The Cubs had until 8 PM today to finalize the 40-man roster ahead of next month’s Rule V Draft. Surprisingly, the Cubs only protected left-handed pitcher Justin Steele. To make room, the Cubs had one crazy day.
In the late afternoon, it all began when the Cubs traded away prospect 3B Jason Vosler to San Diego for reliever Rowan Wick and claimed lefty reliever Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox. The Cubs then put OF Johnny Field and pitcher Jerry Vasto through waivers and then sent them to the minors once they cleared.
As for Mr. Steele, the 23-year-old lefty starter was the Cubs fifth round pick in the 2014 Draft. He has steadily climbed his way through the Cubs system adjusting at each level. Things began to click for Steele in 2017 at Myrtle Beach. He used visualization techniques he learned in the mental skills program to picture himself pitching on game days. For the year, he put up a 2.92 ERA before missing the last month of the year due to TJS.
I did not expect to see Steele back as a starter in 2018. I thought if he came back, it would be in a relief role. Steele shocked everyone when, 10 months after surgery, he was back starting and throwing 95. Steele later got in some extra work this fall in the Arizona Fall League where he gained valuable experience to make up for some lost time.
As for 2019, Steele should start the year at Double-A Tennessee with the hope of getting to Iowa at some point later in the summer.
As for the players the Cubs did not protect, several could be picked in the Rule V Draft on December 13. Included in that mix are pitcher Trevor Clifton, pitcher Erick Leal, and catchers PJ Higgins, Ian Rice, and Jhonny Pereda.
Lead Photo of Justin Steele courtesy of Tennessee Smokies