While all the focus for the Chicago Cubs pitching prospects have been on the likes of Cade Horton and Jordan Wicks, Ben Brown has quietly been off to an electric start with the Tennessee Smokies in Double-A.
Brown was acquired at the 2022 Major League Baseball trade deadline when the team traded closer David Robertson to the Philadelphia Phillies. Brown entered the 2023 season as the Cubs’ 7th overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Brown has put up video game numbers through his first four starts of the season with the Smokies. Brown has compiled 30 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched while only allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 13 hits.
2024 has been the projected arrival date for Brown at the Major League level but a promotion to Triple-A Iowa may not be far off.
The blueprint for Brown may be one that the Cubs have used in the past with Hayden Wesneski and Justin Steele. Wesneski first appeared out of the bullpen for the Cubs toward the end of the 2022 season before making his way to the starting rotation. Steele, meanwhile, was used primarily as a reliever in his first stint at the Major League level before being stretched out as a starting pitcher and a trajectory to being one of the best starting pitchers in the National League.
Under that scenario, it may not be out of the question that Brown gets a cup of coffee at the Major League level this season. Such a scenario would see Brown pitch out the bullpen with the Major League team, perhaps in the second half of the season, before transitioning to the starting rotation in 2024.
One thing is clear, the Cubs’ 2022 trade deadline may have quietly created the path to their long-term starting rotation with Wesneski and Brown being acquired.