Today, the Chicago Cubs made their first set of Spring Training roster cuts, sending eight players to minor league camp.
Pitchers Pierce Johnson, Armando Rivero, Donn Roach, Corey Black, and Hunter Cervenka head out, together with catcher Rafael Lopez, third baseman Christian Villanueva, and infielder Logan Watkins.
Johnson is likely to be in the rotation at AAA Iowa to start the year, unless the Cubs decide he needs a little more time at AA after an injury-filled 2014 season. He’s one to watch for the future, but he wasn’t a threat to make the big league team just yet. Ditto guys like Rivero, Roach, Black, and Cervenka, all of whom could figure into the Cubs’ bullpen picture in the near-term future, but not right out of camp. Black could head to the rotation at Tennessee or Iowa, though his future impact spot is probably in the pen. Roach has been a starter most of his career, and he’s got an excellent sinker, but the Cubs have made reference to a bullpen future. Rivero and Cervenka are a power right and lefty, respectively, and will be very interesting to follow this year. Rivero, in particular, has been a dominant reliever in his ascent up the minor league ladder.
Rafael Lopez is, for now, the fourth catcher on the 40-man roster, and he’ll be catching depth for the Cubs at Iowa, together with veteran Taylor Teagarden. Villanueva will be the primary third baseman at Iowa this year (post-Bryant), and will probably need to show something to stick on the 40-man roster through another year.
Logan Watkins, unfortunately, is out for most, if not all, of the 2015 season after tearing his achilles.
The Spring roster is down to 53. Just 28 spots to go …