Chicago Cubs: Four Rule 5 draft eligible players added to MLB roster

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Cubs added four minor league players to their 40-man MLB roster to protect them from December’s Rule 5 draft.  There are some surprises on those left available.

Every year, teams like the Chicago Cubs must protect individual minor league players from the Rule 5 draft, a somewhat complicated process that I’ve linked to an excellent description of here.

The four Chicago Cubs players include catcher Miguel Amaya, pitchers Tyson Miller and Manuel Rodriguez, and shortstop Zach Short.

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After Nico Hoerner, Miguel Amaya is the Cub’s most significant up-and-coming prospect. Since being selected at age 17 from Panama, the 20-year old catcher has impressed as he has progressed in the Cubs system.  He was named to the 2018 and 2019 Futures Games, and last season was assigned to the Cubs High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, where he slashed .235/.351/.402 with a .753 OPS.

If Amaya continues to progress up through the system, we could see him in 2021 or 2022.

The two pitchers

Tyson Miller and Manuel Rodriguez aren’t perhaps the most well-known among Cubs Pitching prospects, but their path to the Show is being built.

Miller was a fourth-round pick in 2016. Last season in Double-A Miller broke out. In 88 innings, he pitched to a 2.56 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and set a career-high 4.44 SO/W ratio.  Triple-A proved a bit more of a struggle but look for the 24-year-old him to start there in 2020 and keep an eye on him.

Rodriguez is 23 and from Mexico, and projects as a high strikeout/low walk pitcher. Like Miller, he started strong in Low-A ball, struggled in parts of two seasons in A-Ball, then recovered in High-A ball, where he threw 47 innings and posted a 3.45 ERA and 1.277 WHIP.

Rodriguez is a couple of years behind Miller, but he’s another pitcher to keep an eye on over the next couple of years.

The shortstop

24-year-old Zack Short was a Cubs 17th round pick in 2016.  Currently ranked 9th in the Cubs Top 30 list, his progress was slowed significantly in 2019 by a broken finger that took him out from April to June.

Nonetheless, the Cubs expect Short to be a part of the next wave of draft picks to start populating the MLB roster in the near future.

Who the Cubs left unprotected

Among 79 Cubs minor players eligible for the Rule five draft are some surprises. One is RHP Oscar De La Cruz. Despite serving a suspension, De La Crus has posted a 3.45 ERA and 1.163 WHIP in 428 1/3 innings in seven seasons in the minors.  I’m a little surprised given the Cubs’ need for young arms that he wasn’t protected.

Trent Giambrone is another surprise in the ranks of the unprotected.  A 25th round pick, Giambrone posted a .327/.400/.490 slash and .890 OPS in the Arizona Fall League in 2018.  Though his numbers suffered somewhat in Triple-A last year, it’s still surprising the Cubs were not willing to protect the soon to be 26-year-old.

Lastly, P.J. Higgins, a 26-year old catcher, and 12th round pick posted a .291/.374.521 and .895 OPS in 36 games.  He’s closer to the Show than Amaya and will almost certainly be lost in the Rule 5 draft in December.

Other notable players left open for plucking are 25-year old RHP Dakota Mekkes with a 2.20 ERA and 1.182 WHIP in 196 innings over four minor league seasons, and 23-year-old catching prospect Jhonny Pereda.

Who might be on their radar

Here is an intriguing list of players left unprotected by each of the 30 MLB teams. Since you must place a player picked in the Rule 5 Draft on the 26-man roster all season, as well as pay $100,000 for the pick, teams are careful with these choices.

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I think the Cubs will seek out pitching and the Blue Jays Jackson McClelland, the Red Sox Eduard Bazardo, the Nationals Sterling Sharp, and the Cardinals Connor Jones would all be attractive targets for the Cubs.  This December will be interesting, to say the least.

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