Eric Jokisch, P
Age 24 (7/29/1989)
2013 Team: Tennessee Smokies, Southern League, (AA)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—Not Rated
How acquired—Drafted in the 11th round in 2010, # 340 overall
Prior to Cubs
Jokisch earned Illinois All-State honors as a senior at Virginia High School going 9-0 with a 0.94 ERA with 141 Ks in 67 innings. He also hit .658 with 41 RBI. A 39th round pick in 2007 by the Cleveland Indians, Jokisch turned down his chance to turn pro and the valedictorian of his graduating class accepted a scholarship to Northwestern. Jokisch set a Big-10 record with seven wins, most ever by a true freshman in conference play, and was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year after going 8-2 with a 4.17 ERA in 73.1 innings. He logged four complete games, including a 2-0 gem over Michigan, the first time they had been blanked in 64 games. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. He didn't have the same success as a sophomore as opponents hit .307 and he finished the year at 4-7 with a 5.48 ERA in a team-high 88.2 inning in 13 starts. For the second straight year, Jokisch led the Wildcats in innings (92.1) as he went 5-7 with a 4.39 ERA with 62 strikeouts. He earned academic Big Ten honors and named pitcher of the week his junior season.
The Cubs used their 11th round pick on the Illinois native in 2010 and sent the lefty to Boise after making his debut June 23 in the Arizona Rookie League. He got roughed up in the Northwest League, allowing 46 hits in 34.1 innings and finished with a 7.08 ERA. Jokisch said in an interview this year he learned from his experience at Boise and also developed a good relationship with pitching coach Jeff Fassaro.
After not keeping the ball down or working the inside part of the plate, Jokisch and his pitching coach were reunited in Peoria and he started the season in the bullpen. After going 7-0 with a 3.16 ERA and a save in 57 relief innings, Jokisch joined the rotation in mid-June and continued to get hitters out. He went 2-3 in 62.2 innings, sporting a 2.73 ERA and a .216 BAA. He fanned 57 and only walked 11. He was promoted late in the season to Tennessee and made three starts (1-0 4.11 ERA, 15.1 IP, 16 H, 9 BB, 15 K).
He started 2012 in Daytona and after nine starts (3-4 3.48 ERA, 54.1IP, 55H 16 BB 52 K) and a FSL pitcher of the week award, was promoted to Tennessee, and for the third straight year re-united with Fassaro. He made 17 starts for the Smokies and was effective in his role. He went 7-2 with a 2.91 ERA as hitters only batted .226 off him. His strikeouts rate went down (5.4/9) and his walk rate up (2.83/9) compared to his career averages in the lower levels.
Jokisch made Southern League history on Aug. 6 tossing a nine-inning no-hitter against Jacksonville, as the lefty fanned eight and walked four in the 10-0 win. He led all Cub minor leaguers in strikeouts (137) and second to only Kyle Hendricks in innings (160.2). Jokisch made 26 starts, going 11-13 with a 3.42 ERA and a .240 BAA. It was a roller coaster season for Jokisch as his ERA jumped above 5.50 in May and July as he struggled with his command. When Jokisch was throwing strikes, his ERA dipped below 2.00 in April, June, and August. He was named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April and earned Southern League Pitcher of the Week honors for his no-hitter.
According to Jason McLeod, head of player development, Jokisch will start the year in AAA. He has a simple approach on the mound, get ahead in the count and throw strikes down in the zone. His fastball tops out in the upper 80s but he does a good job of keeping hitters off balance with his change-up and curve. The Cubs will have to make a decision on Jokisch if he isn't added to the 40-man roster during the season as he will be eligible for the 2014 Rule 5 draft.
Rest of the "I" and "J"s
Tyler Ihrig, LHP—The Cubs 23rd round pick in 2013 out of Marin Community College, Ihrig was impressive in his debut season with Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League with 30 K in 25 IP. He went 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA and only walked four.
Salvador Jerez, RHP—The 6-foot-4 Venezuelan made his Cubs debut in 2013, appearing in six games for the VSL Cubs. The 21-year-old went 0-2 with a 3.29 ERA, fanning nine while walking seven.
Michael Jensen, RHP—Missed the entire 2013 with an injury after going 11-5 with a 3.47 in 26 starts for Peoria in 2012. The 24-year-old was a 26th round pick in 2011 out of Hartnell Junior College in California.