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.
Michael Arias was a 2021 DSL signee. The Cubs signed him after the Blue Jays, who had him as a shortstop, released him. He played a year in the DSL with both the Red and Blue Cubs, was promoted to the Arizona Complex League in 2022 and then played with Myrtle Beach to finish off the year. He was assigned to South Bend in June 2023 and is in all likelihood going to spend some quality time there before moving on to Triple-A Iowa. From there, who knows? But he has shown enough promise that the Cubs protected him from the Rule 5 Draft by putting him on the 40-man roster.
In his brief minor-league career, Arias has a 5-15 record, sports a 3.99 ERA, and has walked 87 men in 121⅔ innings. He has struck out 155, though, so he has that going for him. He would seem to have a live arm.
North Side Bound had a good writeup on him not long ago, and they remarked on the sudden-ness of his development, saying, in part:
“he’s able to command his fastball that floats up there between 95 and 98. He’s now able to command secondaries for strikes. His four seamer up in the zone has some nice arm side horizontal movement to it. His 2 seamer acts more like a splitter and dives down and in to a righty while his slider just eats up lefties and righties.”
If he’s going to be a reliever, he doesn’t really need an off-speed pitch. Those three offerings sound just fine, and there’s a little bit of video on that page. He does have one, though. MLB.com has him 12th, and they say:
“Arias works from a nearly sidearm slot, unleashing 94-98 mph fastballs with heavy sinking and tailing action. His changeup can be a plus pitch at times, arriving in the upper 80s with fade and sink. His mid-80s slider can be tough on right-handers when he stays on top of it and creates some bite, though it can flatten out when he gets underneath it.”
“His future role is unclear because Arias is still relatively new to pitching and his pure stuff is much more impressive than his consistency and control. His low slot and whippy arm action create deception yet also hamper his ability to throw strikes. He has the upside of a quality starter or a high-leverage reliever but will need plenty of innings to develop.”
I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think we’ll see this guy in Chicago any time soon. He’s going to be in the lab.
Here’s a little tease, though:
I like it. We... well, you know.