MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs sent seven players to the minor-league side of camp on the first day of spring training cuts Monday morning, including top pitching prospect Duane Underwood, who didn’t pitch in a game because of early elbow stiffness that delayed his progress in camp.
“When you get a guy that good that young you just don’t push it right now,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But he’s fine. He’s on his throwing program right now. He’s getting close to participating in games.”
Many evaluators believe Underwood, a right-handed power pitcher, is one of the few potential impact starting pitchers the Cubs have in their system. And, barring another lengthy stretch on the disabled list, he appears in line to become the first big-league pitcher produced from team president Theo Epstein’s first four drafts with the Cubs.
Underwood,the Cubs’ second-round pick in 2012, was shut down in early July because of elbow inflammation and didn’t pitch again until the end of August. He went 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA at high-A Myrtle Beach last season and has a chance to pitch at AA Tennessee this year.
Hewas assigned to minor-league camp with three other non-roster pitchers: left-hander Jack Leathersich and right-handers Jonathan Pettibone and Armando Rivero.
Three were optioned to AAA Iowa: first-baseman Dan Vogelbach, left-hander Eric Jokisch and right-hander Andury Acevedo.
The cuts left 56 players in big-league camp.