Before we get to today’s post, we wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas tomorrow, for those who celebrate. May you be happy and healthy with those you love. As for us, we will be closed tomorrow but we will return on Sunday with more content. Thank you for reading!

When I realized I hadn’t written a “10 Things I Think” post for a while, I started to wonder just exactly what random set of thoughts I could put together about the minor league system, the draft, and international free agency.

1. International free agency signings for 2022 can begin on January 15. That’s three weeks from this Saturday. I wonder if the Cubs will be back in on pitcher Carlos Cabrera from Venezuela who was all set to sign last January and disappeared for whatever reason. More than likely, it was probably injury related and I wonder if  the Cubs will re-sign him this January. That thought is pretty out there. Not many probably remember the lefty who had a nice little curve.

2. April is not that far away. In less than ten days December will be over and then it’s just a little over 90 days until the MiLB season starts on April 8. It’s coming quickly and I don’t know if I’m really ready yet. It looks like the first games I see in person will be over in Davenport in late April.

3. Affiliate roster construction for 2022 is going to be an unenviable task for Matt Dorey and the Cubs minor league brass. They have an overflowing amount of pitchers and prospects to squeeze into five stateside affiliates. They currently have 176 minor leaguers and some of them will technically not be ready to go on opening day as they’ll still be rehabbing.

4. People talk about the Iowa to Chicago shuttle quite a bit. In 2022, we might see a lot of players moving back-and-forth between South Bend and Myrtle Beach because they are either too advanced for Low-A or not advanced for High-A.

5. Nelson Velazquez’s 2021 season should be a lesson to every minor leaguer in the Cubs system on just exactly how to improve your hitting profile.

6. Jordan Nwogu could be amazing by the middle of the summer. He’s so athletic and he learns so quickly and he’s so strong that he could just be a dominant force in a matter of a couple of months.

7. The Cubs had a lot of pitchers that missed the entire 2021 season. They’re going to be on inning limits in 2022 and not really back to full strength until 2023. That’s a pretty good gap of playing time that they have missed. Hopefully guys like Kohl Franklin, Riley Thompson, Jack Patterson, and Michael McAvene can bounce back and succeed in some fashion in 2022.

8. There has been some chatter that MLB will implement an advanced rookie leagues in Arizona and Florida. This league would basically take the place of what short-season A ball did – to provide a stepping stone from rookie ball to A ball. So, two teams could be on the horizon in Mesa once again, but it is far from official.

9. I don’t know why I am thinking of this, but the Cubs are going to have a boatload of MiLB free agents at the end of the 2022 season. Most of the players that were acquired in 2016 and 2017 will be free to go wherever they choose.

10. I started wondering what it would be like if the Cubs had a minor league convention.  Out of all the winters to have one, this would be the perfect one. Maybe the Marquee Sports Network could just spend a weekend doing interviews and specials on the minors, affiliates, and players. It would be cool to see Craig Breslow and Justin Stone talk about pitching and hitting, respectively. I may have to flesh these and many other MiLB convention ideas out in a full-fledged post next week or in The Weekly on Sunday.