The youth movement for the Chicago Cubs continues. Young pitching abounds in the minors, where Jose Albertos hopes to show his potential.
It is difficult to know what you are going to get out of players under the age of 21. Many of them have yet to fill out their body frame. And, the level of competition they had faced may not be equal. Regardless, the Chicago Cubs selected several young pitchers over the last few years.None of these pitchers are unknown more to fans and scouts than Jose Albertos.
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Signed out of Mexico in the 2015 International Free Agency period, the Cubs saw enough in Albertos to offer a $1.5 million deal. At only 18 years old now, Albertos must have something to watch for this season. In fact, he does, which is why he is number ten on our prospect list.
Of all the pitchers on our list, none have the stuff of Albertos. Physically speaking, at 6′ 1″ and 185 lbs, he looks like a scrawny teenager. But step into the batters’ box with him on the mound and prepare for the heat. While most of his fastballs stay within the mid-90’s, he hit 97 and 98 mph on several occasions in his Rookie ball appearance. And, for his age, he shows surprising command of the pitch. His motion looks easy and the front office hopes that leads to less physical wear.
But, he is more than just a flame-throwing kid. Albertos already commands a change-up that is rated 55/80 by scouts. He proved to be able to use it, keeping hitters off-balance at the plate. Plus, there is a solid slider in his arsenal to help disguise the fastball. He began working on a curveball last year, and already shows promise of controlling it at a 73-75 mph speed.
There are two large concerns with Albertos. First of all, there is his age. While promising stuff is in his possession, can his body hold up? And, since he is still growing, will the changes in his body force mechanical adjustments and affect his control? The Cubs hope the answer is no, but then there is what happened in 2016.
Albertos only made one appearance in the Arizona League in 2016. For those of you that my use of the word “appearance” in the above section was a typo, you would be mistaken. One game and only four innings. They were impressive, allowing one hit, one walk, and striking out seven, but that is all we saw. He experienced forearm stiffness after that game, which is not rare but concerning all the same.
We simply do not know what to expect, and that is the second issue. Scouts say he is capable of being a front-line starter. His performance confirmed that. But was shutting him down due to stiffness simply being cautious, or is it a sign of things to come? Regardless, expecting Albertos to make the majors before 2019 is a stretch. If he performs as well as fellow Mexican Julio Urias, the Cubs are in good shape.