Arizona Phil's Archives

Anthony Varvaro Waiver Claim Voided

The Cubs waiver claim of RHP Anthony Varvaro has been voided by the MLB Commissioner and he has been returned to the Boston Red Sox, where he will be placed on the BoSox MLB 60-day DL. Varvaro will undergo surgery to repair a torn elbow flexor tendon later this week.

Martarano & Loux See Game Action at Riverview Park

It wasn't a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game, but the Cubs did play an intrasquad game this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

Some of you may notice that when there is an EXST intrasquad game or a Cactus League EXST split squad doubleheader, that (with the exception of the pitchers and catchers, who move back & forth between the squads) one squad (Squad "A") is essentially the proto-Euguene Emeralds, and the other one (Squad "B") is essentially the proto-AZL Cubs. The squad rosters change slightly every now & then, but what you see now is probably pretty close to what will likely be the case next month when the two teams are officially separated.

Three position players assigned to Squad "B" -- 3B-1B Wladimir Galindo (left wrist injury),  IF-OF Carlos Jimenez (left elbow injury from HBP yesterday), and 1B-C Miguel Rico (left knee injury) -- are out indefinitely, so the AZL Cubs may have to "run short" for a while at the start of the AZL season. (Rico is being converted to catcher, but also plays 1st base).

RHP Barret Loux (on Iowa Cubs 7-day DL with a right triceps strain) made his first game appearance in a month, getting the start for Squad "B" in the intrasquad game. While he did throw 3.2 IP (44 pitches) and allowed no runs, he also surrendered five hits (and a walk), struck out only one, and his fastball velocity topped out at 86 MPH.

The 26-year old Loux was the 1st round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, but then was declared a free-agent by MLB after the D'backs reduced their original bonus offer after a post-draft physical showed a pre-existing shoulder problem. (The Loux Case was one of the factors that led to draft slotting in the 2012 CBA).

So Loux signed with the Texas Rangers in November 2010 after being declared a free-agent, and then was traded to the Cubs as the PTBNL in the Geovany Soto deal post-2012. He made it through the 2011-13 seasons OK, but then he had shoulder surgery post-2013 and TJS at the start of last season, so he has been through the sports medicine wars over the past couple of years. He made a fairly rapid recovery from the 2014 TJS, however, and actually was a member of the Iowa Cubs starting rotation at the begining of the 2015 season, before being shut-down last month.

18-year old RHP Austyn Willis (Cubs 2014 18th round draft pick - Barstow HS - Barstow, CA) started the intraquad game for Squad "A", and had a lot of difficulty throwing strikes in his three innings of work (61 pitches - only 28 strikes). For a guy who is 6'6, Willis does not throw especially hard (his fastball tops out at 89 MPH), but he usually is able to spot his fastball effectively and throw all of his pitches (including his curve and change-up) for strikes, with the stamina to throw multiple innings. At 6'6 205, Willis has the size & frame scouts call "projectable," because it is presumed that he will add velocity as he matures and fills-out. Along with Carson Sands, Justin Steele, Jose Paulino, and Oscar de la Cruz, Willis is being primed to be one of the rotation starters at Eugene when the Northwest League season commences next month.  

6'7 RHRP Scott Frazier (Cubs 2013 6th round draft pick - Pepperdine) threw an inning in the game (12 pitches - 7 strikes) and retired the side uneventfully (4-3, BB, 4-6 FC, K), although the Squad "A" lineup was adjusted so that he only had to face left-handed hitters (something the Cubs can't do in a Cactus League EXST game). His fastball velocity usually sits at 95-97 MPH and has touched 98-99 previously this Spring, but he apparently has dialed it down a bit, because he threw only 96 (max) today, working mostly at 94-95.

Boise State's Joey Martarano saw his first game action of 2015, serving as a DH for Squad "B." He was hitless in four plate appearances, but he did reach base on an HBP and scored a run his first time up. He ran through a "stop sign" as he rounded third and headed home, but when you've got a 6'4 235 D-1 college linebacker coming through, you just have to get out of the way and let him roll. I half-expected him to tackle the catcher at home plate, but he did not. Martarano projects to be the first-baseman and sometimes DH for the AZL Cubs once the AZL season starts next month.

