Cubs Spring Training

Ben Brown continues sizzling spring for Cubs, but should he make Opening Day roster?

The hurler has pitched 14 innings so far this spring, giving up one run

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Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Ben Brown has been turning heads throughout spring training for the North Siders, and that continued with a dominant performance Saturday.

Brown, starting against the Milwaukee Brewers in Mesa, threw four scoreless innings for the Cubs, striking out three batters and scattering two hits in his outing.

So far this spring, Brown has given up 10 hits and one earned run in 14 innings during Cactus League play, with 12 strikeouts and five walks on his resume.  

Brown is ranked as the third-best pitcher in the Cubs’ system entering the season, and is the No. 11 prospect in the team’s system according to MLB Pipeline. Used primarily as a starter in 2023, Brown posted a 4.27 ERA in 26 total appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, with a sparkling 130 strikeouts in 92.2 innings of work.

Naturally whenever a Cubs pitcher performs well in spring training, there’s always questions about whether he should break camp with the club, and in Brown’s case, there may actually be some logic to such a decision.

The Cubs will likely need some length in their bullpen early in the season, especially with Shota Imanaga making the adjustment to the big leagues, Jameson Taillon on the injured list and Jordan Wicks and Javier Assad both getting starts in the early going.

Drew Smyly will certainly help in that regard, but with Keegan Thompson headed to the minor leagues and with Yency Almonte, Mark Leiter Jr. and Julian Merryweather out of options, it would stand to reason to have Brown break camp with the team as a long reliever, at least getting the Cubs through the early part of their schedule as Craig Counsell tries to ease everyone into the regular season.

That being said, the club could instead opt to go with Carl Edwards Jr. in the pen due to his veteran experience and his strong performance during the spring, or could opt for Luke Little since he already has big-league experience.

It will be a question worth pondering in the final days before spring training wraps up, especially since Brown is already on the 40-man roster and wouldn’t require any roster gymnastics to fit into the mix.

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