This is a list of Cub pitching prospects ranked according to the formula K9-(H9+BB9). That’s strikeouts per nine innings minus the sum of hits-per-nine and walks-per-nine. We look at strikeouts for this obvious reason: if you don’t miss bats in the minors, you’re going to have difficulty turning all that contact into outs in the majors. You might get a shot at the majors, as Casey Coleman did, but it will not last long. Kyle Hendricks, never a power pitcher, did rack up 7.7 K’s per nine innings in his minor-league career, compared to Coleman’s 6.1.
We also look at hits and walks. We used to look at just strikeouts versus hits allowed. We called that the Marmol Index, on the theory that Carlos Marmol rose quickly up the ranks of closers in spite of chronic wildness. But Marmol fell hard back to earth, and was last seen in the majors in 2014 at age 31, and last year at Triple-A. In retrospect, we don’t have a positive feeling about his career trajectory. (As a Cub fan, I remember Marmol too well to feel comfortable whenever Strop or Grimm, two talented relievers who, like Marmol, constantly search for but never find a consistent release point for their fastballs, take the mound.)
The Marmol Index–K9-H9–is still represented in the next-to-last column of the table below; but the final column, by which the table rows are ranked, is, as I have already indicated, K9-(H9+BB9).
It’s early in the season, but the numbers give Cub fans a couple of reasons for optimism. One, the three highest ranked pitchers are relievers at Iowa, a phone call away from the majors. They are Spencer Patton, Felix Pena and Gerardo Concepcion–two righties and a lefty.
There are also four starters, Trevor Clifton, Jeremy Null, Jake Stinnett and Pierce Johnson, with more strikeouts than hits-allowed. Clifton, Null and Stinnett are ranked 10, 12 and 15 overall, according to K-(H+BB).