Here is the abridged box score from today's intrasquad game: 

Bard Totally Wild at Talking Stick

Jenner Emeterio singled, doubled, and tripled, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Varonex Cuevas singled and scored in the 3rd and belted a two-run home run in the 6th, and Carlos Jimenez singled, doubled, reached base on an HBP, and scored a run. as the Cubs edged the Diamondbacks 6-5 on Whirlwind Field, and Raymel Flores drilled a two-run single with two outs and the bases loaded to key a four-run 3rd, as the D'backs shutout the Cubs 6-0 on Jackrabbit Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split squad doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Both games were called after 7-1/2 innings of play. 

Veteran MLB RHRP Daniel Bard had a very odd/unusual day. Working one inning in the game on Whirlwind Field, Bard issued three walks, struck out two (both swinging), and uncorked six wild pitches. That's six wild pitches In one inning!

In EXST Cubs roster news, catcher Eric Gonzalez has been assigned to the DSL Cubs, and catcher Tyler Pearson has been moved-up to AA Tennessee.  

The 18-year old Gonzalez got into eight Cactus League EXST games (14 PA), going 0-13 with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw out one of three baserunners attempting to steal against him (33% CS). Gonzalez was signed by the Cubs last June, and he hit 254/297/322 in 19 DSL games last season.

The DSL Cubs begin play a week from tomorrow (Saturday May 30th), and it's possible that additional players who are presently at Extended Spring Training will get assigned to the DSL Cubs prior to DSL Opening Day.

The 23-year old Pearson was the Cubs 25th round pick in the 2014 MLB Fiirst-Year Player Draft out of Texas State (by way of Rice). He hit 235/322/431 in 21 games with AZL Cubs last season, and 250/333/458 in 14 Cactus League EXST games (30 PA) this season (with three doubles and a triple, three walks and an HBP, eight strikeouts, a SH, a SF, and two GIDP). He had a 14% CS, with one passed ball in Cactus League EXST games.

While he was assigned to Tennessee and will physically report to the Smokies, he will not be activated until he is needed. The Cubs have been doing that quite a bit this season, which is to say a a player will be placed on a minor league affiliate's 7-day DL or assigned to Eugene or AZL Cubs (but only on paper), without the player actually leaving the club or reporting to Extended Spring Teaining. Then other times, the player does report to EXST.

One player on a Cubs minor league affiliate's 7-day DL who is definitely at Extended Spring Training is OF Shawon Dunston Jr, who is rehabbing a right arm injury (I believe it's the right shoulder) sustained about a month go at Hi-A Myrtle Beach. Dunston is just now beginning a throwing program and to take BP at EXST, so he probably won't be ready to return to the Pelicans for a while.

Here are the abridged box scores from today's games (Cubs players only):

Joey Martarano Reports to Extended Spring Training, Pierce Johnson Gets Rocked

First-baseman Joey Martarano has reported to Cubs Extended Spring Training, after spending the 2014-15 school year attending Boise State University.

Martarano was the Idaho High School Baseball Player of the Year at Fruitland HS in his senior year, and was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Rule 4 Draft). He was offered a $100K bonus by the Phils but did not sign, instead opting to enroll at Boise State and play football.

The 20-year old 6'4 235 Martarano is a linebacker on the Broncos football team, and he is a promising football player. (He had his best game when it really mattered most, in Boise State's 38-30 victory over the University of Arizona in last January's Fiesta Bowl).

Because Boise State does not have a baseball program, Martarano was the rare "Freshman eligible" in the MLB 2014 First-Year Player Draft, and the Cubs took him in the 22nd round. The Cubs convinced him to sign by offering him a chance to play pro baseball during summer vacation (as sort of a "summer job"), with no restrictions on attending college and playing football the rest of the year.

Although he was drafted as a third-baseman, the Cubs immediately moved him to 1st base when he reported to Riverview Park last July, and it looks like 1st base is where he will stay. He spent one month with the AZL Cubs in Mesa last year after signing, but got into only six games before going back to school. (He hadn't played baseball in more than a year, so it took him a while to get back into shape). He will likely spend the months of June and July playing baseball in the Cubs organization this year (probably with the AZL Cubs again), before going back to Boise for pre-season football camp in August.

It's unfortunate for Maratano that the Cubs moved their Northwest League affiliate from Boise to Eugene this year, because otherwise he might have had a chance to play minor league baseball in his college's hometown.

