The Chicago Cubs promoted left-handed reliever Gerardo Concepcion to the major leagues yesterday. He made his MLB debut with 1.1 scoreless innings of relief against the St. Louis Cardinals, fanning two. Concepcion has received little attention so let's remedy that and see what he has to offer.
Concepcion is a Cuban, signed as a free agent in 2012 to a five-year contract worth $6,000,000. He struggled with command problems and injuries for most of his minor league career and was quite ineffective in Double-A last year, posting an 8.24 ERA in 32 innings with a poor 25/29 K/BB and 45 hits allowed. There was no real reason to be excited about him entering 2016.
He's completely turned things around this year, posting a combined 1.29 ERA in 35 innings in Double-A and Triple-A with 34/14 K/BB and 20 hits allowed. He's had better BABIP this year, which could have luck and defensive support involved, but his strikeout and walk rates are greatly improved so this isn't all a matter of random variation.
Concepcion is a 6-2, 200 pounder born February 29, 1992. He features a solid left-handed fastball in the low 90s and a breaking ball in the upper 70s/low 80s range. There are many pitchers with similar stuff in the minors but Concepcion did not stand apart from the crowd until the significant improvement in his command this year. He was quite tough on lefties this year (.045 in Double-A, .195 in Triple-A).
A lefty who gets past 90 gets plenty of opportunity. If Concepcion maintains his improved command he can be a useful bullpen component.