Results tagged ‘ Barret Loux ’

From the Pages of Vine Line: 2014 Minor League Prospectus, Pitching Depth

Kyle-Hendricks-(Credit-Matthew-Shalbrack)

Kyle Hendricks was the Cubs 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. (Matthew Shalbrack/Tennessee Smokies)

For many Chicagoans, February means cold weather. At Vine Line, it’s all about the Cubs minor league prospectus. In the February issue, fans can check out frequent contributor Sahadev Sharma’s player breakdowns for more than 45 of the organization’s top prospects, from teenagers like Eloy Jimenez to elite talents like Javier Baez. We’ll post some of the profiles here on the blog in the coming weeks so you can keep track of all the names to know in the Cubs highly ranked system.

Also from the series:

2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – The Elite
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – Close to Big Leagues
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – International Impact

PITCHING DEPTH
The Cubs’ last two drafts kicked off with position players Albert Almora and Kris Bryant, but the next dozen rounds or so were focused heavily on adding pitching depth to the system. While the Cubs still lack a knockout pitching prospect (something missing from most systems around baseball), they have some interesting arms acquired via bulk drafting, trades (both major and seemingly minor ones) and international free agency.

The draft strategy the Cubs have employed over the past two Junes has done two things: It’s increased their chances of finding a gem who can be a big contributor in their rotation and given them options to fill the bullpen with arms who don’t stick as starters. In the long run, this will save the Cubs money and keep them from investing heavily in relievers, who are notoriously erratic from year to year. That way, they can allocate funds in different areas while attempting to improve the major league ballclub.

COREY BLACK
DOB: 8/4/1991
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: DAYTONA
2013 STATS: 107.2 IP, 3.93 ERA, 116 K, 55 BB (24 STARTS)

It’s easy for scouts to peg Black as a bullpen arm, because he’s a smaller guy with a slender upper body. However, while he does have some effort in his delivery, he brings premium stuff, including a mid-90s fastball and a big-time slider to complement his very aggressive personality on the mound.

“I love watching this guy pitch,” said SVP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod. “He is a bulldog and a half.”

The most common guess is that Black ends up as a reliever, with the potential to be an elite back-of-the-bullpen arm. But the Cubs are going to keep him in their loaded Tennessee rotation to see if his stuff will play up in a starter’s role.

PAUL BLACKBURN
DOB: 12/4/1993
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: BOISE
2013 STATS: 46.0 IP, 3.33 ERA, 38 K, 29 BB (12 STARTS, 13 APPEARANCES)

With a strong delivery, three pitches and good arm action, Blackburn has all the ingredients to be an advanced feel pitcher. He relies on plus command, but the youngster had some outings in which his walk totals perplexed the Cubs front office. While he has room to fill out and possibly bring his average fastball into plus territory, Blackburn still projects as an efficient, innings-eating, athletic pitcher even if the velocity stays where it is now.

He can move the ball all around the zone, but he often nibbles, which creates the high walk totals. If he can trust his stuff on a consistent basis, he has everything it takes to develop into a solid middle-of-the-rotation piece.

KYLE HENDRICKS
DOB: 12/7/1989
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: IOWA
2013 STATS: 166.1 IP, 2.00 ERA, 128 K, 34 BB (27 STARTS)

Recent Dartmouth grad Hendricks is a premium strike thrower who has the ability to cut up both sides of the plate with multiple pitches. He is the type of pitcher who throws to a scouting report rather than relying on pure stuff, and was one of the more efficient pitchers in the Cubs system in 2013. He lasted six innings or more in 19 of his 27 starts and did so while throwing a minimum of pitches.

Though his fastball isn’t light, it isn’t overpowering either, sitting at 88-92 mph. But his ability to locate the pitch with precision, combined with a cutter he can throw to both sides of the plate, keeps hitters from barreling him up too often. He’s never going to rack up strikeouts, but with his four-pitch arsenal, he will keep hitters guessing and could fit nicely in the back end of the Cubs rotation.

PIERCE JOHNSON
DOB: 5/10/1991
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: DAYTONA
2013 STATS: 118.1 IP, 2.74 ERA, 124 K, 43 BB (21 STARTS, 23 APPEARANCES)

Johnson did everything asked of him in 2013 and progressed just as the Cubs hoped he would. He showed steady improvement throughout the season and got stronger as the year went on—his velocity actually ticked up when he was promoted to Daytona.

Johnson is getting better at repeating his delivery, an important point of emphasis as he often finishes upright, causing his fastball to be up in the zone. He also developed more consistency with both command and his breaking ball. His focus this offseason has been on adding weight to his frame, as he looks to increase his workload. He should team up with C.J. Edwards to lead a formidable Tennessee rotation.

DILLON MAPLES
DOB: 5/9/1992
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: KANE COUNTY
2013 STATS: 76.2 IP, 4.93 ERA, 75 K, 50 BB (16 STARTS, 21 APPEARANCES)

With Maples, the key is and always has been consistency with his delivery. After a very up-and-down couple of months at Kane County, Maples was sent down to Boise in July and turned his season around. It was the best many in the Cubs front office had ever seen him perform in terms of his delivery. During that time, Maples got his curveball over the plate and down in the zone, generating swings and misses.

