It’s not the most fun part of the Cactus League, but it’s as inevitable as the first pitch. In their first round of cuts, the Chicago Cubs have optioned three players, Andury Acevedo, Dan Vogelbach and Eric Jokisch, back to Triple-A, and also assigned Jack Leathersich, Duane Underwood, Armando Rivero and Jonathan Pettibone to the minors as well.
#Cubs reduce spring roster to 56. Acevedo, Jokisch, Vogelbach to Triple-A; Leathersich, Pettibone, Rivero, Underwood Jr to minor league camp
Ã¢ÂÂ Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 14, 2016
Some have voiced surprise on social media at Vogelbach’s quick drop back to Triple-A, but there are a lot of factors in play. Many experts have said all along that he is just not a good enough defender for a real career at first base, and nothing has happened this spring to change that assessment. He has trimmed down some, but is still pretty slow. If he can continue to work on speed and defense, he may be “okay” at some point, but his likely slot in the majors is going to be in the American League in a DH slot. His bat has been solid this spring with a slash line of .214/.353./.500 and an .OPS of .853. He walked three times and struck out five times in 14 at bats. Still kind of high on the strikeouts. Barring an unforeseen injury, or a late season call up for experience, Triple-A, or a trade, seem most likely for his 2016 season.
Jokisch did not fare well in his spring outings, giving up three hits and three runs over three innings pitched and managing a 6.00 ERA. He managed one strikeout and gave up a home run. He was not expected to make the roster, and has a good deal of work still to do at the Triple-A level.
Acevedo was bombed this spring, amassing a 19.29 ERA over 2.1 innings, giving up 3 hits, five runs, and walking three with only a single strikeout as an upside. He has not seen enough action, and will be trying to get his arm under control and performing for him out in Iowa, but his spring training is over.
Of the three that are assigned to the minor league, Jack Leathersich will not be able to pitch until at least mid-season due to Tommy John surgery, so that move was expected. Duane Underwood has been plagued with inflammations and shoulder injuries. He is feeling good this year, and could fast track up to Triple-A, with a possible call up later in the season if needed. His spring training was just that, a chance to train and work with guys like Jake Arrieta, soak up all the knowledge possible, and use that to bring his game up to the final level.
Armando Rivero got a hard taste of major league hitting, giving up four hits and three runs over only 1.2 innings for an ERA of 16.20. It was a learning experience for the youngster, and hopefully he’ll be able to build on it as he continues to hone his talent and make his way up to stay.
The last player assigned to the minors in the first round of cuts is Jonathan Pettibone, who is still rehabbing from multiple shoulder surgeries. If things go well for him in Triple-A he could be a factor later in the season. He’s only 25, so a full recovery leaves him with some good years of productivity ahead.
Expect more cuts later this week as opening day continues to come at its excruciatingly slow pace.