Corey Black, P
Age: 22 (8/4/1991)
2013 Team: Tampa Yankees, Florida State League (A+); Daytona Cubs, Florida State League (A+)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 17
How acquired: Traded to Cubs on July 26, 2013 from the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and cash
Prior to Cubs
A four-year letter-winner at MIssion Bay High School in San Diego, Black spent most of his career at shortstop, hitting .431 with seven homers as a senior. He missed a majority of his junior season, having Tommy John surgery and only threw three innings his senior year. He headed to San Diego State to play for Tony Gwynn and became the #2 weekend starter, making 14 appearances, including seven starts, as a freshman. He fanned 50 in 47.1 innings.
Black moved into a full-time starting role in 2011 for the Aztecs going 4-5 with a 3.56 ERA with 78 K in 73.1 IP. Black was cut from the San Diego State roster during the fall of his junior season and he enrolled at Faulkner University, a NAIA school in Alabama. He dominated the competition going 11-2 with a 1.53 ERA with 96 K in 88 innings.
The Yankees selected Black in the fourth round in 2012 (157th pick), signing him for $215,000. He made his debut on July 2 in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, made six starts (27.2 IP) at Staten Island in the New York Penn League, and made five more starts in the South Atlantic League. He ended his first pro season with a line of 2-2, 3.08 ERA, 52.2 IP, 42 H, 15 BB, 50 K.
Black admitted he didn't have confidence in his stuff to start 2013 with Tampa in the FSL and had trouble repeating his delivery. In 19 starts for the Yankees, he went 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA and 88 K in 82.2 IP but 45 walks. Black had his best outing of the season against Daytona on May 30, no-hitting the Cubs for five innings, allowing a run on four walks with seven strikeouts, one of his three wins. He whiffed a season-high 11 Clearwater hitters on May 2.
After getting traded for Alfonso Soriano, he made five starts for the D-Cubs going 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA. He had 28 punchouts and 10 walks in 25 innings. Black made two starts in the playoffs and was outstanding. He tossed five shutout innings with seven strikeouts against Dunedin in Game 1 of the division series, and threw six more shutout innings in a Game 4 loss against Charlotte in the finals.
The 22-year-old finished his second year of pro ball going 7-8 with a 3.93 ERA and led the FSL with 116 strikeouts. Black's best pitch is his fastball which sits 92-95 but the right-hander has been able to maintain the speed into later innings, something he was unable to do last year. He's also improved his secondary pitches, especially his change-up, which he threw a lot more. He also features a curve and slider.
Black said getting the ball in the first game of the playoffs really boosted his confidence, something the right-hander lacked early in the season. Barring any setbacks, Black will start the year as part of a potent Tennessee starting rotation under the tutelage of pitching coach Storm Davis. Black acknowledged Davis' help in his development since arriving to the Cubs organization. While most scouts project Black as a bullpen candidate due to his small frame, I'm in the minority of those who think he can stick as a starter. I'm banking on his athletic ability and the fact he models his game after Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt.