When thinking about 2018 in the Cubs’ system, I get pretty excited about seeing Jose Albertos pitch. He’ll start out at low-A South Bend and since most of the teams in the Midwest League connected to the MiLB.TV network, I will be able to see nearly all of Albertos’s starts.
It’s easy to put into words why I am so giddy about this young man’s potential. As excited as I was to see Dylan Cease pitch for South Bend last year, I am even more so for Albertos. We often hear such things about max-effort guys, but it’s quite evident that the 19-year-old righty is throwing free and easy as he cuts it loose between 91 and 96 mph.
His changeup is straight-up filthy and is easily the best offspeed pitch in the Cubs’ system. His curveball is still a work in progress and will be the focal point of his development in 2018. If he can get that breaking ball over consistently, he will be at Myrtle Beach very, very quickly. And with three plus pitches that he can command at such a young age, the future is very bright.
Birthplace: Reynoso, Mexico
It’s no secret that I view Albertos as the Cubs’ top prospect. His current floor is extremely high and since he just turned 19 on November 7, he is not even close to reaching his ceiling as a top-of-the-rotation starter. He was signed as a 16-year-old out of Mexico and was shut down not long after his pro debut after experiencing elbow discomfort. As such, the Cubs have monitored him very closely, even turning to emerging technology to gauge his workload and stress on his pitching arm.
Between extended spring training, Mesa, and Eugene, Albertos threw 60+ innings last season. He stayed healthy for the most part, though there was one stretch where he missed two starts after working on his curveball. He came back, whipped out the changeup on a more regular basis, and just dominated the Northwest League in August (1.96 ERA in 5 starts).
What was most impressive was that Albertos got better as he moved up through the system. He averaged just over one strikeout per inning in 2017, but was all the way up to 10.9 K/9 over 34.2 innings with Eugene.
Heading into 2018
Albertos should have three goals for next season, the first of which is to stay healthy. He only pitched four innings 2016 and got over 60 this past season, which is a nice jump. Ideally, you would like him to have him right around 100 innings in 2018. That puts him on pace for 130 innings in 2019 and then he could arrive in Chicago the year after. And he’d still only be 21 years old at that pace.
His second goal should be to work on his curveball. While it could be your classic Uncle Charlie at times last season, it was often just as likely to be a 55 footer or to sail over the catcher’s head. But it got better the more he threw it and that is likely what is going to happen in 2018.
The final goal for this coming season would be for him to move the ball up and down in the zone. His fastball command is pretty good and he can work it in and out with ease. Now it’s a matter of changing eye levels if he doesn’t add a fourth pitch.
Fans should be extremely excited to see what Albertos can do. He is much more polished than any of the pitchers the Cubs have sent out to the mound at South Bend the last three years, including Dylan Cease. I just hope that when I go to see him pitch in person that he will still be with the team. All bets are off after Memorial Day.
Out of all the Cub prospects, Albertos is the most likely to appear on MLB.com’s Top 100 list this summer. This is perhaps oversimplifying things, but it’s all about the curve and how fast it comes along. Take a look at this video to watch exactly why he could be the next big thing in the Cubs’ system.