Estrada was the Cubs’ sixth-rounder in the 2017 Draft, paying him second round money to forego his UCLA commitment. He appeared briefly in the Rookie-Level Arizona League last summer, and I got a look at him this May after he began the season in Extended Spring Training.
Estrada isn’t tall, but he’s well-built and has solid strength in both his upper and lower halves. His best pitch is a tailing 92-to-93 mph fastball. When the delivery is synced, he gets solid plane from his ¾ slot, extending well through the pitch. In order to throw more consistent strikes, Estrada needs to iron out some aspects of his mechanics: pronounced inverted-W strain causes the arm to clear late, and he consistently sailed the fastball up and armside in my viewing. A mid-70s curveball projects as his best secondary pitch, showing 11-5 tilt and flashes of late action. A lesser-used changeup at 81-to-84 mph is the third; there’s less ability to keep it around the plate than the curve, though the best of Estrada’s changeups showed separation and fade.
Despite difficulties repeating the delivery, the overall operation is low-effort and Estrada generates velocity easily. I think he’s athletic enough to project on the command slightly, but there’s enough present noise to clean up, the command isn’t likely to finish better than fringe-average even with improvements. There might not be a carry tool for a starting rotation role; Estrada’s most impactful contribution seems more likely to be that of a two-pitch pen piece. His fastball could jump a few ticks, allowing the curve to play closer to above-average off the increased velocity.