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Success of young Cubs pitchers has Jed Hoyer dreaming of the future

3 years agoAndy Martinez

When Jed Hoyer thinks back to the 2020 season, there is a specific moment when he recalls the sprout of a seed bursting through.

Adbert Alzolay had just been recalled from the alternate site in South Bend and pitched 4 shutout innings in relief in Pittsburgh, striking out 7 Pirate hitters. But what got Hoyer excited was the debut of Alzolay’s slider because it transformed who he was as a pitcher.

“Alzolay used to be kind of a four-seam, curveball guy. He’s now more a two-seam, slider guy,” Hoyer said Thursday afternoon.

It served as a breakthrough point for the organization and their mission to develop more homegrown pitching. Hoyer and the Cubs have made no secret their desire to produce pitching from their farm system and the benefits that come with it.

“Obviously our goal, over time, would be as you can bring up young pitchers that can produce in the big leagues. It allows you to be more payroll efficient with the rest of the payroll,” Hoyer said.

That’s why Hoyer is even more excited with what he’s seen in 2021. The pitching development is showing promise.

Already this season, he and the Cubs have seen a plethora of young and homegrown arms reach the majors and be a factor both in the rotation and in the bullpen.

Alzolay has cemented his status as a big-league starter. Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele have come up and picked up big outs in the Cubs bullpen, but Steele landed on the 10-day injured list on Friday. Dillon Maples has a 1.72 ERA in 15.2 innings of work. Tommy Nance’s “stuff” has shown the ability to play at the big-league level. Trevor Megill had a solid spring and pitched 2 shutout innings before landing on the 10-day injured list.

“Hopefully this is kind of a nice proof of concept that we’re on the right track,” Hoyer said. “Hopefully this is a start to that process not an end to that process.”

It’s a process that hasn’t always garnered the results for the Cubs.

“We haven’t had a lot of the success bringing the homegrown pitchers up to the big leagues the last few years, or during our tenure,” Hoyer said. “Bringing these guys up, having these guys have the success with real stuff, that’s been really gratifying and a testament to a lot of great work by our player development staff working with these guys.”

But now showing the ability to do that illustrates the health and status of the organization as a whole.

“You realize how important that an organization with depth and development and scouting and how important the whole is for the success for the group that’s here in the big leagues,” David Ross said. “It’s definitely been promising to me and, I think not only for this year but moving forward, I think we’ve got extremely talented kids that are gonna contribute and be a part of real winning here hopefully for a long time.”

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