Cubs Sign Two Minor League Free-Agents
Baseball America reports that the Cubs have signed Rule 55 second-contract minor league free-agent RHSP Drew Rucinski(ex-LAA) and Rule 55 minor league 6YFA LHP Jeffry Antigua to 2016 minor league contracts.
Both will be eligible for selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft, although it's not likely that Rucinski would get picked because he was not claimed off waivers when he was outrighted in September, and the only way Antigua gets claimed is if the Cubs placed him on the AA Tennessee reserve list, which would make him eligible for selection in the AAA Phase of the draft ($12,000 draft price with no roster restrictions and no chance to be re-claimed).
The 6'2 190 27-year old Rucinski started two games for the Angels/Cubs co-op team in the AZ Advanced Instructional League last month, so Cubs Assistant Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mike Mason (who was Pitching Coach for the Angels/Cubs AZAIL co-op team) had a chance to see Rucinski up close & personal. I saw Rucinski pitch in both of the AZAIL games, and I would describe him as a polished pitcher who throws a 91-93 MPH fastball, a slider, and a change-up. Nothing special.
Rucinski pitched collegiately at Ohio State, and after finishing his college career and going undrafted, he signed with the independent Rockford Riverhawks (Frontier League) in 2011. His contract was purchased by the Cleveland Indians in mid-June of that year, and he pitched for three different Tribe affiliates (AZL, NYP, and MWL) in 2011, but was releaeed at the end of minor league camp in 2012.
After being released by the Indians, Rucinski returned to indy ball (Rockford) where he emerged as one of the top starting pitchers in the Frontier League (he led the FL in strikeouts). before having his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Angels in August 2013.
Rucinski started five games at Hi-A Inland Empire (Califormia League) after being acquired by the Angels, and then was moved up to AA Arkansas in 2014, where he was the ace of the Travelers staff. In fact he was so impressive at AA that he was called up to MLB by the Angels in July 2014. (Baseball America ranked Rucinski as the Angels #18 prospect post-2014). Rucinski was optioned to AAA Salt Lake City in 2015, riding the "SLC-LA shuttle" (he was the Angels version of Dallas Beeler).
Over the course of 1-1/2 seasons, Rucinski saw action in seven MLB games, and he was not effective (6.28 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, .322 OppBA, and 8/12 BB/K in 14.1 IP). He also struggled with walks and the gopher ball in the PCL (allowing 44 walks and 21 HR in just 112.1 IP), and was outrighted to AAA after the 2015 season. He was eligible to be a Rule 55 second-contract minor league free-agent post-2015 because he had been released previously in his career, making him available to sign with the Cubs even though he has not spent seven seasons in the minors.
Rucinski will likely get an NRI to Spring Training with the Cubs next Spring, and then be a SP at AAA Iowa.
The 25-year old 6'1 205 Antigua was originally signed by the Cubs as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, and he has spent nine seasons in the Cubs organization. He was a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA after the 2013 season and after last season, too, and opted to re-sign with the Cubs post-2013, post-2014 and now again post-2015.
Antigua was a decent prospect at one time (he was rated the Cubs #19 prospect by BA six years ago), but he has subsequently morphed into sort of a minor league version of Travis Wood, in that he is a "swingman" who can start or relieve, pitch just about every day, and can be moved (without any hassle) to any level in the system where he might be needed. He also is a positive mentor for the younger Cubs pitchers, especially the young Latin pitchers.
So although he's kind of a player-coach, Antigua's stuff is good enough to get outs in the minors, and he is not negatively impacted by getting moved back & forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen or between affiliates. And since left-handers never really die (they just fade away). Antigua could be pitching in the minors for the next ten or 15 years, and maybe somewhere along the line he'll get a taste of The Show. You just never know.
jdrnym 7 hours 5 min ago (view)
AZPHIL, has there been official word as to whether the 26-man roster has been extended down to the minor league levels that previously had 25-man rosters? Can't really think of a reason why that shouldn't be the case...
Arizona Phil 12 hours 1 min ago (view)
Another possibility for a "26th man" in 2020 would be a young pitcher selected in the Rule 5 Draft who has big league upside but who is clearly not yet "big league ready," or a pitcher who is out of minor league options who might not be quite MLB ready.
Cubster 14 hours 7 min ago (view)
Just sign Rick Reuschel and lets move on
crunch 14 hours 49 min ago (view)
"Buster Olney of ESPN reports that Scott Kazmir will throw for MLB teams this week.
The 36-year-old Kazmir hasn't thrown in the majors since the 2016 season, but he recently told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he that he hit 90.9 mph with his fastball during a bullpen session."
someone put another bottle of left-in-the-car warm water under the cubs hot stove and let's get this one done! woo!
crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
bryce harper ruined that bat dragging thing for everyone after his ejection years ago at the junior college world series.
also, hurrah for baseball making it's return.
JustSayin' 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
College ball started Saturday. Umpire egos in D1 baseball are not that much smaller than in the pros, so of course there was a controversy. In the late innings of a game in the weekend's biggest series (Michigan vs.
crunch 3 days 4 hours ago (view)
the news is mostly based on a Baseball America article from the 11th (behind a paywall)...so the gist of it is rather legit rumor-wise, though it's still too far in the future to call it a 100% done deal.
btw, the cubs have been strongly linked to pursuing christian hernandez for quite a while. the BA writer that wrote the article about the cubs links has been following c.hernandez since he was a 14yo talent and is quite familiar with him. that signing probably is in the bag.
Wrigley Rat 3 days 6 hours ago (view)
I don't know much about this website, but they are speculating that the Cubs may sign two of the top International Free Agents available during this signing period: https://www.cubshq.com/print/news.do?id=16441&isNe... Does anyone know if this sounds legit?
Arizona Phil 4 days 10 hours ago (view)
Minnie Minoso was playing in the Mexican League (as a DH) at age 47 and Julio Franco was playing in the Mexican League (as a DH) at age 49, so Mexican League teams clearly do not have a problem with signing older players.
And of course the ageless Satchel Paige was still working as a SP in AAA (with the Miami Marlins) into his early 50's (and prior to that he pitched in MLB as late as age 46).
crunch 4 days 10 hours ago (view)
b.colon has signed to a mexican league team. woo old dudes. he turns 47 in may...believed by some to be older.
Cubster 4 days 19 hours ago (view)
Replacing someone like David DeJesus?
crunch 5 days 12 hours ago (view)
mark grace returns to chicago as an analyst/on-air-talent for Marquee.
he won't be part of the main game calling crew, but will be doing support content during games.
Eric S 5 days 15 hours ago (view)
Increasing levels of smoke concerning a possible Arenado/KB trade
Get Arenado to agree to push back his opt out a few years or so down the road and this could work out nicely for the Cubs
Arizona Phil 6 days 6 hours ago (view)
Jason Kipnis (like Brandon Morrow) was a post-2019 Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signed a 2020 minor league contract, so he gets a $100K retention bonus and an automatic June 1st player opt-out if he is not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB 40-man roster or MLB 60-day IL by 12 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day.
Arizona Phil 6 days 6 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have signed post-2019 second-contract minor league FA catcher Jordan Procyshen to a 2020 minor league contract and he has been assigned to AA Tennessee.
Dolorous Jon Lester 6 days 8 hours ago (view)
Q could be subbed in for any of those too