Cubs invite 24 to spring training: Here's the skinny on all of them

The Cubs announced their spring training invites today.  These kinds of things geek me up.  For one, it’s my love of the scouting aspect of the game that makes me excited about finding a diamond in the rough.  Well, maybe not a diamond, but at least something useful for the season.

Secondly, we get another sneak peak at top prospects.

Lastly, it’s just one more sign that spring training is drawing near.

Here is the list…


  • Marcus Hatley
  • Kyle Hendricks
  • Carlos Pimentel
  • Armando Rivero
  • Brian Schlitter

Hatley is a hard throwing pitcher with a FB in the mid 90s and a power curve.  He’s a good athlete with excellent size and showed some improvement with his command last year.  Hendricks is the opposite.  He is not a power pitcher but pitchability and command allow him to make the most of his stuff.  Carlos Pimentel was once ranked 17th in the Rangers system by John Sickels.  He’s still just 24 and put solid K rates and walk rates were very good last season in AA.  Armando Rivero is a long, lanky power pitcher who hit as high as 97 mph.  Future appears to be in the bullpen but some talk they may try him as a starter.  Brian Schlitter is a minor league vet who did a good job in the closer role for Iowa.  His fastball has come back and may actually be better than ever.  Late bloomer.


  • Tommy Hottovy
  • Eric Jokisch
  • Jonathan Sanchez
  • Tsuyoshi Wada.

Hottovy is a 32 year old finesse lefty who put up surprising strikeout numbers but his command is questionable.  Jokisch has been a successful pitcher the last two seasons.  Similar to Chris Rusin, he is in the 88-92 range with his fastball, which he spots well, but his bread and butter is a circle change.  Jonathan Sanchez is a veteran who has always had solid stuff, but inconsistency and command issues.  The Cubs plan to use him in the bullpen where they hope he can re-invent himself ala Oliver Perez.  Wada is another finesse pitcher who works best as a change of pace type though he could get a look as a starter.


  • Javier Baez
  • Kris Bryant
  • Ryan Roberts
  • Chris Valaika
  • Jeudy Valdez

I’m going to assume you know all about Baez and Bryant here.  They’re not going to make the team, but they’ll be fun to watch this spring.  Roberts will try to make the team as a utility player who can fill in at 3B, 2B and the OF.  He’s a good athlete and will take a walk, but he is coming off a poor season with the bat.  Chris Valaika was once a top 15 prospect with the Reds.  He can play all infield positions and showed some hit potential in the minors, though it has not translated well at the MLB level.  His ability to play SS gives him a decent shot.  Jeudy Valdez is a former Padres prospect who has shown very good pop for a middle infielder but an aggressive approach has slowed his progress.


  • Albert Almora
  • Chris Coghlan
  • Aaron Cunningham
  • Ryan Kalish
  • Mitch Maier
  • Darnell McDonald
  • Casper Wells

Albert Almora is an interesting invite considering his relative lack of experience but he’s not all that far behind Baez was last year in terms of experience and he’s a more polished player.  Coghlan was once the NL Rookie of the Year but hasn’t come close to matching those numbers since.  He can still be useful vs. RHP.  Cunningham was an early pickup who has great size and has shown a good hit tool, but power hasn’t developed.  He has a good approach and solid athleticism.  Ryan Kalish was once the 5th best prospect on the Red Sox per BA and a top 100 overall.  Injuries have derailed his progress but he’s healthy and could end up being a steal.  Mitch Maier is a good defensive OF’er who can play all 3 OF positions.  McDonald is the savvy vet whose best asset may be that, as a 5th OF’er who won’t get much time, could be useful as a coach on the field type.  Casper Wells is an athletic OF’er with a strong arm and good raw power, but poor contact rates have undermined him so far.


  • John Baker
  • Rafael Lopez
  • Eli Whiteside

All three of these players are competing for the 3rd catcher role and position themselves to be the first call should an injury occur. John Baker and Eli Whiteside are good defensive catchers with some experience while Lopez may have the best bat of the trio.

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  • Let the games begin (To quote someone) So much good young

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    You are a quote machine of late :) Didn't someone else say youth is wasted on the young? Think it was George Bernard Shaw.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, how old is Rivero?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    He'll be 26 in about a week.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You never fail to amaze me, perhaps because I was educated in Europe. You always come up with these educated points much to my liking. Shaw had a lot of clever quotes, and he was also one of the most evil men who ever lived!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    thanks for the kind words.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I will send you a quick email. "ctev...."

  • I wonder why Charles Cutler wasn't invited or is he a lock to get invited due to his minor league Rule 5 draft status?

