A Closer Look at New Cubs Pitching Prospect Barret Loux

When you read about the pitching prospect the Cubs picked up yesterday from the Rangers, you’re probably going to see something like this:

“The Cubs acquired Barret Loux, the number six overall pick in 2010, from the Rangers.”

That is a sentence designed to make you very excited, but it is, unfortunately, a touch misleading. There’s a whole lot more we need to say about Loux (pronounced like loud with an x at the end) to appropriately quantify our true excitement.

First, tempering the excitement.

Although Loux was selected sixth in 2010, he was not necessarily believed at that time to be a top 10 talent. He was a big-time college pitcher, that’s true, but he was thought to be pretty signable (indeed, most believe he had an underslot, pre-Draft deal in place). Then, when the Diamondbacks discovered serious labrum and elbow issues, and when they looked ahead to the 2011 Draft, they decided to play hardball with Loux, and he went unsigned. When he was declared a free agent in November 2010, he signed with the Rangers for just $312,000. Keep in mind, free agency drives prices up, not down, because you can negotiate with the entire field of teams, rather than solely the one that drafted you. In other words, at the time he was finally signed, Loux’s value was not seen as anything close to a first rounder.

Further, when you read opinions on Loux from scouts, you get a fairly well-defined picture: has a fastball with some sink that sits in the low-90s, and has average secondary stuff that needs work. His upside is that of a back-end starter in the big leagues. None of that is the profile of a first round pick, which is understandable given that he lost some three or four MPH off of his fastball thanks to the shoulder/elbow injuries that scared the Diamondbacks off in the first place. He trailed off a bit in the second half in 2012, and spent some time on the DL with “fatigue.”

That all said, there are plenty of reason to be excited about Loux as a legit prospect.

First things first: his numbers in his two years of professional ball have been damn good. Obviously numbers don’t tell you the whole story (especially in a small sample size), but they’re a start. And Loux’s are very good: 3.62 ERA, 1.275 WHIP, 3.03 K/BB in 236 innings.

Physically, he’s a big guy – 6’5″ and 215 pounds. He’s just 23, and has only two years of professional experience, so there is still room for development.

Most scouts see Loux as the better prospect, between he and a healthy Brigham. Not everyone feels that way, obviously, but even those who see Brigham as the better prospect seem to acknowledge that they’re in the same range, and both are legit (though not top) prospects. In some ways, it depends on how you like your prospects: Loux has the better chance of sticking as a starter, while Brigham (when healthy) throws a bit harder and gets more swings and misses. But he’s got control issues that, so far, Loux doesn’t have.

You’ve also got to consider why this deal is happening. Apparently, when the Cubs and Rangers made their Geovany Soto deal, which sent the Cubs Brigham and a PTBNL (on which the Cubs are still waiting, by the way), they had a gentleman’s agreement to revisit the deal if Brigham’s elbow should give him problems. He was shut down after just two starts with the Cubs, so this trade is actually just the Rangers making things right. (Good on them, by the way.) And, here’s the thing: the Rangers have always liked Brigham. So the fact that the Cubs swapped a broken fringey arm for Loux shouldn’t be a signal to you that Loux is worthless. This is actually just the Rangers subbing Loux in for Brigham, which means that Loux is believed to be in the same range of prospect-dom as a healthy Brigham, which is to say he’s a legit prospect.

As far as where Loux fell on prospect lists, unfortunately the Rangers’ lists, for the most part, haven’t come out yet. MLB.com is the only post-season list on the Rangers I can find which includes Loux, and he comes in at number 18. As far as pre-2012, Loux was 25th on John Sickels’ list, but he didn’t crack any of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, or FanGraphs’ lists. It’s fair to say his stock is up slightly since then, but the 18 to 25 range is probably fair (and that’s obviously an extremely good and deep system). That’s also where he’d probably fall in the Cubs’ system right now, too. Still would have liked to have seen more for Soto, but that ship has long since sailed.

