Cubs Minor League Daily: Getting to Know New Cubs Pitcher Justin Hancock

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Cubs Minor League Daily: Getting to Know New Cubs Pitcher Justin Hancock

Chicago Cubs

Matt Szczur has left the organization, and in return the Cubs have acquired right handed pitcher Justin Hancock from San Diego. Hancock is a 6’4″ right hander who (per multiple reports) consistently works in the low 90s and a has a pretty decent fastball. His secondary pitches, slider and changeup in this case, are rated as anything from promising to lackluster. He does get a nice downhill plane on the ball, and that should result in a lot of ground balls. And sometimes it does.

The problem with Hancock is his control. All too often he is missing the strike zone and getting behind in the count. That allows hitters to ignore his breaking stuff. When hitters are able to sit on the fastball, unless that fastball is just overpowering, bad things are going to happen for the pitcher.

For the Cubs, he is a project. If the Cubs can find a way to allow him to hit the strike zone with regularity, he could turn into an effective back of the rotation starter. Otherwise, the Cubs may keep him in the bullpen full time (where San Diego moved him this year), and see if that resulting uptick in velocity and narrowing of secondary pitches gives him enough of a edge to get hitters out in relief.

If Hancock does turn into a regular part of the Cubs rotation or bullpen picture, it will be of great credit to the Cubs scouting and player development operations. Note: Hancock was drafted by the Padres in 2011, when that organization was headed up by none other than Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Memphis 15, Iowa 9
Iowa led 9-7 when the ninth inning began. You can do the math from there.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Tennessee 8, Jackson 2
In the five game fight for first place, the first win goes to the Smokies.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Pelicans had the day off.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 7, Burlington 5
The Cubs had to come from behind in this one.

Other Notes

  • We look at the Szczur trade as “The Cubs dealt Szczur; what did they get for him?” But if we look at it the other way around, we get another (albeit minor) indication of the inflated price of pitching these days. What is the value of a struggling minor league veteran with some good stuff but a history of control problems? How about a good defensive outfielder who could be a quality fourth of fifth outfielder for a lot of teams. The price of a AA/AAA project pitcher is a quality Major League bench player. I don’t doubt that Szczur’s status (had to be traded or waived) dropped his trade value some, but given the interest in him, probably not that much. I think this is just another indicator that pitching, right now, is really expensive on the trade market.
  • Once again, Des Moines’ Tommy Birch has good info on the Iowa Cubs. It turns out that Victor Caratini has been working on his swing, on adjusting it to allow him to pull the ball with more sucess in particular. That might… too early to say for sure… account for Caratini’s strong start to the season and might… too early to say for sure… upgrade his offensive profile enough that he could have a better shot that I currently suspect of taking a major league starting catcher job one day.
  • In that Birch article, someone compares Caratini to Victor Martinez. It is a nice compliment, but I wouldn’t be expecting Caratini to post a 30+ fWAR career.
  • That’s nine homers for Happ.

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Author: Luke Blaize

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.