Hardly any names present in the first wave of spring roster cuts Monday could qualify as a surprise since all but four players returned to Cubs minor league camp came to big league spring training as non-roster invitees.
Third baseman Scott Moore, first baseman Brian Dopirak, and pitchers Clay Rapada and Jeff Samardzija were the only players to enter camp on the Cubs’ 40-man roster that were returned to minor league camp Monday.
Ten non-roster players were cut from the big league roster, including such pitching prospects as Sean Gallagher, Adam Harben and Randy Wells.
The decision to drop Harben from the Cubs spring roster was perhaps the easiest one, as the right-hander underwent Tommy John Surgery this past off-season and wasn’t involved in any active games this spring anyway.
Morever, the Cubs had known for some time that high-round draft picks from a year ago, such as Samardzija, would begin the year in the minor leagues.
Position prospects optioned to minor league camp Monday included second baseman Eric Patterson and outfielders Tyler Colvin and Chris Walker.
Cubs Farm Director Oneri Fleita recently spelled the importance of inviting notable prospects like Gallagher and Patterson to big league camp.
“It does a couple of things,” Fleita said. “It rewards them for the work they’ve done. It gives them a chance to be seen by the new manager and by their organization. It gives them a chance to be involved with major league players in a major league setting, and it helps them in terms of development and what is expected of them. It serves a lot of needs for a lot of reasons.”
Rounding out Monday’s first series of roster cuts were pitchers Jason Anderson, Ben Howard and John Webb, and infielder Mike Kinkade.
Many of the players cut from the Cubs’ spring roster Monday were also “optioned” to a minor league affiliate. Rapada and Moore were optioned to Triple-A Iowa while Dopirak was optioned to Double-A Tennessee. Meanwhile, Samardzija was optioned to Class-A Daytona.
This does not necessarily mean that those players will begin their minor league seasons with those clubs, however. For example, after being optioned to minor league camp late last spring, Cubs catcher Jake Fox proceeded to spend most of his remaining time in camp with the Double-A squad. When the season began, Fox was on the active Daytona roster.
Eight non-roster invitees still remain on the Cubs’ spring roster, which now consists of 44 players in all. The breakdown includes 22 pitchers, seven outfielders, 10 infielders and five catchers.
The head-to-head schedule of Cubs Minor League Spring Training begins Saturday when the club’s prospects face those from the Oakland Athletics.