Alex Lange Could Be Rare Homegrown Cubs Starter
Righthander Alex Lange came as advertised as a polished Friday-night starter for a College World Series program. One year after being drafted in the first round out of Louisiana State, Lange still shows the Cubs fast-track potential.
“He wants to be in the big leagues today,” scouting director Matt Dorey said, “and I don’t blame him.” Where the Cubs projected more from Brendon Little—a high-upside junior college lefthander—Lange figured to move through the Cubs’ system at a different pace. Together, they are the highest-drafted pitchers of the Theo Epstein regime, Little at No. 27 and Lange at No. 30 last year.
Lange was showing why the Cubs felt he could skip a level and handle high Class A Myrtle Beach, where the 22-year-old had posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP through nine starts.
“We have to kind of reel him back a little bit and work on his individual player plan,” Dorey said. “It’s making sure he’s hyper-focused on checking those developmental boxes that we know he’ll need, so when he gets to the big leagues, he’ll stay.”
The Cubs felt Lange possessed one of the best curveballs in the 2017 draft class and have stressed the importance of further developing his changeup, commanding his fastball and repeating his delivery. Through 47 innings this season, Lange put up 41 strikeouts against nine walks and shown signs of the three-pitch mix that could someday make him the rare homegrown starter at Wrigley Field.
“He has such a unique arsenal that you could—if you wanted to—get a little bit more aggressive at some point and try to move him into the pen to help a short-term need,” Dorey said. “But I think the organization as a whole really values him as a starter, and we’re seeing flashes of that.”
Farm director Jaron Madison said the Cubs are still finalizing the details of a rehab program and timeline for righthander Adbert Alzolay, who recently strained a lat muscle with Triple-A Iowa, but the expectation is that he will pitch again this season. After watching righthander Jose Albertos struggle at low Class A South Bend, where he ran up a 19.38 ERA in 13 innings, the Cubs sent the 19-year-old back to extended spring training for a reset and a chance to work on mechanical changes before heading out to a short-season affiliate.