Dakota Mekkes Decision Early Barometer for Cubs’ New Developmental Strategy

The Cubs have some tough decisions to make about their 40-man roster between now and November 20, one of which involves reliever Dakota Mekkes. The big right-hander was taken in the 10th round of the 2016 draft out of Michigan State and will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if the Cubs do not grant him roster protection.

Based on his track record in the Cubs organization, just about everyone who follows the minors to even a small degree considers him a shoo-in for the 40-man. However, one has to wonder why Mekkes never got a chance chance this year to help out a major league bullpen that was in disarray much of the season. I was flummoxed, as were many other writers.

At  6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, Mekkes is imposing on the mound and has shown time and time again that he can be a dominant force out of the ‘pen. His long frame allows be deceptive, releasing the ball much closer to the plate than most pitchers. As a result, his 93 mph heater actually appears to be 4-5 ticks faster than it actually is. The only issue he has had as a prospect is his walk rate.

Mekkes’ 2019 season got off to a rough start, but it looked like he rebounded by the end of May and was lights-out in June and early July. That wasn’t enough for the call to Chicago, which seems odd from a team that has struggled so notably to develop home-grown pitching. They have a guy who’s been ready for about a year now and they haven’t made the call. 

With the changes afoot this offseason, you have to wonder just how much input Jason McLeod’s replacement will have in the decision of whether to roster Mekkes. Perhaps the Cubs were aware that things would be changing and wanted to let the new development leadership sort things out.

The Cubs’ top priority this offseason when deciding the 40-man roster for next year must be the ability to scout and project their own players. If they don’t protect Mekkes, someone else is going to put him on their big-league roster. Just letting another team snap him up basically for free would not be a great way for new-look organizational structure to get started.

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