With minor league Spring Training underway in Mesa, Arizona, it was time for the big league Cubs to make their first cuts of the spring.
As is always the case with initial cuts, there are no huge surprises, though I’d mark one as a mild surprise this early.
Per the Cubs:
Right-handed pitcher Tyson Miller and infielder Robel Garcia been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Left-handed pitcher Justin Steele and right-handed pitcher Manuel Rodriguez have been optioned to Double-A Tennessee.
Seven non-roster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: Right-handed pitchers Jason Adam, Oscar De La Cruz, Caleb Simpson and Brock Stewart; left-handed pitchers Tyler Olson and C.D. Pelham; and catcher Jhonny Pereda.
Although he impressed in the early going, Rodriguez wasn’t going to make the big league club even if he hadn’t been set back by the biceps injury. Miller and Steele were always ticketed back for the upper-minors, and it was gonna take a rash of injuries (or obvious and extreme offseason development) for Garcia to crack the big league bench. He needs to show he’s adjusted – massively – on the contact side of things before he’ll be called back up. There’s probably more defensive versatility to work on, too.
None of the non-roster guys there had a legit shot to make the big league club with the exception of Adam, who flashed the big-spin fastball and nasty breaking ball in a few outings – it’s why the Cubs targeted him – but he also completely lost his control last time out, and was in on a minor league deal. It makes sense, with sooooo much volume on the relief side, that he’d initially head to Iowa.
The rest of the pitchers all have a chance to show something in the minors this year and work their way up. Keep an eye on De La Cruz (evergreen comment).
Pereda is great catching depth to have in the system, and has the potential to emerge as a big-league-caliber back-up if the bat comes along a little more (sometimes it develops much later for catchers).
After the cuts, the Cubs are down to 51 players in big league camp. Long way to go to 26 in the next three weeks.