Cubs announce Spring Training invites, including a pair of top prospects
With Spring Training right around the corner, the Cubs have announced they have invited 32 non-roster players to major league camp, including a handful of intriguing names.
Top prospects Pete Crow-Armstrong and Matt Mervis were arguably the two biggest names that had been invited.
Crow-Armstrong hit .312/.376/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 stolen bases across Low-A and High-A in 2022 and won a minor league Gold Glove. Mervis hit an organization-high 36 home runs with 119 RBI and a .984 OPS across three levels in 2022. He reached Triple-A last season, hitting .297/.383/.593 with 15 home runs and 39 RBI.
The full list includes 17 pitchers, seven infielders, five infielders and three catchers.
Among the 17 pitchers that were invited include a few familiar faces that could compete for spots in the Cubs’ bullpen. Mark Leiter Jr., Manuel Rodríguez, Brailyn Márquez and Eric Stout were all invitees and have all pitched in the big leagues for the Cubs before.
Leiter Jr. pitched well out of the Cubs bullpen last year (2.87 ERA, 1.031 WHIP) and was designated for assignment last month to make room for Eric Hosmer. His performances, coupled with his splitter (52.5% whiff rate) give him a chance to break camp with the big-league team.
Rodríguez was designated for assignment last month after the team claimed Julian Merryweather off waivers. He pitched to a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 innings of work and features a fastball that sits in the upper 90s. Stout pitched in 2 games for the Cubs before he was designated for assignment. The lefty pitched in 18 games for the Pirates and presents an interesting option for the Cubs to look at in spring, given the lack of lefties on their roster.
Right-handed pitcher Tyler Duffey pitched in 8 seasons for Minnesota and was signed to a minor-league deal with an invite. He was an effective reliever from 2019-2021 for the Twins, posting a 2.69 ERA and 1.063 WHIP in that time. He was in the top 10% of the league in terms of strikeout percentage in 2019 and 2020.
Jordan Holloway (3.92 ERA in 15 career games), Nick Burdi (9.49 ERA in 16 career games), Ryan Borucki (4.45 ERA in 5 seasons), Roenis Elías (3.96 ERA in 7 seasons), Nick Neidert (4.59 ERA in 13 games), Vinny Nittoli (2 ER allowed, 2 strikeouts in 3 innings) and Anthony Kay (5.48 ERA in 28 games) are other pitchers with big-league experience that were invitees.
David Bote, who cleared waivers in November and was outrighted to Triple-A, was one of the more notable infielders invited to big-league camp. Jared Young, Esteban Quiroz and Sergio Alcántara have all played for the Cubs at the big-league level and also were invitees.
Outfielder Mike Tauchman was signed to a minor-league deal by the Cubs after spending the 2022 season playing in Korea where he hit 37 doubles, 12 home runs and posted a .796 OPS for the Hanwha Eagles. Tauchman, 32, played for the Giants and Yankees in 2021 and has played parts of 5 seasons in the majors, slashing .231/.325/.378 in that time. His defensive prowess is appealing to the Cubs — he posted a 9 Outs Above Average with the Yankees in 2019, 11th best among all outfielders.
Ben DeLuzio was signed to a minor-league deal this winter and is another defense-first outfielder that could garner an intriguing look in spring.
Here’s the full list of players invited:
Right-handed pitchers: Burdi, Danis Correa, Duffey, Holloway, Ben Leeper, Leiter Jr., Neidert, Nittoli, Rodríguez, Cam Sanders
Left-handed pitchers: Borucki, Elías, Bailey Horn, Kay, Brendon Little, Márquez, Stout
Catchers: Dom Nuñez, Luis Torrens, Bryce Windham
Infielders: Alcántara, Bote, Mervis, Quiroz, Chase Strumpf, Andy Weber, Young
Outfielders: Crow-Armstrong, DeLuzio, Darius Hill, Yonathan Perlaza, Tauchman