Ascanio is Next

Hard-throwing right-hander Jose Ascanio, whom the Cubs acquired from Atlanta this past off-season for LHP Will Ohman, will be the next Cubs pitching prospect to join the big league team. Chicago will recall Ascanio from Class AAA Iowa and place right-hander Chad Fox on the disabled list (elbow).

"He was a guy we were real excited to acquire," Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Bush recently said of Ascanio. "We're excited about his future and we see him as an eighth- or ninth-inning guy down the line in Chicago when he's ready."

He may be ready now. In 17 appearances with Iowa, Ascanio was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, nine saves and 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. He held opponents to a .179 average against -- all in late-inning situations.

Ascanio can touch the upper 90s with his fastball and fills out his repertoire with a changeup and slider.

"His big strength is command of his fastball, which our reports last year had him up to 96 (mph)," Bush said. "He's got a slider that is a developing pitch for him and he's got what is a major league-ready changeup now."

Iowa pitching coach Mike Mason described Ascanio as someone who likes to go with the "hard and slow of it" on the mound, adding that he can be a three-pitch pitcher.

"He also has a two-seam fastball that he really doesn't use when he's in [his rhythm], but he can be a three-pitch guy," Mason said.

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