Minor League Signings and Other Cubs Notes from Down on the Farm

While the front office has not made many changes to the 40-man roster to this point of the off-season, the Cubs have signed 14 players to minor league contracts that include non-roster invites to Spring Training.

Rick Renteria and his staff spent the weekend in Mesa planning for Spring Training. Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on Feb. 13.

The Cubs’ system made another headline during the Winter Meetings and both Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo checked in on which player the Cubs might take with the fourth pick in June’s Draft.

The full list of non-roster invites to Spring Training should be released in mid-January and will include Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks and possibly Albert Almora.

Here is a list of players that should be in big league camp competing for a job on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster in the spring, most but not all of the NRIs have been confirmed.

Pitchers

  • RHP Paolo Espino
  • LHP Tommy Hottovy (NRI)
  • RHP Carlos Pimentel
  • LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (NRI)

Catchers

  • John Baker (NRI)
  • Eli Whiteside (NRI)

Infielders

  • Walter Ibarra
  • Ryan Roberts (NRI)
  • Chris Valaika (NRI)
  • Jeudy Valdez

Outfielders

  • Aaron Cunningham (NRI)
  • Ryan Kalish (NRI)
  • Darnell McDonald (NRI)
  • Casper Wells (NRI)

NRI – Player received non-roster invitation to Major League Spring Training

Kris Bryant

The Arizona Fall League announced its 2013 Top Prospects Team last Monday and the 2013 AFL MVP Kris Bryant made the cut. The team was selected by AFL managers and coaches and was based on the player’s performance in the fall, not their prospect status.

Kris Bryant led the AFL in home runs (6), slugging percentage (.727) and OPS (1.184).

Kris Bryant was the only Cubs’ prospect that was named to the team that is filled with many of the top young players in the game. Albert Almora and Jorge Soler turned in good fall campaigns and Dallas Beeler stepped up his game and his performance in the fall helped cement him a spot on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

RHP Aaron Sanchez, the Blue Jays’ top prospect, was also named to the team.

The 2014 MLB Draft

The Rule 4 Draft is six months away but Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo recently projected how the top 10 selections in the draft could unfold. The Cubs have the fourth overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft.

Jim Callis sees the Cubs selecting RHP Tyler Beede from Vanderbilt and Jonathan Mayo thinks the Cubs will select Trea Turner, a shortstop from North Carolina State.

Tyler Beede is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, and features three above-average or better pitches. Beede has struggled with his command. Beede has had issues with finding a consistent release point which has lead to the command issues, but when he is on, he has been very good.

Tyler Beede features two different types of fastballs that could end up as plus pitches. Beede’s four-seam fastball “shows good gear out of his hand with rising action” and sits around 94-95 mph and has touched 97 mph. His two-seemer “shows good tailing and sinking action” and sits 92-94 mph with some swing and miss. As for his secondary pitches, he has shown flashes of possessing a curveball (low-80s with hard 12-6 break) and change-up (high-70s with good deception) that could end up as plus or plus-plus pitches.

Trea Turner is 6-foot-1, 171 pounds, and can really run. Turner has 80-speed (20-80 scouting scales) and is projected as a top of the order hitter. An ankle issue hampered Turner last year but to go along with his 80-speed (57 stolen bases in 2012) he has good bat speed and is very athletic. Turner is not projected to hit many home runs but he does have gap power and an excellent ability to get on base. Turner moved from third base to shortstop last spring. Turner has the arm strength and range to handle the position.

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