Adding Burl Carraway to Cubs' player pool is a good idea

by - Staff Writer -
Burl Carraway is headed to South Bend
Burl Carraway is headed to South Bend

With a couple of spots left in the Cubs 60-man play pool and two days from the start of the season, Chicago has just over 24 hours to set their opening day roster while figuring out the rest at South Bend. With those few open spots available, some were beginning to wonder what the Cubs plan was and if those spots would remain unfilled in case they needed to be filled later this summer.

One of those remaining spots is about to come off the board as one of the Cubs prized rookie draft picks is on his way to South Bend to join the rest of the players in camp. Immediately when you hear that you’re probably thinking the first-round pick, Ed Howard is that player. That is not the case; however, second-round pick LHP Burl Carraway is on his way to join the Cubs roster in South Bend according to multiple reports.

Now and then, you find a gem in your draft class that could be MLB ready during his rookie season. This year it appears the Cubs have that gem in Carraway. Many Cubs fans wanted the Cubs to take Carraway in this year’s draft, but that was far from a forgone conclusion. Once he fell to the Cubs in the second round, it made it a no brainer selection as Carraway may have the most MLB ready arm of any college pitcher in his class.

The Cubs second-rounder will get some much needed big-league experience with South Bend but could help contribute to the Major League roster this season. As a reliever who had an abbreviated college season, many scouts thought Carraway had a shot at making it to the show this season regardless of the shortened campaign. The Cubs must feel the same because they wouldn’t waste a 60-man roster spot on a pitcher they didn’t think could make an impact.

That is crazy when you consider he has been a part of this organization for just over a month, but Carraway is crazy good, so he deserves this chance. At 21 years old, Carraway was taken No. 51 overall in this year’s draft and was considered by many to be one of the most big-league ready prospects in the entire draft. He also features a plus fastball that tops out at 98, but his curve stands out even more.

Carraway is a pure reliever, and his stuff was regarded as some of the best pure stuff in the draft. However, when you draft a guy that high who doesn’t give you more than two innings, there is some risk involved. You look at his delivery and compare it to a Billy Wagner type of delivery that includes 100% max effort on every pitch. That leads to some worried about control and consistency, but when you watch him pitch, his offerings were flat out absurd.

There was even one scout that said Carraway is a once in a decade type of arm (reliever) and someone the Cubs haven’t seen in over ten years. We all know this season will be fun and exciting to watch, and every move a team makes will be under the microscope. However, adding Carraway to the roster may not be a bad move for the Cubs for a couple of reasons.

The Cubs bullpen continues to be a work in progress: Chicago lost three key pieces from their pen a season ago in Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, and Pedro Strop. That means that there are three spots up for grabs, but additional spots long term as several players are under contract through this season. The Cubs need to be thinking about their pitching in the future, and with a season like this now would be the perfect time to see what Carraway has. If you bring him up and he gets shelled, you know he isn’t quite ready, but if he succeeds, you have a future star.

Lack of lefties: As of now, the Cubs are counting on Kyle Ryan as the lone lefty reliever with hopes Brad Weick can return after a heart procedure earlier this spring. Chicago does have Rex Brothers as another option, but the Cubs need additional lefties in this pen. Carraway is the perfect option to fill that void. Not only does he throw hard, but has relief experience already, so this wouldn’t be anything new for him.

Carraway could be the future closer: With Craig Kimbrel signed through next season, the Cubs closer position is hopefully in good hands the next two years. However, what happens beyond that. There are many in-house closing options for the Cubs, including Michael McAvene, Brailyn Marquez, and Manuel Rodriguez. I think the plan for Marquez is to leave him as a starter for now.

While those three names are all options, Carraway should be considered on that list also. Not only does he throw hard, I compare him to Josh Hader in terms of the pitches he throws, but he has a very deceptive delivery that makes it hard for hitters to pick up the ball. He will not be a starter in this league and will never give you a ton of innings. Then again, late-game relievers never should give you tons of innings.

Carraway is precisely the type of long term closer the Cubs are looking for, and at just 21, there is plenty of time to mold him into that. The sooner he gets into game action, the better he will be because this kid has a chance to be a star.

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