Chicago Cubs: Veterans highlight minor league class


The 2016 campaign is upon us and the Chicago Cubs are eager to wash the bad taste of the NLCS from their mouth. Javier Baez, a trio of veterans, and the season openers across the minors circuit highlight this week’s The Call-up.

Baez to the DL

The news just never seems to go well for Javier Baez. After a particularly rough 2015 which saw Baez on the disabled list and was capped off with the tragic death of his sister, it now appears Baez will take a step back in his development with the Cubs.

For Baez, 23, 2016 was a make it or break it year. The focus over the last two seasons has been on cutting down the strikeouts while making him into a more versatile player defensively. The additions of Ben Zobrist and the fact that manager Joe Maddon likes the bat of Tommy La Stella, Baez has had to reinvent his game.

More from Chicago Cubs Prospects

Before the latest injury to his hand, Baez was working towards winning one of the final roster spots to fill in as another “super-utility” player for Maddon to use. I suggested last week that Baez could benefit more by transitioning his game in the minors, where he would get more time to play.

The nagging thumb injury did, in fact, open the door for guys like Matt Szczur to make the MLB roster. Once Baez returns and has a chance to rehab the thumb, a stint in Triple-A Iowa could make the most sense. Before the season is completed, Baez should still be poised for a major role in the success of the Chicago Cubs.

Veterans Headline Minor League Deals

As quickly as they were dismissed, they were back. Veterans Shane Victorino, Manny Parra, and Munenori Kawasaki have signed minor league deals to stay with the Cubs this season. It should come to no surprise that these long-shots didn’t break camp with the team. An incredibly deep talent pool has made it very difficult to find a place in the 25-man roster.

Victorino, who has moved often in the last few years, is just looking to continue to play the game he loves. An injury has forced him to the shelf, but the 12-year vet accepted a rehab assignment and should join the Iowa Cubs once he has been cleared for full participation.

Manny Parra and Munenori Kawasaki will begin the season in Triple-A barring some injury or other issues. Parra has a history in the NL Central during his days with the Milwaukee Brewers and was brought in to compete for a spot in the bullpen as a lefty specialist. The steep hill ahead if he proved too slick, as Travis Wood and Clayton Richards won the roles in Mesa.

Kawasaki, is, for the most part, an unknown to Cubs fans. As a career .234 hitter, Kawasaki has never been known as a prolific threat at the plate. Most headlines involving Kawasaki this spring has involved his fun-loving spirit and class-clown antics.

In the sunset of their careers, Victorino, Parra, and Kawasaki know their limits and will do a fantastic job no matter where they are. They represent organizational depth that will be needed later in the season. If the Cubs hope to succeed, they will need to rely on the occasional contribution from guys like this. This is why veterans are brought in to help young players. Each guy has been there and has seen what it takes to win.

Next: Cubs reflect on no-hitters

Minor League Baseball is back!

Here is a rundown of the action throughout the Cubs minor league system:

Iowa Cubs (Triple-A)

  • vs. Round Rock Express April 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th

Tennessee Smokies (Double-A)

  • vs. Mobile BayBears April 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Single-A Advanced)

  • @ Charleston RiverDogs April 6th
  • vs. Frederick Keys April 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th

South Bend Cubs (Single-A)

  • vs. West Michigan Whitecaps April 7th and 8th
  • @ West Michigan Whitecaps April 9th and 10th