Today the Chicago Cubs are expected to welcome a pair of AA players from the Tennessee Smokies (whose season just ended, as team lost in the Southern League Championship Series), catcher Steve Clevenger and pitcher Rafael Dolis.

Clevenger, 25, has been in the Cubs’ system since 2007, and is a candidate to be the Cubs’ primary back-up catcher in 2012. He’s been transitioning to catcher for a number of years, and has always hit for average – he sports a career minor league line of .308/.369/.421. He was at .319/.383/.475 this year, splitting time between AA and AAA. Don’t expect Clevenger to get any starts in these last couple of weeks, even if Geovany Soto sits out a game; the smart money says such starts will go to Koyie Hill. You know, because Hill will be with the Cubs next year. (That’s totally sarcastic, but, given how many times Hill has risen from the dead with the Cubs, I kind of wonder….) Prove me wrong, Mr. Quade. Prove me wrong.

Dolis, 23, has been an organizational favorite since signing as a teenager six years ago. So enamored with Dolis were the Cubs that they placed him on the 40-man roster two years ago to protect him from the Rule Five Draft, even though he hadn’t yet pitched above High A, and was just 21 at the time. Since then, he’s managed only to creep up to AA, as his results have failed to meet the hype. This year, he was the Smokies’ closer for most of the year, logging 17 saves, a 3.22 ERA, a 1.321 WHIP, and striking out just 5.9 batters per nine innings. He may see an inning or two of work, but he’s going to have to impress the Cubs in Spring Training next year (if he makes it through Winter on the roster) if he hopes to pitch for the Cubs any time soon.

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