Ben Brown – Photo by Tennessee Smokies
The second full week of the off-season is set to be a doozy here at North Side Bound. A few weeks ago, the two Gregs and I decided that we would release our updated prospect lists this week. Unbeknownst to us, when the World Series ended, Major League Baseball decided to move up the Rule Five/40-Man deadline decision to the 15th from the 18th. So, you’re going to be reading North Side Bound pretty much all day on Tuesday. I will have my list on Tuesday, Greg Huss will have his Wednesday, Mr. Zumach will publish his Thursday, and we will have our combined list on Friday.
We will be covering the decisions all Tuesday afternoon on Twitter with a write up when the decisions are announced. The Cubs are notorious for waiting until the last possible minute to announce their choices.
We began talking about who the Cubs could possibly add back in September and then 2 weeks ago I touched that up a little bit while Greg Huss also weighed in with some possible choices on the very first episode of Cubs on Deck.
As of now, the Cubs 40-man roster is at 35 heading and that could drop by a couple more.
Here is who each of us is predicting will be protected.
The big three of Brennen Davis, Kevin Alcántara, and Ben Brown are virtual locks in my opinion. Despite Alcántara not playing a game above Myrtle Beach, the upside is too immense for one of the 29 other organizations to take a chance. So those three plus I’ll put out two more names, Ryan Jensen and Kohl Franklin. I have historically been the lowest on Jensen of the NSB writers. While I bought into upside, we saw a pitcher with one excellent pitch (his one/two seam fastball) that struggled with command. After a developmental list stint, Jensen came back with revamped mechanics, threw a few more strikes, and the stuff played up with his four-seam fastball, cutter, and slider playing a big part. If nothing else, Ryan Jensen coming out of the pen could be pretty vicious. Kohl Franklin just strikes me as the type pf guy that a team could take a chance on and pitch him out of the pen. He finished his last few starts strong, minimized walks, and struck out more than a batter an inning. A team who had their pro scouts out at those games might think he could hang with ’em at the MLB level. My last prediction, the Cubs trade Cam Sanders to the Diamondbacks in a package deal for a lefthanded hitting OF. We’ll say Dominic Fletcher to be fun.
I am sticking with my original selections of Brennen Davis, Kevin Alcantara, and Ben Brown as sure things. As well, I am going to roll out pitcher Riley Thompson as my fourth and my wild card is going to be reliever Danis Correa. I would love to see them add Cam Sanders, but that is not likely to happen. Others point out former first round pick Ryan Jensen as a sure thing, I am not so sure. Yes, someone could take him and someone could just as well return him. Five is a bit much but the Cubs do have plenty of players to release to make room between today and tomorrow. I wish they could keep Darius Hill as well, but that would be a huge move if it happened. Six protected guys would be quite historical. I am still not seeing it yet. If we somehow end up with a 30- or 30 man roster tomorrow morning, then you might have something.
As I detailed with Bryan Smith on that recent episode of Cubs On Deck, it feels pretty clear to me that it’s the big three and the field. Brennen Davis, Kevin Alcántara, and Ben Brown are as lock-y/lock-ish as locks can be. They will be added to the 40-man roster and no debate needs to take place. After that, I feel pretty passionately that you can select one more player from a huge group of names, while adding two more guys will be a bit of a surprise. Three won’t happen. My pick is Ryan Jensen with Riley Thompson being addition #5 if the Cubs were to shockingly go that route. Jensen has the first round pedigree, the electric stuff, and is still making significant changes to the way he pitches. That has a feeling of a guy that would surely be taken away from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft and a guy that should be protected before it reaches that point.