Craig Kimbrel appears to be well on his way to making a long-awaited season debut in Major League Baseball.

The right-hander remained a free agent into June before signing a three-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.

Theo Epstein laid out the plan for Kimbrel’s debut after the signing, with the Cubs easing the fireballer back into action. Kimbrel made his first game appearance this season, tossing a 1-2-3 inning for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate Tuesday.

Kimbrel needed just eight pitches to get through the inning, and was displaying a fastball in the mid-90s.

He finished off the inning by striking out Chris Shaw with a nasty curveball.

It widely was believed Kimbrel eventually would find a home some time after the MLB Draft, despite multiple players, including Chris Sale, voicing their frustration over how long Kimbrel remained on the open market.

Obviously, Kimbrel dusting through a Triple-A lineup hardly suggests that he’s about to win reliever of the year, but his stuff does signal that his Cubs debut is creeping ever closer.

Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images