McNutt Off to Promising Start

PEORIA – Trey McNutt is a strong, athletic 20-year-old pitching prospect with a lot of potential. It's far too soon to guess how long it might take him to get to the big leagues, but the right-hander certainly possesses some promising tools.

In 23 innings, McNutt has surrendered only four runs for a 1.57 ERA at Class-A Peoria. McNutt knows the keys to his success, both this season and in the future.

"I've been pounding the zone pretty good, just trying to throw strikes, get ahead and pitch to contact," McNutt said. "When I attack the zone and pitch to contact, I get really good results."

Hitters have had a difficult time making contact off McNutt. In 23 innings, McNutt has 24 strikeouts and his power curveball is a big reason why.

"My breaking ball is real hard and breaks real late," McNutt said. "Hitters have trouble picking it up. When I want a strikeout, I go to my breaking ball."

His strikeout pitch may be the breaking ball, but Chiefs pitching coach David Rosario thinks another pitch is his most dominant.

When asked if McNutt's fastball, which has sat in the low to mid 90s, was his best pitch, Rosario had a simple answer.

"Definitely," Rosario said. "He throws really hard and the sink on his fastball allows him to get a lot of groundouts."

As with any young pitcher, McNutt has aspects of his game he needs to work on.

"We are in the early development part of his baseball career. He has some mechanical issues we are working on," Rosario said. "We hope to see more consistency as the season continues. He has a tendency to fly open with the front shoulder, and open with the front hip. That doesn't allow him to get on top of the ball consistently."

Some wonder if McNutt will wind up as a starter or a reliever down the road. Not even McNutt is sure.

"I could do both I suppose," McNutt said. "I would be a good setup guy as a reliever to come in and face righties."

Rosario seems to have a little more confidence in McNutt as a starter.

"Right now he's definitely a starter, (although) I won't count him out as a reliever in the future," Rosario said. "But he has quality pitches and good endurance, so why not start him."

McNutt was taken in the 32nd round in last year's draft out of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., by the Cubs. The Minnesota Twins had initially contacted McNutt, wanting to draft him in the eighth round, but the two sides never came to an agreement. The Cubs' interest was not something McNutt saw coming.

"I did not have any idea the Cubs were going to draft me," McNutt said.

But McNutt is happy the Cubs decided to give him a chance.

"I love it," McNutt said. "We have a real nice setup here (in Peoria). We got great fans. It is the place to be in the Midwest League."

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