This series of Cubs prospect profiles is based on Fangraphs’ top 52 prospects list, minus the players who have already been profiled. Generally, these will be of Triple-A and Double-A players that might see the 40-man roster at some point. I’m not necessarily doing them in order and will skip around a bit.
Lefthander Bailey Horn is another guy who’s getting a little long in the tooth but doesn’t have so much mileage on his arm. His results haven’t been great, but some people still rave about his stuff and maybe it’s time to see if the lefty has the mojo or he don’t.
The Cubs got Horn from the White Sox for Ryan Tepera, who was a decent reliever and continued to be, and Horn has come up through the Cubs system to Triple-A.
In his minor-league career, he’s 11-9 with a 4.20 ERA in 99 games, mostly as a reliever. He amassed 11 holds and 7 saves during that period, pitching 173⅔ innings, with 221 strikeouts and 95 bases on balls. Fangraphs rates his fastball as 55/60, his slider at 50/55, his curve at 50/50, and his command at 40/45.
One assumes that the last part is an issue. That’s a LOT of walks. And Horn is 25 now. It’s unlikely that he’ll learn adequate control/gain command of his offerings, but that’s pretty much what the Cubs would be pinning their hopes on. Lightning in a bottle, late-bloomer, whatever you want to call it, that’s the operative principle.
He did okay in Spring Training in 2023, getting into five games and throwing 28 pitches, and he was dominant in Tennessee and slightly less so in Iowa at the close of the season.
Odds are that he’ll repeat at Triple A, but his handedness always make it possible that he’ll go North with the big club. He’s pre-arb, under team control, so he doesn’t cost much... but it’ll be a matter of diminishing returns if he doesn’t make the majors.
Here he is from the 2022 Arizona Fall League:
and a quick interview:
Bailey Horn popped in yesterday's @MLBazFallLeague's Fall-Stars game.— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) November 7, 2022
Chatted w/ Horn about his slider in AZ, which picked up 11" of sweep & only lost ~1.5 mph between 2021 and 2022. @WatchMarquee@BaseballAmerica's @GeoffPontesBA praised Horn's SL here: https://t.co/AcUQbpsDkC pic.twitter.com/z6fFbzH0Pb
Todd Johnson had good things to say about Horn. He’ll very likely be in the Spring Training mix and perhaps throw some red meat at the critics. We’ll see. The Cubs did protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, so they must see some value in the guy.
I just wish he wouldn’t walk so many people.