The Cubs had added Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm to its already talented pool of prospects earlier this week. Now, yet another piece is set to join the list.
Chicago's senior circuit team has acquired right-handed pitcher Corey Black from the Yankees in the deal that sent outfield slugger Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx.
Black, who was not ranked among the Yankees' top 20 prospects according to MLB.com (but was preseason No. 25 in the system per Baseball America), is in the midst of his second professional season after being taken in the fourth round out of Faulkner (Ala.) University last year. He was 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP, 88 strikeouts and 45 walks in 19 starts (82 2/3 innings) for Class A Advanced Tampa before the trade.
The 5-foot-11 right-hander caught some eyes last season when he posted a 3.08 ERA with 50 strikeouts and a .222 opponents batting average in 52 2/3 innings between the Gulf Coast League Yankees, Class A Short-Season Staten Island and Class A Charleston.
Both in college and the pros, he has earned a reputation for having a plus sinking fastball that sits regularly in the mid-to-high 90s and has been clocked as high as 100 mph.
Black's off-speed offerings, on the other hand, will determine just how far up the professional ladder he will climb. He also has a changeup, curveball and slider in his arsenal, but those are still developing and do not rate nearly as well as the fastball.
The San Diego native acknowledged how much work needed to be done with those pitches back in May.
"I think I've definitely come a long way [as a pitcher]," Black told MiLB.com. "In college, I was throwing about 90 percent fastballs in games and getting ground ball after ground ball after ground ball. Once I got to Staten Island, I figured out I have to throw the offspeed stuff for strikes and keep them off balance. That's been my biggest focus."
Still, unless those pitches develop, most agree that Black's futures lies in the bullpen, where he could eventually provide the Cubs with a power right-handed arm in middle or late relief.
For now, he'll likely move from one Florida coast to the other to join the Cubs' Class A Advanced affiliate in Daytona, where he is expected to remain a starter for the time being. Despite the new team and new organization, his work toward becoming a Major Leaguer in any capacity continues.
"We've been working on mechanically just trying to get everything consistent," Black said in May. "There will be games where there's only one or two pitches that are working, and for me to throw well I need to have all those pitches to mix in."
Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MiLB.com.