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Cubs 2009 2nd round pick D. J. LeMahieu (LSU) made his professional debut tonight at Fitch Park in Mesa, going 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the AZL Brewers in Arizona League action.   

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The Deadline for signing players selected in this past June's Rule 4 Draft ("1st-Year Player Draft") is a month from today (August 17th). The deadline is normally  August 15th, but MLB has extended it by two days because August 15th falls on a Saturday in 2009. There is no deadline for signing college seniors who have exhausted their eligibilty, but the Cubs have already signed all of the college seniors they drafted this year.

The Cubs announced today that they will be placing catcher Geovany Soto on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain. Soto suffered the injury taking batting practice before Wednesday's game at Wrigley Field.

It appears that Soto's injury is worse than orginally thought, and he could be out until some time in August. And with the way oblique strains can affect a hitter, he might not be back even then.

I can't say this for sure, but I think it's fairly likely that the Cubs put in a waiver claim on C-1B-3B Chris Coste, who was placed on waivers by the Phillies on Wednesday. Jim Hendry must have been almost downright giddy when he saw Coste's name come through eBIS (MLB's in-house computer system) on the daily waiver list the very same day Soto went down with an injury, not because he was happy to lose Soto, but because he could have done a lot worse than acquire a Chris Coste for $20,000 (and no players!). That must be why the Cubs were waiting to place Soto on the DL. They expected (hoped) to acquire Coste Friday afternoon when the 47-hour waiver period expired, and they were just waiting for the announcement from the MLB office. Then they could add Coste to the roster tomorrow, and DL Soto retro to Wednesday. 

Unfortunately for the Cubs, Coste was also claimed by the Houston Astros, and because the Astros had a worse record (by 1/2 game) than the Cubs going into today's action, they win the waiver claim. 

Coste would have probably fit the bill perfectly for the Cubs. A short-term solution, true, but also a veteran right-handed hitting National League catcher with a decent bat and the versatility to play 1B and 3B who could share the load with Koyie Hill until Soto was ready to return to action. But perhaps the Astros knew that, too, and put in a claim just so the Cubs couldn't get him?  Did the Astros really need a third catcher, or were they merely trying to weaken a division rival by keeping the rival from acquiring a player they really needed? If so, maybe the Cubs shouldn't have said anything about Soto's injury until Coste's waiver ride was over. I mean, this isn't the NFL. MLB clubs do not have to report injuries to the media. And there actually was a good reason not to do so this time. .   

All of which puts the Cubs back to Square One...

They can either bring up a catcher from Iowa (probably Chris Robinson), or try and make a trade for a veteran catcher, which might take a while to execute. 

There were two positions on the 2009 Cubs that quite obviously lacked depth coming out of Spring Training (third-base and catcher), and both have been exposed. 

The Cubs have optioned RHP Kevin Hart and LHP Jason Waddell to AAA Iowa, and have (apparently) recalled RHP Jeff Stevens from the same club. The Stevens move will not be made official until just prior to tomorrow's game, so something could conceivably happen in the meantime to alter things.

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This is (of course) very much subject to change, but as things stand right now, here are the projected roster and payroll for the Cubs circa post-season 2009 into Spring Training 2010.

The Cubs purchased the contract of RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx from the Victoria Seals of the Golden Baseball League last week. Bibens-Dirkx is a former member of the Seattle Mariners organization (16th round pick in 2006 out of the University of Portland), who was released by the Mariners at the end of Minor League Camp this past April. He will be assigned to the Cubs Peoria affliate in the Midwest League, where he will probably work out of the bullpen.

The Cubs acquire players from independent leagues from time-to-time, and Bibens-Dirkx is just one of many players who have received a second chance to continue their professional baseball career in recent years by playing independent ball. A typical salary for a player on an independent team is $1,000 a month, so a fellow really has to love the game to spend his summer playing indy ball.

Independent leagues are located all over North America, from Canada to Mexico, and from New England to California. Ex-major leaguers like Jacque Jones, Carl Everett, Armando Benitez, Felix Jose, Willie Banks, Keith Foulke, Pat Mahomes, and Jose Lima dot the rosters, as do a number of former Cubs minor leaguers

 

Dwayne Kemp ripped an RBI single to drive-in Robert Bautista with the game-wining run, as the AZL Cubs rallied with three runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat the AZL Angels 6-5 in Arizona League (AZL) Opening Day action at Fitch Park on Sunday. Kemp also clubbed an RBI triple earlier in the game, and Bautista drove in three runs with a squeeze bunt, a FC grounder, and a single, while also stealing three bases.

