan Kantrowitz, their selections were gutsy calls as the Cubs have not really been big on taking prep pitchers in the Theo era since they took Justin Steele, Carson Sands, and Dylan Cease in 2013. There would be the occasional arm like Kohl Franklin, but getting to see Drew Gray next year could be pretty special. The Cubs 2021 3rd round pick agreed to an overslot deal to keep him out of college and once he saw action in Arizona, albeit in two games, he was just dominant.
What excites me about all five guys is that they truly mark a shift in how the Cubs are acquiring young pitching talent and developing said talent. Little only went to junior college while Devers is an international free agent. Moreno, Gray, and Schlaffer are all high school picks. It’s going to be a huge test to see whether or not the Cubs can develop young pitching under Craig Breslow and prove that they have proof of concept In the plans that they have put forth in the pitching department the past three summers.
My guy, Porter Hodge, could sneak into the rotation as well. Hodge has a big frame and an excellent work ethic and is just 20 years-old. He debuted as a Cub last summer after being taken out of high school in 2019. If Myrtle Beach does go to a six-man rotation with these young arms, Hodge would be the perfect candidate. In addition, Hodge could snag a spot if Schlaffer earns a spot in South Bend.
There are two other names who could be in play here in the rotation in Myrtle Beach. Both Benjamin Rodriguez and Josh Burgmann missed all of 2021. Rodriguez is the more likely option while Bergman could be at South Bend if he is healthy.
There’s going to be no shortage of young big armed starters along the coast this spring.