Cubs Spring Training Notebook: Roster cuts for some top prospects, Drew Smyly’s improved outing
MESA, Ariz. — A handful of the Cubs’ top young players have been reassigned from big-league camp to the minors.
On Friday, the team optioned 5 of their top prospects — outfielders Alexander Canario and Brennen Davis to Triple-A, pitcher Ben Brown to Double-A, outfielder Kevin Alcántara to High-A and outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong to minor league camp. They were among 10 players who were sent down as Cubs camp currently sits at 56 players following the move.
The other players to be optioned were:
– RHP Ryan Jensen to Double-A
– C Miguel Amaya to Double-A
– RHP Danis Correa to minor league camp
– RHP Jordan Holloway to minor league camp
– RHP Ben Leeper to minor league camp
None of the moves were too much of a surprise —all 10 players were expected to begin the season in the minor leagues. Correa, Holloway and Leeper might’ve had a chance to make the Opening Day bullpen but were likely always longshots. Davis, however, was hopeful he could force his hand into the outfield conversation this spring, especially after Seiya Suzuki’s injury.
“I’m not out here not to make a team,” Davis said early in camp. “I’m out here to compete and give them a tough choice to make at the end of spring.”
The Cubs were always likely to play it safe with Davis, given his back injuries last year. Now, he’ll start the season in Iowa and, provided he stays healthy, could make his major league debut this season.
“I know when my time is called, I’m gonna be ready,” Davis said. “Whether that’s now or in a month or in two months or whenever. I’m gonna do whatever I can to be the best version of myself.”
After his last start, Drew Smyly mentioned he had been working to fine-tune some mechanics with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy. Friday afternoon against the White Sox, the lefty saw some gains in that department.
“I was just trying to focus on continuing to improve on what I’m trying to do out there and get some results and was happy to finally get some results today,” Smyly said. “But I think I can still continue to sharpen things up.”
Smyly had been working to keep his arm closer to his body during his delivery to create more carry with his fastball. The mechanics have improved the last two outings; now it’s just honing in on command.
“The movement’s definitely getting better. Now it’s just more about kinda executing in the zone, when to throw it underneath the zone to get swings and misses,” Smyly said. “Fastball command is probably not where I want it to be. I’m kinda missing middle of the zone too often.”
The results, though, were definitely better. In his last outing, Smyly allowed 3 runs, 2 home runs and 6 hits across 2 innings. Friday, he picked up a pair of strikeouts and scattered 4 hits in 4 shutout innings.
He even nabbed outfielder Oscar Colas attempting to steal second base in the 2nd inning. With Colas on first, Smyly threw it over to Eric Hosmer on a pickoff just as Colas was taking off for second base. Hosmer threw it over to Nick Madrigal who tagged out Colas for the out.
“First one of the year that I threw over there and caught him stealing,” Smyly said with a smile. “So that was nice.”
The Cubs travel northwest to take on the Dodgers at 2:05 p.m. in Glendale, Ariz. on Saturday. Hayden Wesneski is the scheduled starter for the Cubs. The game will be live on Marquee Sports Network.