The Big Freeze
The Cubs and the other 29 MLB clubs must submit their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) and minor league reserve lists (38-man AAA roster, 37-man AA roster, and 35-man Class "A" rosters) to the MLB office no later than the close of business this Thursday (11/20).
What will the Cubs do?
Any player on a minor league reserve list at the close of business on November 20th who is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft is considered "frozen" on that roster until the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft, meaning all Rule 5 eligible players who are not added to the MLB 40-man roster by 11/20 cannot be traded to another organization or moved to a different reserve list in the same organization during that period of time. Players on an MLB 40-man roster can be outrighted to the minors during this period, however. (Some of you may remember back a few years ago, when the Cubs had to wait until the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft to send RHP Mike Nannini to the Florida Marlins as the PTBNL in the Derrek Lee deal, because Nannini was eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft and the trade was executed during the post-11/20 "frozen" period).
Players who were 19 or older on the June 5th prior to signing their first contract and who signed their first contract prior to September 1st of that season are eligible for selection beginning with the 4th Rule 5 Draft after signing, and players who were 18 or younger on the June 5th prior to signing their first contract and who signed prior to September 1st of that season are eligible for selection beginning with the 5th Rule 5 Draft after signing. (For Rule 5 Draft eligibility purposes, a player who signs his first contract after August 31st is considered to have signed his first contract in the next season, and if a player signs his first contract prior to September 1st but is assigned to a minor league club whose regular season has concluded, that player is also considered to have signed his first contract in the next season).
At present, there are 32 Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft, and so the Cubs must decide by no later than Thursday if they wish to add any of the 32 to their MLB Reserve List ( 40-man roster), or else risk losing the player in next month's Rule 5 Draft.
Draft-eligible players on AAA rosters can be selected in the Major League Phase of the draft for $50,000, but must be kept on the drafting club's 25-man Active List for an entire season or else get offered back to the player's former club for half the draft price. However, draft-eligible players on AA rosters are available for only $12,000 with no roster restrictions, and draft-eligible players on Class "A" rosters are available for only $4,000 (also with no roster restrictions).
A club can place any of its draft-eligible minor leaguers on which ever reserve list it so chooses (AAA, AA, or "A") on November 20th regardless of where the player played the previous season (and it would have no impact on where the player can play the next season), but most of the players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft are usually assigned to the AAA roster because of the higher draft price and roster restrictions. So any player selected off a AA or Class "A" roster usually is put there with the hope that he will get selected, usually because the club feels the player has zero future in the organization and getting even a few thousand bucks for the player is better than nothing.
Besides the 32 Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft, any free-agent who has signed a 2009 minor league contract with the Cubs (including any Cubs minor league free-agent who re-signs with the Cubs) prior to the Rule 5 Draft is eligible for selection as well.
In addition, an MLB club can designate any player who is not otherwise eligible for the Rule 5 Draft as available for selection if the club so chooses. Although it rarely happens, a club might do so if it was planning to release the player after the draft anyway, and the club is hoping some fool might be willing to shell out $12,000 (or maybe even just $4,000) to take the player off the club's hands. (Think of it as a "yard sale").
For example, it's possible that the Cubs will choose to make Peoria RHP Julio Castillo (indicted for felonious assault with a deadly weapon after throwing a baseball at a fan in Dayton this past season) available for selection in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft for $4,000 off the Peoria roster (even though Castillo otherwise isn't eligible for the draft for the first time until after next season), since the Cubs do not have a minor league club in the Ohio State Prison League (at this time).
ELIGIBLE FOR 2008 RULE 5 DRAFT:
James Adduci, OF
Alberto Alburquerque, RHP
Mitch Atkins, RHP
Justin Berg, RHP
Todd Blackford, RHP
Edward Campusano, LHP
Russ Canzler, 1B
Yusuf Carter, OF
Rafael Dolis, RHP
Jesse Estrada, RHP
Danny Fatheree, C
Dumas Garcia, RHP
Ryan Harvey, OF
Jim Henderson, RHP
Mark Holliman, RHP
Grant Johnson, RHP
Marcos Mateo, RHP
J. R. Mathes, LHP
Mario Mercedes, C
Jonathan Mota, INF
Jake Muyco, RHP
Vince Perkins, RHP
Jose Pina, RHP
Mark Reed, C
Gregory Reinhard, RHP
Kyle Reynolds, 3B
Tony Richie, C
Chris Robinson, C
Jayson Ruhlman, LHP
Alvaro Sosa, C
Nate Spears, 2B
Donald Veal, LHP
While I have no special insight into what the Cubs might choose to do, I suspect that RHP Mitch Atkins, 2B Nate Spears, and LHP Donald Veal are virtual locks to be added to the 40-man roster by this Thursday, with RHP Justin Berg, RHP Jesse Estrada, and LHP J. R. Mathes "on the bubble."
The Cubs presently have eight open slots on their MLB Reserve List (AKA 40-man roster), so they could select as many as eight players to be added if they so desire, but I suspect GM Jim Hendry will want to keep three or four slots open for any MLB free-agents (RF, SP, C) he may sign in the days and weeks ahead.
Note that the Cubs have lost players in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft in each of the past six drafts, starting with 1B-OFJason Dubois to TOR in 2002, and then RHP Jason Szuminski to SD in 2003, LHP Andy Sisco to KC and LHP Luke Hagerty to BAL (subsequently traded to FLA by BAL) in 2004, RHP Juan Mateo to STL in 2005, LHP Edward Campusano to MIL (subsequently traded to DET by MIL), RHP Lincoln Holdzkom to HOU, and INF Jason Smith (signed as a minor league FA a month prior to the draft) to TOR in 2006 and RHP Randy Wells to TOR last year, and the Cubs ended up getting all of them back except Sisco and Smith, so I doubt that Jim Hendry is sweating this decision very much. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't delegate the job to Player Development Director Oneri Fleita and/or Assistant GM Randy Bush.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.