All in all, Loux is a quality, though not top, prospect. That he signed in 2010 means it’ll still be another couple years before the Cubs have to make a 40-man roster decision on him, so there’s plenty of time to see what he’s got. He’ll start 2013 either at AA Tennessee or AAA Iowa, but, even if it’s the former, it’s fair to guess that the Cubs would hope to see him at AAA at some point next year.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

72 responses to “A Closer Look at New Cubs Pitching Prospect Barret Loux”

  1. Nathan

    Am I the only one that likes the fact he was 14-1 this year? I don’t care what level you are at, that is damn good

  2. J-Nasty

    He’s not going to get the offensive support he had in the Texas system. His win/loss record was ridiculous compared to the rest of his stats.

    1. MaxM1908

      Is Texas’ double A level that much superior to the Cubs’? Won’t we have quite a bit of offensive power in Tenessee this year?

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      I am not a fan of W-L numbers. However, to go 14-1, you have to have a lot of luck AND pitch really well relative to your level, game-in and game-out. And Luke’s numbers suggest good walk & K numbers. I’d like to see his HR numbers, but if you go 14-1, then it is incredibly improbable that his team was not badly outhomering the other teams in your starts: and half of out-homering the opposition is not allowing homers.

      So, don’t bet on Loux taking 14-1 with him to the next level, but do bet on Loux taking solid pitching numbers (lots of Ks, few BB & HR) with him.

      1. DarthHater

        As a Cubs fan who clearly remember’s Rick Sutcliffe’s 16-1 in 1984, I feel compelled to say thpppppppppppt! to Doc, even though I’m sure he’s right. ;-)

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Hey, Sutcliffe was pitching just as well in the first half of 1985, too, but his record was 0.500 before the injuries. (That was the series of injuries that caused him to reinvent himself as a junkball pitcher.)

          1. DarthHater

            As I was saying, thpppppppppppt!

      2. jt

        W/L measures a fit twixt a particular team and a particular pitcher.
        Koufax was needed by the ’61 Dodgers. He would not have been needed by the ’27 Yanks. Sure they would have liked to have him but a lesser pitcher could have won for them.
        Sutcliffe was good enough to win often with the ’84 Cubs. He was not good enough to win often with the ’84 Indians.
        Need is coupled with skill.

  3. J-Nasty

    They had Olt, Profar and McGuiness last year. They put up some solid numbers.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Yes, but if that offense alone was good enough for a team to play 0.933 ball (or even 0.910 ball; you’d expect a quarter of 15 game sequences to be 14-1 or 15-0 in that case), then we would have been reading about it!

      1. J-Nasty

        There’s no doubt he had a lot to do with his record. I just think people need to be realistic when looking at this guy. He is a very solid prospect, but not as dominating as a 14-1 would usually indicate. I expect wether he starts in AA or AAA for the cubs he will put up a winning record and a solid ERA.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Well, allow me to rephrase: anybody who went 14-1 was both dominating and lucky. An equally dominating pitcher with a bad offense and a weak bullpen might easily go (say) 7-5 in those games. However, there key points is that for both the good and bad offensive teams, this pitcher probably has made the teams’ record when he pitches a few wins better than they would have been with an average pitcher. That’s something that he’ll take with him to his next team, be it largely the same bunch of guys a year later or a completely different team in a different league.

          1. Kyle

            Here’s his game log:

            http://www.minorleaguecentral.com/player?pid=518954&gamelog=3000

            His wins were mostly legit, with the exception of 6 IP/6 ER victory.

            Mostly, he just had a knack for having his mediocre/subpar outings turn into no-decisions and not losses.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Wow, there are some impressive numbers in there. In particular, look at Loux’s extra-base hits allowed. In 26 starts, he allowed zero XBH in 5 games and only 1 XBH in 13 of them. He never gave up more than 3 in a game, doing that 3 times. Obviously, fielding and ballparks are relevant, but, damn, that’s good. Half of out-slugging the opposition is pitching, after all: and even an average slugging team would be outslugging the opposition routinely in those games.

              In half of his games, he walked 1 or 0 guys. Obviously, that’s tougher to do the higher you go, but his command should improve still at his age.