    I also hear catchers Luis Flores and Will Remillard will be in camp.

  • In reply to Caps:

    i think lopez could be the sleeper to make the Cubs. Bats
    left handed has some power. He would give them a potential
    good bench player as a pinch hitter. He has hit pretty well at
    every level. If Kotteras falls flat in spring training Lopez might
    get his chance.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    True, but he will have a lot of resistance battling against Kottaras, Baker and Whiteside... Just because of the fact that they know the league and the players much more than Lopez and despite their offensive shortcoming, pitchers will likely feel more comfortable throwing to a veteran like Kottaras, Baker or Whiteside.

    I think Lopez could benefit from a short stint, maybe Sept call up, as well as MLB Camp as a learning experience.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    Barring injury, Castillo and Kotteras should be locks to start the season, regardless of spring. These guys are not playing for the #2, as John says they are playing for #3.

    Barring injury, they will all be at Iowa or lower

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    What are your thought about Yenier Bello? 28 year old catcher out of Cuba. I love Castillo, but if Kotteras doesn't work out or they can find a way to carry three catchers, Bello or Kotteras could be a tradable asset.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Cutler surprised me a bit. Nice nod to Remillard. I think they really like the kid.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, what I hear is that they're there as reserves and probably to help pitchers doing their sessions... But it's a sure learning experience for them.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I still want to know what his Jersey number is gonna be. My last name is also Cutler. I wonder if we're all Jay's long lost Cousins?

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    Interesting that Soler was not invited this year after being invited last year. Message to the young Cuban?

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    Nevermind, Soler is already on the 40 man. Brain cramp there.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    ah... me too! lol

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Had that same sort of 'senior moment' about Cabrera.


  • Why isn't Soler on this list?

  • John - similar to Mike's Soler point, who were the biggest surprise ommissions in your eyes? Was I just being too premature hoping we'd see CJ Edwards name pop up?

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Soler and Alcantara are both on the 40 man and don't need invites.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    I thought Chang-Yon Lim was supposed to be there. That's what I'd heard anyway. That surprised me.

    Other than that, not really. Thought maybe Matt Loosen might get an invite but wasn't surprised that he didn't. The same goes for Edwards and Johnson. I think they're better off working at minor league camp.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Is there a limit to the number of players a team can invite or sign to minor league deals? The sheer number of guys the Cubs have that project to the AAA level is astounding. The Tenn and Iowa rosters can only hold so many guys. They are already goign to have to release/trade a ton of guys prior to April.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I don't think so. I think it's more of a self-imposed limit. There are only so many ABs and innings to go around.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Googled Lim, as I thought he'd been non-tendered (he was), but I guess he's still received a spring training invite.

  • Note to all: Soler is on the 40 man roster. So is Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur, Logan Watkins, and Arismendy Alcantara.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Also Dallas Beeler, Alberto Cabrera...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Brett Marshall, Neil Ramirez, Zach Rosscup, Christian Villanueva, Arodys Vizcaino.

    I would also like to add, that even when players are not invited right now, doesn't mean they won't take part of MLB Camp... These guys sometimes get called up from Minor League camp in order to play a side game, intra squad game or for split squad games... Sometimes they impress so much in minor league camp that they get sent to MLB Camp.

  • Is Casper Well's defense in reality as bad as it's rated on MLB 2013 The Show? :) :) :)

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    No. But he should play better than he does. He's a solid athlete.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    As a fan of the show I had to laugh. Can't wait for 2014.

  • Can't wait to see everyone and the new stadium. I'm moving to Scottsdale on Sunday, so going to enjoy the hands on scouting! Come on out any and everyone.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Buzz, I will be in Mesa from 3/12 - 3/16. Can't wait to here bat on ball. And the new complex! Anyone else on this awesome blog gonna be there then?

  • I think Cabrera is out of options. so he will probably
    make Cubs out of spring training. I think as a starter
    if they dont sign someone like Maholm this spring.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    I'm very interested to see what he could do in a starter role before they decide he's a reliever full-time. Same with Grimm, Arrieta, Ramirez, and Rivero.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Rivero is getting to the age where they need to make a decision on him. I don't particularly care if they choose to put him in the pen. I want Grimm and Ramirez to get one more chance to be starters in Iowa and be ready as the first call ups once a spot opens via injury or trade. I would love to see what Cabrera could do as the 5th starter in April, but I just don't see him getting the chance, as I think the Cubs will bring in a vet. So Cabrera is probably headed to the pen since they can't keep him stretched out in Iowa. It not such a bad thing though since I think he still projects better in the pen anyway.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Is Cabrera out of options?

