CHICAGO – Getting fired up for the debut of prospects isn’t something common recently for fans at Wrigley Field. That era was a couple of seasons back when the team was building themselves into a championship contender.
But on Thursday night, one of the young members of the Cubs’ organization made his major league debut at the Friendly Confines, and in the process became the story of the night.
Adbert Alzolay, who was called up before the start of a four-game series with the Mets, dazzled in his debut in front of a large crowd on Thursday evening. He failed to allow a hit or a run in the first four innings of his first outing in the big leagues as New York hitters struggled with his stuff. While he ran into problems in the ninth, it wasn’t enough to take the shine off his impressive debut in a 7-4 win over New York.
In the end, Alzolay allowed a homer in the ninth by Todd Frazier then a walk, which led to his departure before recording an out in the inning. When he was pulled from the game, Cubs’ fans gave him a standing ovation as he rose his cap in appreciation.
Alzolay finished allowing just the one hit and run while striking out five batters in relief of starter Tyler Chatwood after he went four innings in a spot start. He inherited a three-run lead thanks to a six-run third by the Cubs’ offense, which helped the pitcher to his first MLB victory.
He becomes the first Cubs’ pitcher to win his MLB debut since Ryan O’Malley in 2006 and the first reliever to get a win in his debut since Marc Pisciotta in 1997.
In the mold of David Bote in 2018, Alzolay could end up being the Cubs’ prospect story of the summer if he can keep his performance up the rest of the season. Signed as an international free agent in November of 2012, the pitcher has slowly made his way through the Cubs’ system starting in 2013.
Alzolay finally made it to Triple-A in 2018, but a strained lat muscle limited him to eight games that season. He didn’t make his debut in Myrtle Beach until May 12th, pitching one game before being called back up to Iowa, and that’s where he made his mark.
In his six games in Triple-A, Alzolay was 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA, but had an impressive 46 strikeouts compared to just six walks. He went six innings in a start against Fresno on June 14th, striking out nine batters while walking none while allowing two earned runs.
Persistence in the franchise over the last six-and-a-half years along with a strong start to 2019 in Iowa earned Alzolay the chance to make a memory in his MLB debut. Safe to say he took full advantage, as evidenced by the standing ovation he got from a crown not used to seeing prospect debuts being the highlights of games at Wrigley Field.