A player that is performing under the radar that may have some impact on the Cubs’ Major League roster is Jonathan Herrera. Signed to a minor league contract this off-season, the 30- year old infielder is a six year Major League veteran, playing with Colorado and Boston. A switch-hitter, Herrera has a career batting average of .263. But more importantly, Herrera has a .324 career on-base percentage, something that the front office wants to improve on.
In the field, Herrera is more than competent at shortstop, second, and third base. Playing this winter in Venezuela, Herrera did okay, batting .254 in 18 games. But in the playoffs, Herrera is currently hitting .500 as his Magallanes team is tied for first place. Herrera could be the type of back-up the Cubs are looking for, and may be why the Cubs were reportedly interested in free agent infielder Stephen Drew before he agreed to terms with the Yankees.
By bringing in Herrera, the Cubs have another infield option when Spring Training starts.
Swinging in the balance of any infield trades and the recent signing of outfielder Chris Denorfia is INF/OF Mike Olt. It was originally thought that Olt would either open or platoon at third base with Valbuena until the front office was ready to promote super-prospect Kris Bryant. It was suggested that Olt work on his outfield skills in order to become a “four-corners” type of back-up. But the recent signing of Denorfia would seem to limit those opportunities. Unless Olt is able to demonstrate he is ready to produce both offensively and defensively in the majors, he most likely will be opening at first base for the Iowa Cubs in 2015.
Coming in the spring and the early part of next season, expect to see a wave of player movement from the Double-A and Triple-A levels. The Cubs system is starting to get crowded, and room will need to be made for some up-and-coming prospects. Despite what the media has portrayed, there has been steady interest around baseball for players from the Cubs’ system, as many have found a new home. One of the players likely to attract attention could be INF/OF Logan Watkins.
With his defensive versatility and blend of speed and power, Watkins could be a low-cost roster option. Other position players that could draw a look are “toolsy” but inconsistent outfielders John Andreoli, Jae-Hoon Ha, Rubi Silva, and Matt Szczur. If he doesn’t make the Major League roster, there should be some inquires about left-handed hitting catcher Rafael Lopez.
As far as pitchers go, the Cubs have several that can be serviceable, but that are just not their style. Some of those pitchers include right-handers Dallas Beeler, P.J. Francescon, Eduardo Figueroa, Matt Loosen, Felix Pena, and lefty Eric Jokisch.
The Tennessee Smokies had a good season in 2014 and extended its Player Development Contract with the Cubs for four years. The Smokies recently posted the team’s top moments, on and off the field, with video. Kris Bryant provided highlights in the first half. Dustin Geiger walked off Huntsville. Addison Russell slammed Montgomery the day after Albert Almora made a sensational sliding catch. The Smokies beat a rehabbing Clayton Kershaw and Mat Latos served up a longball to Bryant on Opening Night.
For those that follow the minor leagues closely, here’s a free agent tracker courtesy of MiLB.com.
Kyle Schwarber is taking over the Dinger Bats twitter account (@DINGERBATS) on Wednesday at 1:00pm CST. Schwarber said he will answer the best 20 questions. #askschwarb