Cubs Send Down Hart and Waddell, Recall Stevens
The Cubs have optioned RHP Kevin Hart and LHP Jason Waddell to AAA Iowa, and have (apparently) recalled RHP Jeff Stevens from the same club. The Stevens move will not be made official until just prior to tomorrow's game, so something could conceivably happen in the meantime to alter things.
Hart got the start in Wednesday's game versus the Braves and pitched fairly well (allowing just one run over five innings), although he did take the loss. Waddell had been on the Cubs 15-DL for the past three weeks with an undisclosed non-baseball related issue.
Since the Cubs will not need a 5th starter again until a week from Tuesday, Hart will be able to get a start at Iowa (probably next Thursday) before he willl be needed again in the Cubs MLB rotation on 7/21. And Stevens will be able to pitch all three days this weekend, whereas Hart probably wouldn't have been ready to work again (even out of the bullpen) until Sunday.
This will be the first time on a regular-season MLB Active List (25-man roster) for Stevens. He was added to the Indians 40-man roster last November, and then was traded along with two other Tribe pitching prospects (LHP John Gaub and RHP Chris Archer) to the Cubs for IF-OF Mark DeRosa during the off-season. He has spent the entire 2009 season in the bullpen at AAA Iowa.
The 25-year old Stevens played college ball at Loyola Marymount, and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 6th round of the 2005 Draft. He signed with the Reds, but was traded to Cleveland in 2006 as the PTBNL in the Brandon Phillips deal. Stevens was also a member of Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Stevens has been used mainly as a two-inning middle reliever for the I-Cubs in 2009. For the season, Stevens has gone 0-3 with a 2.18 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, allowing just 25 hits (and only one HR) in 41.1 IP (.171 OBA), with a 20/43 BB/K. But he has really pitched well over his last six outings going back to June 21st, throwing 10 innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits and two walks while punching out 14.
In other organizational moves, the Cubs have signed 4th round pick LHP Chris Rusin (U. of Kentucky) and he has been assigned (at least initially) to the AZL Cubs in Mesa, LHP Jeremy Papelbon was sent back to AA Tennessee from Iowa, RHP Hank Williamson (one of two pitchers acquired from the Baltimore Orioles for OF Felix Pie during the off-season) has been moved up to Iowa from A+ Daytona, RHP Mike Perconte has been promoted from Boise to Daytona (Perconte started the season at Peoria), OF Kevin Soto has been demoted from Boise to the AZL Cubs (Mesa), 19-year old OF Sean Williams has been sent back to the MLB Australian Baseball Academy (MLBAAP) from Mesa, and OF Cliff Andersen (2006 9th round pick out of Cottonwood HS - Salt Lake City) has been released after struggling at both Peoria and (most-recently) Boise.
Releasing Andersen and demoting Soto makes room in Boise for outfielders Brett Jackson (2009 #1 pick out of Cal) and Runey Davis (2009 #12 pick out of NJCAA World Series champion Howard JC), both recently promoted from the AZL Cubs (Mesa)
An "athletic" left-handed hitting outfielder, the 21-year old Andersen was hampered by injuries in 2007 and 2008, but even when healthy he was unable to overcome his propensity to strikeout (283 K in 937 PA in his pro career). If he doesn't sign with another MLB organization, expect to see him surface in indy ball, perhaps with the St. George (Utah) Roadrunners of the Golden Baseball League, the same team that signed Mark Pawelek after the Cubs released him at the end of Spring Training (before selling his contract to the Cincinnati Reds)
With the addition of Chris Rusin (who got a $140K signing bonus), the Cubs have now inked 25 of their 50 selections in last month's Rule 4 Draft ("First-Year Player Draft"). The Cubs signed 32 of their draft picks in 2008 and 33 of them in 2007, so I guess it wouldn't be too unreasonable to expect the Cubs to sign maybe another seven or eight before closing the check book. Clubs normally have until August 15th to sign players selected in that year's June draft, but the Commissioner's office extended the deadline to August 17th this year because August 15th falls on a Saturday. (BTW, there is no deadline for signing college players who have exhausted their eligibility, but the Cubs have already signed all of the college seniors they drafted).
Among the still unsigned are 2nd round pick INF D. J. LeMahieu (LSU), 3rd round pick LHP Aaron Kirk (Owasso HS - Owasso, OK), and 6th round selection LHP-OF Brooks Raley (Texas A&M). LeMahieu and Raley have college eligibility remaining and Kirk has a scholarship waiting for him at the University of Oklahoma, so even though LeMahieu says he's a big-time Cubs fan (his grandmother lives and dies with the Cubs, his father lives in Wisconsin and is a Cubs fans, and D. J. attended Spring Training games at HoHoKam Park in Mesa as a child), signing any of the three (including LeMahieu) could prove difficult. 13th round pick RHP-SS Chad Taylor (Jefferson HS - Tampa, FL) has already announced that he will not sign with the Cubs and will be attending the University of South Florida (at least he's "almost 100% sure"). The Cubs would get compensation picks in next June's draft if they are unable to sign their 2nd and/or 3rd round picks (LeMahieu and/or Kirk), but MLB clubs get no compensation for failing to sign players selected in Round #4 and below.
Also, CF Cody Shields (2009 15th round pick out of Auburn U. - Montgomery) is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Cubs signed Shields almost immediately after the draft concluded, and he reported to Fitch Park right away and was even initially on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster, before getting the bad news. Shields joins 2008 4th round pick C-2B Matt Cerda in the Fitch Park Infirmary. (Cerda is on the DL with a broken hand).
The most-impressive pro debuts among the 2009 draft class (so far) belong to slugging left-handed hitting catcher Richard Jones (9th round pick out of The Citadel) who leads the AZL in HR while hitting 344/382/750, and 20-year old 2B D. J. Fitzgerald (22nd round pick out of Dyersburg State CC) ,who hit 531 for the AZL Cubs before getting jumped all the way up to Peoria (VERY unusual for a first-year player signed out of a junior college).
For those of you who follow this stuff, clubs have up to 15 days to add a newly-signed player to a minor league reserve list, so sometimes a player signed after the June draft does not appear on a minor league roster right away, usually because the roster is full and the club needs to make a move to open up a roster slot.