Today, the Chicago Cubs trimmed the Spring roster by 12, sending top prospects Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora to minor league camp as they ready for the season.
Kyle Schwarber’s first big league Spring Training started as well as it possibly could – I mean that literally, since he hit a grand slam in his very first at bat on his birthday. He’ll head to minor league camp to continue developing skills behind the plate. There is cautious optimism that, in time, he’ll be able to be at least a part-time catcher in the big leagues. When the season opens, he’ll be at AA Tennessee, and, if the bat does what we expect it to do, and if the receiving skills come along a little bit, he could see Iowa by the end of the minor league season.
Albert Almora had a very nice camp, himself, showing great defense in center field, and a nice stroke at the plate. He didn’t see a lot of pitches, which was obviously his primary issue last year. But, still, he reached AA as a 20-year-old (the Cubs felt he was ready for that challenge), which is encouraging. He’ll likely head back there to start the season, and could also see time at AAA before the year is through. Here’s hoping he sees some pitches.
Of more immediate note, the Cubs also cut relievers Joe Ortiz and Blake Parker, each of whom had an outside shot at a bullpen job, but, with minor league options remaining, was always likely to be bound for AAA Iowa to start the year. Ortiz pitched well this Spring, and should be among the first guys called up if there’s a need in the bullpen. Parker’s Spring was mixed, but I’d imagine he still factors into the bullpen equation at some point this season.
The other eight cuts are not surprising: pitchers Daniel Bard, Francisley Bueno, Anthony Carter, Jorge De Leon, and Gonzalez Germen, and position players Mike Baxter, Adron Chambers, and Chris Valaika. Bard is a reclamation project that isn’t going too well, while the other arms are mostly depth or small-chance upside plays. Baxter is interesting depth to have at AAA Iowa, and Chambers has good speed. We know what Valaika can do, and you never know when his versatility might be needed.
The Cubs’ Spring roster is down to 40. Only 15 more to go …
[For the diehards among you who miss the “the second cut is the prospectiest” thing I used to do in these titles, I was totally going to do it for this one. But there wasn’t a great harmonizing principle to bring it all together. So I bailed.]