Rule 5 pick Smith excited for chance with Cubs

Lefty expected to debut Tuesday vs. Angels

MESA, Ariz. -- Caleb Smith was surprised when he heard that he'd been selected in the Rule 5 Draft last December. It isn't every day that a pitcher gets the chance to go from Double-A to the big leagues.

The Brewers picked Smith in the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings, then traded the left-hander to the Cubs in an arrangement that had been agreed upon by both teams before the Draft. He was scheduled to make his first Cactus League appearance on Tuesday when the Cubs play the Angels.

Spring Training info

"He's interesting," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Monday of Smith. "He's in the running. His stuff is good, nice fastball, really good changeup, breaking ball is there. I like the movement, like the angle. We'll see."

The seventh player taken overall in the Rule 5 Draft, Smith appeared in 27 games (seven starts) at Double-A Trenton, striking out 70 and walking 20 over 63 2/3 innings.

Teams pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player does not stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. The last Cubs' pick in the Draft was Hector Rondon in 2012.

"You have to give him more opportunity, as much as you can," Maddon said, "just so he can be seen here. That's the difference [with a Rule 5 pick]."

Smith was in the Yankees organization, and didn't find out about being picked until teammate Tyler Jones called with the news. Jones was selected sixth overall by Arizona.

"I was asleep and one of my friends called me at eight in the morning," Smith said. "[Jones] was the pick before I was. He called and told me we got Rule 5'd, and he was all excited. ... I was really surprised. I wasn't expecting it. It's a blessing and I'm happy to be here."

Smith, who is in his first big league camp, knows the Rule 5 format.

"There's a little bit [of pressure]," he said. "My viewpoint is that they saw something they liked. If I keep doing what I was doing last year, I'll have a chance."

Worth noting

• One inning on Sunday felt like it took forever for Zac Rosscup, but he can't wait to pitch more. The left-hander missed all of last season because of shoulder issues, which required arthroscopic surgery in May.

"It was really nice to get back out there," Rosscup said of his one inning of scoreless relief against the Indians. "It was definitely something I worked hard for after being hurt, having surgery. I felt I was out there for a long time. It felt weird but it was good. I told myself before, 'I don't care what happens, I'm healthy and ready to do this.'"

He was actually ready to pitch in September but the Cubs decided to shut him down so he was ready for this season.

• While the Cubs' young position players get all the attention, Maddon is excited about the next wave of players, such as Eloy Jimenez, Ian Happ, Jeimer Candelario and Jacob Hannemann. They are ranked Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 26th on MLBPipeline.com's list of Top 30 Cubs prospects.

"If those dudes were in a different camp right now, they'd be projected in a much more glorious manner," Maddon said. "Because they're trailing these other guys, they're not being spoken of as highly. This is a really good group."

Top Prospects: Jimenez, CHC

Maddon also likes catcher Victor Caratini and Pierce Johnson, who is moving from starter to reliever.

Jon Lester, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks threw live batting practice sessions on Monday. None of the three are scheduled to appear in a Cactus League game until Saturday at the earliest.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.