In trading Scott Effross to the Yankees, the Cubs parted ways with one of their top relievers who’s been a workhorse for manager David Ross and is under club control for five more seasons.
That made the move a bit of a surprise as Effross has had a breakout 2022. But in return, the Cubs picked up a promising starting pitching prospect who may not be far from contributing in the big leagues: Hayden Wesneski
Wesneski, a 24-year-old right-hander, was ranked New York’s No. 7 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Baseball America pegged him as the Yankees’ top pitching prospect and No. 4 overall in the organization.
He steadily climbed New York’s prospect rankings in the last year — he was No. 15 on Pipeline after last season and checks in at No. 8 on the Cubs' rankings, per Pipeline.
And he’s someone the Cubs have a level of familiarity with. Assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos was Wesneski’s Double-A pitching coach in the Yankees organization in 2021.
“We got an awesome human being,” Moskos said. “He’s a great kid and an incredibly hard worker. Competes as much as anyone when he’s on the mound.
"He also takes care of his business off the field as well, as far as the weight room, training room, game preparation, etc.”
NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan tweeted a rave review an American League executive gave the trade.
Wesneski, a 2019 sixth-round pick, reached Triple-A late in 2021 and has spent all of 2022 there. In 19 starts, he has a 3.51 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, 83 strikeouts and 28 walks in 89 2/3 innings.
According to Baseball America, he has an arsenal featuring a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a two-seamer, changeup, cutter and a slider — which looks nasty.
The Cubs recently had a pitching-heavy 2022 draft that included first- and second-round picks Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris.
Over the last year, they’ve added Caleb Kilian (trade) and Jordan Wicks (2021 first-round pick) to a pipeline also featuring up-and-coming lefty DJ Herz. At the big-league level, Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson have shown growth with extended runs in the rotation.
Wesneski adds another interesting starting pitcher to the mix, and he could be in consideration for a 2022 callup.
A lot more still must play out before that happens, including what happens after Tuesday’s trade deadline and where it leaves the big-league roster and rotation.
Not to mention how Wesneski sizes up with Kilian and others who could be in play for callups.
For now, the Cubs at least have added another young arm to their pipeline.
“I’m really excited to get him, and it certainly softens the blow of losing someone like Scotty,” Moskos said.