As Opening Day approaches for minor league baseball, the Cubs have released several players from the system, including 2010 first round pick Hayden Simpson.
According to reports, the Cubs released Simpson, along with C Michael Brenly, RHP Brett Wallach, knuckleballer Joe Zeller, LHP Casey Harman and LHP Dontrelle Willis. The Cubs released RHP Ryan Hartman and RHP Su-Min Jung earlier this spring.
Hayden Simpson joins a disappointing list of first round picks that did not work out for the Cubs. The Cubs selected Simpson with the 16th pick in the 2010 draft. Simpson came down with mono soon after being drafted and was not able to get on track.
Simpson was moved to the bullpen last season and put up decent numbers. Simpson posted a 4-7 record in 29 games, five starts, over two levels in the system with a 6.56 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP. Simpson walked 22 batters while giving up 102 hits in 82 1/3 innings.
Over two minor league seasons, Simpson posted a 5-17 record in 56 games, 30 starts, with a 6.42 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP.
Michael Brenly spent a majority of the spring in big league camp, his second straight non-roster invite to camp. With the lack of depth at the catcher position in the system, releasing Brenly is a little surprising. While he did not project as a big league catcher, he is considered a very good defensive catcher that could help the young arms in the system with their development.
The Cubs signed Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal in the off-season. The D-Train was searching for one more season in the sun. Willis finally threw a pitch in a Cubs’ uniform on February 25 in Glendale against the Dodgers. Willis could not throw strikes before leaving the game with an arm injury. Willis barely resembled his former self on that Monday afternoon in Arizona.
The Cubs acquired RHP Brett Wallach from the Dodgers along with Blake DeWitt and Kyle Smit for Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot and cash in July of 2010. Brett, the son of former big leaguer Tim Wallach, had a hard time getting on track in the Cubs’ system and spent a majority of last season on the DL. The 24-year old right hander was 4-9 in 26 starts, 21 games, over two levels (Peoria and Daytona) in 2011 with a 5.91 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP.
Casey Harman was selected in the 29th round of the 2010 draft out of Clemson. The 24-year old southpaw made it to the Double-A level last year where he posted a 1-4 record in 34 games, two starts, with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. In 69 minor league games, 148 1/3 innings, Harman has given up 157 hits while walking 29 and striking out 123 batters.
Joe Zeller, another 2010 draft pick, posted solid numbers over four levels of the Cubs’ system a year ago. The knuckleballer was 3-5 in 31 games, 10 starts, with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP that included 54 strikeouts and 25 walks in 98 2/3 innings.
There is an unconfirmed report that the Cubs also released RHP Jay Jackson and 1B Paul Hoilman.
Unfortunately, the news of more players being released will surface in the coming days prior to the Cubs announcing the Opening Day rosters for all of their Minor League affiliates.