Cubs News

Cubs roster moves: Pitching staff receives a boost while top prospects continue to ascend in farm system

1 month agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs made a flurry of moves over the last two days, up and down their organization.

On Saturday, they selected the contract of lefty pitcher Steven Brault and optioned Mark Leiter Jr. to Iowa. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated Matt Swarmer for assignment. Anderson Espinoza was called up as the 27th man for Saturday’s doubleheader against the Mets.

Friday, they promoted top pitching prospects DJ Herz and Jordan Wicks from High-A South Bend to Double-A Tennessee.

For Brault, his return to the big leagues felt as sweet as his major league debut. Signed in late March, Brault suffered a left triceps strain that slowed his ramp up process. He made a rehab appearance for the Arizona Complex League Cubs and three appearances with the Iowa Cubs before being called up to the big leagues.

“I was telling my girlfriend today, it feels like I’m making my debut again,” Brault said. “It’s not quite the same, I’m not quite as giddy, you know, but I am very excited, a little nervous. But I think it’s good. It shows I care, I wanna help this team win. It’s fun.”

Brault gives the Cubs another lefty arm in the bullpen to go along with Brandon Hughes and Daniel Norris. He also provides length — he was a starter in his time with Pittsburgh.

He’s also familiar with Wrigley Field and the Cubs given his time in the division and has a distinct memory pitching at the Friendly confines. He allowed 10 earned run and 5 home runs in 2.2 innings of work on Sept. 13, 2019 against the Cubs and learned from that experience.

“One of the things is probably don’t give up 5 home runs in 2.2 innings in Wrigley Field,” he said with a smile. “Might as well get that out of the way while we’re here, right?

“I’m coming from the other side, but really, you’re playing the same game, same idea. When they call, if they call my name, I’ll be ready to go and go out there and dominate, just this time wearing blue.”

 

The move to designate Swarmer, the Cubs’ 2018 minor league pitcher of the year was a difficult one to make.

“The DFA’s and release stories are always tough, man,” David Ross said. “Hopefully his baseball’s career is gonna keep on and we’ll see if anybody gets him or we’re able to keep him to some extent. That stuff, that sucks.”

For Herz and Wicks, their promotion brings them one step closer to the bigs.

Herz, a lefty has dominated High-A, pitching to a 2.26 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and limiting opponents to a .150 batting average in 63.2 innings. The 2019 8th round pick was the 2021 minor league pitcher of the year for the Cubs. He ranks 8th in Lance Brozdowski’s Preseason Top 25 Prospects.  

Wicks, the Cubs’ 2021 first-round pick, posted a 1.25 WHIP and 3.65 ERA in 66.2 innings of work. Opponents are hitting .256 off him and he’s posted an 11.61 K/9. He ranked number 5 on Brozdowski’s Top 25 Prospects.

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