Dan Santaromita

Cubs make multiple moves to fill out 40-man roster

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USA TODAY

Cubs make multiple moves to fill out 40-man roster

Tuesday night was the deadline to set 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs made a flurry of moves with that in mind.

Earlier in the day the Cubs claimed pitcher Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox. They followed up by trading Jason Vosler to the Padres for right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick.

Wick, who turned 26 less than two weeks ago, got a call-up late in 2018 with the Padres. He made his MLB debut on Aug. 31 and totaled 10 appearances out of the bullpen. He had a 6.48 ERA in 8 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and just one walk. The improved control was a good sign after Wick walked 31 batters in 54 innings between Double-A and Triple-A earlier in the season, but he gave up 13 hits in the majors.

Going the other way, Vosler is a 25-year-old infielder who had been in the Cubs organization since getting drafted in 2014. He worked his way up to Triple-A this past season. Vosler hit .263/.306/.458 for the Iowa Cubs in 63 games.

The Cubs also added left-handed pitcher Justin Steele to the 40-man roster. Steele was a fifth-round pick of the Cubs out of high school in 2014 and came from injury in 2018. He made 11 starts between rookie ball, Single-A and Double-A before recently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.

Clarkin, Steele and Wick join the 40-man roster for the Cubs, which now stands at 39.

In addition to Vosler exiting, the Rangers claimed Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Cubs. The Cubs had claimed Reinheimer off waivers from the Mets on Nov. 2. Outfielder Johnny Field and left-handed pitcher Jerry Vasto, both of which were claimed off waivers since the 2018 season ended, both cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa.

 

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Luis Robert highlights White Sox prospects as Arizona Fall League concludes

Luis Robert highlights White Sox prospects as Arizona Fall League concludes

The Arizona Fall League wrapped up on Thursday for White Sox prospects and the overall results were mixed.

Perhaps the most important thing from the seven-week season is that Luis Robert began to show his potential. After injuries limited him to just 50 games in 2018, his first season playing in the U.S., Robert added 18 games and 79 plate appearances against much more experienced players in Arizona.

Robert, still just 21 and the second-youngest hitter on the team, hit in his first 14 games in the AFL and tallied a hit in 16 of his 18 games. He did this while missing over a week in the middle of the season due to a hamstring injury. The Cuban outfielder’s final numbers are .324/.367/.432. He had five walks, which isn’t an inspiring total, but he kept the strikeouts down at 13.

One of the things that still hasn’t shown in games very often is Robert’s power. He didn’t hit a home run in the 2018 minor league season, but it’s possible his thumb injury was affecting his ability to hit for power. Robert’s power didn’t come through much in the AFL, but there was definitely improvement. He hit two home runs and had two doubles, but this home run last week was definitely seductive.

The AFL isn’t make or break for prospects. Adam Engel hit .403/.523/.642 in the AFL in 2015 and hasn’t shown the ability to hit in the majors yet. Still, Robert showed flashes of his potential with the bat while also causing chaos on the base paths with five stolen bases in five attempts.

Robert was one of seven White Sox minor leaguers who played for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Glendale finished the season 12-18.

The next biggest hitting prospect on Glendale was Luis Alexander Basabe. Basabe struggled in his time in Arizona, but did show some of what has makes him an intriguing prospect.

Basabe hit just .180, but did draw 12 walks in 63 plate appearances. The 22-year-old isn’t known for hitting for average. He is a career .258 hitter in six minor league seasons, including a .251 mark in Double-A in the second half of 2018. However, if he can draw walks at a high rate while bringing good speed in the outfield, he can have some value.

Overall, hitting .180/.333/.180 is a disappointing stint, but there was at least one positive with the walk rate.

Laz Rivera rounded out White Sox hitters with a line of .215/.271/.246. Rivera had solid stints at both levels of Single-A in 2018, his first full season of pro ball, but the AFL showed he may find the adjustment to Double-A a tough one.

On the pitching side the only marquee name was Zack Burdi, but he got shut down early in the season. He made only five appearances (4 2/3 innings, 3 unearned runs, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 hits), but Rick Hahn said there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Tanner Banks (4.43 ERA, 10 strikeouts, 5 walks, 30 hits in 22 1/3 innings), Zach Thompson (2.70 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 6 walks, 10 hits in 13 1/3 innings) and Danny Dopico (6.57 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 12 walks, 10 hits in 12 1/3 innings) also pitched for Glendale. All three will be 25 or older when 2019 rolls around.

Cody Parkey's practice at Soldier Field attracted news helicopters

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USA TODAY

Cody Parkey's practice at Soldier Field attracted news helicopters

If there was any doubt that the Bears are the most popular team in Chicago, allow the events of Wednesday to serve as further evidence.

After hitting the upright an astonishing four times in Sunday's win against the Lions, Bears kicker Cody Parkey practiced at Soldier Field Wednesday night. That's not the crazy part.

The Bears kicker taking to Soldier Field to practice on a weeknight drew multiple news helicopters. Both WGN and ABC 7 got footage of a kicker practicing.

Earlier in the week, Parkey said practicing at Soldier Field "can't hurt." Now that he went through with it, we can find out if he thought the extra reps ahead of Sunday night's game against the Vikings were worth it.

Who knows how this Bears this season will end, but the Bears are certainly back in the spotlight of the Chicago sports scene.