Five In-House options to help the Cubs


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Alzolay is a top pitching prospect (Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports)
Alzolay is a top pitching prospect (Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports)

CHICAGO -- Whether you have played one game or an entire season, there is always room for improvement. Or at least, there are managers always looking for ways to improve their ballclub. Joe Maddon certainly would qualify. The mad-scientist manager at the helm for the North Siders has always thrived on moving guys around and trying out new players at different positions. While the season is still young, there could be some improvements to be had in all aspects of the Cubs’ game. While some may look to making a splashy trade or waiting for next year’s coveted free-agent class, there are options to help the Cubs this year. And you may not have to look farther than the Cubs’ farm system. Although gutted in comparison to their top 10 farm system they boasted of the past five years, the Cubs still have some intriguing names on the farm that may be able to help them down the stretch. Here are five possibilities.

Adbert Alzolay: Alzolay stands out as one of the best pitchers that the Cubs have developed on their own. Theo Epstein has clearly taken an approach that consists of spending early draft picks on hitting and then acquiring proven, big-league pitching via free agency. Alzolay, however, was signed as an amateur out of Venezuela and has been groomed in the Cubs system for the past five years. The Cubs took it slow with Alzolay this spring in hopes of keeping his arm fresh for the upcoming season. He has a lively arm with a fastball that can get into the upper-90’s. If he can command his changeup, he could see time in the Cubs bullpen this year as they try to transition him into a big-league starter.

Dillon Maples: Once a forgotten prospect, Dillon Maples has quietly made his way through the farm system as a reliever. After struggling as a starter, the Cubs made him a full-time reliever following the 2014 season. He has a flaming fastball and a plus cutter that profiles nicely for a late-inning reliever. If he can command his curveball and work off of the fastball, he can be a real cog in the Cubs bullpen. Look for Maples to get a shot in Chicago if he can get off to a good start this year at Iowa.

Ryan Court: You may not have heard of Ryan Court until this spring, but once he broke out in big league camp, he caught the eyes of everybody, including Joe Maddon. Maddon had nothing but great things to say of Court after he was sent down to Iowa following a fantastic spring showing. The Elgin, IL native batted .360 in 50 spring at-bats and posted an OPS of 1.118. Finding time for Court to play in Chicago will be tough with Javy Baez and Addison Russell slotted up the middle for the foreseeable future. But he can play anywhere on the infield, a trait that Joe Maddon loves in his players. If anything should happen to any of the Cubs infielders (knock on wood), Court may very well see some time in Chicago.

Chris Gimenez: Even after losing the spring battle for the backup catcher role, Chris Gimenez still figures to see some time with the big-league club this year. Partially brought in to catch for Yu Darvish, Gimenez can provide much more to the Cubbies than that. Despite owning a career .218 average, Gimenez can help groom guys like Taylor Davis and be there in an emergency role should Willson Contreras or Victor Caratini go down. While his numbers aren’t sexy, he can provide experience and knowledge that may prove to be just as handy (cough cough David Ross). Look for Gimenez to be ready to go for the Cubs should the need arise.

Jen-Ho Tseng: Tseng will probably get the earliest chance to contribute for the Cubs out of anyone on this list. He has already logged a start for the Cubs and could be extremely useful out of the bullpen considering the heavy workload that has been needed from those guys this year. He can make a spot start as well should the Cubs feel the need to give the rotation an extra day of rest. Tseng has been named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year twice, both in 2014 and 2017. Coming off of a year in which he posted a 2.54 ERA between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, it will not be easy keeping Tseng in the minors much longer.

The Cubs are one of the most well-rounded teams in the majors. But as we all know, the season is long, and there may be a need somewhere on the roster due to injuries or underperformance. And while the Cubs do not possess the farm system that they once did, they still hold some names that could make their way to the North Side of Chicago at some point this year.

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