Chicago Cubs Young Pitcher Studying Craig Counsell's Former All-Stars

In the hope of becoming a Major League starter, one of the Chicago Cubs' young pitchers has drawn inspiration from some of his manager's former players.
Apr 9, 2024; San Diego, California, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ben Brown (32)
Apr 9, 2024; San Diego, California, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ben Brown (32) / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chicago Cubs are currently in an interesting spot regarding their starting rotation.

After their star offseason signing Shota Imanaga has proven to be a hit, they seem to be set up for success with the pairing of him and Justin Steele. Jameson Taillon is having a bounce back year, but there are still lingering concerns about his health.

Then, there are major question marks beyond those three.

Kyle Hendricks has struggled massively, Javier Assad continues to pitch well despite not having overwhelming stuff, and Jordan Wicks had some regression during his second big league season.

When the Cubs were battling injuries to a couple of their starters, they called up one of their top prospects, Ben Brown.

After a minor league career that saw him start 56 out of 82 games to the tune of a 3.67 ERA, the 24-year-old was hoping he could become a consistent starter in the MLB.

That hasn't necessarily transpired with him starting four games and coming out of the bullpen for five, but, this has also endeared him to his teammates and coaching staff as he's willing to do anything necessary for the betterment of the ballclub.

However, that won't stop Brown from working towards his dream of being a big league starting pitcher.

To get to that point, he's been studying some of manager Craig Counsell's past pitchers in Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff.

"I had gone into a deep Corbin Burnes dive last year when I was struggling ... This was me struggling in Triple-A and then getting hurt. I can tell you about a lot of guys who had bounce-back years," he told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.

Much of the research into Burnes and Woodruff came from their ability to turn into top-tier starters after not being highly drafted. Burnes was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 draft and Woodruff in the 11th round in 2014.

Both became multiple time All-Stars and Burnes took home the NL Cy Young award in 2021.

As a former 33rd round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017, he's hoping his career arch looks like the pitchers who he's been studying.

Having Counsell as his manager should help with that, and Brown knows it.

"He has an excellent track record. There are some really good arms that Craig really helped develop," he told Mooney.

On the flip side, it seems like Counsell has been impressed with what he's seen out of the 24-year-old so far when facing Major League hitting.

"He's beating hitters with the fastball. That's not easy to do in the big leagues ... And that makes his off-speed very good. That's kind of his formula," he said.

Chicago and Counsell are certainly hoping that Brown can turn into a pitcher like Burnes or Woodruff.

If he continues to pitch the way he has, then there should be a spot for him in the rotation for many years to come.

Brad Wakai


Brad Wakai graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Journalism. While an undergrad, he did work at the student radio station covering different Penn State athletic programs like football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and other sports. Brad currently is the Lead Contributor for Nittany Lions Wire of Gannett Media where he continues to cover Penn State athletics. He is also a contributor at FanSided, writing about the Philadelphia 76ers for The Sixers Sense. Brad is the host of the sports podcast I Said What I Said, discussing topics across the NFL, College Football, the NBA and other sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @bwakai