It wasn't a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game, but the Cubs did play an EXST intrasquad gane this morning on Field #6 at Riverview Park. Joey Martarano did not play in the game (he's taking BP and participating in fielding practice and baseruning drills while he gets into "baseball shape"), but the tilt did feature the first game action since Spring Training for RHP Pierce Johnson (on AA Tennessee 7-day DL with a lat strain).

And Johnson got rocked, too, allowing nine hits (six singles, two doubles, and a triple) and three runs in just 2.1  IP (44 pitches). His fastball was sitting at only 90-91 MPH and topped out at 92, although his breaking ball had some nice bite. He didn't register any strike outs, and if it wasn't for two timely pick-offs, his line surely would have been much worse.
While Pierce Johnson was getting hammered, LHP Carson Sands (Cubs 2014 4th round draft pick - North Florida Christian HS - Tallahassee, FL) was throwing 4.2 IP of shutout ball. 

Significant offensive contributions were provided by Jose Paniagua (two doubles), Danny Gutierrez (a solo home run, a single, and a stolen base), Carlos Sepulveda (a triple, a single, and a run scored), Ricardo Marcano (single, double, and a run scored), and Varonex Cuevas (two-run single and a stolen base).

Here is the abridged box score from today's EXST Cubs intrasquad game: 

Eloy Goes Deep to Help Cubs Defeat Angels at Riverview

Alberto Mineo (RBI double), Tyler Alamo (RBI single), and Adonis Paula (RBI single) collected run-scoring hits to highlight a four-run 3rd, 17-year old Andruw Monasterio smacked a two-run double, Eloy Jimenez belted a solo home run, and Jose Paulino hurled four shutout innings and combined with four relievers to toss a three-hitter, as the Cubs cruised past the Angels 7-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning affair so that all of the pitchers who were scheduled to throw could get their work. 

Frandy de la Rosa drilled his team-leading seventh double in the game and is now hitting 279/324/443 in 19 Cactus League EXST games (68 PA), and it appears that he has won the Opening Day starting second-base job at Eugene.

The Eloy Jimenez HR gives him the team lead with two, and he is now hitting 317/348/583 in 19 Cactus League EXST games (66 PA). In addition to the two home runs, Eloy also has four doubles and is tied for the team lead in triples with three (tied with Kevin Encarnacion), and he leads the team in RBI (15 ) and in runs scored (11). He has three walks and ten strikeouts in the 66 PA, and he has also stolen three bases (no CS).    

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Bryant Flete has been moved-up to AA Tennessee, and catcher Erick Castillo has been assigned to Extended Spring Training from AA Tennessee, as Flete and Castillo essentially changed places.

The 22-year old left-handed hitting Flete is a versatile player defensively and a polished player offensively, capable of playing 2B, SS, and 3B. and with a patient approach and a good eye at the plate. He hit a combined 274/385/355 in 189 career minor league games (761 PA) 2012-14, and in 13 Cactus League EXST games (35 PA) this season, Flete hit 357/485/500, with four doubles, seven walks and five strikeouts, one stolen base (one CS), seven runs scored, and three RBI.  

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only):  

Cease Fires 99, but Not Enough Gas to Stop Giants from Pummeling Cubs

Nicol Parra reached base four times (a two-run HR, two singles, and a walk), Chase Compton belted a triple and two doubles, drove-in a run, and scored another, Byron Murray slugged a three-run home run and a triple, Richard Amion Jr drilled an RBI triple, singled, walked, and scored a run, Fernando Pujadas smashed a two-run triple, and LHSP Nik Turley hurled six innings of shutout ball, as the Giants swept a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split squad doubleheader from the Cubs this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

The Giants shutout the Cubs 6-0 in the game played on Field #6, and drubbed the Cubs 10-4 in the game played on Field #5. 

Roberto Caro singled twice, tripled, and drove-in two runs for the Cubs.

RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) got the start for the Cubs on Field #6, and worked a third of an inning, walking the bases loaded around a strikeout. Cease's fastball was riding high (topping out at 99 MPH), but he had difficulty commanding it (22 pitches - only ten strikes). Otherwise, he was unhittable.

Cease was the Cubs 6th round draft pick out of Milton HS - Milton, Ga in 2014, and the Cubs selected him despite knowing that he would need a UCL elbow ligament transplant ("Tommy John surgery"). Considered one of the top high school arms in the 2014 draft class and a likely 1st round pick prior to his elbow issues, he received a $1.5M signing bonus (equivalent to "first round money") and then had the TJS last July 22nd. He has made a rapid recovery, and barring a setback, he will likely be a rotation starter for the AZL Cubs when the Arizona League season begins play next month.

