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5 guys the Cubs could consider picking up in the Rule 5 Draft

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... if and when it happens.

Nick Vespi pitches in the Arizona Fall League championship game
Photo by Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images

I’m still not sold on the Cubs making a Rule 5 Draft selection. Based on when the draft actually happens, and if the rules change (principally, the size of the 40-man roster), I reserve a right to change my opinion. However, as of now, the Cubs have a few guys on the 40 unlikely to contribute much in 2022. As such, the extent I’d be interested in the Cubs using the pick is by trading the seventh slot for cash. Nonetheless, some names are a bit interesting.

Griffin Conine, outfield, Marlins

Conine won’t likely last until the seventh choice. A second-round pick in 2018, he hit 36 homers in 2021. Upon being promoted to Double-A, he had an average of .176 with an on-base of .243. As per usual, the Rule 5 Draft is about scouting: Would “your” coaches do better with him than “their” coaches. Conine, whose dad Jeff is a Marlins legend, seems a useful enough right fielder. The Marlins fanbase seemed a bit put off that he wasn’t added to their 40-man.

Bryson Brigman, infield, Marlins

Not the youngest available Rule 5 option at 25 and change, but was an up-the-middle type guy in Triple-A in 2021, sporting an OPS of .760 with an on-base of .361. His walk/strikeout ratio was 46/68, Brigman doesn’t shine in any one angle, but seems fairly complete. And versatile.

Scott Kornberg is on the call below. By the way, Kornberg (who used to be an announcer for the Cubs affiliate in Myrtle Beach) really digs Brigman.

Brandon Lockridge, outfield, Yankees

I’m finally getting to the point where I no longer fear the Cubs’ outfield depth situation in late 2023 and beyond. Between Nelson Velazquez’ emergence this season, Alexander Canario, and others, outfield might be an offensive strength rather soon, Ian Happ or not. Nonetheless, a center fielder who can hit and run intrigues me.

The Yankees were up against a roster crunch and Lockridge wasn’t protected. From Troy University, Lockridge hit well in Advanced-A, and notched it up in Double-A, to the tune of an OPS of .940 at the higher level. He hit 13 homers overall, with the lion’s share in Double-A. Walks are somewhat problematic, but his seasonal OPS against lefties was 1.127. He was mainly a center fielder in 2021, and made no errors in the field.

Nick Vespi, left-handed pitcher, Orioles

Sometimes, looking for a somewhat logical Rule 5 choice requires a bit of a fluke. Perhaps a player who was difficult to deal with against an upper-minors affiliate. Or, perhaps some inside knowledge. Vespi provides a bit of that. A lefty reliever that shredded in Double-A, his call-up to Triple-A Norfolk led to some rather ugly numbers.

Undeterred, the Orioles sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he ended up with the Mesa Solar Sox. In Mesa, Vespi has more innings than hits, but fewer innings than strikeouts. If the Cubs want Vespi, he might be available at 7. He pitched the seventh inning in the clincher for Mesa.

Seth Corry, left-handed pitcher, Giants

Corry’s walk numbers in 2021 were ghastly. In High-A and the Arizona Fall League, as well. Which is why it boils to a scouting question. Do the Cubs scouts think they can internally upgrade Corry in Chicago with two left-handed pitching coaches? If they think so, then bring it. Corry certainly isn’t a “reliever only” type.