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    In reply to Break The Curse:

    Unfortuantely, yes he is.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I agree, my sleeper prospects are ramirez and underwood. I would say blackburn but I feel he is on the map.

  • In reply to seankl:

    LOL Can you say Raw!

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    I don't know.....Cabrera was OK, not dominant at AA last year as a starter. I could see him making the roster, I could also see him DFA'ed....there aren't alot of slots available in the 'pen right now.

    Veras, Russell, Wright, Villanueva, Strop are locks. Parker is probably close to a lock; he's out of options. That leaves 1 slot.

  • Is it surprising Vizcaino didn't get an invite? I know he's still rehabbing an injury but I was hoping he'd have a shot of making the team this year. Could really use a bullpen arm like his.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    I think the plan is to get some innings under his belt in the minors. Bring him up around July and put him in the pen for the rest of the seasonseason. Then stretch him out as a starter for 2015.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    He is on the 40 man. Doesn't need an invite

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Thought he was on the 40-man already.

  • John, because of there young age which players might go to AAA
    if they don't make the team. Will they get enough AB's or innings

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Do you mean because they are older prospects like Rivero and Jackson?

  • Vizcaino is also on the 40-man roster.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    Yes. I think I should probably link the roster to avoid any confusion.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nice gesture John, but if fans follow the Cubs at all, it's totally unnecessary. Thank you for your columns; they are nearly always interesting and informative. Scary thing though is that I find I agree with you most of the time, except for differences of degree.

  • In reply to krn99:

    Thanks krn.

  • Was kind of hoping vogelbach would get an invite so we could see the big boy hit some.

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    In reply to jswick23:

    He just barely got a few games at A+ last year. He's still pretty far away.

    If he gets promoted to Tennessee mid season and plays well there, then next year makes sense.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Oh I know, just wanted to see him live a little bit. Baez was kind of similar last year though and got the invite. 23 games and 80 abs at daytona compared to vogelbach getting 50 abs in 17 games.

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    Barring injury or trades, it seems like our roster is crowded already.

    Position Players Locks:
    OF: Sweeney, Lake, Schierholz, Ruggiano
    IF: Castro, Valbuena, Rizzo, Barney, Murphy
    C: Castillo, Kotteras
    That's 11position players.....probably 1 infielder and 1 OF open, and Olt probably has to play himself OFF the roster to not make it

    Pitching: 12
    Starters: Shark, Wood, E-Jax, Arrieta, and possible FA (Maholm?)

    Bullpen: Veras, Villanueva, Wright, Russell, Strop, probably Parker (he's out of options), and probably one of Cabrera (also out of options), Rondon, Hatley, or random RHP

    I think there is really only 1 OF position, and 1 bullpen slot up for grabs, barring injury

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    It seems many were not aware (including myself) that this list of invites is in addition to the the 40 man roster. I was looking for Mike Olt and see he is also on the 40 man. So to clear it up maybe you should have included a link to the 40 man roster. It may help clear things up.

  • These lists points to one of the many ways in which the Epstein/Hoyer regime surpasses any previous regime the Cubs have had. I know the major league team still lacks talent, but the depth that we have invited to ST the last couple of years is impressive. Hendry would always fine 1 or 2 interesting ST invites every year that were lottery ticket or fringe 25 man sorts, but Theo and Jed bring in 10+ every year. Much better chance of uncovering unexpected value that way.

  • In reply to mjvz:


  • Seeing guys like Schlitter and Jokisch receive invites is great- along Parker and Rosscup I think they have the ability to make the big leagues and have decent careers along with Rivero.

    And another guy that's buried in A ball that needs to be pushed through the system is Andrew McKirihan- let's get these guys to Chicago and see what they can do. I find it interesting that some of the former highly ranked prospects like Zych and Wells aren't getting invites... just shows how much the system has improved where neither one gets any recognition anymore.

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    I'm a little surprised at no Neil Ramirez. He pitched really well at AA last year.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    He's on the roster as well.

  • John - first time poster, long time lurker. Started following the blog pre-draft and haven't left since. You do an excellent job and this has become my go-to site for Cub news and analysis. Keep up the excellent work.

    Not really topic related but seeing what it would have taken to land Tanaka, I'm glad the Cubs didn't get him. My immediate reaction was that Jeff has got to go for premium pitching prospects. What if we call Toronto again and offer Jeff & Vogelbomb for Sanchez & Stroman. Is that enough for Toronto to bite or do we need to offer more? Frankly, I just don't see how Vogs fits into our future line-ups.

  • In reply to BleacherBum:

    Thanks or the kind words.

    That's an interesting idea. I'm not sure if it will be enough, since it'll be hard to get either one of those guys for Samardzija.

