The minor league season gets underway on Thursday, April 7, and with the Cubs announcing their opening day roster, the Iowa roster became a little clearer.
Roster spots are taking to take shape in Iowa as Dallas Beeler, Aaron Crow and Christian Villanueva will all start the year on the disabled list. Villanueva broke his leg early in camp and is expected to miss two months. Willson Contreras, Tim Federowicz, and Taylor Davis are in mix at catcher with Daniel Vogelbach, Ryan Dent, Jesus Guzman, Kris Negron, Munenori Kawasaki, and Arismendy Alcantara rounding out the infield. Outfielders include John Andreoli, Albert Almora, Ryan Kalish, Matt Murton, Mike O’Neill, and Juan Perez but a few of these won’t make the roster
Eric Jokisch, Manny Parra, Stephen Fife, Pierce Johnson and Aaron Brooks could be the rotation at Iowa but Felix Pena, Drew Rucinski and Jonathan Pettibone are in the conversation. Battling for bullpen positions in Des Moines include Andury Acevedo, Scott Barnes, Carl Edwards Jr., Frank Batista, Jack Leathersich, Jean Machi, C.J. Riefenhauser, Spencer Patton, Brandon Gomes and Armando RIvero.
While Iowa’s roster will include a mix of top prospects and former major leaguers, Tennessee, Myrtle Beach and South Bend are going to be loaded. Several players on Tennessee’s roster will be looking for their third straight title while Gleyber Torres and Ian Happ are expected to anchor the middle infield at Myrtle Beach. South Bend will be packed with some of the organizations best young talent including OF Eloy Jimenez, OF Donnie Dewees, P Justin Steele, P Oscar De La Cruz and P Carson Sands, with the possibility of P Dylan Cease and OF Eddy Martinez.
2016 Draft thoughts
For the first time since Theo Epstein took over baseball operations the buzz for the upcoming Cubs draft is at an all-time low—and for good reasons. Most of the attention is on the big league team and for the die-hards, the Cubs don’t pick until #104. Cubs lost their first and second round picks with the signing of free agents Jason Heyward and John Lackey, and didn’t receive a compensation pick when they re-signed Dexter Fowler. After spending the past four years holding a big wad of cash on draft day, the Cubs are limited to just $2,245,100— $7.2 million last year, $8.6 in 2014 and $10.5 in 2013.
Not a lot of wiggle room for the Cubs as several high school prospects could “slip” to the third round but the Cubs would likely have to use half their budget to sign them, strapping their hands the next seven picks. While Epstein and the Cubs have used their top picks on position players, they’ve yet to draft a pitcher that’s made the big leagues, despite handing out $1 million plus bonuses to Duane Underwood, Pierce Johnson, Rob Zastryzny, Jake Stinnett, Justin Steele, Dylan Cease, Carson Sands, and Bryan Hudson. In all fairness, everyone on that list still has a shot at the majors and last four have yet to pitch at a full-season affiliate.
Angelo Amendolare, the Cubs 27th-round pick last June out of Jacksonville University, took to twitter and thanked the Cubs for the opportunity to play baseball, so its safe to assume he was released. The 23-year-old made his pro debut in AAA for Iowa and split his first pro season between Iowa, Mesa and South Bend, playing 30 games with a slash of .271/.388/.318.