Michael Arias – Picture by Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Cubs have had a lot of great pitching performances so far this year. That goes from Myrtle Beach to Tennessee to South Bend to Iowa. But the one guy who seems to be advancing a little bit faster than people thought he would is Michael Arias of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Arias has a really live arm but he’s only in his third year of pitching. He was originally a shortstop in the Blue Jays organization. Now, after a sparkling start to the 2023 season, Arias is now on the cusp of being added to several midseason prospect lists in the coming months.

Basic info

Age – 21
Height – 6-foot
Weight – 155
Throws – Right
From – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Arias was originally signed as an international free agent in 2018 by Toronto. That did not work out and he was cut in May 2020. The Cubs signed him in 2021 and began converting him to a pitcher in the Dominican that same year. He appeared in 16 games as a reliever and threw 23.1 innings and struck out 22. He had an ERA of 3.09 while opponents only hit .193 against him. That’s not too shabby for someone who never pitched before.

Fast forward to 2022, Arias found himself in the Arizona Complex League and the Cubs were going to move him from the bullpen into a starting pitching role. He started eight games out in Mesa with some mixed results. The ERA was close to five. He only threw 13 innings over eight games. He struck out 18 batters, but walked 16. Then again, he was not getting hit. Opponents hit a measly .119 against him. That’s outstanding in any league.

As a result, Arias got a cup of coffee up to Myrtle Beach at the end of the year. He appeared in two games and threw just four innings. He had a 4.50 ERA. He struck out five and walked six.

Heading into 2023, this much was known – The arm was live, it didn’t have a lot of miles on it yet. So the Cubs were going to have to be cautious with him in stretching him out. With a career total just over 40 innings, he was still very inexperienced in the ways of starting pitching. But Arias was catching on quickly.

In April, Arias started three games and pitched nine innings. That sounds about right in terms of work load. He had a 4.00 ERA but what was stunning was he had 14 strikeouts in three starts over those nine innings. Opponents hit .235. With Myrtle Beach having MiLB.TV, we also got to see just how fantastic that arm is.

My first thought was that he still pretty raw and this may take all year for him to figure some things out,

It didn’t take that long.

In May, Arias doubled his workload to throw 18.2 innings with a 3.38 ERA. That was spread out over five games. He struck out 29 batters and opponents only hit .197 against him. That performance peaked with a five inning no-hitter on May 31. He earned the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week and he’s probably going to be in contention for our Breakout Pitcher of the Year because no one really saw him coming this fast.

Two things have made his ascension possible.

First, he’s able to command his fastball that floats up there between 95 and 98. He’s now able to command secondaries for strikes. His four seamer up in the zone has some nice arm side horizontal movement to it. His 2 seamer acts more like a splitter and dives down and in to a righty while his slider just eats up lefties and righties.

I don’t really have any concerns at this point but workload should be an issue later on in the year, considering that he only threw 40 innings before this year. We’ll see how much the Cubs let him go at Myrtle Beach but I would not be surprised to see him shut down somewhere close to 70 to 80 innings. it’s going to be fun getting there.