Big League Debut: Logan Allen, Adbert Alzolay, Aaron Civale and Tony Gonsolin!

Logan Allen, LHP (SD)- Yet another member of the El Paso Chihuahuas rotation makes the big leagues. The physically maxed out lefty was a former 8th round pick of the Boston Red Sox from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He fell to day three of the draft due to a strong commitment to the University of South Carolina, but the Red Sox were signed the southpaw for $725,000.

He’s been a strong performer out of the gate and except for a minor bout with elbow soreness in 2016, he has stayed healthy. At six-foot-three, 200 pounds Allen is a durable strike thrower and getting out of the Pacific Coast League to Petco Park is a favorable move. The arsenal is headlined by a low 90s fastball that is limited to an above-average pitch due to inconsistent command. His best off speed pitch is his vulcan change, and he also throws a curveball and recently added a slider/cutter hybrid.

The command of his overall arsenal is similar to his fastball, as it comes and goes. Establishing more consistency is important for Allen, as it is necessary to reach is mid-rotation ceiling. Allen is a candidate to move back and forth between Triple-A and the majors because he won’t be under as strict of inning restrictions as his peers. I’d start him at home for now. Lance Brozdowski ranked Allen 12th on our Padres top 30 list.

Adbert Alzolay, RHP (CHC)- With the professor Kyle Hendricks hitting the IL, the Cubs tabbed Adbert Alzolay to start against the Braves. The Cubs signed Alzolay for $10,000 out of Venezuela as an 18 year-old in 2012, and will be the most prominent home-grown Cubs arm to start a game in the Theo Epstein era. For whatever reason the Cubs success in developing home grown position players hasn’t translated to the rubber. Alzolay is looking to change that.

The short, thick righty has been brought along slowly by the Cubs this year after a lat injury ended his 2018 season early. He was delayed in spring training and was kept in extended spring to build arm strength and didn't make his debut until May 12. He’s made seven starts this year, six at Iowa and has only eclipsed the 80-pitch barrier twice. He never topped 125 innings in a season and seems unlikely to in 2019. There are some conversations about using Alzolay in a relief role because his fastball/curveball combination is so appealing. Pitching out of the bullpen would allow his mid 90s fastball to become an upper 90s heater and a max effort relief role would get that plus curveball to play up even more. The pitch has plus depth and he will bury it and get hitters to swing over the top of it. It’s a true swing and miss offering and gets a plus grade from me. His changeup lags behind the other two, but has made strides in 2019. He’s been able to command the pitch in the past, but it has added some wiggle to make it more difficult to square up.

I saw Alzolay as a back-end starter prior to 2019, but the improvement in his overall command and with the changeup give him a number three starter ceiling, or a potential monster reliever in the back end of games for the north siders. I’m comfortable using Alzolay in certain home matchups, but Tuesday against the Braves isn’t one of them. Jason Pennini ranked Alzolay fourth on our preseason Cubs top 30 list.

Aaron Civale, RHP (CLE)- The six-foot-two righty was the Indians third round pick in the 2016 draft out of Northeastern. Civale has two plus tricks in his bag, his slider and his overall command. Not many pitchers in pro ball are as walk averse as Civale as his 53 free passes in over 350 career innings will show. He very much fits the Indians strike thrower mentality, but he wasn’t missing bats enough in the past but that changed in 2019. Last year in over 106 innings of work in Double-A, he only struck out just over 6.5 hitters per nine, and this year he’s getting a batter per inning for Triple-A Columbus thus far. His slider is a plus offering, and his sinker/slider pairing have played well off of each other so far this year. He also throws an average changeup and a fringy curveball. He limits walks and keeps the ball on the ground though, and he’s missing enough bats to shed that reliever tag I placed on him this offseason when I ranked Civale as the Indians 30th prospect. He’s worth an add as the Indians are an interesting team to follow between now and the trade deadline.

Tony Gonsolin, RHP (LAD)- The athletic Gonsolin was a two-way player at St. Mary’s before the Dodgers selected him in the ninth round in 2016. He’s a physical specimen and has an advanced pitch mix despite only focusing on pitching for less than three years now. He’s got two plus pitches in his upper 90s heater and his split-change that he will use whenever and against whoever. His change is one of the best in the minors, and it gets elite downward action resulting in a swing and a miss or a groundball, and he relies heavily on his fastball sitting high in the zone to change eye levels with his split-change. If that wasn’t uncomfortable enough throw in a 12-6 curveball that plays off of the fastball and an average slider that gets plus glove side run.

It’s a nasty arsenal and at times Gonsolin can look like one of the best pitches in pro ball when it’s all clicking. His unique pitch mix and age (25) make him a prime candidate for a relief role, but the Dodgers have kept him as a starter so far. He’s been gradually building arm strength after an oblique injury suffered in spring training delayed the start to his season. He threw a season high 77 pitches through five innings in his last start for Triple-A Oklahoma City so those in quality start leagues may want to looks elsewhere Wednesday for his start against the Diamondbacks. Gonsolin has the upside of a number two or three starter if the Dodgers keep him in the rotation. Eddy ranked Gonsolin eighth on our preseason Dodgers top 30 list.