              Loux K’d 4 or more in over half of his games, too. That’s not spectacular, but if you are not giving up walks and XBH, then it’s pretty handy.

              Overall, I’d say that these numbers (good but not great K’s, great BB, great anti-slugging) suggest a ground ball pitcher. Me likey.

              1. jt

                Over his last 14 starts Loux avg’d 4.1 IP.
                Knowing the emperical fact that he has had labrum trouble could have guided you to look at that section of the game logs.
                Stats were originally used to authenticate emperical data. Albert Spear used stats to distribute munitions at the end of WW II and turning the use on its head. Wall Street in the 70′s and 80′s used Chem and Electrical Engineers to develop Spear like models to automate investing. The full circle was made when investors started using the stats models to look for emperical data.
                I mention this because James saw this and applied these models to BB stats.
                I believe in use of sets of Diff Eq. Pre algebra? Not so much.

            2. Troy

              something I like also is out of 25 starts 19 went for 5 innings or greater

        2. Nathan

          I was being realistic, I just think the fact that he was 14-1 with a 3.57 era was being undervalued by some

  4. Justin

    Not sure why you would want to see more of Soto. Since his ROTY, he hasn’t done anything. I would have like to see more Colvin and honestly I wouldn’t mind putting a package around Vitters and a couple other names to go after a David Wright or the Indians 3rd base prospect. Seems like the Rangers would give up Olt if the right package came with it so why not? Huge upgrade from Vitters.

  5. ssckelley

    I do not understand the “more for Soto” statement either. I thought the FO did well getting what they did for him.

    1. J-Nasty

      They did do well. His trade value was at an all time low when they dealt him. I think we got an even better deal now getting Loux. Not sure what the PTBNL will end up being.

  6. lou brock lives

    Kyle Kaminska RHP – best starter in Arizona Fall League this year left unprotected by Pirates for Rule V draft – Luke / Brett what say you ?

    1. Myles

      Good peripherals, I’d take a gamble for sure.

    2. J-Nasty

      I might be mistaken, but I believe he has struggled as a reliever. I don’t think he would hang as an MLB starter for an entire season. Not sure he would have much value hiding in the pen for the season.

    3. BWA

      He was pretty terrible last year in AA and AAA

      1. Myles

        Good K/BB, he’s not a world-beater but not terrible.

  7. TonyP

    Anyone seen a top 10 or 20 list left unprotected after yesterday’s deadline yet?

    1. Kyle

      Little early for that, and it’d be awfully subjective.

      Only guy I’ve seen so far I like is this guy from the Red Sox:

      http://www.soxprospects.com/players/fields-josh.htm

    2. North Side Irish

      The guys at Cubs Den put together a list of some options the Cubs may look at…not a comprehensive list though as it focuses largely on systems the FO knows well.

      http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/11/early-look-at-rule-5-draft-red-sox-duo-intriguing-as-cubs-may-look-at-familiar-systems/

      1. Kyle

        Yes, please, to Shields, as I’ve already said.

        Hazelbaker I’d say “maybe” to if they thought a year in the Campana role wouldn’t hurt his development too much.

        Don’t see much else I like there.

  8. ETS

    Assuming he isn’t traded, can we claim Verdugo in 10 days?

    1. Kyle

      We can. But we’d have to find a 40-man roster spot for him.

      1. ETS

        I think I’d rather have this guy than coleman.

        1. Kyle

          They both pitched in the PCL last season, which helps for comparison purposes:

          Verdugo: 7.8 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9
          Coleman: 8.1 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9

          Coleman’s probably the better pitcher right now, and they’re the same age, but Verdugo is at least a lefty.

          Six of one, half dozen of the other.

  9. Frank

    6th overall pick in 2010 huh. Perhaps he’ll make up for the fact that we flushed our own 1st round pick down the toilet that year.