 

20-year old 2B D. J. Fitzgerald had a memoraable pro debut, going 4-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a stolen base. The Cubs 22nd round pick in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft) out of Dyersburg State CC, "DJ Fitz" was a star baseball player at Ocean Lakes HS in Virginia Beach, VA. He signed an NLI with Georgia Southern, but ended up at a Tennessee JC instead.

20-year old RHP Toby Matchulat got the start for the AZL Cubs, and was stellar, throwing four shutout innings (7/1 GO/FO), while allowing just two harmless singles and no walks, with four strikeouts. Matchulat just missed making the Boise Opening Day roster, after having an impressive Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park. An 11th round pick out of Wabash Valley JC in 2008, the lanky 6'5 right-hander struggled big-time with his command in his pro debut last year (29 BB in 18.2 IP), but he has really turned it around this year. Kudos to AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud and Minor Leagure Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins for helping Matchulat find a better arm slot and a more consistent release point.

The Boise Hawks begin play tonight, kicking off their 2009 season. They will play 77 games (76 "league" games plus tonight's Opening Night exhibition game versus Treasure Valley CC) up through the first week of September, with one game scheduled each and most every day (they get only three days off for the entire season!). 

ROUND 31 (950): Andrew Clark, 1B (Louisville) 

L/L, 6'3, 220, 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Transferred to Louisville after spending freshman year at Ole Miss... Hit 350/479/555 with 9 HR & 55 RBI, with 21 doubles and two triples, and 55/27 BB/K in 317 PA for Cardinals in 2009... 2nd Team All-Big East... Was named Gatorade "Indiana High School Player of the Year" and was an AFLAC All-American his senior year in HS...

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ROUND 32 (980): Trey McNutt, RHP (Shelton State CC)  

R/R, 6'4, 205, 19 years old

COMMENT: JC freshman... Helped lead Shelton State to 2009 JUCO World Series... Went 7-2 with 3.38 ERA, with 42 hits allowed in 61 IP, and 31/75 BB/K for the Bucs in 2009...   

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ROUND 33 (1010): John Lambert, LHP (NC State)  

L/L, 6'7, 220 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Struggled in 2009, going 1-5 with a 7.05 ERA in 20 games (8 GS), allowing 47 hits in 47.1 IP (254 OBA but only one HR), with 36/52 BB/K, 10 WP, and 7 HBP... Started college career at Wright State, then spent sophomore year at Santa Fe CC, before transferring to NC State for junior year... Was named a PUMA High School All-American and 1st team All-State his senior year at Chesterton HS - Chesterton, IN... Was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2006 draft and by the Washington Nationals in 2008 draft, but did not sign...  

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ROUND 34 (1040): Rett Varner, RHP/OF (UT - Arlington) 

R/R, 6'4, 190, 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Went 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 16 games (10 GS) for the Mavericks in 2009, with 65 hits allowed in 57 IP (.286 OBA), and 24/44 BB/K... Transferred to UTA after spending freshman year at BYU... 

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ROUND 35 (1070): Kevin David, C (Oklahoma State)  

R/R, 6'1, 190, 21 years old

COMMENT: Draft-eligible sophomore... Hit 311/390/529 for Cowboys in 2009, with 6 HR & 47 RBI, a team-leading 23 doubles, two triples, and 23/44 BB/K... Threw out only 13% opposing base-stealers in 2009... Missed 2008 season due to arm injury, which gave Luis Flores (Cubs 2008 7th round draft pick) the opportunity to be the #1 catcher at OSU... Older brother Brad was a teammate of Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot on LSU National Championship team in 2000...   

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ROUND 36 (1100): Brandon May, IF-OF (Alabama)  

R/R, 6'1, 205, 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Hit 347/424/608 for Crimson Tide in 2009, with 12 HR & 69 RBI, 18 doubles and two triples, and 30/52 B/K in 256 PA... Versatile player, has played 2B-3B-1B-SS-LF-RF in college career... First-team All-SEC in 2008...

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ROUND 37 (1130): Peter Mooney, SS (Palm Beach CC)  

L/R, 5'8, 168, 18 years old

COMMENT: JC freshman... FCCAA "Defensive Player of the Year"... This is the type of player clubs used to draft when the "Draft & Follow" rule was still in effect (where clubs would retain the rights to a drafted JC player until one week prior to the next year's Rule 4 Draft)... 

