Cubs Sign Four More Free-Agents to Minor League Contracts, Invite 24 NRI
Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have signed four more free-agents to 2017 minor league contracts.
Two of the players are former Cubs minor leaguers, and two have varying degrees of big league experience with other MLB clubs.
1. Frank Batista, RHP
2. Todd Glaesmann, OF
3. Jim Henderson, RHRP
4. Casey Kelly, RHSP
Frank Batista is a long-time Cubs minor league pitcher, signing with the Cubs as a 19-year old out of the Dominican Republic in January 2009. Now 27, the 5'10 Batista has served as a RH "swing-man" in the upper minors (AA Tennessee & AAA Iowa) since 2012 (he also spent six weeks with Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League in 2014). He missed the 2016 season after undergoing TJS in April (he also suffered a knee injury in Spring Training), so re-signing with the Cubs will allow him to continue his rehab at the Cubs UAPC at Riverview Park in Mesa, with a possible return to either Tennessee or Iowa later in the season.
An athletic "five-tool player," Todd Glaesmann was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft out of Midway HS in Waco, TX. A star QB and WR in HS, the 6'4 225 Glaesmann gave up the opportunity to play both baseball and football at Texas A&M (Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha were in the same A&M recruiting class), instead opting to sign with Tampa Bay ($930,000 "over-slot" signing bonus). Baseball America ranked Glaesmann as the #15 prospect in the Appalachian League in 2010, and one of the Rays Top 25 prospects three times 2010-12. BA also rated Glaesmann as having the best outfield arm in the Rays system 2010-11 and the best power-hitting prospect in the Rays system and the best defensive outfielder in the Midwest League in 2012. Although he is an outstanding OF defender, it became fairly obvious pretty early on that Glaeasman was a high-K/low average "free-swinger" (hitting 260/309/435 in 705 career minor league games through 2016), showing HR power (21 HR in 2012 and 19 HR in 2015) but not much else at the plate. He was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2013 as the Player to Be Named Later in a five-player deal that sent RHRP Heath Bell from Arizona to Tampa Bay, only to suddenly retire two months later (ostensibly to play college football at Baylor), before returning to baseball again in mid-2014. Now 26, Glaesmann, has bounced back & forth between AA & AAA the past four seasons, and he will likely serve as the 4th OF either at AAA Iowa or at AA Tennessee in 2017.
Jim Henderson was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round of the 2003 draft out of Tennessee Weslyan College. He was selected by the Cubs in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft in December 2006, and spent the next two seasons as a reliever at AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa. He had back problems throughout his Cubs stint and was released at the end of Minor League Camp in March 2009. He then signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he spent the next six seasons, finally making his MLB debut on July 26, 2012 at the age of 29, nine years after signing his first pro contract. Henderson had some decent seasons working out of the bullpen for the Brewers 2012-14 (he racked up 28 saves and 75 K in 50 IP as the Brewers closer in 2013) and then later as a middle-reliever for the New York Mets in 2016. In between he has had several shoulder and triceps injuries that have negatively-impacted his career. Now 34 years old, Henderson reportedly has opt-out clauses in his contract (3/29 and 6/1), but if the Cubs want to get around that they could just add him to their MLB 40-man roster prior to the opt-out date(s) and option him to the minors (he has three minor league options left, and while he has enough MLB Service Time to elect free-agency if outrighted, he does not yet have the five years of MLB Service Time required to refuse an optional assignment to the minors).
