Cubs: Andy Weber, Chase Strumpf join club as non-roster invitees

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Andy Weber and Chase Strumpf are enjoying the sunshine in Arizona. Cubs MLB beat writer Jordan Bastian broke the news that the two have joined the club at spring training as non-roster invitees.

Thus, unfamiliar, non-roster invitees, most commonly referred to as ‘NRI’s,’ are not officially a part of the 40-man roster but participate with the big league camp during spring training.

Weber and Strumpf join fellow prospect Brennen Davis, seen by some as the club’s top overall prospect, as two of the more well-known guys in the system. Strumpf is viewed as a top ten prospect in the system, while Weber is on the cusp of reaching status in the top 30.

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The news on a grander scale may not seem overly exciting to fans who aren’t fully vested in the current crop of the Cubs’ system. However, it does say something in reading between the lines. Weber was a fifth-round pick in the 2018 MLB draft and has improved in several key areas in each subsequent season. Strumpf was selected a year later as a talent who many saw as a draft-day steal in the second round. He moved up the ranks quickly in his first professional season.

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Both Weber and Strumpf performed well at the collegiate level. Both also played for high profile schools — Weber for Virginia and Strumpf for UCLA — giving them a better look at a higher level of competition upon their induction to professional baseball. Weber slashed .305/.371/.442 in 139 career games while Strumpf slashed .297/.409/.507 over 176 games.

Of the two infielders, Strumpf probably has a higher ceiling, whereas Weber has a higher floor. Weber struggled out of the gate in rookie ball his first year, batting .196 with a 33.9 percent strikeout rate. The Cubs moved him to Low-A after only 13 games in a surprising move, and he thrived, slashing .291/.363/.329 and cut his strikeout rate to 20.7 percent. He further improved at South Bend, finding some more power and posting a 113 wRC+.

Strumpf, meanwhile, hammered lower-level pitching in his first year. After a similarly slow start at rookie ball, where he hit .182, he too moved quickly. Strump then slashed .292/.405/.449 at Low-A and produced a strong 146 wRC+ to go along with a double-digit walk rate. He also finished the year at South Bend.

It is an exciting time for the young Cubs. The organization is moving in a fresh direction and, many believe a full rebuild is on the horizon. Weber and Strumpf will likely begin the year at South Bend, representing the Cubs as the new High-A affiliate.

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There is the possibility Strumpf starts at Double-A, and even, so there is some faith to believe in both reaching Double-A this season. Nevertheless, Weber and Strumpf are two names to watch this spring in hopes they continue building their resume toward a major league future.