PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Cubs cut 10 pitchers from big league Spring Training camp on Monday, including prospect Duane Underwood Jr., who will make his first start on Friday against the White Sox.Underwood, 22, was a second-round pick in the 2012 Draft, but has been slowed because of injuries. Cubs
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Cubs cut 10 pitchers from big league Spring Training camp on Monday, including prospect Duane Underwood Jr., who will make his first start on Friday against the White Sox.
Underwood, 22, was a second-round pick in the 2012 Draft, but has been slowed because of injuries. Cubs manager Joe Maddon's only extended look at Underwood came in a scrimmage last spring.
"My impression is I want to see him," Maddon said of the club's No. 16 prospect per MLBPipeline.com. "It's in his hands -- this guy is really talented. ... He really needs to figure out that he belongs here, and he can do this. If he does, that stuff will take off, because his stuff is that good. He has to get there mentally. Physically, he has all the tools in the world."
Underwood was optioned to Double-A Tennessee, while right-handed pitchers Aaron Brooks and Jose Rosario, and lefty Jack Leathersich, were optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
Five non-roster invitees were assigned to Minor League camp, including right-handers Seth Frankoff, Casey Kelly, Jhondaniel Medina and Conor Mullee, and lefty Zachary Rosscup.
Right-handed pitcher Maikel Cleto was released, reducing the Cubs' spring roster to 50 players.
• On Sunday, Kristopher Bryant hit his second home run of spring, a line drive to right field. That's something the right-handed hitter has been working on. Last year, he pulled all but one of his 39 home runs to left.
"He's been having good at-bats," Maddon said of the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. "He's hit some balls decently on that side of the field, but that [home run to right] was really good to see. The ball carried great. It looks like the old swing path where the plane is in order. He just looks right."
• One week ago, Jason Heyward ended an 0-for-15 start to Spring Training by hitting a home run and a double in a game against the Angels. Since then, Heyward is hitless in seven at-bats.
"I'm looking at how he's starting the bat, and there are more balls in the air than on the ground, there's not that rollover ground ball, which I think is a big part of the improvement," Maddon said. "I see improvement. I'm not into Spring Training performances. I like the adjustments they've been making and they're obvious to me."
• Lefty reliever Brian Duensing, who came out of his last outing because of tightness in his lower back, threw off flat ground on Monday and reported no pain. His status is day to day.
• Right-hander Jake Buchanan left Monday's game in the sixth inning when the Padres' Hunter Renfroe lined a ball off Buchanan's right shoulder. Buchanan left the game with an upper arm contusion, and his status is day to day.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.