Friday, June 4, 2010

Who is Andrew Cashner anyways?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Yet another youngster has made his way to the Cubs' 25-man roster. Andrew Cashner joins Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto in the Cubs' somewhat odd mix of up-and-coming prospects and aging veterans. I'll try to provide a little context to Cashner's rise through the ranks of the organization.

First of all, it's not all that surprising that he has worked his way to The Show this season. The Cubs bullpen has been a revolving door since Opening Day:

Opening Day bullpen

Only three pitchers have survived the first two months of the season: Marshall, Marmol and Russell. And of course Zambrano saw some time in the 'pen as well. The Cubs have used TWELVE guys in relief already this season. In 2008, they used 14 total (excluding Randy Wells and Carmen Pignatiello, who pitched just two and three times each, respectively).

Cashner was drafted 19th overall by the Cubs in 2008 out of Texas Christian University where he was both a starter and a reliever. It was actually the second time the Cubs drafted him and the fourth time he was drafted overall (that happens pretty often in baseball). He stands 6'6, taller than every Cubs pitcher except for Marshall, and is 23 years old, making him younger than any current Cub save Starlin Castro (Colvin is 24).

Cashner throws a 92-96 mph fastball, a slider that he calls his "out pitch," and has developed a changeup this year. He's also able to throw a sinker when he needs a ground ball. He had a very, very small cup of coffee after being called up on Memorial Day, throwing one pitch, a 95 mph fastball, to Ronny Cedeno that was popped up for the final out of the eighth inning.

Cashner pitched eight games in A ball the year he was drafted, and struggled to the tune of a 5.85 ERA. In 100 innings between A and AA last season, he struggled with his control but had a strong 2.60 ERA. He allowed just one home run in 24 starts. Between AA and AAA this season, he was 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA and had just 15 walks in 57 innings before being recalled.

Is Cashner ready to be a consistent contributor on a major league team? Probably not. But he's got his first big league outing out of the way and a 0.00 ERA to go with it. Baseball America had him ranked as the Cubs' fourth-best prospect heading into the season (behind Castro, OF Brett Jackson and 3B Josh Vitters), and Baseball America also declared his fastball and slider the best in the team's farm system. Another piece of the future is here a bit earlier than expected, and let's hope it's a bright one.

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