Amidst the buzz of off-field Cubs’ news, it’s easy to forget that pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 11th – 10 days from today.
Like all other ball clubs, the Cubs will expect all members of their 40 man roster to report in for spring training, but have extended invites to some players who currently don’t populate that list.
All 22 total roster invites are:
There’s one name that stands out far beyond the rest, and that’s Javier Baez. While it’s quite rare to give a young player who is years away from big league action an invite to spring training, Baez is an exception.
Baez’s raw tools are so good that he could easily play himself right up in to AA this season and the Cubs are bracing for this situation. These non-roster invites are typically reserved for players who could be playing in the major leagues in 2013 and this shows the potential the Cubs’ front office sees in the young man’s play.
Of course, the non-roster invite could also be a reward for his exemplary play in the minor leagues or a quick exposure to what major league caliber talent looks like. There’s a myriad of reasons why Baez is getting the invite, and it’s impossible to point directly to one reason. It’s likely a healthy mix of all 3 solutions.
The Cubs can do no harm to Baez by sending him to spring training, so why not?
Other notables on this list are Nick Struck (who was the Cubs’ MiLB pitcher of the year last season) and Barret Loux who both show solid potential and fall in to the “prospect” catagory. New signing Hinsanori Takahashi also made the list, but this was to be somewhat expected.
Casey Coleman, who saw a little bit of action for the Cubs last season has a chance to crack the big league roster, but at 25 years of age wouldn’t be considered a prospect. He’s more of a semi-solid bullpen filler arm type of player. For what it’s worth, most of the pitchers listed above have a chance to break in the big league roster.
Keep an eye out for Brent Lillibridge who was picked up by the Cubs on free agency this offseason. He has 4 years experience playing in the major leagues for various teams in just about every position imaginable. Maybe the Cubs will see some skillsets in his play and allocate him as a utility player on the bench for one set position. Hard to say really, but anyone who can sustain themselves for that long playing a variety of positions is worth taking note of.
Spring training officially begins February 23rd.