Corey Black, righthanded pitcher, 5-11 175
Drafted by the Yankees in the fourth round in 2012
Rule 5 Eligible: 2015
Cubs Comp: Dave Smith
By the time mid-July 2013 rolled around, even I had become numb to Alfonso Soriano-to-the-Yankees rumors. When the trade happened, with Corey Black coming in return, I had to chuckle. He was the three things that had begun to drive people up a tree. He was in A-Ball, he was an non-hyped pitcher, and he was from Faulkner University. (Without looking it up, in which state is Faulkner University?)
Not only that, with Tampa (Yankees) in the Florida State League, he had a WHIP of 1.5. Gah.
The Yankees had a few hyped prospects, but they wouldn't give them up, especially since they are up against the Luxury Tax limit. Black was far enough away, and had enough apparent weakness to send off for a veteran outfielder on a hot streak.
With Daytona, he started five games, averaging five innings. He won four of them, allowing half of his eight earned runs in his first outing, the only one he didn't win. Twice, he beat his former team. He figures to land in Tennessee this season, as a starting pitcher. He may qualify more as a reliever long-term, as he has two main pitches (mid-90s fastball, and a curve that gets most of his strikeouts. If he could develop a MLB-average changeup, he could be a starter.
Another part of the chuckle was that he was drafted in 2012, hence had only become trade-eligible in the few weeks prior to the deal. The Cubs will have two more complete seasons to evaluate his status before he is Rule 5 eligible. By then, he could already be pitching in Wrigley.
One thing I learned about him this off-season relates to a Twitter exchange. He was bragging about the bats he received in the mail. I snarked that he's a pitcher, so they'll be of no use. He continues that in Double-A Tennessee, he'll have to hit. Also, growing up, he was a hitter, and loves to swing the bat. Or something like that.
Not only does he throw hard, and have a nice curve ball, he hasn't incinerated his arm growing up.
While none of us know what the future will be for Black in pro ball, he has improved in his short tenure as a Cub. He will have the same pitching coach (Storm Davis) as last year. I'd like to see him get a couple spring outings with the big club. He might get pounded, but as a college pick out of Alabama's Faulkner University, he probably chuckles at people who doubt his game.