Cubs Bargain Hunting at Showcase for Pair of Relievers, Former Top Catching Prospect

The Cubs were among the teams in Raleigh, NC Thursday to attend a showcase featuring pitchers Rookie Davis and Adam Liberatore, and catcher Brett Austin. The names don’t necessarily leap from the page, but there are reasons why half of MLB was represented.

The 25-year-old Davis is a 6-foot-5 righty who most recently pitched for the Cincinnati Reds and features a 93 mph fastball with a slider, curve, and changeup. He owns an underwhelming 8.63 ERA and 7.16 FIP in just 24 innings of big-league action, but has shown exceptional command throughout his minor league career. In fact, Steamer thinks that will translate to a 3.15 BB/9 in 2019. The problem, however, is that Davis underwent hip surgery last seasons after just throwing 26 innings last year.

Liberatore might be a more recognizable name because he spent most of 2016 — the year the Cubs won the World Series, people forget that — with the Dodgers and actually pitched really well over 42.2 innings. The lefty finished 2016 with an impressive 3.38 ERA, 2.89 FIP, and broke the Dodgers’ consecutive scoreless innings streak (24 innings) before elbow and groin injuries sidelined him for most of 2017 and some of 2018. After returning from those injuries, Liberatore pitched 13 innings with a 2.77 ERA, but his velocity dropped from 94-95 mph to around 91.

Austin was a fourth-round selection by the White Sox in 2014 who has had trouble progressing through the minors. As a 25-year-old last season, Austin finally made it to the Triple-A level and batted .235 with a .325 wOBA in 43 plate appearances. His season was hampered by injuries and he was released on December 18, hence his presence at the showcase.

Emily Waldon of The Athletic, who posted news of the showcase Thursday, had actually tweeted about it a week ago. She named the Cubs as a team that would be attending when she first reported it, though only Davis and Liberatore were involved at that time. Whether that’s because Austin was not yet involved or it was just an omission isn’t known, but the Cubs have been looking for catching depth in addition to help in the bullpen.

The bargain shopping continues.

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