Prioritizing pitchers can be a bit more difficult than hitters. With hitters, regular at-bats provide nearly constant measuring sticks. The pitcher that misses time in his development seasons gets to be a bit of a more delicate prediction. They only get assessed once through the rotation, at the most, anyway. Here is a look at 40-man roster pitchers Adbert Alzolay and Oscar De La Cruz, who have both missed some development time.
Neither received a significant signing bonus. De La Cruz received $85,000, and Alzolay $10,000. (Hold that thought.) Both hit the prospect radar in 2017, though De La Cruz was less anonymous in 2016. Both were added to the 40 man roster in November of 2017, and the wait began. Alzolay managed less than 40 innings in 2018, due to injury. De La Cruz’ season was close to 80 before being suspended. Neither were ready this April, but both earned wins in the upper-minors on May 22nd.
Both represent mid-90s velocity with a pitch mix. The obvious questions are what to expect from Alzolay and De La Cruz, and when? The when would be when they are the most likely bullpen call-up options, in a pen with many current veteran selections. A level more advanced, Alzolay gets the first chance, all things being even. What would be needed for a promotion for either? Continued success, and an opening.
Either, or both, could be leverage MLB relief options, perhaps of the 40-pitch, multiple-inning variety. With their inability to fire significant innings until now, their legitimacy as starting pitchers is unclear. As is their place in trade negotiations. Either could be better for longer at a better rate than who they’d fetch in a trade. Or, either or both could wash out. I have no idea where to spot either on a trade list.
If you buy the talent of either or both, they represent useful extension targets, if they pan out. Neither has had an even remotely large payday, yet. Which is where the signing bonus leaps back in. Alzolay is from Venezuela. De La Cruz is a Dominican Republic native. Having not hit a big payday yet, either or both would seem more likely to accept a team-friendly expansion at some point than a player with more banked.
Having not yet been guilty of a suspension, Alzolay might be the preferable hold. The same would make him a richer trade chip, as well. I doubt anything happens for either one the next three weeks. If the resumes build, a spot will be made. Getting a look at both may be preferable by late July with the new trade limitations. The best way to get a read on either would still seem to be through I-Cubs and Smokies broadcasts, and comments from team announcers.
Both loom as useful summer additions. As they arrive, treat either with the standard leeway that should be accorded any neophyte pitcher. Until umpiring crews are used to them, the needed edge pitches might go the way of the hitter. Conversely, to avoid the costly trade prices to acquire veteran arms (that may or may not thrive), the fans should join the brass in the habit of welcoming the unknown. Alzolay and De La Cruz could combine to provide two eventual leverage arms for less than $100,000 in signing bonuses, two quality trade pieces, or one of both.