Wes Darvill, utility infielder, 6-2, 175
Drafted in the fifth round in 2009
Rule 5 Eligible Already
This post will be somewhat about the minor league portions of the Rule 5 draft. Even beyond the 40-man roster, teams can (and do) protect other Rule 5 eligible players at the minor league levels. When a player is selected in the minor league portions, it is mainly a pure buy. No requirements exist for April placement, or anything. Rarely is finding an extra spot for a player an issue. Most teams have a spot or two left at the "Triple-A" and "Double-A" levels. Getting $12.500 (or so) is sometimes of more value than reserving a player.
This off-season, in the minor league phase, the Cubs lost first baseman Justin Bour to the Marlins, the Pirates claimed pitcher A.J. Morris, and the Orioles drafted OF Julio Borbon. In the previous year, Michael Burgess and Matt Cerda were selected.
Cerda had a decent year in Double-A Tennessee in 2012. His OPS was .749, and he walked 54 times, five fewer than he struck out. However, he was left eligible for the Rule 5 draft att both the major league and Triple-A levels. He was selected in the Triple-A phase, but (apparently) didn't hitch on anywhere for 2013.
This matters in regard to Wes Darvill ... why?
In 2012, Darvill had an OPS under .600. In Low-A Peoria. At that point, he looked far behind Cerda as a prospect. But then, Darvill had, by far, his best pro year in 2013. He was a year behind Cerda in development, but was quite important to Daytona's title run. He was added late to the Arizona Fall League roster.
It's difficult to tell when, or in fact, if, a prospect will ever "get it". As much as we bloggers like to throw dismissives about a player, he may be three weeks from hitting a talent growth spurt. Needlessly letting a player go is rarely a good idea. To be honest, needlessly keeping one isn't a good idea, either. Roster management is important, as organizational filler today may be pinch-hitting for the parent club by July, when poseur-fans will claim, "I knew he had it in him all along."
Darvill wasn't added to the 40-man roster, but was likely on the Triple-A 38-man, effectively keeping him around. Largely because Darvill wasn't Rule 5 scenario ready. That isn't to say he will ever play in Wrigley. It does, however, get at the heart of developing talent. Don't be certain of a player being without value. Even if he does get released, it could have been just a numbers thing. Look for a few of those in very early-April.
The Cubs have a rather strong system. Strong, and deep. Some talented players will be released by the team this spring. And with the Cubs strong and deep roster, Darvill was on the Mesa Solar Sox. Which means someone likes him for some reason. Even if the respect doesn't extend to the Internet.