Roster cuts weren’t reserved for just the Major League club.
The Chicago Cubs released seven pitchers – all of whom were right-handed – in advance of the 2017 minor league season, per Baseball America. (The team also cut ties with shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, who is returning to play ball in Japan., but you already knew/cried about that.)
Let’s take a look at whom the Cubs let go:
- RHP Frank Batista – A strange career arc for this righty, who was signed by the Cubs in 2009, loaned to Tijuana of the Mexican League in 2014, and re-signed with the Cubs in January 2016 after being granted free agency in November 2016. Batista pitched in 266 career minor league games (made only 39 starts), and finished his Cubs career with 85 career saves, and a 2.97 ERA in 497 innings of work.
- RHP Dallas Beeler – Baseball America placed Beeler in its Cubs organizational top-30 twice (12th after 2011, 24th after 2013) and made his Major League debut on June 28, 2014 – a game in which he allowed just one unearned run in a six-inning start against the Nationals. It was one of five big league starts for Beeler over the course of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Beeler, a 41st-round draft pick by the Cubs in 2010, pitched 8.2 innings of relief for Triple-A Iowa in 2016, dealing with injury issues most of the year.
- RHP Greyfer Eregua – Signed as an international free agent in 2012, Eregua made 79 appearances in four lower-level stops. After making 15 starts in rookie ball, Eregua appeared as a reliever 64 times with stops in Boise (2014), Eugene (2015), and South Bend (2016). He has already caught on with the Los Angeles Angels system.
- RHP Jonathan Martinez – Acquired by the Cubs as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney (remember him?) to the Dodgers in 2014. Martinez started 51 times (53 total appearances) for Cubs affiliates from 2014 to 2016. He went 9-2 with a 2.56 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 23 games (21 starts) for Myrtle Beach in 2015. Martinez will turn 23 in June. [Brett: There was not a lot of projectability in Martinez as he moved up the ladder, and the Cubs are overloaded with mid-range starting pitching prospects in A/AA, but this was still a mild surprise. One of the side effects of the depth build up, though.]
- RHP Jordan Pries – Drafted by the Mariners in the 30th round in 2011, Pries was a footnote in the deal that sent Daniel Vogelbach to Seattle in exchange for Mike Montgomery. Pries made nine starts for the Iowa Cubs, going 5-2 with a 5.21 ERA in 46.2 innings, but walked more than 11 percent of the batters he faced for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate. At least Montgomery’s future looks bright.
- RHP Tyler Skulina – The Cubs drafted Skulina in the fourth round out of Kent State in 2013, but he didn’t ultimately advance past Double-A. Control issues were a concern, as Skulina posted a 5.0 BB/9 (12.03 BB%) in 2016, and was the owner of a 10.95 percent walk rate in 330.1 career minor league innings.
- RHP Michael Wagner – Drafted in the 15th round in 2013, Wagner was beginning to get some time as a starter (18 starts in 19 appearances) while splitting time between Tennessee and Iowa in 2016. His Cubs minor league career spanned 257.1 innings and featured a 3.74 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 4.05 BB/9, and 7.89 K/9.
These moves should make room for some younger pitchers to get a chance to move up in the organization.