By Todd Johnson
Evaluating talent is a risky business. This week, we have seen many ways in which talent has been overvalued, undervalued, and likely, in more cases than not, some prognostications and predeterminations have been just about right. Today, the Rule V Draft took place for both the major and minor leagues. The Cubs lost reliever Armando Rivero, who just turned 28, in the major-league portion of the draft to the Braves. In the AAA section, Danny Lockhart, an outstanding glove man, was selected by the Diamondbacks.
The Cubs, meanwhile, traded cash to the Milwaukee Brewers for the fourth pick in the draft, pitcher Caleb Smith. The lefty reliever, originally from the Yankees system, threw 63.2 IP for AA Trenton in 2016. While his ERA was 3.96, he showed much better with an excellent 3.15 FIP. His strikeout was very good at 25% while only walking 7%. For the year, he had better splits vs righties than lefties (2.63 vs. 6.35) and he had a 1.19 ERA in day games.
According to the rules, Smith has to remain on the Major League roster for all of 2017. The only exception is that he can be on the DL for up to 90 days.
Cutting to the chase, the Cubs are in need of LHP. Smith fits that bill. Whether he can break camp with the Cubs, in what will likely shape up to be a very competitive bullpen, is a story for another day. I would say the odds are slim. At 25, Smith has yet to pitch above AA for an extended length.
Kevin Cornelius was also another Yankee selected by the Cubs but in the AAA phase. The 24-year-old former shortstop just completed his first stint at A ball in 2016. The 31st round pick out of Grayson College in 2013 played mostly at first base and some at third. While only hitting .277 in 43 games, he showed a good approach with a .374 OBP, 7 HRs, and 27 RBIs in his brief tenure at Tampa. Likely, he will be at Myrtle Beach or AA Tennessee to begin the year.