It took a while for the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, Adbert Alzolay, to get into action this year thanks to a side injury in Spring Training. And that wait was exacerbated by the fact that, after his 2017 breakout, he made only eight tantalizing starts at AAA last year before the rest of his season was claimed by a lat injury.
Then, when he finally did debut, it was of the still-kind-of-a-rehab-outing variety, first at High-A Myrtle Beach and then back at AAA Iowa. It didn’t feel like we were yet seeing Alzolay actually be Alzolay.
Well, in his last two starts … I kinda think maybe we’re seeing it. After dominating the last time out to the tune of 5.0 IP, 3H, 1ER, 0BB, 6K (in just 65 pitches), he did it again last night. Alzolay, 24, allowed just two hits and one earned run over his 6.0 innings of work, using just 79 pitches. He walked one (intentional) and struck out NINE.
(pic via @Dylan_Heuer)
So, combined over those last two starts, in a league where the ball is jumping, Alzolay has been ridiculous:
— Alex Cohen (@voiceofcohen) May 27, 2019
Bryan had some fun watching:
Oh my, how to tell you how good Adbert Alzolay’s curveball was today.
Gross. Disgusting. Nasty. 🤢🤢🤢
Chicago’s going to like this kid, and that pitch, an awful lot.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) May 27, 2019
The broadcasters surmised Deven Marrero thought hit-and-run here, but Imma just go ahead and assume he feel for that @adbert29 sorcery. Hey, @PitchingNinja, if the check swing is a sword, what’s this? A fly swatter? pic.twitter.com/TC8ovPjdjt
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) May 28, 2019
Alzolay, at last check, was still working on his changeup, but he’s already got a well-commanded fastball with good velocity and great late life, and a wipeout curveball. They profile as big league pitches, without question.
I mention that because, if he’s on an innings limit this year thanks to injuries the last two years, the Cubs may well consider him for a big league bullpen role later this year, both to take advantage of those bullets (and that two-pitch mix), and also to get him some big league experience before going after a starting rotation job in the coming years.
I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself based on a couple DOMINANT outings, but it’s a little different when it’s coming from a guy at AAA who does have the pedigree to be a big league starter. I guarantee the Cubs front office is doing some mental calculations about how to balance Alzolay’s development, while also taking advantage of his present ability at some point this year.
I already can’t wait for his next start.