There are three big times of the year when you see the minor league system thinned by mass releases. The first comes late in Spring Training, when rosters are being constructed, playing time is being sorted out for development, and players who maybe just aren’t going to make it are let go. The second comes after the draft, which, combined with midseason promotions and the evaluations that preceded them, leads the organization to move on from another set of players. And the last comes in November, after the season and post-season evaluations/instructional ball. The offseason means new signings are coming, and the organization has to make tough decisions about who is going to stick around heading into the next Spring Training and who is not.
Thus, the most recent round of minor league releases for the Cubs organization:
#Cubs have released the following minor league players:
RHP Garrett Kelly
RHP Dawel Rodriguez
RHP Marco Prieto
RHP Jorge Remon
LHP Chris Allen
1B Shendrik Apostel
2B Matt Burch
3B Widimer Joaquin
OF Vance Vizcaino
— MiLB-Transactions (@tombaseball29) November 24, 2021
Apostel is probably the most notable name, as he was the return from the Pirates in the Duane Underwood Jr. trade. Out of minor league options, Underwood stuck on the Pirates big league roster all year, posting roughly league average numbers out of the bullpen (though his results were pretty bad after mid-June). Apostel is a big youngster who has to get value out of his bat, and the Cubs took a chance on the physical upside. Unfortunately, Apostel didn’t hit in the Complex League at age 21, and that can be a threshold problem for a player.
Vizcaino is an older minor leaguer who put up decent numbers at Double-A Tennessee, but couldn’t carry it forward after an in-season bump to Triple-A Iowa. There weren’t going to be outfield starts available there next year, with Brennen Davis, Nelson Velazquez, Greg Deichmann, Narciso Crook, Jared Young, Christopher Morel, and Nelson Maldonado all needing regular starts, much of which will have to come in the outfield. I wouldn’t yet call it an OVERly crowded group, but moving guys around between first base and DH is going to buy only so many ABs for fringe guys and reclamation types. (Heck, it’s conceivable the Cubs could even want infielders like Chase Strumpf and Levi Jordan to see time in the outfield at Iowa for versatility purposes.)