Cubs announced they have selected outfielder contracts Nelson Velasquez and right handed pitcher Ethan roberts. The move protects both players from being selected by a rival team in this year’s rule 5 draft. Chicago’s 40-man roster now has 37 spots.
Velazquez was a 5th round pick for the Cubs in 2017, and the book about him at the time was that he had above-average tools in everything besides a raw hitting tool. This projection has largely borne out in the professional career of the young outfielder, as he posted a cumulative batting average of 0.259 with more strikeouts (377) than games played (316). The 22-year-old’s selection comes as no surprise after his strongest season yet, producing a slash of 0.270 / 0.333 / 0.496 on two levels last season, with most of that production coming from his first look. against the Double-A pitcher. Velazquez increased his stock again with a huge performance of .366 / .467 / .693 Fall League, although strikeouts remain an issue.
Roberts, a right-hander from Tennessee Technological University, earned his 4th round pedigree and has steadily climbed among the miners with the Cubs. A reliever, the 24-year-old straddled the force of a severed fastball and commanded more for generally high stroke prevention figures and strikeout totals. His Double-A performance this year has been outstanding, giving a 1.97 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 32 innings. While a promotion to triple A didn’t go as well (4.50 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings), Roberts could be a short-term option for his Major League club.