Prospect Sleeper: Could The Cubs Have A Breakout Pitching Prospect In Jose Paulino?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When we think of top prospects developed by the Chicago Cubs it’s hitters that come to mind.  Not only do you have the group that led the team to a World Series title, but the next wave is filled with high upside bats (Eloy Jimenez, Ian Happ, etc.).  It’s easy to get distracted and overlook the pitching prospects, and that could be the case when it comes to Jose Paulino.  While he’s not the team’s top pitching prospect, and didn’t even find a spot in our Top 10 rankings for the team, is it possible he emerges by season’s end?

The 21-year old southpaw signed out of the Dominican Republic put up strong numbers across two levels of Single-A last season, albeit in relatively small sample sizes:

LevelInningsERAWHIPStrikeoutsWalksGO/AIO
Low-A35.00.510.633731.64
Single-A40.03.151.1532101.50

All told that’s an 8.3 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and 1.56 GO/AO, demonstrating the entire skill set we generally look for from a pitching prospect.  The control was a significant step forward, after posting a 3.4 BB/9 at Low-A in ’15, so that’s going to be the key to his development.  The other skills appear real, as MLB.com recently described his repertoire:

“Paulino’s best pitch is a fastball that operates at 90-92 mph and can reach as high as 96, though it’s more notable for its groundout-inducing sink than its velocity. He’s still refining his secondary pitches and is making progress with both of them. His slider shows the potential to become a solid complement to his sinker, and his changeup has the makings of an average offering.”

The other question is his size, listed at 6’2” and 165 lbs., though you would expect him to continue to fill out as he matures (and that could also lead to an uptick in velocity).  For now he’s going to get the opportunity to develop as a starting pitcher, though if he stumbles he could become a quick mover out of the bullpen.

2017 Expectation
Given the limited innings he’s thrown, chances are he starts the season back at Single-A with a promotion to High-A coming at some point.  That still puts him at least two years away (if he’s starting), though a move to the bullpen would like lead to an arrival in 2018.

Overall Outlook
While he hasn’t gotten much attention, the skills scream of a pitcher who is going to be thrust into people’s minds if he can replicate last season’s success (especially as a member of the Cubs).  A strong season should put him inside the team’s Top 10 prospects for 2018.

 

Current Grade – C+
Upside Grade – B/B+
ETA – 2019

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Baseball Reference

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
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New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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