Chicago Cubs Pitching Prospects Jeremiah Estrada and Brendon Little Are Coming Up This Week!

More young relievers coming up to the Chicago Cubs!

The one upside of Justin Steele and Adrian Sampson not traveling to Toronto with the Cubs because of COVID-19 restrictions (unvaccinated players can’t cross the border) is that we get a couple pitchers coming up for the series to make their big league debuts!

Per multiple reports, relievers Jeremiah Estrada and Brendon Little will be joining the team for the trip to Toronto. As replacement players for guys going on the Restricted List, they don’t have to be added to the 40-man roster just yet, so this is something of a freebie for them and for the Cubs. Here’s hoping both get in some game action. (In case you were wondering why the Cubs get a replacement for Sampson, who wasn’t going to start in the series anyway, it’s because he was pulled so early today. Apparently, since he didn’t go 4.0 innings, the Cubs get to claim he might’ve pitched in Toronto, and thus they get a replacement.)

Estrada, 23, is hopefully a well-known name to you at this point having so thoroughly broken out this year. From High-A up to Triple-A this season, Estrada has just gotten better and better as the season goes on. Overall on the year, the righty posted a 1.30 ERA (1.93 FIP) over 48.1 innings spread across the three levels. The strikeout rate is a comical 40.4% and the walk rate is 10.4%. Among minor leaguers with at least 40 innings pitched, that’s the 13th biggest spread between strikeout rate and walk rate.

Estrada was the Cubs’ 6th rounder in the 2017 draft, and he now sports an upper-90s fastball and nasty slider. It’s a protoypical back-end relief arm, and he figures to be a very good one for years to come (once he settles into the big leagues, of course).

Little, 26, was also drafted in 2017 (first round), and has a 4.15 ERA (3.75 FIP) over 39.0 Triple-A innings this year. The lefty’s stuff is big-league-capable, but he’s not been getting as many strikeouts as you’d like to see this year (23.8%), and has been walking too many (11.6%). He’s been a lot better in July and August, though, posting a scant 1.06 ERA with a 23.5% K rate and 5.9% BB rate. The separator for him? He’s currently sporting a ridiculous 62.6% groundball rate. My lord. That could be special with a good infield defense behind him.

Both pitchers are Rule 5 eligible this year, so the Cubs have to make 40-man roster decisions on them. Well, on Little, at least. Estrada is an unholy lock to be protected this year, barring a catastrophic injury.

Fun note from Bryan: