The Cubs added an outfielder to the organization Wednesday...but not on the active roster.
The organization hired Will Venable to the front office Wednesday morning as a special assistant to the president/general manager.
Venable is only 34 and played in the big leagues as recently as last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent nine years in the majors, eight of which came in San Diego at the same time Jed Hoyer was GM and Jason McLeod was also in the Padres front office.
He stole 101 bases over a four-year stretch from 2010-13 and also smashed 22 homers in 2013.
With the Cubs, Venable will have a role with the entire baseball operations department, including visiting the club's minor-league affiliates and talking to prospects on and off the field, evaluating amateur players and also spending some time with the big-league club.
"I'm extremely grateful Jed and Theo have given me the opportunity to learn from them and all of the great people in the Cubs organization,” Venable said in a statement. “As my playing days have come to an end, I look forward to exploring new ways to have a positive impact on the game. I am excited to be part of the Cubs family and their amazing tradition.”
For those who follow such things, Keith Law's yearly Top 100 prospect rankings is always a highly anticipated read. What would baseball twitter even do with their time if they couldn't spend it vocally disagreeing with subjective lists? Having a handful of Top 100 guys is always a shot in the arm for franchises that maybe aren't doing a whole lot of winning at the major league level; when you know you're not winning a World Series, the debuts of these prospects are high points of the summer.
There wasn't a whole lot of Cubs' representation this season, which isn't a surprise by any means. Only guys two made Law's list: Brennen Davis at 55, and Brailyn Marquez at 80.
Law claims Davis has the highest upside of any Cubs' prospect, but isn't necessarily close to a debut:
Davis is lanky and has barely begun to fill out, so there’s likely to be more power to come, while he’s already shown he can manage at-bats and use the middle of the field to get himself on base. Despite his 6′4″ frame he already has a very balanced swing, and the Cubs will just have to tighten up some mechanical things since he’s got such long levers. A former shortstop, he’s adapted quickly to center field; he projects to stay there and add value with his range.
He also loves Marquez's stuff – comparing it to Aroldis Chapman's – and says it's the reason why he's team's best pitching prospect since Dylan Cease. You can see the entire rankings, which go pretty in-depth, right here.
Brandon Morrow’s comeback attempt has hit a bump in the road.
Morrow, the Cubs reliever and former closer, has what the club is calling a “mild right upper chest strain,” according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Bastian added Morrow felt the strain in his last bullpen session and there is no clear timeline for his return.
The strain is the latest ailment to sideline the oft-injured Morrow, who hasn't pitched since July 2018 due to a series of arm troubles. The 35-year-old has undergone two elbow surgeries since then (November 2018, September 2019) before becoming a free agent this winter. He rejoined the Cubs on a minor-league deal.
Morrow entered camp optimistic the latest procedure did the trick to get his elbow healthy. The Cubs have been easing him into action — the right-hander is throwing one bullpen every four days. Morrow said earlier this month he’s experienced some aches and pains but attributed those to being part of the rehab process.
Morrow is listed as day-to-day, according to Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune. But considering his injury history — and the fact he was already unlikely to crack the Opening Day roster — the Cubs will proceed with extreme caution. There's no need to expedite his return, mild strain or not.
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