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Cubs add and lose a reliever in the minor league Rule 5 Draft

They’ve added a lefthander with MLB experience.

Conner Menez
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

In what equates to a “trade,” the Cubs lost Carlos Ocampo to the Mets in the minor league Rule 5 Draft that took place Wednesday afternoon, while acquiring lefty swingman Conner Menez from the Giants. With that, look for teams to release players they had secretly hoped other teams might select for cash on Wednesday. What follows is a “who” and “why” on Ocampo and Menez.

Ocampo pitched in Myrtle Beach as a “up to two innings reliever” type. His walks were rather good, and he struck out 12.7 per nine innings. He was hindered by home runs, and the Mets are buying on his future, which makes sense. For my money, I’d prefer recent first-year Cubs relievers Zach Leigh, Frankie Scalzo, and maybe a few others. Relievers have a tendency to have large swings either way, as developing secondary pitches isn’t as much of a concern.

Menez has pitched in three different seasons in MLB (2019, 2020 and 2021). My theoretical/strategic comp is Adam Morgan, who obviously has a longer MLB dossier. However, when the Cubs added Morgan, he was sent on a minor-league deal and pitched at Triple-A Iowa for as long as that made sense. Eventually, Morgan was called up to Wrigley. Morgan had a chance to stick longer-term, but missed.

Menez will do whatever he does with the I-Cubs, and if he forces a call-up, the Cubs will have a decision to make with him as they had in 2021 with Morgan. As I never remember seeing or hearing Menez pitch, I won’t feign knowledge I don’t have, although here is video of him striking out Patrick Wisdom last June 6 on a nice curveball — with the bases loaded and two out.

His splits are as you might expect, and he has four MLB starts among his 23 big-league appearances.

From The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, California, Menez gives a bit more credence to following “the local school” or “a school you kinda dig, anyway,” regardless their size or perceived prestige. Minor league ball resumes in April and D1 in mid-February, but NAIA games resume late next month. Have a team, as I’m taking to futbol, now that I have a squad (Tottenham). Baseball and futbol matches are better for me than listening to Rob Manfred talk.

Find a team, and research them fifteen minutes a week. You’ll be good once baseball resumes. Whenever that is. As Ocampo and Menez will be.