The Chicago Cubs have a double-header tomorrow against the St. Louis Cardinals, and that means at least one extra starting pitcher is going to be needed.
Per David Ross today, that extra starting pitcher will be righty prospect Javier Assad. He will pitch the first game tomorrow. Adrian Sampson is expected to pitch Game Two.
Assad, 25, has not been a regular on Cubs prospects lists (except for Bryan’s most recent) even as he’s climbed the ladder, primarily because the stuff didn’t match the results through 2019, and then after the pandemic in 2021, the results weren’t there. It wasn’t until this season that Assad was getting tremendous results at Double-A and then at Triple-A *AND* the stuff had taken a big step forward. When a guy is suddenly touching 96 mph with his fastball, you notice.
At Triple-A this year, Assad has posted a 2.95 ERA over eight appearances and 36.2 innings. He’s struck out 24.8% while walking just 4.7%.
What I like most about the promotion for Assad is that it makes the 40-man decision on him early. Remember, he was one of the depth starter types on whom the Cubs had to make a Rule 5 protection decision in November.
Assuming he doesn’t completely implode from here, Assad will now be on the 40-man throughout the offseason, instead of hitting minor league free agency (and then, even if re-signed to a minor league deal, he would have been eligible for the Rule 5 Draft). If he does make it through the offseason, Javier Assad could be a nice up-down fill-in starter next year as necessary. You have to have guys like that on the 40-man, and the Cubs haven’t really had many of those types emerge from the prospect ranks over the past, say, 10 years. Good organizations always have those guys available.
Oh, and considering the significant leaps forward in actual stuff Assad has made this year? Let’s not rule out a situation where he winds up establishing himself as a solid starter or swingman next year for the big league team.
It starts tomorrow. Get him that big league exposure. See how he handles the moment. See how big league bats react to the stuff.
More Assad fun:
Lastly, he was the pitching prospect who did this a few years ago, if you remember the play: