Phew! The Cubs made it through the trade deadline without giving up any major parts of the minor league system. Despite prodding for some of the mainstream media and the Major League focused fans, the front office stuck to their guns in trying to build for sustainable success.
Team President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer need to be congratulated for not throwing around top prospects like a sailor on liberty, as many of the contenders had. Here’s hoping that their decision to stay the course will reap benefits for years to come.
Among the most missed of the now departed minor-leaguers will be Elliot Soto. The Carpentersville native is one of the better defenders around and was enjoying the most productive season offensively of his career. Whether Soto makes in the Major Leagues will hinge on the hope of a right player/right place/right time scenario. As a complementary player on an offensive team, Soto would draw comparison to former Braves’ middle infielders Glenn Hubbard, Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, and Danny Lockhart.
The least missed is RHP Zach Cates. Released by Tennessee, Cates will mostly be remembered for Hoyer’s undying love for anything and everything Padres. As part of the Anthony Rizzo trade, Cates was supposed to bring everything to the table that the player he was being traded for had, Andrew Cashner. While Cates has a big-time fastball, he has nothing else and very little control. Cates made it up to Double-A more on potential than any real production, as his lifetime ERA is 4.76 and Double-A ERA 5.72. Had the front office shown half as much love they had for Cates to a pitcher like Frank Batista, he would have been pitching in the big leagues two years ago.
With the Major League trade deadline past, it marks a new major movement period in the minors euphemistically known as “catch-up and release.” For the next week or so, franchises reassess and promote players that didn’t make the first cut around minor league All-Star time. In addition, with the draft signing period over, it is time to make room for the new players in the organization.
It will be interesting to watch this reshuffling as utility player Chesny Young seems overdue for a promotion to Tennessee, while shortstop Gleyber Torres may tempt the front office to have him spend the final month of the season at High-A Myrtle Beach.
It’s not too early to start looking at the Rule 5 Draft, as it should be interesting for all minor league followers. The Cubs seem to have four players who are eligible that appear to be locks for the 40-man roster following the end of the season. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario and RHP Pierce Johnson, RHP Jonathan Martinez and RHP Daury Torrez all should make the cut, with RHP Corey Black on the fringe. It would not be a surprise if both Black and 1B Dan Vogelbach are part of some off-season trade prior to the draft, as neither look as if they warrant a roster spot at this time.
Among the players that should draw the most interest in the first round of the Rule 5 Draft are OF John Andreoli and RHP P.J. Francescon. Any Major League team with a record of .500 or below would be foolish to pass on Andreoli. With 147 career stolen bases and a lifetime OBP of .374, Andreoli definitely has the stuff to stick on a Major League roster for a season. Francescon has traveled the odyssey from starter to closer with stops at middle relief along the way. Without overpowering “stuff”, Francescon throws strikes and knows how to get people out. Like Andreoli, he has enough talent and experience to fill a role on a Major League pitching staff. Another player who can be a tempting first round selection is OF Bijan Rademacher.