In his first EXST Cactus League start start last Tuesday (16 pitches, two outs recorded, one HBP), Cease's fastball was topping out at 97 MPH, so his velocity has increased a bit over the past week. 

Prior to the Cactus League games, RHPs Jacob Turner (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL with a right flexor strain), Erling Moreno (2014 TJS), and Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery) threw in a three-ining "sim" game on Field #3. Turner threw one inning (15 pitches), and Moreno and Masek threw two innings a piece (30 pitches each).

OF Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL with a hamstring strain) was one of the hitters in the "sim" game. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, LHRP Daniel Schlereth and RHSP Felipe Paulino have been moved-up to AAA Iowa.

The 6'3 260+ 31-year old Paulino was orginally signed by the Houston Astros as an International free-agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, and he has pitched in the big leagues with Houston, Colorado, Kansas City, and the White Sox. He underwent an elbow UCL transplant (TJS) post-2012 when he was with the Royals, and then missed most of last season with a right shoulder injury while a member of the White Sox.

Paulino was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on May 3rd, after being released by the Boston Red Sox at the end of Spring Training. His fastball velocity has ranged from 94-96 MPH in his two Cactus League Extended Spring Training outings and one EXST intrasquad game.  

Schlereth was the 1st round pick (26th overall) of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 out of the University of Arizona, and was part of the Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Edwin Jackson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson/Phil Coke three-team mega-deal in December 2009, going to the Tigers with Scherzer, Coke and A. Jackson (Granderson went to the Yankees, and E. Jackson and Kennedy ended up in Arizona).

Schlereth was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on April 26th, after he was released by the Detroit Tigers,

1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (12 strikes)  
2. 5/9: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/1 GO/FO, 29 pitches (20 strikes)
TOTAL: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GO/FO, 64% strikes,  0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .182 OppBA

Paulino also pitched in one EXST intrasquad game:
5/14: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 2/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (43 strikes) 
1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes)
2. 5/9 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 2 WP, 0/1 GO/FO, 26 pitches (11 strikes)
3. 5/12: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 11 pitches (8 strikes)_
4. 5/15: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 22 pitvhes (15 strikes)
TOTAL: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 4 K, 2 WP, 4/3 GO/FO, 55% strikes, 6.25 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, .313 OppBA

Here are the box scores from the two Cactus League EXST games (Cubs players only):

Cubs Rally to Tie Brew Crew in Maryvale

Alberto Mineo (two-run single, RBI triple, and a walk) and Tyler Pearson (two walks and a double) reached base three times a piece for the Cubs, and Gilbert Lara (RBI triple), David Denson (RBI double), and Yerald Martinez (RBI double) stroked run-scoring extra-base hits in a three-run fourth, CF Joantgel Segovia drilled three singles, stole two bases, drove-in two runs, and threw out a runner on the bases, and RHP J. B. Kole threw five innings of two-hit ball for the Brewers, as the Cubs rallied for two runs in the top of the 9th and played the Brewers to a 6-6 tie in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, AZ.  

Before Kole entered the game, the Cubs scored two runs on four hits in the top of the 1st inning off 6'9 RHP Johnny Hellweg, who is on the Brewers MLB 60-day DL while rehabbing from 2014 Tommy John Surgery.  

RHP Austyn Willis got the start for the Cubs and retired nine of the first ten men he faced on just 27 pitches, before running into trouble in the fourth when the Brew Crew plated three runs on a single, the Lara triple, and the Denson and Martinez doubles.

RHRP Corbin Hoffner worked the 8th and the 9th for the Cubs and did not allow a run, retiring six of the seven men he faced (three strikeouts and three ground outs) to preserve the tie. His new extreme sidearm (almost submarine) delivery coupled with lots of off-speed stuff (AKA "junk") really kept the Brewers hitters off-stride.

In EXST Cubs roster news, RHRPs Brad Markey and Daniel Lewis have been moved up to Lo-A South Bend, replacing RHPs James Norwood and Jake Stinnett, who were placed on the SB 7-day DL.  

