|Posted by timahuwe on December 2, 2015 at 12:25 AM|
Prospects come in all shapes and sizes. Some are radar gun types (They throw hard.). Others are stopwatch types (They run quickly.). Some are tape-measure types. (They have impressive power.) Others are more under-the-radar types. Tyler Ihrig is one of the latter types.
Ihrig was a 23rd Round draft selection by the Cubs in 2013. He was selected out of Marin College, which isn't a hotbed of big league talent. Unless you're talking comedy, in which case it is represented by the late Robin Williams.
In 2015, Ihrig pitched between five and 45 innings for each full-season affiliate the Cubs have. As long as he's in the pipeline, he'll be toggling to wherever he is needed. It's very difficult to fathom any situation in which he puts together a career of 100 MLB innings. With that being the case, some will argue that using Ihrig is a waste of time. He's far from it.
Ihrig knows how to pitch. With him in the dugout orbullpen, chit-chatting with a prep-signed pitcher, Ihrig can pass out some of the great equalizer. Experience. While we like to think baseball is about "bigger and faster", it really isn't always the case. Pitching is about getting hitters out. Ihrig has a career ERA a bit over three. While velocity with command is the top shelf, baseball always has a spot for players with guile.
If I were to guess, Ihrig would spend much of 2015 between Myrtle Beach (Advanced-A), Tennessee (Double-A), and Iowa (Triple-A), filling in where needed as a starter or reliever. He notched 90 innings last season, and if he stays healthy, a bit over 100 makes sense this season.
Innings, not miles per hour.
He changes speeds on the mound. Start the hitter with an 83 MPH pitch on the outside black. Follow that with a 72 MPH change. Then, maybe a 65 MPH curve ball. Then, with the count 1-2, hit the black with the 84 MPH fastball. He strikes out a bit over six per 9 innings. He loves getting early and weak contact.
"But, when will he ever make the major leagues with that type of low velocity?"
Being a minor league player isn't always about reaching the show. Yeah, it would be nice. However, only four of the 678th picks in the draft have ever elevated that far. Two of them had rather lengthy careers, though.
Ihrig is about getting the most from his abilities that he can. Maybe he gets no higher than Iowa. Perhaps, he has some scouting or coaching in his future. (He'd probably be good at either.) When I was in Mesa, the players watching the side-by-side games were captivated when Ihrig took to the mound. On the other field, the pitcher may have been having middling success with low-90's velocity. However, on Ihrig's field, opponent's were swinging at his mix of off-speed deliveries, and the outfielders could have taken their gloves off.
I enjoy watching guys like Ihrig pitch. He gets the most out of his given abilities. He may never make a 40-Man roster. However, as a person wiser than said about him in a discussion, "He's a lefty. I never count out a lefty."