Cubs protect 4 prospects from Rule 5 Draft

Alcantara, Davis among quartet added to 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday's deadline

November 16th, 2022

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have been discussing their crowded roster situation since the summer months. As Chicago navigated through another rebuilding year last season, there were internal promotions and Major League auditions happening with this week's roster deadline in mind.

On Tuesday, the Cubs decided to add prospects Kevin Alcantara, Ben Brown, Brennen Davis and Ryan Jensen to their 40-man roster, removing them from the pool of eligible players for the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 7 at the Winter Meetings. There is still a long list of players from Chicago's farm system who remain unprotected.

"We look at it as a good problem to have," Cubs vice president of player development Jared Banner said at the GM Meetings last week. "You want to have a lot of talent and you want to have a lot of difficult decisions to make. And it's our job to get in a room together and collaborate and make the best decisions we can."

Who was added to the 40-man roster?

Alcantara: Acquired from the Yankees as part of the Anthony Rizzo deal at the 2021 Trade Deadline, Alcantara is the Cubs' No. 3 prospect and the No. 86 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline. The 20-year-old is a 6-foot-5 center fielder with power, speed and room to grow.

In his first full season in the Cubs' system in '22, Alcantara hit .273/.360/.451 in 112 games for Single-A Myrtle Beach. He collected 15 homers, 19 doubles, six triples, 14 stolen bases and 85 RBIs, with 123 strikeouts against 55 walks.

Brown: The right-handed starter is the Cubs' No. 7 prospect. Chicago landed Brown, 23, from the Phillies for veteran reliever David Robertson at the Trade Deadline this past season.

Between High-A Jersey Shore (Phillies) and Double-A Tennessee (Cubs), Brown posted a 3.38 ERA with 149 strikeouts against 36 walks in 104 innings (23 games). That included a 4.06 ERA in seven starts for Tennessee, though he spun a 2.00 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 18 innings over his final four outings.

Davis: A second-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, the 23-year-old Davis entered '22 as the Cubs' No. 1 prospect. A season defined by injury setbacks has since dropped him to No. 2, as well as No. 48 on the overall Top 100 Prospects list.

Davis was the All-Star Futures Game MVP in '21 and looked poised to reach the big leagues in '22, before a back injury shelved him for much of the summer. Davis underwent a back procedure in early June and returned late in the year, playing five Arizona Fall League games before being shut down for the offseason.

Jensen: The Cubs picked Jensen, 24, in the first round (No. 27 overall) in the 2019 MLB Draft. Ranked as Chicago's No. 28 prospect, the righty had a 4.25 ERA in 17 starts for Double-A Tennessee this past season. After spending the middle of the summer training in Arizona, Jensen returned to post a 3.77 ERA with a .200 opponents' average over his final 12 appearances.

What other moves did Cubs make Tuesday?

Looking to clear some room on their own 40-man roster, the Rays partnered with the Cubs on a small trade. Chicago acquired utility man Miles Mastrobuoni from Tampa Bay in exchange for Minor League right-hander Alfredo Zarraga.

In Mastrobuoni, the Cubs are getting a versatile defender with speed who has three Minor League option years remaining. The 27-year-old appeared in eight games for the Rays down the stretch, but he spent the bulk of this past season with Triple-A Durham, where he hit .300/.377/.469 with 16 homers, 32 doubles, 23 steals and 64 RBIs in 129 games.

While with Durham this year, Mastrobuoni -- the younger brother of former Cubs Draft pick and Minor League catcher Marcus Mastrobuoni -- made starts at second base (55), right field (22), left field (16), center field (14), shortstop (11) and third base (two).

The Cubs' 40-man roster now has 38 players.

What notable prospects were left unprotected?

Looking at the Cubs' Top 30 Prospects list, there are four notable omissions:

• OF Yohendrick Pinango (No. 18): The 20-year-old product of Venezuela appeared in 115 games for High-A South Bend in 2022, hitting .250/.297/.394 with 13 homers, 24 doubles and 63 RBIs.

• INF Chase Strumpf (No. 25): A second-round pick by the Cubs in the 2019 Draft, Strumpf hit .234/.379/.461 for Double-A Tennessee this year, compiling 21 homers, 22 doubles and 57 RBIs in 116 games.

• RHP Luis Devers (No. 26): Named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year by the Cubs, the 22-year-old Devers had a 1.91 ERA with 122 strikeouts and 26 walks in 117 2/3 innings between Single-A Myrtle Beach and High-A South Bend in '22.

• RHP Kohl Franklin (No. 29): The 23-year-old Franklin (a sixth-round pick in the '18 Draft) can hit triple digits with his fastball and returned this year after missing '21 due to health setbacks. He had a 6.88 ERA in 69 1/3 innings over 23 starts for High-A South Bend, but he finished strong (a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings over his final five outings).