Heading into the 2021 season, no one predicted Scott Kobos would pitch at all four levels of the Cubs’ system. And we’re not talking about an emergency fill-in grabbing a cup of coffee, the lefty reliever dominated at each stop. What made it even more intriguing was that he actually missed a month in the middle of what was already a shortened season. In total, Kobos basically spent about a month at each level.
When Kobos was signed as a non-drafted free agent in the summer of 2020, it didn’t garner a lot of attention. However, he became a much more intriguing prospect following an appearance on Cubs Insider’s The Rant Live during which he spoke at length about his development and the science of pitching. Originally an outfielder in college, Kobos had only been pitching for a couple of years when the Cubs signed him.
He had a pretty hefty ERA during his time at Coastal Carolina, but never really found a groove because he missed quite a bit of time due to injuries and the pandemic. After the 2020 season was cut short, he used last summer to make himself a better pitcher with help from the folks at X2 Baseball in Charlotte and his twin brother, Will, a Pirates pitching prospect.
When Kobos debuted back in May, I didn’t really think much about his initial performance. He looked impressive and located the ball well, but I tempered that assessment with the knowledge that he was a college pitcher going against mainly 19 and 20-year-old kids. I wondered what he would do at the next level and I didn’t have to wait too long to find out.
Scott Kobos struck out 5 batters in 2 innings tonight. He was throwing in the low to mid 90s, topping out around 95. pic.twitter.com/k2oSNmdi1g
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) May 9, 2021
At the beginning of June after not allowing a single run at Myrtle Beach, Kobos made his way to High-A South Bend. He pitched two more scoreless weeks before he went on the shelf for six weeks with an undisclosed injury that ended up being more precautionary than anything. At that point, he had still not allowed an earned run.
He reappeared for South Bend in August and gave up a run in his very first appearance in early August, but then he got right back to dominating. He spent the next two weeks with South Bend and made his way to Tennessee later that month.
Scott Kobos looked really good in his second outing since coming off the IL. He struck out four batters in two innings. pic.twitter.com/m5uhMjSUcA
— TheBullpen🐾 (@RealCubsAnalyst) August 7, 2021
The Tennessee gig went very well, too. While it was just six games, Kobos did not allow an earned run and held opponents to a .045 batting average with eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings. He got the call to Triple-A Iowa for the final two weeks of the season after Tennessee’s campaign ended but he only logged 2.1 innings as part of a crowded bullpen in Des Moines.
Scott Kobos pitched an impressive 10th inning for Tennessee today. He came in with the runner on second and left him there and finished off the last hitter with a 94 mile an hour fastball. pic.twitter.com/f7VXKUmf9p
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) September 5, 2021
Kobos will more than likely be back at Tennessee to start the 2022 season, though he should not spend a lot of time there just based upon how he did previously. I said early in this post that I often wanted to see how he did against more advanced competition. We saw that this year and it did not seem to faze him.
There’s a lot here to like, including his mid-90’s fastball and developing secondaries, 2.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a .154 batting average against, and an ERA that was under 1.00 until he hit Iowa. Kobos only threw 33 total innings and should at least double that in 2022, particularly if the Cubs opt to stretch him out. The original plan had been to use him as a starter, but that was scrapped when he got a late start due to COVID.
I’m excited to see what he’s going to do for an encore.