  10. Fastball

    Well. I was a pitcher for a long time and I like W-L records. I like my ERA too. Reason why I like Wins and Losses is because if you are a good pitcher and you don’t throw a slow / long game where everyone falls asleep playing behind you. Well you win more. It’s proven if your a good pitcher who doesn’t leave your defense standing around they will play better on offense too. The whole tone of the game goes in your favor and you win more. I had some pretty incredible W vs L records. Only lost 2 games in High School and I started every game all 4 years. Pitched about 12 games a season in High School never had an ERA over 1.50 and was All State twice and pitched and won 2 state championships. Then did it in the Big Ten before I got hurt. I was drafted 3 times. I know a lot about pitching. I have coached for a very long time. If you remember Justin Jones I taught him how to pitch when he was a little kid all the way through high school and AAU. I am old school but I know what I am talking about and I don’t believe all the stats. I can look at a kid and figure him out pretty quick. So I appreciate the stats guru’s but I don’t believe in them as much as some do .

    1. J-Nasty

      Congrats on being such a stud.

  11. DocPeterWimsey

    It’s proven if your a good pitcher who doesn’t leave your defense standing around they will play better on offense too.

    No study has ever demonstrated that for professional players. Now, people might believe it, but that’s all it is: a belief.

    (And as for what happens in high school baseball, well, that is about as relevant to professional baseball as beer league softball is; after all, the vast majority of the guys who play are qualified only to play beer-league ball after they are 18!)

  12. Diesel

    So are we now waiting for two PTBNL from the rangers?

    1. J-Nasty

      we have been since we traded Soto at the deadline. It is the same PTBNL.

    2. TonyP

      Brett said it was the same PTBNL last night… (I asked the same thing)

    3. hansman1982

      Possibly resetting the time limitation on it

  13. North Side Irish

    BA posted a quick overview of the trade and had this to say about Loux:

    “Loux reached Double-A in 2012 and made all his starts without incident, showing a simple, repeatable delivery and an idea of how to pitch. He works downhill, sits 90-92 mph and commands his fastball to both sides of the plate, though neither his velocity nor his secondary pitches separate him from the pack. His average slider and curveball blend together, but most scouts like his changeup best and think he knows how and when to use it. He profiles as an innings-eating No. 5 type on a good team.”

    Pretty similar to what is in Brett’s article. I especially like the parts about “a simple, repeatable delivery” and “inning-eating”.

    1. Kyle

      Strikes as Randy Wells with less sink. Or Casey Coleman with slightly better command.

      1. ssckelley

        Or a Roger Clemens with less speed.

        1. Kyle

          And movement. And command. And inferior secondary pitches.

          1. ssckelley

            I cannot believe you took the bait on that one.

  14. Fastball

    Always nice being on here with the know it alls.

    1. DarthHater

      Wow, sounds like everybody’s really getting warmed up today to bitch at the relatives over Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. You know it’s a hot day on the blog when i’m the level-headed guy. ;-)

  15. terry

    I agree with you fastball. The stat believers will argue win losses, aren’t important, and in the same breath talk about all these new stats that didn’t exist in the older days. Win record is important, if it weren’t it wouldnt be kept track of. But your never win a debate with any no it all types. Many sites have them. That is why I rarely ever comment. Gotta keep the blood pressure down.

    1. hansman1982

      W-L were tracked because they didn’t have a century of data to tell them that W-L were not an indicator of skill, similar to RBIs they are a team function. A pitcher can throw 9 innings of 1 hit ball – if that ball is a HR and his offense doesn’t do anything for him then he gets the loss when 9 times out of 10 that would be a win.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      Win record is important, if it weren’t it wouldnt be kept track of.

      See “Reasoning, circular.” :-)

      1. Lou

        So, basically we should do away with a pitcher’s win-loss record? I guessing that’s what you’re saying? Should we do away with win-loss records of teams then? Just wondering?

        1. Kyle

          Just because they are homonyms does not mean they are the same thing. Team wins and pitching wins are very, very different.

          1. Lou

            And yet College Football doesn’t use wins as a measure for who plays in the final game of the season? If that were the case Boise St should have played in the title game with a 14-0 record in 2009?

