Cubs protect 4 prospects from Rule 5 Draft

Cubs protect 4 prospects from Rule 5 Draft

CHICAGO -- The Cubs selected the contracts of pitcher Pierce Johnson, catcher Willson Contreras, infielder Jeimer Candelario and first baseman Dan Vogelbach from Double-A Tennessee on Friday and added them to the 40-man roster, preventing them from being selected by another club during next month's Rule 5 Draft. The 40-man roater now has 37 players.

The quartet were among six players listed on MLB.com's Top 30 Cubs Prospects who were set to be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Johnson is ranked seventh, Contreras 10th, Vogelbach 13th and Candelario 20th.

Contreras, 23, was the Cubs' Minor League Player of the Year in 2015 after batting .333 with eight home runs, 34 doubles, four triples and 75 RBIs in 126 games at Tennessee. He batted .283 with three home runs and five doubles in 14 games in the Arizona Fall League before he suffered a hamstring injury and was shut down.

Johnson, 24, went 6-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 16 starts at Tennessee this season with 72 strikeouts over 95 innings. Slowed in Spring Training because of injury, the right-hander pitched for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League and struck out 21 over 24 2/3 innings in seven starts.

Vogelbach, 22, was a second-round pick in 2011, and battled injuries in 2015, finishing with a .272 average in 76 games at Tennessee with seven home runs, 16 doubles and one triple.

Candelario, 21, shined in the Arizona Fall League where he batted .329 in 21 games with five home runs, eight doubles and 15 RBIs in 21 games with the Mesa Solar Sox. This past season, he batted .291 in 46 games at Tennessee after opening the season at Class A Myrtle Beach, where he hit .270 in 82 games.

The two players on MLB.com's Top 30 Cubs Prospects who were not protected from the Rule 5 Draft are right-hander Corey Black (No. 19) and right-hander Daury Torrez (No. 29). Black, 24, was moved from the rotation to the bullpen this season at Tennessee. Acquired from the Yankees in the Alfonso Soriano trade, he was 3-5 with a 4.92 ERA in 37 games, including nine starts. He pitched in the AFL, and gave up 11 earned runs over 8 2/3 innings in eight games.

Torrez, 22, was 10-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) at Myrtle Beach, striking out 86 over 134 1/3 innings.

All Major League teams had until 7 p.m. CT Friday to declare which players would be added to the 40-man roster to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, which will be held Dec. 10 during the Winter Meetings. Teams pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Draft, and the player must stay on the selecting team's 25-man roster for the full season. If not, he is offered back to his former team for $25,000.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.