The Cubs held a second round of minor league cuts this week, with between 28 and 30 minor league players being released in the last few days.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper has both the names and an unfortunate statistic:
The Cubs have released 28 MiLB players in the past week. They also released 22 in March, so they have now released 50 players March-May. No team in 2018 or 2019 released that many players in that three-month span. pic.twitter.com/6XDwL5OO1I
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) May 29, 2020
This comes on the heels of the Cubs decision to pay minor league players through June (including the above players). It also comes soon before a shortened five-round MLB Draft that will leave the undrafted free agent market extra competitive. I think it’s fair to wonder how teams like the Cubs will be impacted in that market, depending on the perception of their minor league pay decisions and also their cuts.
For the most part, the names being released are players that were set to be minor league free agents at the end of the 2020 season. Asuaje, Beltre, Brickhouse, Choplick, Cuevas, Joseph, Masters, Patterson, Procyshen, Simpson, Stewart, Taylor, Tenuta were all players added to the Cubs organization this offseason, and if they weren’t going to contribute this year, a separation was likely coming in a few months at the latest.
What jumps out to me on the list of names are two pitchers: Oscar De La Cruz and Jake Stinnett. Their simultaneous release highlights the Cubs problems with pitching development in the mid-to-late 2010s. De La Cruz was once a top five prospect in the organization; Stinnett the Cubs second selection in the 2014 draft. Both have a prototypical pitcher’s body, have touched the mid 90s with their fastball and haven thrown well-regarded breaking balls. While injuries took a toll on both players over the years, their Cubs careers ending having never even reached Iowa is an organizational disappointment, underscoring how poorly pitcher development has gone in the current era.
Six of the released players – Stinnett, Burks, Glowicki, Hockin, Mort, Reynolds – were drafted in the top 10 rounds. Burks, along with Zach Hedges, Roberto Caro and Ian Rice, were the four players the Cubs had developed to the Triple-A level. I’ll particularly feel the loss of Reynolds, Rice, and Wladimir Galindo, three players that were once top 40-or-so prospects that stood out in batting practice in a system bereft of raw power.
With changes coming to the minor leagues, organizational depth is getting slashed league wide. What player development will look like in 2020 remains a mystery. We wish the best to these players.