The Rule 5 Draft, where teams can select unprotected minor-league players from other organizations, comes up at the end of the Winter Meetings December 9 (if those Meetings happen).
Today was the day for teams to add players who needed protection from Rule 5 selection to their 40-man rosters, and the Cubs added outfielder Nelson Velázquez, who has been tearing up the Arizona Fall League, and righthanded pitcher Ethan Roberts to their 40-man.
The 22-year-old Velázquez is hitting .385 (40-for-104) with 24 runs, seven doubles, nine home runs, 24 RBI, a .480 on-base percentage and a 1.191 OPS in 26 games for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. Named to the AFL Fall Stars Game, Velázquez leads the league in home runs, hits (40), extra-base hits (16), total bases (74) and runs scored while he is second in batting average, OPS and slugging (.712). He also led all Cubs minor leaguers last season with 73 RBI, 45 extra-base hits and 191 total bases while his 20 home runs and 104 hits ranked second. He batted .290 (36-for-124) with 10 doubles, one triple, eight home runs and 27 RBI in 34 games for Tennessee following his promotion from High-A South Bend, August 4. Between the two clubs, the right-handed hitting Velázquez batted .270 (104-for-385) with 23 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs and 73 RBI in 103 games.
Roberts is 24 and was the Cubs’ fourth-round pick in 2018 out of Tennessee Tech. In 2021, he posted a 3.00 ERA (18 earned runs in 54 innings) in 39 relief appearances split between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2021. He walked 17 batters and had 72 strikeouts, good for an average of 12 strikeouts per nine innings. Roberts limited opponents to a .179 batting average (35-for-196), a .258 on-base percentage and a .528 OPS.
The Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 37 players. A note: If you look at the Cubs’ current 40-man roster as listed on their website, you’ll count only 36 players. Michael Hermosillo, who was activated from the 60-day injured list November 7, should be listed as part of the 40-man. I’m not sure why he’s not there, and I assume this is simply an oversight.