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Cubs "closing [talent] gap" with Fall League prospects

LOS ANGELES – Cubs manager Dale Sveum has said it many times as the season has progressed, and he’s living it in the past week like he rarely has.

“This is the best pitching on a consistent basis I’ve ever seen in the game,” said Sveum, whose bats-challenged team has been stifled by Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, San Diego’s Andrew Cashner and the Los Angeles’ Dodgers’ Zack Greinke in the last week alone – even before facing the top-ranked pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, in Tuesday night’s late game at Dodger Stadium.

“You’re dealing with teams that have two, three, sometimes four guys that can go out and throw shutouts on a given night.”

Sveum’s perspective might be skewed some, considering the waiver-claim, trade-gutted lineup he puts on the field daily.

But it does bring home the importance to him of what he believes the front office has been able to do with amateur acquisitions and trades the past two years to create a young inventory of talent in the system that he hopes he’ll be around to enjoy.

“Obviously, we’ve had some pretty good drafts and international guys that we’ve signed, so we’ve closed the [talent] gap to have some talent, some power arms in the minor leagues,” he said. “As well as the [Kris] Bryants and the [Jorge] Solers, and obviously we already had [Javy] Baez in the system.

“We’re filling some huge gaps. When it’s going to pay off, obviously that’s a wait-and-see thing.”

Sveum, who lives just outside of Phoenix, actually won’t have to wait long to at least see a preview.

The Cubs’ “Big Four” prospect – Bryant, Soler, Baez and Albert Almora – all have been assigned to play in the Arizona Fall League starting in October.

Four well regarded Cubs pitching prospects will join them: Class AA right-handers Dalls Beeler, Armando Rivero and Matt Loosen, and rehabbing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino.

“That’s about as good of talent from one organization as you’re going to get [in the AFL],” Sveum said. “It’ll be fun to get to see them play quite a bit.”