Cubs Transactions: Javier Assad and Nicholas Padilla Promoted, Kervin Castro Optioned, Jason Heyward to 60-Day IL

The Cubs have promoted two pitchers from Iowa for Tuesday’s doubleheader, but neither of them would have been the top guesses of just about anyone. David Ross announced Monday that righty Javier Assad was being called up to start the early game and we learned this morning that righty Nicholas Padilla has been added to the 40-man and recalled as the 27th man for the day.

In order to make room on the 40-man, the Cubs transferred Jason Heyward to the 60-day IL in what is purely a procedural move since they had already announced he would not be returning to the team. Kervin Castro was optioned to Iowa to create another spot on the active roster. My first thought was that they still needed to clear one more spot, but then I was reminded that righty Alexander Vizcaino had been placed on the restricted list for failing to report to spring training.

The 25-year-old Padilla has pitched at three levels this season after starting out at High-A South Bend and dominating across 10 innings there. He was excellent in 22.1 innings at Double-A Tennessee and has been even better in 10.2 innings for Triple-A Iowa. It’s a good thing he’s posted 57 strikeouts in 43 innings and a groundball rate north of 55%, because Padilla has walked 25 batters.

Selected by the Rays out of high school in 2015, the Cubs picked him up in the Triple-A portion of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft. Both his strikeout and walk numbers spiked in 2019, trends that have continued since, but one thing that has remained constant is that Padilla doesn’t give up homers. Like, ever. He has surrendered nine longballs in 232 professional innings, but none since joining the Cubs organization.

Assad has been excellent across two levels this season and will get a chance to put his name up there alongside Caleb Kilian and Hayden Wesneski as future staff hopefuls. Though he’s not among the top 30 in prospect rankings, the 25-year-old has struck out more than one batter per inning and has cut his walks in half at Triple-A. He gets a fair number of grounders and tends to keep the ball in the yard, so he may give the Cubs a shot in the early game.

Castro was picked up off waivers earlier in the month and has made six appearances with the Cubs, pitching to an 8.22 ERA with four strikeouts and five walks in 7.2 innings. He has posted some very big K numbers in the past, including at Triple-A for the Giants last season, but walks have long been an issue. Castro won’t turn 24 until February, so maybe he can work on a few things this winter to generate more whiffs.

While we could still see Wesneski this season, maybe even Wednesday, it’s pretty clear the Cubs are confident in giving him a 40-man spot this offseason. As such, promoting Assad and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Padilla, gives the brass a chance to see exactly what they’ve got in those players.

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