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ROUND 38 (1160): Bobby Wagner, 3B (Panola JC)  

L/R, 6'6, 230, 22 years old

COMMENT: Big lefty power-hitter batted 313/418/615 with 13 HR & 52 RBI, 12 doubles, two triples, and 29/30 BB/K, with 9 SB (2 CS), for the Ponies in 2009... Is from British Columbia (Canada)... Attended Douglas JC in BC prior to transferring to Panola...  Was drafted by Angels in 2006 but did not sign...   

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ROUND 39 (1190): Nick Struck, RHP (Mt. Hood JC)  

R/R, 5'11, 195, 19 years old

COMMENT: JC freshman... Named NWAACC All-Star in 2009... Was the Oregon 6-A Player of the Year his senior year in HS in 2008... Will transfer to Hawaii if he doesn't sign with Cubs...  

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ROUND 40 (1220): Eric Whaley, RHP (Cardinal Gibbons HS - Ft. Lauderdale, FL) 

R/R, 6'3, 175, 18 years old

COMMENT: Signed NLI with LSU...

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ROUND 41 (1250): Jake Schmidt, RHP (Concordia U. - St. Paul)  

R/R, 6'3, 200, 22 years old

COMMENT: College senior... Went 7-2 with 3.78 ERA for Golden Bears in 2009, allowing 69 hits in 69 IP (.258 OBA), with 26/103 BB/K... Was NCAA Division II Honorable Mention in 2009...  

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ROUND 42 (1280): Trey Ford, SS (Chaparral HS - Scottsdale, AZ)  

R/R, 6'2, 200, 18 years old

COMMENT:  A 4-A Desert Sky Region "Player of the Year"... Will attend Chandler-Gilbert CC if he doesn't sign with Cubs... Would be a perfect "Draft & Follow" candidate, if D&F still existed...

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ROUND 43 (1310): Colin Kaepernick, RHP (Nevada)  

R/R, 6'6, 180, 21 years old

COMMENT:College junior... Hasn't played baseball since high school... Is star QB on Wolf Pack football team... Threw for 2,849 yards in 2008... Was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2007...  

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ROUND 44 (1340): Frank DeJiulio, RHP (Daytona State JC)

R/R, 6'3, 185, 19 years old  

COMMENT: JC freshman... Went 6-4 with 5.27 ERA for Daytona State in 2009... Father says they want "3rd or 4th round money"...  

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ROUND 45 (1370): Addison Dunn, RHP (Warren Area HS - Warren, PA)  

R/R, 6'0, 18 years old

COMMENT: Has signed NLI with Kent State...

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ROUND 46 (1400): Glenn Cook, OF (U. of Miami)

L/L, 6'1, 220, 24 years old

COMMENT: College senior is oldest player selected by Cubs in 2009 Rule 4 Draft... Was a starting LB on the Cane football team for several seasons after being rated the No. 26 LB prospect in the nation by Super Prep coming out of HS in 2002... A P/OF at Chaminade-Madonna Prep, he did not play baseball at "The U"...    

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ROUND 47 (1430): Joey Jocketty, 3B (Ladue Horton Watkins HS -  St. Louis, MO)

R/R, 5'10, 165, 18 years old

COMMENT: Son of Reds GM Walt Jocketty... Was third-team All-Conference at LHWHS... This was obviously a "fun" pick for Hendry/Wilken...

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ROUND 48 (1460): John Nasshan, RHP (Niles West HS - Skokie, IL)  

L/R, 6'6, 195, 17 years old

COMMENT: Signed NLI with Bradley University... Went 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 6/46 BB./K in 44 IP in his junior year at NWHS... Also a member of the Nles West golf squad...   

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ROUND 49 (1490): Christian Segar, CF (McQuaid Jesuit HS -  Brighton, NY)

R/R, 6'1, 185, 18 years old

COMMENT: Also has signed NLI with Bradley University...

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ROUND 50 (1520): Zach Cleveland, RHP (Central Arizona JC) 

R/R, 6'1, 20 years old

COMMENT: JC sophomore... Went 3-2 with a 0.50 ERA for the Vaqueros in 2009, allowing just 27 hits in 36.1 IP, and 15/31 BB/K... Throws 88-92 MPH fastball & a slider... Will transfer to New Mexico if he doesn't sign with Cubs... Was drafted by Phillies out of Golden HS (Golden, CO) in 2007, but did not sign...

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