Resetting the Rosters: Nothing is Given, Everything is Earned

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Chesny 73Most of the minor league affiliates released their opening day rosters on Monday. Due to backlogs, performances, change of position, and injuries, it took a while for rosters to be finalized from this weekend. There were a few surprises when they were released, especially at Myrtle Beach and Tennessee. As of Monday evening, Iowa had not been given their roster by the Chicago.

Things have changed a lot since Theo took over. In 2012, the Cubs minor league system was nearly barren. After 4 years of drafts and 5 years of international free agent signings, the Cubs system is redundant at most every position. So much so that this year’s minor league rosters have the fewest promotions of prospects. The major league team only added a few new players and that effect trickled down to the minors making fewer and fewer changes.

The Cubs are getting to the point that if a prospect is to move up a level, that prospect is going to have to dominate that level to get promoted. A  mediocre performance just isn’t getting it done anymore.

Nothing is given, everything is earned. The Cubs should hashtag that.

Here are the affiliate previews I wrote back in February for each Cubs minor league team.

Iowa Cubs

Tennessee Smokies

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

South Bend Cubs

Most of the previews are pretty close, but today’s rosters are different in many ways. Here are ten things about the rosters I found most interesting when they were released.

  1. This year’s Smokies basically received only three new starting position players – Victor Caratini, Chesny Young, and Mark Zagunis. Considering that 17 of the players on Myrtle Beach won their second consecutive title, you would think more would be coming, but in reality, only these three had proficient years at the plate.
  2. J martinez 79 2016 1Jonathan Martinez was an All-Star in the Carolina League in 2015. He did not get promoted to Tennessee. Then again, he’s only 21. But, how does a 2.56 ERA where opponents only hit .199 off you get you left behind? I am a little puzzled by that. Actually, I am a lot puzzled by that.
  3. Dave Berg and James Pugliese stay in Myrtle Beach to start the year. In 16 outings, Berg had a 1.69 ERA and was the closer down the stretch through the playoffs.
  4. Certain positions are being blocked. 3B, OF, and 2B are top heavy along with relievers. These are the positions where players were not promoted. For example, I don’t know why Danny Lockhart is on the same roster as Ian Happ when Happ is transitioning to second base in addition to being a first round pick and one of the top prospects in the system.
  5. Eddy Martinez will be in South Bend! I repeat, Eddy Martinez will be in South Bend! I was quite surprised to see this. The original plan was for him to acclimate to America in Arizona all summer. That plan has changed. And I can’t wait to see him line up beside Donnie Dewees and Eloy Jimenez every night.
  6. Preston Morrison is starting the year at South Bend. I thought for sure with his skillset and experience that he would be at Myrtle Beach to begin the year.
  7. There is no Jose Paulino or Pedro Araujo at South Bend. Both were powerful relievers last year at Eugene. I thought for sure they would be at South Bend. When Theo Epstein went out and signed several relievers this winter, most were destined to be on minor league deals at Iowa. That seems to have backed everyone up at this position.
  8. higgins 79Carlos Sepulveda made the South Bend roster. I am actually pretty pumped about this! I look forward to watching what he can do night in and night out. Another player I look forward to on that team is PJ Higgins who moved back to catcher but advanced. Recently this weekend, he was timed at 1.91 on a throw to second……yes, that is very good in case you were wondering.
  9. Taylor Davis bounced all the way down to Tennessee so that Willson Contreras could be the man in Iowa.
  10. Iowa hasn’t been given their roster. On Sunday, Arizona Phil of The Cub Reporter had over 40+ names still on it. I wonder if the Cubs are working on some minor league trades instead of giving up some of these players for nothing.

Several players were placed on the DL including Oscar de la Cruz and Duane Underwood. They were assigned to rehab in extended spring training (EST). Three names that seem to be rising  fast at EST are pitchers Junior Marte and Jose Albertos along with infielder Isaac Paredes.

In addition, 15 new players arrived for EST from the Cubs’ Dominican Academy. Most, but not all, of the 15 will stay in the US and play in the Arizona Rookie League, Some will go back and play in the Dominican. The list comes via The Cub Reporter.:

INF Aramis Ademan INF Jhonny Bethancourt RHP Hector Garcia
OF Jose Gonzalez RHP Jose Leidenz 3B Rafael Mejia
SS Rafael Narea LHP Pablo Ochoa LHP Eugenio Palma
SS-2B Yeiler Peguero SS Yonathan Perlaza OF Ruben Reyes
OF Abraham Rodriguez RHP Andri Rondon OF Jonathan Sierra
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