The thick-bodied righty signed with the Cubs from Mexico just before his 18th birthday in 2015. His fastball was in the 88-to-92 mph range in my May look, sitting in the low-90s with heavy life that makes it tough to lift and played up 45-grade velocity. His future fastball should play around average, though an unbalanced delivery with off-line finish causes the command to be fringe. Assad’s best secondary was a slurvy curveball 80-to-81 mph that he moved to both sides of the plate. He has a good feel to pitch backwards with his curve and can land it for a strike, but inconsistent armspeed causes occasional rollers that hang up in the zone. A low-80s straight changeup gets separation from the fastball but doesn’t move much, and he’s less comfortable with the pitch than he is his curveball.
Assad’s ceiling is that of a FV 45 starter if his changeup and command take steps forward. A below-average athlete, I’m skeptical that he will be able to make the mechanical adjustments needed to remain in the rotation. Without a “right now” three-pitch mix and no true plusses on the scout card, Assad’s most realistic role at the big league level might be as a middle innings piece.