The 40 Man Roster & Rule 5 Draft – Part 2

In Commentary And Analysis, Minor Leagues by JonKneeV13 Comments

Last post, we looked at the 40 man roster to try to see how many spots on the 40 man would be available. My best guess is that the 40 man would be reduced to 34 players, with as few as 29 players if the Cubs didn't sign any Free Agents prior to the draft.

Using my initial estimate however, that gives us 6 spots to protect players that are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, which is held on the last day of Winter Meetings each year (12/10/15). The Cubs have until 11/20 to add players to the 40-man roster. Any players that are not added by that date will be eligible to be selected in the draft.

For the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, 14 players were taken in 2014. 9 players were taken in the 2013 draft. Of the 23 players taken in those two drafts, 16 of them were pitchers. History tells us that teams believe pitchers have an easier transition to the majors than hitters do and teams tend to protect hitters that are in the upper minors. The Cubs lost LHP Andrew McKirahan to the Miami Marlins last year. McKirahan was then selected off waivers by the Braves and has been with the Braves since.

The Cubs lost two players in the minor league phase last year – OF Rock Shoulders and C Luis Flores. Both those players are still non-prospects. All 30 teams selected a player during the AAA minor league phase in 2014. Players taken in the minor league phase will not normally come back to bite you. An exception, however, was ex-Cub Justin Bour who hit 23 HRs for the Miami Marlins this year when he was selected in 2013 in the AAA phase of the draft.

Here are some notable Rule 5 Eligible players (h/t AZ Phil at The Cub Reporter)

  • John Andreoli, OF
  • Pedro Araujo, RHP
  • Jeffrey Baez, OF
  • Corey Black, RHP
  • Jeimer Candelario, INF
  • Josh Conway, RHP
  • Taylor Davis, C
  • Shawon Dunston Jr, OF
  • P. J. Francescon, RHP
  • Michael Heesch, LHP
  • Michael Jensen, RHP
  • Pierce Johnson, RHP
  • Jonathan Martinez, RHP
  • Yoanner Negrin, RHP
  • Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP
  • James Pugliese, RHP
  • Bijan Rademacher, OF
  • Tayler Scott, RHP
  • Daury Torrez, RHP
  • Dan Vogelbach, 1B
  • Willson Contreras, C
  • Starling Peralta, RHP
  • Logan Watkins, 2B/UTIL

Locks to be protected:

Jeimer Candelario, INF

  • Candelario has been considered a top prospect in the Cubs system for the last 3 years or so. Reports are that he plays a passable 3B but will likely move to 1B or the corner OF in the majors. In 2015, Candelario slashed .277/.339/.431 across A+ and AA. In his promotion to AA, he had a wOBA of .389 through 182 PAs. Candelario will most likely open 2016 in AA.

Dan Vogelbach, 1B

  • It has been talked about a lot, but if Dan Vogelbach isn’t traded, he’ll be protected.  Vogelbach was a 2nd round pick in 2011 and has produced with the bat at each level. He’s a DH. You really can’t justify 1B anymore unless you’re OK with Pedro Alvarez-level defense there. Since Vogelbach slimmed down after 2012, his power went with it. Still, he’s produced a wOBA over .354 at every stop thanks to great contact and walk skills.

Pierce Johnson, RHP

  • Johnson was the supplemental pick from the 2012 draft. He has consistently shown up in the Cubs Top 10 prospects for years.  Johnson has had injuries over the years that have stalled his development. Dmick will be the first to tell you that his K rate leaves a lot to be desired. I’m going to defer to scouting reports that he has two plus pitches, but needs to work on control. Chris Bosio mentioned earlier this year not to look much into the numbers for guys in the minors because some players are working on specific skills, rather than results. Johnson would seem to be one of those guys they’re talking about.

Willson Contreras, C

  • Contreras is the Cubs breakout prospect from 2015. Contreras had a .333/.413/.478 slash at AA this year good for a .413 wOBA (!). That earned his Cubs Minor League POTY honors. He was signed as a 16 year old out of Venezuela which makes him a 6 year minor league free agent. Contreras is said to be solid, if unspectacular, behind the plate. This is your projected catcher of the future. He's currently in the AFL getting extra reps.

Some other guys

John Andreoli, OF

  • Andreoli is a 2011 draft pick in the 17th round. Since then, he’s continued to move up the system slowly. After a brutal 2014 campaign, he rebounded nicely for a .352 wOBA in 2015. He is a threat on the bases and could be the 5th OF-er of the future if the FO is ready to move on from Matt Szczur.

Jeffrey Baez, OF

  • Baez is an international signee from 2011 out of Venezuela. He’s a guy that has needed multiple seasons at each level to move up. He’s someone to watch in the AA and AAA phases of the Rule 5, as he spent all of 5 games at A+. Baez is a threat on the bases and ranked as the 25th best prospect by Fangraphs back in 2014. 

