By Todd Johnson
It has been a busy week of little things happening. First, the Cubs signed pitcher Brett Anderson. The lefty will compete for the fifth or sixth spot in the rotation. When healthy, Anderson can have an ERA of under 3. But when not healthy, he misses three-quarters of the season. Luckily, the club signed him up for a $3.5 million deal with incentives up to $10 million.
Another possible arm became available this week when Hector Mendoza was declared a free agent by MLB. The Cuban right-handed pitcher will turn 23 on March 5. He will be able to sign with anyone as a free agent because of his experience in the Series Nacional and time spent in Japan. He likely could be a bullpen arm this year and then stretch out to a starter next year.
The Cubs also released a list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training who are not on the 40 man roster.
Right Handed Pitchers: Andury Acevedo, Maikel Cleto, Daniel Corcino, James Farris, Seth Frankoff, Jim Henderson, Casey Kelly, Jhondaniel Medina, Conor Mullee, Fernando Rodriguez and Ryan Williams
Left Handed Pitchers: Gerardo Concepcion, Manny Parra, and Zac Rosscup
Infielders: Chris Dominguez, Ian Happ, Munenori Kawasaki, Jemile Weeks and Chesny Young
Catchers: Carlos Corporan and Taylor Davis
Outfielders: John Andreoli, Eloy Jimenez, and Mark Zagunis.
Major League Baseball also released their bonus pools for the 2017 MLB draft. The Cubs’ bonus pool is set at $7,099,300. $4.5 million of that is earmarked for the 27th and 30th draft picks.
KEITH LAW WEEK: Farm System Rankings
ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Cubs farm system 18th out of 30. Considering the loss of Gleyber Torres and Dan Vogelbach last year, along with no #1 draft pick, the system was somewhat depleted of high-end talent. This year’s draft should help build the system back up with two top draft picks.
Over the course of the week, Keith Law released his top 100 prospects in baseball. The Cubs put three on that list with Dylan Cease at 86, Ian Happ at 63, and Eloy Jimenez cracked the top 20 at number 12. Considering the number of prospects above him who are already rostered at the MLB level, Eloy is more like number eight or number seven. As a result, he could be top 5 by the middle of summer.
On Tuesday, Law will release his top 10 prospects in the Cubs system. I will have a full article on that list for Wednesday’s post.
MLB Pipeline position rankings came out and the Cubs put three prospects in the lists at three positions. Ian Happ was ranked at number 3 for second baseman. Jeimer Candelario came in at number 5 for third baseman. And finally, Eloy was at number 4 in the outfield.
MLB Pipeline also released their top 100 prospects list on Saturday night. There were no big surprises for Cubs prospects. The same five who were on the list at the end of the year returned this year.
- Jeimer Candelario – He might be around a little longer than you think. The switch-hitter provides some depth at two premium positions now.
- Dylan Cease – I think this is the year he shoots up the list with a breakout at full season South Bend.
- Albert Almora – He will be off the list two weeks into the season and playing every day in center.
- Ian Happ – He slipped a little from 23 in 2016. I think he will be improved from 2016 in his second full season.
- Eloy Jimenez – He will be very good again at Myrtle Beach. However, when he gets to Tennessee is when his power should blossom.
By the middle of summer, don’t be surprised to see Oscar de la Cruz, Jose Albertos, Trevor Clifton, or Mark Zagunis in the top 100. DJ Wilson, Wladimir Galindo, and Erling Moreno could sneak onto there, too.
MLB.com’s top 30 prospects for each organization will be released later in February.
Keith Law’s top 10 Cubs’ Prospect List
Next Up Series: Mark Zagunis
Draft profile: The University of South Carolina starting rotation