Cubs Invite 18 Minor Leaguers to Big League Camp
The Cubs announced today that 18 minor leaguers have been invited to Big League Camp, including ten pitchers, two catchers, three infielders, and three outfielders.
CUBS SPRING TRAINING NON-ROSTER INVITEES (1-29-2016)
* bats or throws left
# bats both
* Luis Cruz
* Jack Leathersich
Duane Underwood Jr
NOTES: Cruz, Fife, Pena, Pettibone, and Rucinski project as starting pitchers and will likely eventually compete for SP jobs with AAA Iowa... Underwood is the Cubs #1 pitching prospect and projects as a SP at AA Tennessee... Underwood was the Cubs 2nd round pck in 2012, and he will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft for the first time post-2016, so he will likely be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster by 11/20 (if not sooner)... Gomes, Machi, and Rivero will provide bullpen depth at Iowa if they don't make the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster... Gomes and Machi have extensive MLB experience (Gomes with TB and Machi with SF and BOS), and Rivero was a closer for Industriales in Serie Nacional in Cuba before signing with the Cubs ($3M bonus) in 2013... Rivero will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft post-2016, so he could get called up anytime... Fife pitched in the big leagues with LAD in 2012-14 (he was a Red Sox draftee when Theo, Jed, and McLeod were in Boston), and Pettibone was a starting pitcher for the Phillies in 2013.... Both are attempting to come back from arm injuries (Fife had TJS in 2014 to repair a torn elbow ligament and Pettibone had two surgeries--one in 2014 and another in 2015--to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder)... Fife made a comeback as a SP in Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional (the Venezuelan Winter League) post-2015 and appears to be 100% going into the 2016 season, but Pettibone may not be ready at the start of the season... Rucinski pitched in the big leagues from time-to-time for the Angels over the past couple of seasons (he was their Dallas Beeler) and was a member of the Angels/Cubs Advanced Instructional League co-op team this past October, so the Cubs know him better than most NRI from other organizations... Leathersich underwent TJS in August 2015, and probably won't be ready to pitch until mid-season. He was claimed by the Cubs off waivers from the Mets in November, and then was non-tendered by the Cubs before signing a 2016 minor league contract with the Cubs last month,... By non-tendeing Leathersich on 12/2 and then waiting until after the Rule 5 Draft to re-sign him to a minor league contract, the Cubs were able to assign him to the minors without exposing him to waivers or to the Rule 5 Draft.
CATCHERS: 2 :
NOTES: Both Davis and Federowicz project as back-up catchers at AAA Iowa... Davis is a bat-first backstop with the versatlity to play C-1B-3B, while Federowicz (another former Red Sox draftee, who was traded to LAD in the same deal that sent Stephen Fife to the Dodgers in July 2011) is a defensive-first receiver with MLB experience, and he will likely take over the role filled by Taylor Teagarden in 2015.
* Munenori Kawasaki (SS-2B-3B)
Kristopher Negron (SS-2B-3B-1B-LF-CF-RF)
NOTES: Guzman, Kawasaki, and Negron have MLB expereince (Negron with CIN, Guzman with SF, SD, and HOU, as well as one season with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, and Kawasaki with SEA and TOR after spending nine seasons with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan where he was an eight-time NPB All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, stolen base champion, and a member of Team Japan in the WBC in 2005 and 2009)... The trio will presumably provide infield depth/insurance at AAA Iowa... Also note that as a vested NPB player, Kawasaki has Article XX-B status, and thus he will automatically receive a $100K retention bonus and a June 1st opt-out if he either isn't released at least five days prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB 25-man roster by Opening Day, so just for that reason he probably has a better chance of making the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster than any of the other NRI.
Albert Almora Jr
Juan Carlos Perez (CF-LF-RF-3B-2B)
NOTES: Both Andreoli and Perez have experience playing CF (and Perez has MLB expereince with SF), although Andreoli is a below-average defender in CF while Perez is a plus defender... Both will compete with Matt Szczur for the 5th OF job... Otherwise they will provide depth/insurance at AAA Iowa... Almora is one of the Cubs Top 5 prospects (he was the Cubs 1st round draft pick in 2012), is projected as the Cubs CF of the future, and will likely be the starting CF at Iowa in 2016... Like Underwood and Rivero, Almora is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time post-2016... Almora is a Gold Glove quality CF, a contact-type hitter with occasional HR power at the plate, and is an excellent baserunner even though he has just average speed... He was named Athlete of the Year for Team USA in 2011 and has served as team captain while playing for several USA national teams over the past several years (most recently in the 2015 Pan American Games)... He has a tremendous make-up & leadership skills... Almora is a "high floor" player (meaning he is not likely to be a bust), and as far as projecting his "ceiling," I would comp him to somebody like Curt Flood...
It is very possible that additional Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) will be invited prior to the start of Spring Training, including one or two additional catchers. (Minor league catchers Tyler Alamo and Cael Brockmeyer were invited just prior to the date that pitchers & catchers were scheduled to report last year, and both remained at Big League Camp for about three weeks, even though neither was officially listed as an NRI).
There also were several players I expected to get an NRI who did not, including 2015 1st round draft pick 2B Ian Happ, top prospect SS Gleyber Torres, switch-hitting C-1B-3B Victor Caratini (Braves Top Ten prospect acquired in a deadline deal for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio in July 2014), 2015 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year RHSP Ryan Williams, and hot-shot Cuban OF prospect Eddy Julio Martinez, plus IF-OF Logan Watkins (missed 2015 season after rupturing his achilles tendon) and RHRP Starling Peralta (both signed minor league successor contracts post-2015), and several players with MLB experience who signed minor league contracts with the Cubs during the off-season, including ex-CLE LHRP Scott Barnes, ex-STL LHRP Nick Greenwood, and ex-PHI OF-1B-LHPH Kelly Dugan.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.
Classic Scully - great stuff.
Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)
Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:
"And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."
When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.
If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.
cubs win...bryant with 7HR in his last 8 games.