Not only were the results different, but so was Maples’ attitude. Observers say he looked more confident on the mound in Boise, with a chest-out bravado. He was aggressive in the zone, a stark contrast to the pitcher who seemed to be constantly thinking about his mechanics and worrying about getting hit, which led to nibbling and high walk totals. If the new and improved Maples can carry over this season, he may end up turning into the steal many thought the Cubs had when he was drafted in the 14th round in 2011.

BARRETT LOUX (RHP) – Loux brings a four-pitch mix, but injuries have diminished the stuff that made him a top 10 pick in Arizona just three years ago. Despite shoulder issues, he still proved competitive on the mound last season. He will continue his shoulder maintenance program with hopes of recovering some of the life on his once-plus fastball and other pitches.

TREY MASEK (RHP) – Masek is on the smaller side, so his eventual role could be out of the bullpen. He uses a fastball-slider combo and has a split-grip change-up. He will be given the chance to be a starter in 2014.

NEIL RAMIREZ (RHP) – The former Rangers first-rounder suffered through shoulder and elbow injuries in 2013, so the Cubs are taking a conservative approach with him. When healthy, he shows a typical three-pitch arm, featuring a fastball that sits at 90-94 mph and a hard slider. The focus is on getting him strong and healthy so he can get through a full season.

TYLER SKULINA (RHP) – Skulina is a big man who touches 96 mph with his fastball and has a swing-and-miss slider. At 6-foot-6, his key is getting consistent rhythm to his delivery. He impressed in instructs and could jump up the rankings if he continues to develop his change-up.

ROB ZASTRYZNY (LHP) – Zastryzny is a hard-nosed lefty with a 90-93 mph downhill fastball, plus curveball and solid change. He’s a strong competitor who pitches with a chip on his shoulder and will attack the zone every fifth day.

Cubs invite 22 non-roster players to Mesa

CHAPMAN-J-091512

Reliever Jaye Chapman was one of 22 players invited to Spring Training Friday.

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The clubhouse in Mesa, Ariz., will be a little more crowded later this month as the Cubs have invited 22 non-roster players to major league Spring Training camp. For some of the younger ballplayers, the invite serves as a chance to get acclimated to major league hitting or pitching. For the veterans, it could be another shot to break camp with a big league team.

The Cubs non-roster invitees include a mix of top prospects (Javier Baez, Nick Struck), familiar faces (Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Blake Parker) and former major leaguers (Brent Lillibridge, Brian Bogusevic, Darnell McDonald).

Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa Feb. 12, and the first full squad workout is Feb. 17. Below is the complete list of non-roster invitees:

Right-handed pitchers: Drew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Dayan Diaz, Jensen Lewis, Barret Loux, Blake Parker, Zach Putnam, Nick Struck, Cory Wade

Left-handed pitchers: Hisanori Takahashi

Catchers: J.C. Boscan, Michael Brenly, Rafael Lopez

Infielders: Javier Baez, Alberto Gonzalez, Brent Lillibridge, Edwin Maysonet, Brad Nelson

Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Johermyn Chavez, Darnell McDonald

Prospectus Preview: 2012 Trades/Claims, Barret Loux

Loux2

(Photo by Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

Other Prospectus Previews: 

• Down the Pipeline / Jeimer Candelario

Close to the Majors / Nick Struck


Are you a pitcher? Do you have an electric arm or good peripheral statistics? Do you have a top-round pedigree but were pushed off the 40-man roster while you rehab from Tommy John or shoulder surgery?

Congrats, you’ve probably been scouted—or already acquired—by the Cubs.

It’s a joke the front office makes about itself, as the first year-plus of the Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod Era has proved the Cubs will acquire arms any way they can. Arodys Vizcaino and Hector Rondon could turn out to be steals if they end up as starters, though they’d also have plenty of utility as back-end relievers. Meanwhile, Barret Loux and Carlos Gutierrez are former first-rounders who have undergone shoulder surgeries. Of course, this list doesn’t include veterans like Scott Baker, who the Cubs hope will be a starting rotation bargain in his comeback from elbow reconstruction.

Loux is just one of more than 60 players covered in Vine Line’s annual Minor League Prospectus, which hits newsstands in February, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. It’s a perfect guide for Spring Training and beyond.

P | BARRET LOUX
Ht./Wt.: 6-5/215
B/T: R/R
Born: 4/6/89 in Houston, Texas
Acquired: 2012 Trade (TEX for G. Soto)
Tools: Pitchability, Slider
2012 STATS (AA): 3.47 ERA, 127.0 IP, 120 H, 41 BB, 100 K

From sixth-overall pick to unsigned free agent, it’s hard to imagine a more chaotic summer than Loux’s in 2010. The Diamondbacks declined to sign the Texas A&M ace after a physical uncovered a torn labrum. He’s since had two successful seasons with the Rangers, including a 2012 campaign that earned him Double-A Texas League Player of the Year honors. He is a four-pitch guy with an 89-93 mph fastball and a slider that is probably his best out pitch. He’s likely more of an innings-eating depth guy, as his stuff rates average across the board.


Other players featured in this section: Infielder Christian Villanueva; Pitchers Arodys Vizcaino, Hunter Cervenka and Hector Rondon.

Plus, tidbits on RHP Marcelo Carreño, RHP Carlos Gutierrez, RHP Kyle Hendricks and RHP Jaye Chapman.

Sean Ahmed
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