Back at the summer trading deadline of 2013, the Cubs featured the hottest commodity on the trading block in Matt Garza. One of the prominent teams in pursuit of Garza’s services was the San Francisco Giants.
At the time, my old writing partner John Arguello and I spoke about the names of some possible prospects to ask an NL scout about coming back to Chicago in a possible deal. One of the first names John asked me to check on was a starter in the Giants system named Mike Kickham.
At the time, Kickham was a highly regarded, hard-throwing lefty in the Giants organization. The Giants still had hopes that Kickham could one day crack their stellar rotation and they gave him opportunities to continue as a starter in despite his battles with control.
The 26-year-old ended up making his major league debut in 2013 going 0-3 with a 10.98 ERA in 14 appearances, including three starts. He spent most of 2014 at Triple-A Fresno, where he was 8-8 with a 4.43 ERA in 27 starts.
The Cubs recently claimed Kickham off waivers after he was removed from the Giants 40-man roster after they re-signed Jake Peavy. It wasn’t as if San Francisco was eager to lose Kickham though. It simply became a numbers game as the Giants are quite loaded with pitching (must be nice).
Could the Cubs luck into another worthwhile reclamation project for pitching coach Chris Bosio to work his magic on? Could Kickham possibly help the Cubs in 2015 and in the future?
After speaking with some talent evaluators who have a nice handle on the big lefty, the consensus is that Kickham could be a very solid middle-of-the-bullpen option as a “loogy,” a lefty specialist who could feature a high-90’s fastball and breaking stuff that can play well consistently against lefty bats.
It’s possible the Cubs could still give Kickham another chance to show he can pitch at the back end of a rotation. Yet, the industry people I spoke with firmly believe that, given the right role, Kickham could thrive for the Cubs as a second lefty out of the pen. He would, however, have to show marked improvement in location before being trusted in any late-inning situations.
The Cubs are already waiting to see if Bosio can polish up some recent pickups and once touted arms like Jacob Turner and Felix Doubront. I’m willing to bet at least one of them can become a useful piece as soon as 2015, and, if used properly, I’m betting on Kickham.