News broke late Saturday morning that the Cubs released their alternate site roster a couple of days ahead of schedule. According to MLB, the Cubs can roster 28 players at the alternate site that they can call up at any point in the next month. They can’t call up any other players from beyond that group, which would essentially be like Double-A, until the regular season. As a result, most people thought the Cubs’ alternate roster would mostly be made up of what amounts to be Quad-A players with a few pitching prospects slated to be at Triple-A.
That’s not the case, as there were several surprises on the 27-man list.
The first few names that stand out are relievers Manny Rodriguez and Tommy Nance. Both can throw in the upper 90s and Nance features a sinking fastball that hitters describe as being akin to hitting concrete. Rodriguez has some amazing armside run on his fastball and also has a power curve with a developing changeup.
The big name missing from the list Brailyn Márquez, which is a bit stunning considering where he ended last year. He did not pitch at all in camp in Mesa and hopefully this is just about being ready quite yet as opposed to being injury related.
When it comes to the hitters, I didn’t know if Alfonso Rivas was going to make the alternate site roster. He had a good spring despite not hitting any home runs and is more than likely going to start the year at Iowa. Still, it is good to see him here as it will continue his development against more advanced competition.
The big tell on the list is the inclusion of infielder Andy Weber.
Originally a second baseman when he was drafted out of Virginia in 2018, Weber moved to shortstop in 2019 and help lead South Bend to a Midwest League title. He showed up again this spring in camp with the big leaguers and got to see a lot of playing time late in games where, despite one error, he looked like he belonged in the field and at the plate.
Andy Weber might be the most underrated prospect in the #Cubs system
• 5th rd draft pick in 2018 out of UVA
• .275/.338/.400 (113 wRC+) in 2019
• Only 2 errors at SS in all of June
• System leader with 36 doubles
• Improved at the plate & in the field as the season went on pic.twitter.com/344kV6QGTK
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) November 9, 2019
The addition of Weber to the alternate site roster really gives you an idea of just how highly the Cubs value the young infielder. While he is not on most top prospect lists, it’s clear the Cubs believe he’s got a future in the organization.
The 28th spot is likely being held open for pitcher Tyson Miller who is currently inactive due to COVID protocols. When he comes out of that is anybody’s guess, but he’ll almost certainly be at South Bend at that point.
Top prospect Brennan Davis is not part of this roster because it’s so limited and he’s not ready for a role with the big club at this point. The same goes for Chase Strumpf and Chris Morel. Still, you probably should expect to see all three at Double-A Tennessee when the minor league season begins on May 4.
Here is the full list:
Pitchers — Cory Abbott, Joe Biagini, Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Shelby Miller, Tommy Nance, Manny Rodriguez, Michael Rucker, Justin Steele, Kohl Stewart, Pedro Strop, Keegan Thompson, Brad Wieck
Catchers — Miguel Amaya, Taylor Gushue, PJ Higgins, José Lobatón
Infielders — Abiatal Avelino, Nico Hoerner, Alfonso Rivas, Ildemaro Vargas, Andy Weber, Patrick Wisdom
Outfielders — Ian Miller, Rafael Ortega, Nick Martini, Cameron Maybin