James Triantos – Picture by Todd Johnson

Welcome back to “The weekly!” It’s been over a month since we last met like this, but I am recharged and ready to go! There’s a lot that’s happened since October 8 and Arizona seemed to be the center of the Cubs minor league universe in that span. This week, there were several roster changes and there are a lot of things that are going to take place over the next two days that will really kick off the offseason in earnest.

News of the Week

Five days after the World Series ends, minor league free agency begins and it came with a flurry of activity this week. The Cubs added SS Luis Vazquez to the 40-man roster rather than lose him in free agency. They also re-signed Pitcher Eduarniel Nunez to a successor contract, but he is now eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Several long-term players were released like Derek Casey and Jake Washer along with Scott Kobos, Jarod Wright, and Michael McAvene to name a few. In addition, Yonathan Perlaza was not added to the 40-man, nor was he re-signed to a successor contract. Brendon Little was shipped off to the Blue Jays while Jared Young was claimed by the Cardinals and Jeremiah Estrada by the Padres.

There were also some moves made down in the Dominican this including a signing of Ronyel Espinoza. He is an 18-year-old switch hitting second baseman.

AFL Comes to an End with a Triantos Plaudit

It was pretty exciting last night out in Arizona as James Triantos was named the Offensive Player of the Year in the AFL. Triantos detailed the secret to his success this fall in the article. He said,

“The only thing that I’ve changed since being here is starting a little bit earlier. That’s it,” Triantos said. “I feel like I’m best when I’m simple, so there’s not a lot of things going on in my head right now. That’s what I have confidence in, so the more I can stick to and execute that over and over again, the better I’m going to be.

“I don’t even think about what my body does when I swing or when I take, honestly. I just go up there. And if it looks good, I’m going to swing, and when I swing, I hit it hard. And if I’m not going to swing, I’m going to walk. Just keeping it as simple as possible and starting early. That’s it.”

The Arizona Fall League also wrapped up its season this week. The Cubs had several players that did well along with Triantos including Kevin Alcantara as he finished well hitting 256 with 5 home runs and 23 RBI in 21 games. He was also named an All-Star with his .865 OPS. Adam Laskey had an ERA just at 1.00 with 15 Ks in 9 IP. Tyler Santana looked pretty strong with a 2.65 ERA in 18.1 innings. Rich Biesterfield will probably have a wrap up here in a few days, but it was a very successful campaign for those players.

The one guy who really didn’t get enough pub this fall was reliever Jose Romero who should be at South Bend in 2024. He had a 1.69 ERA with a .091 Batting Average Against! I’m looking forward to seeing him in person next spring!

In addition, new catcher Carter Trice only played a few times as the bullpen catcher/taxi squad but he seems to be adjusting well to catching and I think he could be a guy to watch in 2024.

Hodge Love

Pitcher Porter Hodge got a lot of love this week for the quality of his pitches over at Baseball America this week. Even though his ERA at Tennessee was not anything to write home about this year, the article described just how effective his pitches were in the zone and that he has a lot of swing and miss stuff on most of his pitches. Part of it comes from the angle he throws. Another aspect to the success of those pitches is that he does get a lot of movement and that makes them hard to hit. Check out that article if you can.

Organizational All-Star Team

MLB Pipeline put out their Cubs organizational All-Star team this week and I must say I don’t have too many bones to pick with them. They pretty much nailed it from Ballesteros to McGeary to Shaw to Vazquez to BJ to PCA and to Owen Caissie along with Horton, Wicks, and Luke Little. There weren’t any missed picks along the way.

Coming up on North Side Bound

I will be dropping my Rule 5 prediction post first thing tomorrow morning. Make sure and check that out! I will also continue my top storylines for 2024 next week. I’ll take a look at the draft and international free agency. We will also cover the actual guys added to the 40-man tomorrow evening.

On Tuesday, Baseball America is releasing their top Cubs prospect list for 2024. I will be covering that as I have first hour plan period this year. It’s strange that prospect list season is beginning so early, but here we are.

It’s also getting close to that time of year when I start my offseason series. The “Position Breakdown Series” will return for its ninth year. We also put out some feelers for the offseason mailbag yesterday. I will be doing some of those questions solo and also with the other Gregs and Richs. I’m not sure what the profile post series is going to be this year. Last year, I had the 5 Series and I’m thinking of either doing that or a collection of profiles on guys “20 and under in the system.” It’s still a work in progress. I have a couple of weeks to plan yet.

When will NSB Drop Some New Prospect Lists?

We are still in the planning stages of who is going when and how many lists we will have. The best estimation we can give you right now is they will drop in between Turkey Day and Christmas.

Jam of the Week

There’s a lot of Alice in Chains and Queens of the Stone Age on my iPod Nano playlist this week. With the season definitely being a mood thing with changing colors, I tend to associate the “SAP” EP by Alice in Chains with fall. The acoustic sounds fit perfectly together with the leaves, the rain, and the cooler temps. Here is “Brother” with additional vocals by Ann Wilson of Heart. I find it hauntingly beautiful.