Latest with Cubs on Rule 5 draft deadline


by - Staff Writer -
Cory Abbott is a solid prospect (Photo credit: Tennessee Smokies)
Cory Abbott is a solid prospect (Photo credit: Tennessee Smokies)

With all the talk surrounding the MLB offseason and what teams will do in free agency, one day is often overlooked. It is a day that revolves around the Minors, and people seem to not think about it. However, this day happens to be one of the more important days in an organization's season as it dictates what prospects will be added to the 40-man roster and what ones will not be.

In case you haven't guessed, I am talking about the Rule 5 draft as today is the deadline for Rule 5 protection of these players. This is a big day for the Cubs, as they certainly have many options to consider protecting.

At this point in the game, I think it is safe to say that Brailyn Marquez, Brennan Davis, Cole Roederer, and Miguel Amaya will all be added to the 40-man roster. They are the top prospects in the Cubs system and should be making the most significant impacts before anyone else. However, the rest of the decisions may not be as easy, and it all starts with Christopher Morel.

A top 10 prospect in his own right, the South Bend third baseman is an exciting piece. He is very young and very raw but has shown flashes of greatness both at the plate and in the field. Whenever the Cubs have been discussing trades the past few seasons, Morel's name comes up in talks, so other teams want him. The Cubs would be wise to bank on his potential now and add him to the roster. If they don't, there is no way the Cubs hold onto him during the rule 5 draft.

The rest of the options are up in the air, but unlike previous years, the Cubs won't have too many players to add. The second one I would add is RHP Cory Abbott. Coming off an incredible season where he earned the team's Minor League pitcher of the year honors, Abbott almost made a start this season for the Cubs after working out in South Bend this summer.

The ace of the Tennessee Smokies staff last season dominated the Southern League, posting numbers not seen by a Cubs minor league pitcher in over a decade. Adding him to the roster will only improve the Cubs starting pitching depth moving forward. Look for him to open the season in Iowa towards the front end of the rotation and waiting for his opportunity to make an impact on the big-league roster.

P.J. Higgins is perhaps the most challenging call of all the prospects at this point. Yes, he spent time with South Bend this summer and saw decent playing time in spring training. The problem is his position as he plays the same position that Amaya does. The Cubs still have both Victor Caratini and Willson Contreras on the roster, while Amaya is the future behind the plate. Add in Ethan Hearn and Ronnier Quintero, and the Cubs are set at that position for a long time.

That doesn't bode well for Higgins as he could be the odd man out and available for Rule 5 picking. The Cubs are faced with a tough decision that mainly revolves around carrying a third catcher. Do you add a guy like Higgins and give him a chance, or do you sign a veteran like the Josh Phegley deal and go that route? Whatever decision they make will provide fans with an idea of how soon they see Amaya ready. The more catchers in front of him, the longer away he is.

While the Cubs may not have too many position players to worry about, pitching is another story, and that is where this team will have to be selective. Both Trevor McGill and Michael Rucker were not only Rule 5 eligible last season but once again will be this season. It will be curious to see what happens to them.

As far as this season, Keegan Thompson and Dakota Mekkes are two arms that I think have the best chances to get protected and have good chances of being left off. Mekkes has always been viewed as a future bullpen option for the Cubs. For some reason hasn't been able to put it together in Iowa. Because of that reason, the Cubs may run out of patience with him.

On the other hand, Thompson will be the toughest decision to be made among pitchers. He didn't take the mound much in 2019 as injuries got in the way, but he was brilliant when he did take the mound. His performances in those outings were so good that if the Cubs leave him off the 40-man roster, they won't get him back as he will be picked up by someone else.

The rest of the prospects who don't make it shouldn't surprise you, as the Cubs will have to cut ties with some of these players they once had hopes for. Whatever decisions are made by the end of the day today will affect this franchise's future, so this is a big step in helping Jed Hoyer in his first year as President.

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