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          See “Reasong, Fallacious” A “win” for a team and a “win” for a pitcher are two distinct albeit related outcomes. For a team, it’s an absolute: the team with more runs wins. For pitchers, there is a big element of arbitrariness: the pitcher that happens to be on the mound when the team has the lead for good after the 5th inning wins.

          And that’s the crux: wins and loses are like RBI, i.e., a team stat that is much more loosely correlated with actual performance than several other key stats. There is an old saying: you get that for which you pay. It’s sort of true: with pitchers, you get the GB:FB ratios, the K-rates and the walk-rates. Pay for that. You don’t get the W-L records. So, don’t pay based on that.

          So, if you want to know how much a pitcher is contributing to his team’s wins, do not use W-L record. That’s not telling you the story you need to know.

          1. Lou

            But what if we were to remove divisions with the Astros now in the AL, 15 to 15 teams, and base who gets in on win percentage? Does that make wins absolute? It seems to me that wins ARE the absolute measure because they are a byproduct of divisional play. It certainly would reduce any argument against Trout for MVP this year, that’s for sure.

  16. lou brock lives

    For all you stat crazy guys look up a pitcher who played for the Pirates in his prime named Jose DeLeon RH starter who I believe 1 year went 2-18 and had a ERA around 2.00. He spent some time with the White Sox later on in his career. Just goes to show you you will not find all the answers on a computer screen – sometimes a guy just does not play on a decent team & gets no run support.

    1. King Jeff

      Is that the same DeLeon that pitched for the Cards? If it is, then F*** that guy!!!!

    2. DarthHater

      I remember watching Jose DeLeon at Wrigley in 1984 or 85. He was awesome. And the really amazing thing was that his catcher appeared to have an even better arm (Tony Pena). :-D

    3. Patrick W.

      Jose DeLeon never had such a season. In 1985 he went 2-19 for the Pirates. His ERA+ was 77. This should be the perfect example of why advanced statistics matter. It proves that in most cases advanced stats can predict how good or bad a guy is as a pitcher. In 1985 DeLeon about every 4th batter got on base against him.

      1. Patrick W.

        And his ERA was 4.70

    4. AB

      “Just goes to show you you will not find all the answers on a computer screen”

      A computer is useful for looking up information, like say, Jose DeLeon’s career statistics, rather than just making them up out of thin air.

  17. Rich

    My question is actually 2 part. One is will there be a 2nd PTBNL so the Rangers now owe us 2 players (One for Soto/ Ones for this deal)? And the 2nd is will the PTBNL in the Soto deal be a top 25 prospect?

  18. Alex

    The Cubs just signed Brian Bogusevic and a couple of other minor leaguers.

    1. Alex
    2. Kyle

      I hope Tennessee needed some corner outfield organizational filler, because Bogusevic doesn’t even belong in Iowa.

      1. Alex

        Yeah, maybe. He does have some major league experience. AND he doesn’t take up a 40 man roster spot.

  19. Luke

    Loux was No 20 on the Rangers list for Baseball America pre-2012 and was listed as a starting pitcher. Brigham was listed as a reliever, and was unranked.

    For whatever that’s worth.

  20. North Side Irish

    BA posted a list of Rule 5 possibilities…they listed Rays LHP Braulio Lara as having the most upside on the list. Big FB and a hard curve, but he struggled at Hi-A last season. He’s not overly big, but what little I’ve found on him says he’s got great stuff.

    They also mentioned RHers Ryan Chaffee (LAA) and Randy Henry (TEX) as guys who could stick in a bullpen now. I just don’t know enough about any of these guys to say if they could stick all year.

    1. nkniacc13

      If the Cubs select Heny and decide not to keep him could he be the ptbn?

  21. Carne Harris

    I like Loux better than Brigham straight up AND we still get a PTBNL which is nice. (Though that player might just be from the original deal, I can’t remember.) Wonder if that revisiting of the trade takes into account not only the Brigham injury but also the fact that Texas seemed pretty happy with Soto. If so, thanks, Geo.