On Friday, November 18, the Cubs will have to turn in the list of prospects they are adding to their 40-man roster so as not to lose them in the Rule 5 Draft in early December. They’ve already added relief pitcher Jose Rosario to the list while dropping three other players, and will likely add up to four more just as they drop another one or two others from the roster.
Earlier this year on Cubs Insider, I talked about some possible choices for addition to the 40-man. With the deadline is extremely close, there’s been a little separation from the pack. The Cubs obviously can’t keep all their prospects, but, to be honest, that might be a good thing. It could give a few young players better options with another organization and will clear the way for other prospects on the way up.
More than likely, the Cubs will only protect four players on a 40-man roster that currently stands at 34. That leaves two open spaces for future free agents and/or trades.
Duane Underwood Jr, RHSP
Victor Caratini, C/1B
These two prospects are the only ones who I am sure are going to be on the 40-man roster by the end of the week. While Underwood did not have anywhere near his best year in the Cubs system, there’s still too much potential to pass on. There’s also a lot of mystery as to why he’s throwing 95 to 98 yet has immense control problems. Even in the Arizona Fall League, he struggled in his only two starts. I think he’s back in Tennessee in 2017, with the possibility of moving very quickly to Iowa if he can regain his command. Caratini, on the other hand, did have an outstanding year. He hit over .290, although his power is still yet to come around. He will be playing in the Pacific Coast League, a known hitter’s league, in 2017 and it would not surprise me to see his power begin to evolve while playing for AAA Iowa.
Pretty close to clear-cut
Armando Rivero, RHRP
Jack Leathersich, LHRP
Armando Rivero had a 1.38 ERA in the second half at Iowa in 2016. He struck out 48 batters in 26 innings and I don’t know if there’s much left for him to prove. At 28, I don’t see him staying in the minor leagues much longer. If unprotected, he’s probably one of the first players taken in the Rule 5 draft. As for Leathersich, he was a bit of a gamble last year but I think he’s going to pay off this year. If Mike Montgomery becomes a starter, there’s a left-handed spot open in the pen. It will be interesting to see what happens with Leathersich now that he’s a full year off of Tommy John surgery.
Jose Paulino, LHSP
Bijan Rademacher, OF
Ryan McNeil, RHRP
Steve Perakslis, RHRP
Jordan Pries, RHSP
The Cubs can’t keep everyone, so they’re going to have to take risks in protecting some players while leaving others off. If Rademacher, Perakslis, and Pries are left off, some MLB team will snap them up. If anyone merits a spot just so he is not picked, it is Jose Paulino, the 21-year-old southpaw who would be at Myrtle Beach in 2017. A team would have to have some pretty big balls to select him, though he’s got some quality pitches, especially the slider. Then again, he’s never pitched above low-A.
Sorry, not sorry
Jake Hannemann, OF
Corey Black, RHRP
Daury Torrez, RHRP
John Andreoli, OF
Stephen Bruno, INF
All of these players have been around for quite a while. Not that they become household names, but if you follow the Cubs system you know who they are. Despite a few shining moments here and they, these players have not done what has been required for them to make it to the major leagues and may not have much of a shot to do so in the future. It would not surprise me to see all of them left unprotected. At the same time, I don’t think any of them would be selected in the Rule 5 Draft. The only one who might, in my opinion, is Bruno. Black is just not ready, Hannemann’s bat still needs work,and Andreoli is a nice kid but he really doesn’t have the tools or skillset one wants in an MLB corner outfielder.
I’ll be watching closely to find out who the Cubs place on the list by Friday, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that we’ll be underwhelmed by the choices one way or the other. Who knows, though, this might be the year they jettison everyone who has been around at AAA for a while in order to make way for some players coming up. They could do the exact same thing at AA as well.
As for players currently on the 40-man roster, I would not be surprised to see Aaron Brooks and/or Munenori Kawasaki let go to clear space for more prospects.
The protection of certain players really dictates a couple of things. First, it shows who the Cubs think has major league value. Second, it gives you a hint as to the direction and flow of prospects up the minor league ladder. To me, that’s the biggest foreshadowing of all.