The son of 2B Pat Kelly (played in MLB 1991-99, mostly with the Yankees), Casey Kelly was a Louisville Slugger 1st team All-American, Florida 6-A Player of the Year, and Florida "Mr. Baseball" in 2008 (he was a "two-way player" in HS - SS/RHP). He was also an All-Regional HS QB at Sarasota HS (signed NLI with U. of Tennessee to play football & baseball). He was selected in the 1st round (#30 overall) of the 2008 draft as a shortstop by the Boston Red Sox (back when Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were in beantown) -- receiving a $3M "over-slot" signing bonus -- at which point he agreed to give-up football. He was ranked the Gulf Coast League #6 prospect (as a shortstop) by Baseball America in 2008 (he played only SS in his first year in pro ball, before switching back to RHP at Instructs post-2008). Kelly was ranked as the Red Sox #6 prospect (as a RHP) by Baseball America and was rated as having the Best Curveball in the Red Sox system by Baseball America after the 2008 season. He was a Futures Game All-Star in 2009, and was ranked the #2 prospect in the South Atlantic League, the #6 Carolina League Prospect, and the Red Sox #2 prospect by BA, and was named Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, and was rated as having the Best Fastball, Best Curveball, Best Change-up, and Best Control in the Boston Red Sox system by Baseball America after the 2009 season. Baseball America ranked Kelly the #10 Prospect in the Eastern League and the Arizona Fall League #8 prospect in 2010, and then he was traded to the San Diego Padres with 1B Anthony Rizzo, OF Raymond Fuentes, and IF-OF Eric Patterson for 1B Adrian Gonzalez in December 2010 (by this time, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod had left the Red Sox and were running the Padres). Kelly was ranked as the Padres #1 prospect by Baseball America after the 2010 season, and the #7 Texas League prospect and the Padres #3 prospect after the 2011 season. The Padres selected Kelly's contract and added him to their MLB 40-man roster in August 2012 (6.21 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 29 IP and six GS for SD in 2012). He was ranked the Padres #1 prospect by BA after the 2012 season, before having TJS in April 2013 and missing all of the 2013 season and most of the 2014 season (he had problems with his right elbow flexor in 2014 while rehabbing from the TJS, further delaying his return to the mound). Even so, he was still ranked as the Padres #5 prospect by Baseball America after the 2013 season and the Padres #17 prospect after the 2014 season. He finally returned to full action in 2015 but struggled at AA San Antonio before a brief (and ineffective) call-up to San Diego, and then he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for C Christian Bethancourt in December 2015. Kelly spent most of the 2016 season at AAA Gwinnett, but he did make ten appearances (one GS) with the Braves (5.82 ERA & 1.71 WHIP in 21.2 IP). He was sent outright to AAA Gwinnett last November, and was declared a minor league 6YFA after the World Series. Kelly will likely serve as a SP with AAA Iowa in 2017. He has one minor league option left, so if he is added to the MLB 40-man roster at some point it would not be a problem to send him back (and forth) to Iowa as necessary.
CUBS SPRING TRAINING NON-ROSTER INVITEES: 24
* Gerardo Concepcion
* Manny Parra
* Zac Rosscup
# Carlos Corporan
# Ian Happ
* Munenori Kawasaki
# Jemile Weeks
First.Pitch.120 4 hours 40 min ago (view)
Don't forget the awesome taste of RizzO's !!!
crunch 17 hours 49 min ago (view)
ha. also, this reminds me that Grand Slam cereal existed in the late 90s. it was basically Kix with the marshmallows from Lucky Charms (in baseball items shape). it was actually really good.
Charlie 20 hours 11 min ago (view)
I just love cereal so much
bradsbeard 21 hours 36 min ago (view)
Yeah, both of those guys have some versatility. Could make a nice platoon if it ever came to that.
bradsbeard 21 hours 37 min ago (view)
Rooting for General Mills?
Dolorous Jon Lester 21 hours 55 min ago (view)
I like that they're trying Robel and Giambrone all over the diamond.
Charlie 22 hours 1 min ago (view)
I'll just be here salivating over the possibility of observing a sub-70MPH curve ball. :)
Rooting for Mills in general. Seems like fun as a 5th starter.
crunch 23 hours 4 min ago (view)
dusty baker + adam greenberg piece...
Dolorous Jon Lester 23 hours 8 min ago (view)
Man this Dodger broadcast is garbage.
Sonicwind75 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
Thanks Phil for these breakdowns. Really helpful.
crunch 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
i forgot about these types of update posts...thanks for the breakdowns. they're really useful.
strong agreement on the mess t.olson was throwing. he didn't even look happy with himself out there.
Arizona Phil 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
I know most of you saw the game or will be seeing the game, but for anyone else who might be interested, here are the Cubs pitchers velo readings from Saturday night's game:
NOTES: Nice mix of pitches... Mills obviously comes from the "I'm a pitcher not a thrower" school, all of which means command & control matters a lot and he had both tonight... a legit candidate for the Cubs #5 SP slot...
crunch 1 day 15 hours ago (view)
hell of a 1st game. even the good and bad mean nothing this early in spring, but it was a nice one. i'm not worried about rizzo misplaying a couple balls in the first innings, nor do i think bote is on his way to a batting title. spring is meaningless enough without trying to read into february spring games. it was a fun watch, though.
my biggest regret is not seeing souza chase down any plays in LF while he was in the game. that's something i really would like to see this early in spring.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
I also hope they edit it for the season. doesn't list pitcher or hitter or pitches thrown.
crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
"i'm feeling right at home." - mark grace