  • John: What is the status of Trey McNutt? Don't see him on the 40 man-is he a darkhorse candidate for Chicago or at least the Iowa bullpen?

  • In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    I think right now the main concern is to get Trey healthy. Once that happens then I think Iowa makes sense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Is Iowa planning on having two teams this year? It seems like they have so many guys scheduled to start the year in Des Moines.

  • Another great blog John! (Cudo's again) Anyone in AZ the Grand opening is tomorrow at 2:00 AZ time. I can't wait till the spring games begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • FYI, they were talking about the boycott on Espn 1000 a few minutes ago... Silvie, the so called Cubs fan will not be joining in... But the exposure can only help!

  • In reply to Lifer:


  • In reply to Lifer:

    I can pick up Chicago stations once it gets dark here in eastern Tennessee (have no idea why it has to be dark) and I listened to some of that waiting for my wife who was shopping. One of the guys was really raking on this blog for pushing a boycott, saying people on here were blaming the "rooftoppers" for the dismal record of the Cubs. Of course, that isn't true because all that's been said is that those owners are a thorn in the side for not wanting to cooperate with the Cubs in making needed changes. It angers me when people in the media make declarations like that as if its gospel truth.

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    In reply to cubs1969:

    It used to be that some stations would increase their signal strength at night. Not sure if that's still the case.

  • Looking through the available free agents the only viable options really seem to be Arroyo, Hammel, and Maholm with Hammel being the most likely of those 3 in my opinion. (I imagine Arroyo and Maholm want 3 years)

    Do you take a chance on Roy Oswalt?

    Infield wise we seem pretty set with the non-roster invites and who we have now vs available free agents. In the outfield, the only guys I would maybe like to see personally get minor league or spring training invites would be Jason Bay and Ty Wigginton just to see if there is anything left in the tank. (Wig can play multiple positions, maybe spell Rizzo at first)

    But, it seems like most of the options we have in house offer as much potential as available free agents, with the exception of maybe the 3 starting pitchers listed at the top.

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    Too bad we lost Marcos Mateo. I would wanna see how he'd look in spring training after those great reports about his performance in the DR.

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    Two guys who appear to have come completely off everybody's radar are Trey McNutt and Barret Loux. I was hoping they'd get an invitation (especially Loux, since I'm not sure McNutt recovered from whatever injury he'd been dealing with last season).

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    In reply to João Lucas:

    Loux dominated in AA in the 2012 season, but he had a real rough go last year. It wasn't the kind of season that gets rewarded with a spring invite. (4-6, 4.84 ERA and 46 BB in 80 IP.)

  • Odrisamer Despaigne clear to sign... If the price is right, I can see the Cubs as players... For one particular reason, he has a wide array of secondarily and his best pitch is a change up, described as an MLB change up...

    I've seen a trend with the Cubs and they like pitchers with good change ups... Its useful against hitters from the other side of the plate and it gives the pitcher a higher chance of sticking in the rotation.

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    In reply to Caps:

    You know what's funny, old friend? I knew this was one of your posts even before I had scrolled far enough to see who wrote it. lol.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Hahaha thank you, kind of reminds me when sometimes we post the same thing at the same time lol.

    Hope you recognize them cause of the insight and because of the lack of it lol.

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    In reply to Caps:

    I recognize them for two resons. One, they're usually spot on and factually correct and two, because of your familiar style, which as I have mentioned before, is similar to John's.

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    In reply to Caps:

    And I love it when we post the asme thing at the same time. I always chuckle a little when that happens. we've done that a lot over the years.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I wish it was Alfredo Despaigne!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Look Boss, Despaigne! Despaigne!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Didn't know the name until you mentioned him... It seems like the little guy killed the Mexican League last year.

  • Very nice. I'm glad Brian Schlitter got an invite to camp. I know I was badgering John about Schlitter's chances (as did others) with reports of him bringing the heat. Also Carlos Pimentel was pitching really good in Dominican Winter Ball (5-0 / 1.67 ERA / 1.09 WHIP). Big fan of Hendricks too, but I'd like to see him refine his slurve and work on a few other things at AAA this year before coming up later in the year or September. In fact I like all the RH's invited, Hatley, Hendricks, Pimentel, Rivero, and Schlitter as cheap homegrown options for the Bullpen or rotation. The Cubs have an abundance of options this year.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I agree, just remember what options we had before theo and company got here. I'm excited to see the young arms this spring, I think this years draft they may go with more arms.

  • the cubs have done a great job of stockpiling talent. now
    we need 4-5 all stars from this group or trade some to get
    those all-stars if we are going to reach the WS.

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