3 Cubs rookies with a strong chance to make the Opening Day roster

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
2 of 3

#2: Jeremiah Estrada

Finding a job in the Cubs bullpen will be no small feat this Spring. Both Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger joined the team this year, Rowan Wick, Brandon Hughes, and Keegan Thompson all have spots locked up, and the rest will be a dogfight including Adrian Sampson, Javier Assad, Roenis Elias, Julian Merryweather, Michael Rucker, and so many more. That said, Jeremiah Estrada has the potential to rise to the top.

Estrada got a very brief run in Chicago last year and demonstrated exactly why he's arguably the team's best relief prospect. He's been a menace throughout his minor league career, rising from High A to the majors in 2022 with a minuscule ERA along the way and sky-high strikeouts. It's his fastball, a killer upper-90s heater with movement to rival some of the best players in baseball. In his first appearance alone, he was throwing with five inches of vertical movement above average. That's without considering his slider which was his primary put-away pitch and boasted devastating movement of its own. His brief showing was so good that Eno Sarris ranked Estrada as one of his sleeper fantasy closers for this year.

It's more a matter of when Estrada returns to the majors than if. His talent is sky high and he projects as a future closer with a little more refinement. Even with the crowded field, there's always going to be the possibility that he clicks in Spring Training, injuries and underperformance happen elsewhere, and he squeaks onto the Opening Day roster. He also only