Featured Photo of Chris Clarke by Rich Biesterfeld

Today was a day that many Cubs fans had circled on the calendar and were looking toward with both anticipation and dread. Ever since the 40 man roster decisions were announced in November, fans had been combing rosters and speculating what players the Cubs might lose and who, if anyone, the Cubs might select to add to their system via the Rule 5 Draft, but I believe most, if not all of these picks came as surprises.

Rule 5 Overview

In case you’re not familiar with the Rule 5 draft, here’s some background. Players who signed with their current club at 19 years of age or more, must be protected by being added to the 40 man roster within 4 years, players at 18 or under when signed must be added within 5 years, or they are exposed to being drafted by other teams.  While most of the attention is given to the Major League portion of the draft, there is a minor league portion of the draft too. The 40 man rosters for each club are widely available, the players who are protected via the AAA roster are not always made public, so there can be some surprises in the player movement. Players chosen in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft must remain on the major league roster of the drafting team for the whole season or be offered back to their original team. Players selected in the minor league portion of the draft don’t have a similar constraint and remain with their drafting team no matter what level they are placed at.

Today’s Results

Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at the impact of today’s Rule 5 draft.

In the major league portion of the draft, the Cubs lost Chris Clarke to the Seattle Mariners and did not select any players.  In the minor league portion of the draft the Cubs added Jose Aquino (LHP) from Seattle, Nick Burdi (RHP) from San Diego, and Jefferson Encarnacion (OF) from the Phillies. Cubs pitchers Bryan King and Luis Angel Rodriguez were both selected by Houston.


Chris Clarke (RHP) was a 4th round pick in 2019 out of USC and made his pro debut with the Eugene Emeralds shortly after signing. He began the 2022 season in A+ South Bend before being called up to AA Tennessee in May. Clarke went 10-6 with a 4.64 ERA across the two levels in 120.1 innings. He was used primarily as a starter this season. I had the chance to watch Chris pitch in a rehab start in 2021 and he’s an intense competitor on the mound.

Bryan King (LHP) was drafted by the Cubs in the 30th round in 2019 out of McNeese State. He appeared in 14 games for the Pelicans and the Smokies out of the bullpen. His season was cut short in July when he went on the IL with what has been presumed to be TJS. He was selected by the Astros and has been assigned to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

Luis Angel Rodriguez was an international free agent who signed with the Cubs in 2017 and made his DSL debut in 2018.  He spent all of the 2022 pitching for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and compiled a 6-1 record. He was dominant in many of his starts and his K/9 was 13.83.


Jose Aquino (LHP) signed as an international free agent in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners. He’s a left handed pitcher who saw limited action in the ACL and Modesto (low A level) in 2022, so with that small of a sample size, it’s difficult to infer much on him at this time.

Nick Burdi (RHP) was a 2nd round draft pick for the Minnesota Twins in 2014 out of the University of Louisville. Nick is an IL native and played his prep ball at Downers Grove South HS.  He spent time in the Pittsburgh organization (2017 – 2020) and saw action in 16 games in the big leagues. He spent 2021 and 2022 with the San Diego Padres but had TJS in 2021 and didn’t pitch in any game action the last 2 years. The Cubs have done well in the past with some pitchers bouncing back after TJS, so this appears to be a similar opportunity for a former local player.

Jefferson Encarnacion (OF) signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an international free agent in 2017. He spent 2018-2019 playing in the DSL and averaged close to a hit per game he appeared in. He didn’t appear in any games in 2021 or 2022 though he was assigned to the Clearwater Threshers for 2022 (A level), so he’s somewhat of a mystery at this point.

Welcome to Jose, Nick and Jefferson as they join the Cubs minor league system and the best of luck to Chris, Bryan and Luis as they get opportunities with the Seattle and Houston clubs!