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Cubbies Add Pitching Depth

Posted By Marc Hulet On January 2, 2009 @ 2:00 pm In Minor Leagues | No Comments

The Chicago Cubs recently traded infield veteran Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians for a trio of pitching prospects. The transaction was more about clearing salary room ($5.5 million) for the National League squad than it was about acquiring said prospects. The money saved by the Cubs could possible allow the organization to acquire free agent outfielder Milton Bradley or reopen trade negotiations with San Diego for starting pitcher Jake Peavy.

All three players – Jeff Stevens, John Gaub, and Chris Archer – are interesting but none of them are future impact players and they all appeared destined for roles in Major League bullpens. It was suggested in one Internet report that some or all of the above prospects could be used to help snag Peavy from San Diego but none of the prospects would be key players in a deal for a pitcher of his caliber.

Stevens is currently the closest to being Major League ready. He spent last season in both Double-A and Triple-A. Combined, Stevens allowed 38 hits in 59.2 innings of work and posted rates of 4.02 BB/9 and 12.22 K/9. His flyball tendencies resulted in a ground ball rate of 39.2%. He was originally selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth round of the 2005 draft out of Loyola Marymount University. Stevens was traded to Cleveland as part of the Brandon Phillips (robbery) deal. He throws an 89-94 mph fastball, curveball and change-up.

Shoulder surgery in college robbed Gaub of a few million dollars. The southpaw was touching 96 mph in college before injuring his arm and he now operates in the 87-91 mph range with his fastball. He also utilizes a slider and an occasional change-up. The Indians grabbed him in the 21st round of the 2006 draft out of the University of Minnesota. Last season, as a 23-year-old in A-ball, he allowed just 44 hits in 64 innings and posted rates of 4.50 BB/9 and 14.06 K/9. The strikeouts are eye-catching, but the control issues are worrisome. If he can harness his stuff, Gaub could move quickly in 2009… but that is a big if at his point.

Only 20 years old, Archer has a little more time to develop than his trade mates. He allowed just 92 hits in 115.1 A-ball innings in 2008 but it may have been partly due to the fact that he could not find the plate to give the batters a chance. Archer’s aim is not nearly as impressive as his surname suggests as he walked 84 batters, good for a rate of 6.55 BB/9. His strikeout rate was 8.27 K/9. His repertoire includes an 88-92 mph fastball, curveball and change-up.

Stevens could easily surface in Chicago in 2009 if injuries strike the Major League bullpen but Gaub and Archer will not set foot on a Major League mound in the Windy City until 2010 or 2011.


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