Cubs reassign 9 players, including Almora

Cubs reassign 9 players, including Almora

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs trimmed nine non-roster invitees from the spring camp roster on Friday, including outfielders Albert Almora and Matt Murton, plus infielder Kris Negron. With the moves, the Cubs have 36 players in camp.

Almora, Murton and Negron were assigned to the Minor League camp, along with right-handed pitchers Brandon Gomes, Jean Machi and Ryan Williams; infielder Jesus Guzman; and outfielders John Andreoli and Juan Perez.

Williams, who was the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season and is ranked 19th in the organization by MLBPipeline.com, will pitch in one of the Cubs' exhibition games against the Mets in Las Vegas next week.

Almora, 21, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2012 and No. 5 prospect, impressed manager Joe Maddon this spring.

Top Prospects: Almora, CHC

"The biggest thing I saw with him, and I told him this, is that he's at the point where he believes he belongs here and he can do this," Maddon said. "I believe he isn't as wide-eyed. He played well last year. The difference is when you talk to him, he's not as wide-eyed about it."

Negron, 30, showed his versatility, and Maddon said the hitting coaches made some changes with his swing that have paid off.

"He knows how to play baseball in its entirety," Maddon said.

Negron's two-run blast

The Cubs are still debating whether to carry 12 or 13 pitchers, and Neil Ramirez may be the deciding factor. Ramirez, 26, is out of options, and after being limited to 19 games last season, he's been healthy and effective this spring.

"Without tipping our hand -- I don't want to give any false hope to anybody -- but he's pitching well," Maddon said of Ramirez.

The Cubs are waiting to see if infielder Tommy La Stella is healthy. He's been slowed by a strained calf. Javier Baez is projected for the Opening Day roster, but has not played for a few days because of a tender left thumb.

The spring roster now includes 19 pitchers, four catchers, eight infielders and five outfielders.

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.