Righty reliever Ethan Roberts authored the best feel-good story of early 2022 when he broke camp with the big club after showing off his excellent stuff in spring training. The party didn’t last very long, however, as Roberts struggled with control over 7.2 innings in nine appearances and was sent to Triple-A Iowa to work things out. After recording just one out in his first game with the I-Cubs, he suffered an elbow injury and had to undergo season-ending surgery.
Roberts worked his way back and appeared to be throwing well during his rehab, but his hold on a roster spot became tenuous when the Cubs added three other young pitchers to the 40-man roster. As such, Roberts was among those who were non-tendered to clear a little space. After assessing his options, he’s back with the Cubs on a minor-league deal that will allow him to work his way back to Chicago.
If he can put it together, we’re talking about a mid-90s fastball with a series of breaking pitches that have some of the highest spin rates in the game. Roberts goes heavy with the cutter and has a frisbee slider that sweeps across the zone like it’s possessed, then he’s got a curve that bends the laws of physics. He should be at a full go this spring, giving him a great shot to carve out a role in a bullpen that still needs a lot of help.