Surprising news out of AAA Iowa today, as top pitching prospect Andrew Cashner – he of the sub-1.00 ERA as a starter at Iowa – is being moved to the bullpen today.

“It surprised me when I first heard about it,” said Cashner, who got the news Wednesday. “I talked to (the Chicago Cubs) about going to relief a while back, but it was always their thought that I was going to start.

“Working out of the bullpen is something right now that excites me.”

It’s likely Cashner’s best route to the major leagues, for the moment, considering the Chicago Cubs have six starters for five spots in the rotation,

“We did the same experiment with Jay Jackson,” Iowa pitching coach Mike Mason said. “Jackson passed, now it’s Cashner’s turn to see if he can acclimate to the bullpen.”

Chicago Cubs relievers had an ERA of 6.34 before Wednesday night’s game against the Dodgers.

“I haven’t thrown out of the bullpen much in pro ball,” said Cashner, a starter during 33 of his 35 professional appearances since the Cubs selected him in the first round of the 2008 draft.

“It’s a new challenge.”

Cashner spent most of his TCU career as a closer.

“It very well may be that he comes back to the starting rotation,” Mason said. “It’s all predicated on what happens in the big leagues.” Des Moines Register Staff Blogs.

The timing is, of course, interesting given the rotation shakeup that’s about to occur with the big team in the coming week. Could this mean that the bullpen will be modified as well?

We could take this at its face value: a mere experiment to see how Cashner adjusts to swapping between the rotation and the bullpen, and to see how effective he looks out of the pen. That said, if he looks good, is there any doubt that he’ll be joining the Cubs’ bullpen in short order?

What this means for other top pitching prospect Jay Jackson is unclear. Does this mean he returns to the Iowa rotation? How many right-handed relievers are the Cubs looking to groom in short order anyway?

  • N

    I wonder if there’s also an innings pitched consideration here. Everyone who pays attention to these things says you don’t want a young pitcher to greatly exceed last year’s IP total or you risk arm trouble. Cashner threw 100 IP last year. He’s thrown 55 IP already this year, which would leave him on pace to zoom by last year’s number sometime in July and be way past it by September. Even if this doesn’t lead to a call up, just having him hang out in the pen for a few weeks will slow that pace down and let him finish the season.

    • wax_eagle

      You’re definitely on the right track here. Cashner certainly would have ended up in the Iowa or Cubs pen sometime this year. I think this is just quite a bit earlier than anyone has expected.

  • Kevin G

    This is a dumb move by Hendry! They just stretched Cashner out to be able to pitch 7 inning! If they cant work with what they have in their relief core or trade dont do it. They keep screwing with their young starters that they will need in years to come and it going to screw them up. Cashner was a closer in college but you will hurt this kid if you keep switching him back and forth.