Corey Black, RHP

  • Black was acquired from the Yankees in the Alfonso Soriano trade. Black is shorter than a typical starter (5’11’’) and since the day he was acquired it was assumed he would transition to the bullpen. Black finally made that transition this year and it hasn’t gone swimmingly to say the least. Still, he gets strikeouts and the FO seems to think highly of him. He’s currently in the AFL, presumably for the FO to get more looks at him before deciding on his 40-man candidacy.

Bijan Rademacher, OF

  • Rademacher was another 2012 draft product in the 13th round. He's a lefty bat with a career 18% K rate and 8% walk rate with both those trending in a positive direction. One downside is that he is a light hitting corner outfielder. However his high contact rate and recent success could bait some team to take him in hopes of becoming a decent 4th/5th OFer.

Josh Conway, RHP

  • Conway is a 4th round pick in 2012, however he didn't debut until 2014 due to Tommy John surgery. Since then, he's outperformed his peripherals  in the 'pen over 2014 & 2015, pitching a combined 88 innings across A & A+ to a tune of 2.52 ERA and 3.70 FIP. He seems like a guy who some team might take with the renowned "David Patton" disease.

Taylor Davis, C

  • This is an interesting one, as he seems like a guy in the high minors with better bat skills than Taylor Teagarden. Davis was pretty much a non-prospect until 2014. Since then over two seasons and 512 PAs, he's had a wOBA over .360 across AA & AAA. He's 25, turning 26. If he's not protected, that should tell you if the FO thinks his recent success will translate to the bigs. Another consideration is that breakout catching prospect & Cubs Minor League POTY Willson Contreras is in AA knocking on the door to AAA. 

Daury Torrez, RHP

  • Torrez is a big righty out of the Dominican Republic. Currently, he doesn't miss many bats, but he gets by with a miniscule walk rate and WHIP. He's been a starter, logging 134.1 innings in 2015. Torrez is still working his way up, reaching only A+ last year. As a starter, he works 92-94 with his fastball. This might be a case of someone taking a risk on him hoping that ticks up to mid-90s out of the pen in the majors.

I'd guess the following get protected: Vogelbach, Contreras, Candelario, Johnson, Black, Rademacher, & Andreoli. If the Cubs are short on 40 man spots, players that will have value in a trade and could open up more spots include Dan Vogelbach, Christian Villaneuva, & Arismendy Alcantara. 

Let me know who you would protect. Or don't, I can't tell you what to do.

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  1. Author

    @ryno I’m (regrettably) a Purdue fan, but have seen Connor Cook play a little bit outside of the MSU-Purdue game. I don’t get what the pundits see when they’re saying he’s a first round pick. He’s looked terrible every time I’ve watched him.
    If the Bears took him in the first round, I’d be really pissed. You mentioned he’s a Day 2 pick, but almost everywhere still has a 1st round grade on him. To my untrained eye, he looks like a huge reach resembling EJ Manunel, Blaine Gabbert, etc.

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  2. Author

    Just of note in case anyone forgot, the Cubs selected Hector Rondon with the 2nd pick in the 2012 Rule 5 draft. Rondon was a talented pitcher that reached AAA by 2010 (20 years old) before getting Tommy John surgery after the season and fracturing his elbow in 2011. He still made it back to AA by 2012, but wasn’t protected by the Indians.

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  3. berselius


    I’ve only seen games from Goff, Connor Cook, Cardale, Kessler, Kevin Hogan and Boykin at this point.

    Goff is tops at this point. Texas was kind of a pushover defensively, but he showed well against them. He anticipated throws, moved well and looked very mature in the pocket.

    After him, Cook looks like a Day 2 pick.

    Kessler is intriguing and worth a deeper look. I want to see if Hogan has improved any over previous seasons where he’s looked like shit. Both are Day 3 options for me right now.

    I’m eager to scout Paxton Lynch, Hackenberg, Gunner Kiel, Brandon Doughty, Carson Wentz and Jacoby Brissett. Feels like there’s a good chance to find a gem in the later rounds with this bunch.

    I’ve seen a decent number of PSU games since my brother is an alum and am completely baffled at the idea that Hackenberg is a NFL prospect.

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  4. Ryno


    I watched one series of a PSU game and I was shocked that a Division I school put together such a godawful offensive line. It seems like you’d have to try to be that bad.

    I won’t make excuses for him, though, because I haven’t watched enough to know what he is. But when it comes to NFL prospects, it starts with measurables.

    When you’re looking at QBs in particular, you can pretty much rule out all but a handful (at best) each year with arm strength, age and hand size. If you’re 22 years old, have 10-inch hands and can throw a football 55 mph, the NFL will give you every chance to succeed.

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  5. myles


    I watched one series of a PSU game and I was shocked that a Division I school put together such a godawful offensive line. It seems like you’d have to try to be that bad.

    You clearly haven’t watched Purdue, then.

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  6. berselius


    Even Wisconsin’s line is awful this year, which has been jarring. It makes sense, since they basically have three rookies on it (now four, with Voltz out), but still.

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  7. Rice Cube

    I agree with your list of protectees, but I think the Cubs will trade one or both of Vogelbach and Christian Villanueva. I feel like they want to see if Alcantara can figure stuff out first before they give up on him.

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