Porter Hodge – Picture by Todd Johnson
With Hayden Wesneski set to make the 26-man roster, that’s going to limit some of the guys who we thought would be some statistical leaders for starting pitchers in the Cubs system this summer. We could probably add Javier Assad and Caleb Killian to that mix. There are still a lot of good pitchers for us to pick from today and plenty of guys that are going to end up throwing the full season, but not make it all the way to Chicago.
Let’s get started!
Click on the arrows to expand for our 2023 prognostications!
Let’s see. We’re looking for durable starters who will likely spend all year in the minors. Richard Gallardo fits the bill. I’ll lock in 133 1/3 innings for Gallardo.
Two things really need to happen here. One, a pitcher needs to stay healthy, and two, he needs to be good enough to throw a lot of innings, but not high enough in the system to get to Chicago. As a result, the guy I’m going with is Porter Hodge, who should start out the year at High A South Bend and then make it to Tennessee at some point early in the summer. 136 frames.
I think this is a three horse race and I completely can get behind Zumach and Todd’s choices here. I’ll choose the third name that comes to mind and bank on him not making a large number of starts in the bigs: Ben Brown. He was a workhorse last year and I think he’ll do the same in 2023.
It would be easy to go back with Luis Devers after his resounding win in this category last year, but I’m not sure how the stuff will play one level up. I’m going to go with Luke Little who has the potential to combine high velocity, terrifying arm angle (especially to lefties), and two swing and miss offspeed pitches in his slider and splitter. Let’s go with Little leading the pack at 2.38.
This is probably the toughest one to do considering some guys were so good at the lower levels of class A last but Double-A is a different story. As a result, I am going with Porter Hodge and his probable 2.12 ERA at South Bend which will be a nice little cushion for him when gets to Tennessee..
This is such a tough category, especially considering I use ERA so little when evaluating pitchers. No one will come close to the 1.91 ERA that Devers put up a year ago, but Jordan Wicks might come close. He ran into some tough luck a year ago which inflated his ERA even through a super successful season. I say the luck swings back in his direction and he records a 2.36 ERA.
Lowest Batting Average Against
I’m sticking with DJ Herz again this year. Hopefully he’s in contention for all of the categories above, but he’s going to be extra hard to hit with a slider. If he’s much more in control of his arsenal, this year than he was at the end of last year, big things are going to happen for this young man in 2023. DJ should be sub .200, somewhere around .180.
As long as DJ Herz is still a prospect, he gets my pick in this category. Hitters just can’t touch him. Of course, he needs to find the zone more often to climb the organizational ladder, but I think he puts up another season like we saw in ’22 in terms of batting average against: .176.
It’s DJ Herz for me here and no question about it. Even climbing up the ladder, Herz just combines so many challenging qualities for hitters. I’ll say he nearly repeats his 2022 performance with a .180 BAA.
Porter Hodge gets the nod from me here. He will rack up the punchies in South Bend before heading to Tennessee where he will continue to show off his cut-ride heater and whirly slider. Let’s say 152 strikeouts.
I’ll go with DJ Herz again on this one. His 141 last season tied with Assad and Hodge for those in the Cubs system (for the whole year). Let’s say that Herz with a new slider is able to take that next step and finish with 148
I am also going to roll with Porter Hodge on this one. A lot of it has to do with where he starts out the year, which will probably be at South Bend. As a result, he should dominate at that level to earn his promotion to Tennessee, where his stuff is also going to play very well.
I could see Ben Brown winning this award. He’s a rare combination of pitcher who generates strikeouts, doesn’t walk many, and limits hits. Amongst only starters, I could see Brown finish with a clean 1.20 WHIP.
Once again, Porter Hodge. I think he’s just going to be the best this year. His work ethic is second to none, he has great stuff, and he has a mentality where things just roll right off him. Doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low. 0.95.
The top two finishers in this category a year ago were Walker Powell and Luis Devers, guys that did an incredible job of placing the ball exactly where they wanted it. I’ll stick with that theme and go with Brandon Birdsell, last year’s Big 12 pitcher of the year. He already feels like a wiley vet and hasn’t even thrown a single full-season inning. I’ll predict a 1.10 WHIP from Birdsell.
Interesting. Nobody picks Horton for anything?