Cubs Prospect Notes: Rule 5 Risks and Opportunities, PCA as Javy, Davis's Injury, More

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Cubs Prospect Notes: Rule 5 Risks and Opportunities, PCA as Javy, Davis’s Injury, More

Chicago Cubs

We are a week away from the Rule 5 Draft, and Baseball America is up to 25 names on its preview list of players to watch in the draft. The good news? No Cubs prospects are on the list yet. That’s not a PERFECT proxy for how all the front offices are viewing the value of these players in the draft, but it’s at least a data point. If the Cubs can get through the Rule 5 without losing any prospects, that would be outstanding.

And before you say it: no, this doesn’t mean the Cubs have bad prospects. Players taken in the Rule 5 Draft have to go immediately onto the 26-man roster and stick there all season if the team wants to keep them. Thus, the contours of the top Rule 5 Draft prospects are not exactly the same as the contours of the best overall long-term prospect. The hope is that there are so many more big-league-ready-ish prospects available in the Rule 5 this year that none of the Cubs’ eligible prospects – the best of whom seem far away from being big league ready – look attractive enough to poach.

For fun, a name that stuck out to me on the BA list? Rays outfield prospect Kameron Misner, a lefty-batting, speedy center fielder who’d previously ranked top 15 in their system. He did hit at Double-A last year (251/.384/.431/120 wRC+), but it wouldn’t necessarily translate immediately in the big leagues. So you’d be taking him for the glove and the speed on your bench (BA):

Misner is the type of player who could benefit from the 26-man roster rule. With 25-man rosters and teams sometimes carrying 14-player pitching staffs, it would be hard to see a team carrying Misner as the lone backup outfielder on the roster. Right now, his passivity and contact issues would likely be exposed in extensive big league playing time, but he does have some clear strengths as well. He’s an athletic outfielder who is above-average in center and plus in the corners with the arm to play right field. He is a productive basestealer as well—he stole 32 bags in 39 tries. Misner also loves to work counts. He’s posted a career .373 on-base percentage in the minor leagues. Misner is much better against righthanders (.270/.398/.445) than lefties (.188/.339/.385), which makes him a potentially useful fit as a backup outfielder who serves as a defensive replacement, pinch runner and spot starter against some righthanders.

With expanded benches, I can see a spot for a speedy defensive center fielder on the bench. Remember, there are now going to be five sure-fire bench spots on your roster, since the pitching staff is limited to 13, and no pitchers hitting means less need to blow through pinch-hitter types. A guy who can play great defense in center and also be a pinch-runner in the new rules system? And who has upside longer-term? For the price of a Rule 5 pick? I’m intrigued.

And yes, there will always be those high-upside arms available in the Rule 5 Draft to try out in your bullpen, though the Cubs actually have a number of their own already (and the bullpen is limited to eight, you’ll recall).

Other Cubs prospects notes …

  • Pete Crow-Armstrong modeled his game off of Javy Báez, and I’m in love:

“I modeled my game after Javy, first and foremost,” Crow-Armstrong said. “Energy-wise, style of play, character-wise — I think that’s a guy that a lot of kids should be looking up to in terms of how to keep the fun in the game and the flair in the game and how to be a good leader. Javy was big for me once I started developing as a player.

“But from the start, I’d say it was Andrew McCutchen — he definitely got me excited to play center field. And then [Ken] Griffey [Jr.] and Rickey Henderson, all those guys kinda share a lot of the same qualities in terms of the prominence that they hold on the baseball field, the space that they actually take up. Defensively, offensively — whoever you are as a baseball player, those are all good guys to try and model your game after.”

  • As noted in the Bullets, there’s more information now on Brennen Davis’s setback in the Arizona Fall League:

We knew that whatever shut Brennen Davis down almost as soon as the Fall League began was probably not good, but everything offered up about it was so vague, it was hard to tell what was going on. Now Sahadev Sharma reports that it was a stress reaction in his back (a stress reaction is basically when there is irritation at a bone site, but without a fracture – usually comes from repetitive motion, and you hear about it more frequently with pitchers in their arms/shoulders). I can only speak generally in saying that stress reactions are manageable – usually with a lot of time to rest and then addressing what caused it in the first place – but I will add that it’s concerning to me that it seems like an entirely different back issue from the one that was addressed surgically earlier in the year. Maybe it’s not, and maybe this is indeed an after-effect of the surgery. Again, it’s really hard to tell right now. All I can say for sure is that the report is that he was shut down for a stress reaction in his back, and that’s not mere “general soreness.” Expectations for Davis in 2023 have to remain tempered. Extremely and unfortunately tempered. This sucks.

  • Matt Mervis talks hitting:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.