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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Burl Carraway

Calling him up in 2020, as many wanted, would have been a big mistake.

Burl Carraway Rebecca Snyder

Burl Carraway’s story is an amusing one, probably told best in this podcast by Carraway himself.

Development comes when it does, and for whatever reason. A team with above-average coaching and scouting have an edge over teams who lag in those important areas, in my opinion. Carraway might, or might not, be a leverage reliever in the Cubs bullpen in a few years. If you’ve listened to the above interview/podcast, you have more information than I’m going to use in this article. Carraway’s is a tale you can, and probably should try to, learn from, regardless where you are as a baseball fan.

Burl Carraway, left-handed relief pitcher

Born May 27, 1999. College Station, Texas
Drafted by the Cubs in 2020 in the second-round from Dallas Baptist University

The above interview walks you through how attending a baseball school can help the professional athlete, and how the pro athlete can help benefit the college program. The freshman-going-on-sophomore in college can work with a professional in thje weight room, and possibly banter a bit on what it really takes to develop further. For Carraway, having a proper facility to get his work in, with catchers on-site, should be useful for his as-recommended winter work.

Carraway wasn’t much of a pitcher as a college freshman, but figured things out his next two years. In 2020, the trendy thing was to say “call up Carraway to the big club.” as the White Sox did with their 2020 pick Garret Crochet. Even Carraway knew that wasn’t happening. He wasn’t facing actual hitters, as he notes. He was tossing bullpens. But, yet, “Call up Carraway” was how a 2020 Cubs fan stayed relevant; ahead of the game. Kind of like “re-sign Castellanos.” Very catchy, and with a bouncy, dancing beat, but entirely detached from reality.

The 40-man roster is important. The Cubs 40-man roster might or might not be where you want it right now, but frivolously adding someone needlessly, someone who wouldn’t realistically participate in 2020, would have been absurd. Players should be added to the 40-man roster for one of three reasons, pretty much only these:

  • They were acquired already on the 40-man roster.
  • They kicked down the door, forcing a call-up.
  • They have to be added to prevent a loss in a pending Rule 5 Draft.

“Because he might be good” is as good of a reason to call up a player as it is to give 100 percent of your money to a financial advisor. It’s probably a good idea to have something a little bit better than a mild hunch. Carraway would have been a guy non-tendered at some point, simply because someone wished a little too hard on a radar gun reading. Let a player succeed at one level before they try the next. Logic and reason are wise things to follow regarding player development.

Through his first full pro season, Carraway has reached Double-A — and did well there. Since he’s not on the 40-man roster, he gets to do minor league spring training in March, or whenever. Which is exactly where he should be. Ready for April with the Smokies, unless he jumps with all the uncertainty to Des Moines. Exactly where he should be. Limit unnecessary mistakes in front-office decisions, and the talent will display itself, in due time.