Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Bullpen Re-Concepcion

Today the Cubs announced a series of moves that came as a mild surprise.  First, struggling lefty specialist Clayton Richard was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a blister issue.  Second, fellow bullpen dweller Adam Warren was optioned to AAA in order to stretch out and be inserted into an eventual six man rotation.  As a result of these moves, Iowa Cubs closer Spencer Patton comes up to give the Bigs another shot and, of most interest to me, Gerardo Concepcion was called up to become the new LOOGY.

Concepcion might be a somewhat familiar name, seeing as he had been considered a major bust of an international signing since he was inked out of Cuba in 2012.  Gerardo was given a 5-year, $6 million, Major League deal on the heels of a 10-3, 3.36 ERA campaign during his rookie year in the Cuban National Series.

It was widely rumored at the time that part of the reason the Cubs had targeted the left-hander was to entice fellow Cuban defector Jorge Soler, who signed with the Cubs a few months later.

Whatever the case, Gerardo had a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings - in 12 A-ball starts for the Peoria Chiefs, the shiny new prospect posted a horrid 7.36 ERA.  This performance got him outrighted off of the Major League roster and, after losing essentially all of 2013 to injury, the bust label was promptly stamped on his forehead.

Concepcion warming up during his disastrous stint in Peoria
Image courtesy of Ivy Envy

However, Concepcion did not simply mail it in after his demotion and kept plugging away from the bullpen despite mediocre, at best, numbers on the mound.  It wasn't until this year that things truly began to click for the former blue-chipper.  In ten AA appearances with Tennessee, he did not give up so much as a single run, striking out 17 while only walking 4.  After another ten games in AAA, the Cubs have decided to see what they have.  Between the two levels, lefties are batting a meek .116.

At any rate, it's hard to do worse than Clayton Richard had been doing so far in 2016 (7.31 ERA in 12.1 innings as a specialist).

Perhaps the Cubs can make something out of Gerardo yet; while he might not be much of a prospect anymore, he is still only 24 and, in case you haven't noticed, the Cubs have had some success when it comes to developing young talent over the past few seasons.  At any rate, it's nice to see a guy overcome and get his career back on track.  Welcome to the show, Gerardo!.... oh, and welcome to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection, as well.

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