The Cubs figured to make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft, with a 40-man roster at just 34 players and definite needs for pitching.
In the first round, the Cubs did indeed make a selection, a righthanded pitcher from the Orioles organization named Gray Fenter.
Fenter was the O’s seventh-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Arkansas. He’ll turn 25 in January.
In Baltimore’s organization he’s been a big strikeout pitcher, striking out 11.7 per nine innings in his last full season, 2019 in High-A with Delmarva in the South Atlantic League. With no 2020 season it’s difficult to tell where he’d have progressed, but given the Cubs have essentially placed him on the 40-man roster now, he’ll likely get a chance to make the Cubs bullpen in 2021. He’s been mostly a starter in the Baltimore organization, but I’d think with a K rate like that he’ll get a shot at the bullpen.
Jacob Markle of our SB Nation Tigers site Bless You Boys wrote this about Fenter a year ago when he was also Rule 5-eligible:
Fenter is a risk simply because, thanks to injury, he has yet to see competition higher than Low-A. There’s little comparison between that level and the major leagues, meaning he would undoubtedly face a baptism by fire if selected. At 23 years old, he’s old for the level but was a victim of Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2016 season. He does have some appealing traits: his curveball is a weapon and he has a starter’s repertoire. It was far too much for the weak offenses of Low-A, who struck out 32.3 percent of the time against him. Without a large frame or the command to be a sure thing in the rotation down the road, though, his success will depend on whether he’s able to continue striking guys out in bunches like he did in 2019.
As noted, it’s impossible to say what Fenter would have done in 2020, when he’d likely have pitched at Double-A. He’s certainly an intriguing arm, now that he’s surely recovered from Tommy John surgery. Here’s some video of him pitching in 2018:
Here is Fenter’s Twitter account if you’d like to follow him.
The Cubs did not lose any players in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
In the minor-league phase, the Cubs selected a righthanded pitcher named Nicholas Padilla, who will turn 24 later this month and who last pitched for Bowling Green in the Rays organization in 2019, and also Samuel Reyes, a righthanded pitcher from the Pirates organization who pitched at both Low-A and High-A in 2019. They lost a righthanded pitcher named Yunior Perez, who will turn 22 later this month and last pitched for Eugene in 2019. He was selected by the Tigers, and Jeffrey Passantino, a righthanded pitcher who split 2019 between South Bend, Myrtle Beach and Tennessee.
The Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 35.