The Chicago Cubs have added three intriguing pitchers to their 40-man roster and in doing so they protected the trio of hurlers from the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
Left-handed reliever Bailey Horn, along with right-handed pitchers Porter Hodge and Michael Arias are now on the Cubs 40-man roster, which is also full following the transactions.
The Cubs acquired lefty Bailey Horn back in 20221, when they traded veteran reliever Ryan Tepera to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for the Auburn product. Horn was selected in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft, taken with the 142nd overall pick.
At this point, Horn may be the closest of the three pitchers to make it to the major leagues. The 25-year-old began the 2023 season at Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies. He was fantastic and after six appearances that consisted of 19 strikeouts in 9 innings, Horn was promoted to Triple-A. During his time with the Iowa Cubs, Horn continued to put up solid strikeout numbers out of the bullpen, but the left-hander was not able to escape command issues.
Horn made 39 appearances at Triple-A, where he recorded a 4.58 ERA in 53 innings, striking out 59 and walking 29. Lower the walks and Horn will be a viable bullpen option for Craig Counsell in 2024.
At first glance you might be raising an eyebrow when you look at Porter Hodge’s numbers from his 2023 season. The right-hander made 12 starts and 35 total appearances in which he recorded a 5.13 ERA in 80.2 innings with the Tennessee Smokies at Double-A.
However, as is the case with several players, numbers don’t always tell the entire story.
The 22-year-old was picked in the 13th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of high school. It looked like Hodge put it all together in 2022, when he posted a 2.63 ERA in 109.1 innings, making 24 starts between the two levels at Single-A Ball.
Things didn’t go particularly well in 2023, but there’s a reason the Cubs are protecting Hodge from possibly being taken away from another team this offseason. His spin rates are off the charts and Hodge has consistently shown the ability to miss bats. He struck out 103 batters this past season, averaging nearly 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
You put up those numbers, you’re going to get more chances than others.
Young righty Michael Arias was one of the best stories in the Cubs farm system in 2023. The 21-year-old used to be a shortstop and barely had any minor league experience in the states prior to this year. Arias was able to dominate hitters at Single-A with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, striking out nearly 14 batters per nine innings in 11 starts before he was promoted to the South Bend Cubs.
Arias had an electric debut at Advanced A-Ball, striking out seven batters in his first four innings of work.
Arias has a great fastball, which reached the upper 90s in 2023 and he also has a fantastic changeup to go along with it.
He still has plenty of room to grow as a pitcher, but the pieces are there for Arias to develop into a top arm in the Cubs minor league system.