LIVE: The 2021 Minor League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft - Hey, It's Something! (Update: Cubs add LHP Menez, lose RHP Ocampo)

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LIVE: The 2021 Minor League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft – Hey, It’s Something! (Update: Cubs add LHP Menez, lose RHP Ocampo)

Chicago Cubs

Baseball’s most niche event, the Rule 5 Draft, is taking place at 1 pm today. Well, kinda. The lockout is making things even more niche, as MLB is indefinitely delaying the more impactful Major League portion until after the Collective Bargaining Agreement is completed. If it happens at all. So what we’re left with is the minor league phase, which I’ll live-blog below, after we briefly introduce what the heck this thing is.

The minor league phase of the Rule 5, very simply put, is  an opportunity for players undervalued by their current organization to be given a change of scenery. Unlike the Major League phase, where the player must remain on the active roster for the entire season or be returned, there are no future roster requirements for drafted players. Those selected today are members of a new organization.

For brief history reminder, Cubs gained two and lost two pitchers in the 2020 minor league Rule 5, and they gained four and lost two in 2019.

So who is eligible? I’ll send you to Arizona Phil for an explanation on who is eligible for the Rule 5, but for the minor league phase, it’s Rule 5 eligible players who aren’t on either the 40-man roster OR the 38-man Triple-A roster. This should leave the Cubs with something in the neighborhood of 40-50 eligible draftees. Phil also has deep in that post his projection of who the Cubs might have protected (I’ll say Peyton Remy probably jumps out as a potential guy to be drafted away from the org, if that highlights for you the player type we’re talking about today.)

The fine folks at Baseball America have a list of best players available for us. I think Brett also makes a good point here, that the Cubs’ influx of new front office faces from different organizations gives the Cubs some inside knowledge on members of the Guardians, Rays, and Yankees organizations. And when you cross-reference it with BA’s list, there’s a decent amount of overlap. As for me, I’m thinking about positions in the organization where a little increased depth would be helpful.

I’ll be live-blogging this thing as Cubs-related picks roll in, both with players coming in and going out. Expect a few.

* * *

I’m here, and now realizing the introduction didn’t have this bit of important information: the Cubs will pick seventh in each round. Teams do have the right to pass on their selection, and the draft goes until all 30 teams are finished making selections.

You can, if you’re crazy, follow the draft with these links:

The Cubs are announced as having 34 players on their Triple-A reserve roster, meaning they have the flexibility to add up to four players in the draft.

We’re underway.

  • With their first pick, the Cubs select Conner Menez, a left-handed pitcher from the Giants. The lefty actually pitched in the Major Leagues in each of the 2019-2021 seasons. Reminds me a bit of the Brock Stewart selection from 2019. According to Baseball Savant, Menez has a fastball, slider, curveball mix. In the Majors last year, he used the slider 62% of the time, which is pretty unique. I would think Menez is competing in Spring Training for a Triple-A roster spot with recent signees Locke St. John and Stephen Gonsalves. Homegrown guys like Brandon Hughes, Scott Kobos, Bryan Hudson and Brendon Little (if he’s healthy) are in that mix, too.
  • Interesting note on Menez: he walked just 5 of the first 88 batters he faced this year, most of which were in the Major Leagues. Then, the control wheels fell off. He would walk 27 of his final 186 batters faced (14.5%). Maybe Cubs see a fix there?
  • Here is Menez striking out Jason Heyward on a good slider. Menez actually dominated the Cubs during their June series in San Francisco: posting four shutout innings with five strikeouts versus just one hit allowed.
  • With their second pick, the Cubs pass. Sad face.
  • The Cubs lose Carlos Ocampo to the Mets in the second round. Ocampo is a short-inning reliever that posted an ugly 5.85 ERA with Low-A Myrtle Beach last year, but I think he pitched a lot better than that. Had a strikeout rate of 12.7, mostly behind a solid changeup that he used to carve up lefties. His ERA stood at 3.57 — with a 32/3 K/BB rate — on July 4, but then he ran out of steam.

Let’s finish things up with a look at my projection for the Cubs organizational depth chart, as it stands right now.

Author: Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.