Average height and build for a starter; athletic frame; high three-quarter delivery; above average plane; drives off straight back leg; straight stride; inconsistent landing spot, choppy stride at times; glove arm lift at onset of delivery helps him hide the ball; ferris wheel arm action; loose arm; good arm speed with fastball and curve; head snap; spinal tilt; finishes square; fell into predictable patterns with rhythm and looks with runners on base.
Eugene Emeralds (Short Season, Cubs)
45; Backend starter, reliever
Present command: fringe average. Fastball velocity dropped slightly over course of start; command better at 89-91 than 92-93; two-seam wiggle; above average plane; also throws a four-seamer; prone to missing glove side; late movement; difficult pitch to square up.
Present command: fringe average. 12-7 movement; pitch dives late; likes to spot pitch glove side; induced several whiffs from both lefties and righties; inconsistent sharpness and depth; hung when when he didn't finish down; pitch flashes above average.
Present command: below average. Third offering; can throw for strikes; slows arm; modest fading action; only threw a few changeups; pitch stands to benefit from more repetition.
He's only 19-years-old, but it's already easy to see Steele working with two above average offerings at full maturation. The left-hander touches 94, and while he sits in the low 90's now, he's increased his velocity over the last two years and he could have a little more in the tank if he gets bigger. He knows what he's doing with the curve too, a tight 12-7 bender that he likes to use a chase pitch to get strikeouts. If the changeup comes along, he'll fit nicely in the middle of a big league rotation down the line.
To get there though, Steele has a few hurdles to leap. With a head snap, choppy stride, and moderate spinal tilt, there are command concerns, and on the night that I saw him, he lost all feel for the strike zone twice in three innings. His changeup also has a ways to go, as it's a clear third pitch behind the fastball and curve.
If the command never improves and the change doesn't develop, Steele could still have a bright future in the bullpen, where the southpaw's best two offerings will play up in short bursts. The Cubs will do everything they can to make it work as a starter, however, and with his athleticism and projectability, they could be rewarded with a mid-rotation arm if it all breaks right.