Your 2014 VSL Cubs!
The VSL Cubs begin their 68-game 2014 season tomorrow morning with a game against the VSL Phillies.
The Venezuelan Summer League (known as the "VSL") was established as an MLB affiliated "Foreign Rookie League" in 1997, and was designed for players from countries in South and Central America like Venezuela, Panama, Nicaragua, Colombia, Brazil, and Curacao. Players from the Dominican Republic can play in the VSL, although most Dominican players who haven't yet graduated to North American minor leagues play in the Dominican Summer League (DSL). Also, U. S. and Canadian players cannot play in a "Foreign Rookie League" (the VSL and DSL), and no more than two Puerto Rican players can be on a VSL team's roster.
The VSL started with just six teams, but by 2001 the league had doubled in size to twelve teams. However, the league struggled to survive the first decade of the 21st century, and after the Pirates and Reds transferred their VSL affiliates to the Dominican Summer League after the 2011 season (creating DSL Pirates #2 and a second DSL Reds team known as "DSL Rojos"), there were only four VSL teams left (VSL Rays, VSL Phillies, VSL Tigers, and VSL Mariners).
The Cubs established their first "Foreigh Rookie League" team (DSL Cubs) in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) in 1997 (they had been providing players to various DSL co-op teams 1991-96), but the Cubs did not participate in the VSL until 2007, when a Cubs/Twins co-op team existed for just one season, The Cubs then established a second DSL team (DSL Cubs #2) in 2008 as the VSL Cubs/Twins co-op team folded. The Cubs operated two DSL teams (DSL Cubs #1 and DSL Cubs #2) for five sesaons (2008-12), and Venezuelan players deemed not yet ready for the AZL Cubs (Arizona Rookie League) were assigned to one of the two DSL affiliates. But then (somewhat surprisingly) the Cubs decided to transfer their second DSL team (DSL Cubs #2) to the VSL (locating the team in Los Guayos), creating a "VSL Cubs" team in 2013 that added a 5th team to the VSL (bucking the recent trend of MLB clubs either folding their VSL team or transferring their VSL team to the DSL).
The 2014 Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) regular season runs from May 12th through August 4th, followed by a post-season championship playoff between the 1st and 2nd place teams (since it's only a five-team league, there are no "divisions"). Because the VSL season begins and ends about three weeks prior to the beginning and end of the DSL season (the 2014 DSL season does not open until May 31st, but it runs until the last week of August), last year the Cubs transferred two of their better VSL players (VSL batting champion Roney Alcala and INF Bryant Flete) from the VSL Cubs to the DSL Cubs after the VSL playoffs concluded, and Flete and Alcala remained with the DSL Cubs through the conclusion of the DSL playoffs.
Because there are currently only five teams in the VSL, the regular season schedule follows a very specific pattern that is peculiar to the VSL. Each VSL team plays four games in a row against the four other VSL teams in exactly the same order and then the team has a day off (a bye). For example, the VSL Cubs play the VSL Phillies-VSL Rays-VSL Mariners-VSL Tigers (always in that sequence) and then have a day off. This sequence repeats throughout the VSL regular season.
Eleven members of the 2013 VSL Cubs (RHPs Adbert Alzolay, Francisco Carrillo, Jesus Castillo, Greyfer Eregua, and Victor Salazar, LHP Alberto Diaz, catcher Eufran Vargas, 1B-3B Roney Alcala, 2B-SS Bryant Flete, and outfielders Arnaldo Calero and Ricardo Marcano) plus 17-year old Venezuelan SS Gleyber Torres and 17-year old Colombian RHP Erling Moreno (who are making their pro debut in 2014) are presently at Extended Spring Training in Mesa, and because most (if not all) of them will likely be remaining in the U. S. this summer, the 2014 VSL Cubs will feature a number of newly-signed players.
Only 17 of the 33 players presently assigned to the VSL Cubs Active List were on the squad last season. One player (18-year old LHP Carlos Rodriguez) spent the 2013 season with the AZL Cubs, and there are 15 players on the roster who are new to the Cubs organization, including 13 professional "rookies" and two others (RHPs Jesus Arias and Julio Sanchez) who were signed after being released by other MLB organizations. Infielder Humberto Garcia is presently on the VSL Cubs roster, but he may end up with the DSL Cubs since he is Dominican. (Garcia was signed by the Cubs last May after being released by the White Sox, and was assigned to the VSL Cubs last season only because the newly-formed VSL Cubs were short of infielders, but that should not be a problem this season).
One of the more interesting names on the VSL Cubs 2014 roster is Danny Gutierrez, supposedly a 17-year old hot-shot shortstop prospect signed by the Cubs to a substantial bonus in 2012 (reported to be $185K at the time) but who did not make his pro debut (as had been expected) in 2013. Now it turns out that Gutierrez is (apparently) actually 23 years old (at least according to information provided by the Cubs).
So here is the 2014 VSL Cubs Active Roster. Both the VSL Cubs Reserve List and Active List roster limit is 35. 30 players can be designated "active" for any one game (at least 10 of the 30 must be pitchers), The players listed as "INACTIVE" on the roster have either been released or will start the season on the 7-day or 60-day DL.
2014 VSL CUBS (33 ACTIVE + 7 INACTIVE)
* bats or throws left
# bats both
VSL Cubs players making pro debut are in italics
Enrique de los Rio
* Manuel Fuentes (INACTIVE)
* Victor Garcia (INACTIVE)
* Yapson Gomez
* Angel Mejias
* Eugenio Palma
* Chris Pieters (INACTIVE)
Brohiglyn Rivero (INACTIVE)
* Carlos Rodriguez
Cesar Romero (INACTIVE)
* Delbis Arcila (INACTIVE)
# Andrews Monasterio
# Martin Hodwalker (INACTIVE)
Franklin Blanco (Hitting Coach)
Angel Guzman (Pitching Coach)
if they dont win at least 130 games this season they can pack it all up, turn wrigley into a concert venue, and move the damn team to san jose.
I see where catcher Cael Brockmeyer was promoted to Tennessee a couple of days ago, to fill a roster spot vacated by David Freitas, recently promoted to Iowa. Caratini is the other catcher at Tennessee.
They've already clinched a minimum winning percentage of .607 for the month, and that's only if they lose the last 2 games. If they win both, they can push that up to .679. So much for "stumbling" in May. When you're winning over 60% of your games, you're doing baseball well.
If the best walk-off hit possible is a solo home run in a zero-zero game--Eloy did it tonight!
(But maybe it's a grand slam when your team is down three? He didn't do that.)
Number eight for Jimenez. His team is 31-17. Yesterday they scored 17 runs against Lansing. Two weeks ago it was 15 runs against the same team. This is a nice team, South Bend. The Cubs must have had a good draft last year.
Tonight the pitchers were Sands, Brooks and Effross.
He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.