MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list added another Cubs farmhand.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 20, 2015
Duane Underwood, Jr., the 67th overall pick in the second round of the 2012 draft, and just 20 years old, is now one of six Cubs prospects to be ranked in the top 100 (Billy McKinney, 98, was also recently added, and he’ll be updated separately; Gleyber Torres, 91, was added last month). And with Carl Edwards Jr. working primarily out of the bullpen now, Underwood is the highest rated starting pitcher on the farm.
Underwood is 6-2 with a 1.85 earned run average and 3.82 FIP with 41 strikeouts, 17 walks, a 0.93 WHIP, .192 opponents batting average in 63.1 innings over 11 starts for Myrtle Beach. He has six starts in which he has thrown at least six innings and given up two earned runs or fewer to go along with four other starts in which he went five innings and allowed one or no earned runs.
Underwood was dominant in his most recent start on Tuesday, allowing only two hits over in seven innings of work, while striking out four and walking only one.
It is a strong start to 2015 for Underwood, especially considering he is coming off the heels of a season in which he went 6-4 with a 2.50 ERA in a career-high 100.2 innings at Class-A Kane County.
A highlight from his MLB Pipeline profile:
Underwood has more upside than any Cubs starting pitching prospect. He operates at 92-95 mph with his fastball and could work in the mid-90s once he adds more strength. Both of his secondary pitches elicit swings and misses too, with his hard curveball more reliable than his changeup.
His control and command got better last season as well, giving Underwood all the ingredients necessary to become a frontline starter. If he can build on the progress he made in the second half, he could begin to advance quickly through the Minors.
Underwood isn’t anywhere near ready for The Show, but it is nice to see some progress out of one of the arms drafted by the organization.