The Chicago Cubs are adding another big reclamation arm to the bullpen mix – as they do! – according to Jon Morosi.
This time, it’s a minor league signing for righty James Bourque:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 18, 2020
Bourque, 27, hasn’t had much time in the big leagues, but once he was converted to a reliever in the minors, Bourque’s performance exploded:
Before 2019, after his move to bullpen, Bourque was ranked by FanGraphs as the 19th best prospect in a thin Nats system, and was listed as having a fastball that sat 94-97, and topped at 99:
Bourque and his beat-walking cop mustache ascended through the minor league ranks after he moved to the bullpen and shelved his changeup back in 2018. The Nationals forced him to work only with his fastball during 2018 instructs, and liked enough of what they saw that they put him on the 40-man. He’s a stiff, upright, arm strength relief prospect.
This year in very limited duty, Bourque sat only about 94 mph, so I’m not sure if there was a physical issue, a small sample issue, or a weird ramp-up issue. His season ended in late September with a right elbow strain, so it’s possible he was dealing with something and trying to pitch through it? In any case, if he’s getting an invite to big league camp, we can presume it wasn’t a matter of getting surgery.