Cubs Prospect Focus: Luis Devers
Photo courtesy: MiLB

Cubs Prospect Focus: Luis Devers

by - Senior Writer -

One of the best things about minor league baseball is watching unexpected players take off. You saw that in guys like Matt Mervis and Alexander Canario last season, as they will be a massive part of this team's future success. However, there were plenty of other players that had breakout campaigns last season, and a lot of them were pitchers.

When it comes to those breakout years, no one had a better year than Luis Devers, who has risen to No. 26 on the Cubs top prospect list. He takes over that spot from Chris Clarke, who was lost in this season's Rule 5 Draft. Not only did Devers have a breakout in 2022, but he took home Organizational Pitcher of the year honors to put himself in the top prospects conversation.

An international free-agent pickup in 2017, Devers got off to a slow start, as most teenagers do, before finally starting to prove himself on the mound. That slow start was more about the wins and losses than anything else, as he went 1-6 across 13 starts in 2018 despite posting a 2.60 ERA. He walked 19 and struck out 48.

In his second go around in the DSL, Devers was much better in 2019, going 4-4 with a 2.66 ERA, 14BB, and 61K. He dominated at the DSL, which forced the Cubs to bring him stateside for the ASL in 2021. Keep in mind the 2020 season was lost because of COVID, but that didn't stop Devers from continuing his strong run.

Across 11 starts in the ACL, Devers went 2-4, but his sparkling 3.33 ERA had him primed for big things in 2022. He ultimately made his full-season debut in 2021, pitching in just two games, but this past season, he showed everyone what he could become. Not only did Devers pitch in a career-high 26 games, but he made 22 starts and logged nearly 120 innings.

That is a dramatic uptick from where he is typically, but it didn't phase him at all. Across both Low-A and High-A, Devers was the best pitcher in the organization going 13-3 with an absurd 1.91 ERA. That included a 4-0 mark with a 1.05 ERA after his promotion, which shows you he got better at a higher level.

Devers also showed excellent command despite not being a hard thrower, as he walked 26 hitters this season while striking out 122. He is now 20-17 with a 2.50 ERA which has to have the Cubs and their fans excited for more.

When Devers signed, he was signed for just 30K, and no one expected much from him. Instead, he not only became the best pitcher in the 2017 international class, but could be one of the best pitchers in the entire system. The numbers indicate that he is the best, at least last season, but he still doesn't get the love and recognition he deserves.

Unlike many of the Cubs top pitching prospects, Devers is not a hard thrower and usually sits between 90-92 MPH with his heater. That isn't to say he can gain a few more miles an hour down the road, but this is where he is now, and it works for him. The biggest reason for his success thus far is an 81 MPH change-up that is very comparable to Kyle Hendricks.

It features a ton of fade and confounds both left-handers and right-handers. He throws it roughly a third of the time, increasing the effectiveness. Mix that in with his sinking fastball and a seldomly used slider around 77, and he has a nice three-pitch mix to work off of. It will be interesting to see how that stuff plays in both AA and AAA, as he will be facing better hitters in different parks.

Although a pitcher who isn't going to overpower hitters, Devers keeps the ball down and does a great job keeping them off balance with his ability to work around the plate. He is the definition of a finesse pitcher, and those guys typically need to prove themselves at the lower levels.

Not only did he prove himself, but he has dominated at every level thus far, which has to have this organization intrigued. He has a high floor as a back-of-the-rotation starter and could be more than that if he adds strength to his lanky 6-foot-3 frame and kicks his stuff up a notch. Keep an eye on this guy in 2023 if you weren't paying attention in 2022.

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