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Cubs prepare to protect prospects from Rule 5 Draft

Top arm Edwards likely to be added to Chicago's 40-man roster
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Last December, Cubs pitcher Marcos Mateo was selected by the D-backs in the Rule 5 Draft, one of nine players picked in the Major League section.

The right-hander was back in Cubs camp in mid-March, but the selection emphasizes the need to protect certain players on the 40-man roster. Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT is the deadline for Major League teams to set their 40-man rosters and add any Minor League players who may be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

CHICAGO -- Last December, Cubs pitcher Marcos Mateo was selected by the D-backs in the Rule 5 Draft, one of nine players picked in the Major League section.

The right-hander was back in Cubs camp in mid-March, but the selection emphasizes the need to protect certain players on the 40-man roster. Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT is the deadline for Major League teams to set their 40-man rosters and add any Minor League players who may be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren't on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. If another team does select a player, it must pay the former team $50,000 and keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25,000.

Mateo, 30, selected eighth overall by the D-backs, was the first player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft who was returned to his original team. He spent the season with Triple-A Iowa and posted a 3.86 ERA in 33 games, giving up 16 earned runs on 34 hits and 17 walks over 37 1/3 innings. He struck out 43. On Nov. 4, Mateo was granted free agency.

The Cubs will announce roster moves on Thursday, and one name expected to be added to the 40-man roster is C.J. Edwards, 23, the team's top-rated pitcher on MLB.com's Top 20 Prospects list. The right-hander was limited to 10 games at Double-A Tennessee in 2014 because of shoulder issues, then pitched in the Arizona Fall League.

Acquired from the Rangers in July 2013 in the Matt Garza trade, the highly touted Edwards is 14-7 with a 1.86 ERA in 50 games (49 starts), serving up just two home runs among the 140 hits he's given up over 237 innings. The slender right-hander has struck out 294, while walking 91.

Edwards may not be in the Cubs' 2015 Opening Day rotation, but he's not far from the big leagues, and he would likely be considered too valuable to leave unprotected.

Another Minor Leaguer who could be added is Frank Batista, 25, who was a combined 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 54 games last season between Tijuana (Mexico), Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Batista posted a 2.86 ERA in five starts in the Dominican Winter League, giving up seven earned runs on 27 hits and 10 walks over 22 innings, while striking out 19.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Frank Batista, C.J. Edwards, Marcos Mateo