Prior to last Friday’s deadline to set reserve rosters at the Major and Minor League levels, the Cubs selected the contracts of C Willson Contreras, 3B Jeimer Candelario, RHP Pierce Johnson and 1B Dan Vogelbach from Double-A Tennessee and added them to the 40-man roster. In the process, the Cubs protected those players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft in a couple of weeks (Dec. 10).
The Cubs left several players exposed, most notably RHP Corey Black, to be selected by other organizations.
The hard-throwing, but erratic, Corey Black struggled the majority of the season and was not able to help his cause in the Arizona Fall League. Black did not take to his move to the bullpen and the Cubs decided not to add him to the 40-man last week while taking gambles on five relievers from outside of the organization.
Corey Black was 3-5 in 37 games, nine starts, for Double-A Tennessee with a 4.92 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. In 86 innings, Black allowed 54 runs, 47 earned, on 74 hits with 47 walks and 101 strikeouts. As a reliever, Black was 1-3 in 28 games with a 7.09 ERA and 1.81 WHIP (36 runs, 31 earned, 43 hits, 28 walks, 48 strikeouts).
During his stint in the Fall League, Black was 1-0 in eight relief appearances with an 11.42 ERA and 2.19 WHIP (13 runs, 11 earned, 12 hits, seven walks, six strikeouts).
OF John Andreoli, RHP P.J. Francescon and OF Bijan Rademacher are also eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft and might be able to stick on a team’s 25-man roster if taken in the draft.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper posted the first installment of his annual report on the players teams may take a chance on in the Rule 5 Draft. And four Cubs’ prospects were included the report: RHP Corey Black, C Taylor Davis, OF Jeffrey Baez and LHP Michael Heesch.
Taylor Davis, C
J.J. Cooper pointed to Taylor Davis being a quality receiver with an average arm that calls a good game and blocks the ball well. Davis caught 49 this past season between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Davis can also handle first and third base.
Offensively, Davis hit a combined .311/.361/.483 with 26 doubles, two triples and nine home runs for a .845 OPS. In 83 games for Triple-A Iowa, Davis batted .309/.361/.444/.805 with 19 doubles, two triples and four home runs.
Jeffrey Baez, OF
J.J. Cooper correctly pointed out that Jeffrey Baez is not ready for the majors. But if he plays next season the way he did in the second half this past year, the Cubs will have to add him to the 40-man roster.
Baez is above-average defensively in left and right field and can also play center field. Baez has a very good combination of power and speed that he utilized extremely well last season after he was moved back to the leadoff spot.
After a miserable start to the year, Baez ended up with solid numbers due to hitting .348/.369/.536 with a .905 OPS in his last 53 games with Low-A South Bend. Baez played 106 games, 101 with South Bend, between Low- and High-A ball in 2015. Baez batted .280/.321/.422 with 17 doubles, six triples and nine home runs for a .743 OPS. Baez turned 22 on Oct. 30.
Michael Heesch, LHP
Lefty Michael Heesch has a big arm but needs more time in the minors, which could make it hard, even for a rebuilding team, to take him in the Rule 5 Draft.
Heesch throws his fastball in 91-94 mph range and it “plays up even a little more because he does a good job hiding the ball in his delivery.” Heesch is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and the Illinois native turns 26 in May.
Michael Heesch could have a bright future as a lefty reliever in the big leagues. Heesch held lefties to a .197/.267/.265 this past year. Heesch spent the season with the Carolina League Champions, High-A Myrtle Beach, and was 8-2 in 33 games, two starts, with a 2.24 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Heesch gave up 19 runs, 16 earned, on 57 hits with 24 walks and 49 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.
The Cubs could take a player in the Rule 5 Draft. Theo Epstein has mentioned that is a possibility as the front office tries to fill needs and give Joe Maddon options. The Cubs have not been connected to any players they could be discussing taking a chance on in the draft.
Updates on players the Cubs could lose in the Rule 5 Draft will be posted.