Amidst the first round of cuts from Major League camp, the Cubs also made a surprising trade, re-acquiring former 2nd round pick Donnie Dewees from the Royals in exchange for 2015 8th round pick Stephen Ridings. Now 25, Dewees has spent the past two years in the Royals system at AA and AAA after the Cubs sent him to the organization for RHP Alec Mills.
After a tremendous draft season with North Florida where he was one of the top hitters in all of college ball, Dewees put up solid, but unspectacular numbers his first year and a half in the Cubs system. With a far below average arm (a 30 on the 20-80 scale) Dewees is a stretch in CF despite good range. He is a good contact hitter with gap power, but he has not managed to replicate the high batting averages he put up in college. His best production came in 2016 when he hit .284/.338/.416 in a season split between South Bend and Myrtle Beach. Given his limited defensive profile, Dewees was going to need to hit his way into Major League consideration and thus far has shown no signs he is capable of taking that next step.
He will now compete with Jacob Hannemann, Evan Marzilli, Charcer Burks, Jose Cardona, Connor Myers and Wynton Bernard to fill out the Iowa and Tennessee outfields. The Cubs lack true outfield prospects in the upper levels so Dewees gives them another option, with perhaps a touch more upside. Mark Zagunis and Johnny Field will be the main options in the corners for Iowa, with Trent Giambrone and expected to see some time out there as they groom him for a utility role. The situation in Tennessee is less certain. Eddy Martinez will return to start in right, but the rest is up in the air, although expect to see Jared Young take some reps in LF throughout the year. D.J. Wilson and Kevonte Mitchell are coming off injury-marred and relatively unsuccessful seasons at Myrtle Beach and may not be ready to open 2019 at Tennessee, which is why the extra depth is helpful.
Ridings was always expected to be a long-term project as a 6'8" 220 righty. He battled major control issues his first pro season in 2017, but showed some positive signs of a turnaround with Eugene in 2018. His stuff is pretty average, but much like Dakota Mekkes he pushes hard off the mound in an effort to close the distance to the batter before releasing the ball in an effort to help his stuff play up.
Cubs move out 15 players from Major League camp
There were no surprises among the first round of cuts. The Cubs optioned four pitchers: Jen-Ho Tseng and Adbert Alzolay to AAA, and then Justin Steele and Oscar de la Cruz to AA. They also sent 10 non-roster invites to Minor League camp:
- RHPs Duncan Robinson, Colin Rea, Craig Brooks, Carlos Ramirez
- LHPs Ian Clarkin, Alberto Baldonado
- OFs Jacob Hannemann, Evan Marzilli, Charcer Burks
- C Ian Rice
The club also announced they have released RHP Rob Scahill, who had been in camp on a Minor League deal. The Cubs have a ton of other arms on similar deals that they seemingly have limited room for in Iowa so expect to see a few more names to join Scahill by next Wednesday.
The Cubs still have 54 player in MLB camp.