I’ve been asked to speak publicly a handful of times over the years — performing a wedding ceremony, handling my grandmother’s eulogy, a couple of best man speeches, etc. — and I’ve discovered one trick/tip that always seems to help: Before you actually go out there and do your thing, it helps to physically stand in the location of the speech. For me, that simple act helps shake some of the nerves by becoming more comfortable with your surroundings and removing some of the mystery/variables you don’t necessarily expect (Oh, man, that light is shining right in my eyes!).
According to the latest from Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney at The Athletic, the Cubs may have a similar philosophy when it comes to prospects. So they’re planning a minor-league minicamp at Wrigley Field later this week with 14 of their best prospects:
“The goal is for this to be a precursor for their first call-up to Wrigley,” said Jared Banner, the vice president of player development for the Cubs. “We want to give them a chance to meet the coaching staff, meet the support staff that they’ll grow to lean on once they get up to the big leagues here. Get used to their surroundings, get out on the field, see what the mound feels like, see what the batter’s box feels like, things of that nature. And then probably the most important reason is just to set them up for a productive offseason by going over specifically where they are now, where they want to go, and how we’re going to get them there.”
From a fan perspective, that’s freakin’ awesome! And really exciting. And organizationally, I think it’s a simple and great idea. For all the reasons described above. According to The Athletic, the camp will begin on Friday and carry on through the weekend, giving these prospects a chance to work out with big leaguers, the MLB staff, and Jed Hoyer’s front office.
So who’s attending? I think you’ll be familiar with a few of these guys …
Pitchers: Ben Brown, Ryan Jensen, DJ Herz, Jordan Wicks, Ben Leeper, and Daniel Palencia
Position Players: Brennen Davis, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Owen Caissie, Matt Mervis, Chase Strumpf, Darius Hill, Yonathan Perlaza, and Yohendrick Pinango
That list includes four of the Cubs top 10 prospects and 12 of their top-26 according to the Baseball America: PCA (No. 1), Davis (No. 2), Caissie (No. 8), Wicks (No. 9), Brown (No. 11), Herz (No. 13), Pinango (No. 17), Mervis (No. 20), Hill (No. 22), Strumpf (No. 23), Jensen (No. 25), and Palencia (No. 26).
The only guys who will be in attendance but are not currently in the Cubs top-30 at the moment, Perlaza and Leeper, are both quality prospects in their own right.
On top of this camp being a great idea organizationally — both for the development of players, but also as a reward for certain prospects who’ve shown out this season — it could also provide some insight on the Cubs’ 40-man roster decisions.
Remember, certain players must be added to the 40-man roster by November 18, lest they be at risk of selection in the Rule 5 Draft. And while some decisions are especially easy given how close they are to MLB (Brennen Davis and Ben Brown, for example) others are a little less clear (Jensen, Strumpf, Hill, Perlaza, and Pinango are also eligible).
Then there are some interesting cases like Yohendrick Pinango. There’s almost no chance that a 20-year-old outfielder with mixed results at High-A is going to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, so he won’t need to be protected this offseason with a 40-man roster spot. But the Cubs are still bringing him in for this prospect camp? That’s really interesting, and likely says a lot on how they feel about his future.
We’ll likely have more to discuss on this front after the weekend, but I wanted to put it on your radar in case you start seeing some of your favorite prospects in Chicago this weekend.