The 23-year old Markey was the Cubs 2014 19th round draft pick out of Virginia Tech, and he worked in 15 games (combined) out of the AZL Cubs and Boise bullpens after signing in June. He was left behind at Extended Spring Training despite spending much of Minor League Camp with the Hi-A Myrtle Beach squad, but he has pitched very well at EXST, and it was just a matter of time before he got his Letter of Transit out of Casablanca.  

Although Daniel Lewis is 24, he has only been pitching for a year. He enlisted in the U. S. Air Force after finishing high school, and enrolled in Pensacola JC after being discharged in 2013. The Cubs signed him as a Non-Drafted Free Agent (NDFA) in July 2014 after scouting him in the Cape Cod League (probably the top collegiate summer league), and he appeared in eight games out of the Boise bullpen after signing. He attended AZ Instructs post-2014 but he did not pitch well there. Lewis features a high-octane 94-MPH fastball, but his command is spotty and his secondary pitches are raw. 

1. 4/17: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 18 pitches (11 strikes)
2. 4/21: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 15 pitches (10 strikes)
3. 4/24: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/3 GO/FO, 30 pitches (18 strikes)
4. 4/29: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 3/1 GO/FO, 24 pitches (16 strikes)
5. 5/5: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 B, 0 K, 3/3 GO/FO, 17 pitches (13 strikes)
6. 5/9: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 23 pitches (16 strikes)
TOTAL: 10.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 6 K, 1 PO, 12/11 GO/FO, 66% strikes, 1.80 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, .172 OppBA

1. 4/17: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HBP, 1/2 GO/FO, 17 pitches (8 strikes)
2. 4/20: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 23 pitches (14 strikes)
3. 4/24: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 18 pitches (11 strikes)
4. 4/28: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER),  0 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 5/1 GO/FO, 20 pitches (15 strikes)
5. 5/1: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 0/3 GO/FO, 17 pitches (9 strikes)
6. 5/5: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 18 pitches (12 strikes)
7. 5/8: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 2 R (1 ER), 4 BB, 1 K, 2 GIDP, 2/1 GO/FO, 44 pitches (19 strikes)
8. 5/13: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 2 WP, 4/2 GO/FO, 36 pitches (19 strikes)
TOTAL: 12.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R (5 ER), 9 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 3 WP, 2 GIDP, 17/11 GO/FO, 56% strikes, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .150 OppBA     

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only): 

Eloy, Marcano, and Sands Offer the Snake-Bite Cure at Talking Stick

Eloy Jimenez reached base four times (two doubles, a single, and a walk) in four Plate Appearances and drove-in a run, Ricardo Marcano belted a triple and a two-run double and scored a run, and LHP Carson Sands hurled four innings of shutout ball, as the Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 5-3 on Jackrabbit Field, and Raymel Flores drilled two triples and scored two runs, Sergio Alcantara ripped a two-run inside-the-park HR, and Wei-Chieh Huang and five relievers combined to retire 25 of the first 27 men they faced, leading the D'backs to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs on Whirlwind Field, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

Jose Paniagua singled twice, doubled, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause on Whirlwind Field. 

Recently signed free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 1-3 with a single and a walk and a run scored in four PA and RHRP Matt Stites (on AZ MLB 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation) threw a shutout inning (one hit allowed, one strikeout) for the Diamondbacks squad on Whirlwind Field.  . 

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Tommy LaStella (on Cubs 15-day DL - rib cage inflammation) has completed the Extended Spring Training portion of his rehab and has moved up to AA Tennessee, where he will begin his Article XIX-C Minor League Rehab Assignment. In just two Cactus League EXST games (10 PA), LaStella had seven hits (including four doubles and a HR) and a sacrifice fly, and six RBI. 

Also, INF Andrew Ely (Cubs 2014 32nd round draft pick - U. of Washington) has been moved-up to Lo-A South Bend, and INF Tim Saunders (Cubs 2012 32nd round draft pick - Marietta College) has been released.  

The 22 year old Ely began the season on the Hi-A Myrtle Beach roster, but he did not play for the Pelicans and was assigned to Extended Spring Training last month. In six Cactus League EXST games (21 PA), Ely hit 312/476/375, with a double, four walks, an HBP, two strikeouts, a stolen base, a run scored, and an RBI. He played both 2B and 3B while he was in Arizona. 

The left-handed hitting Ely had a fine debut professional season in 2014, hitting 298/348/479 with five HR & 16 RBI in 34 games combined between AZL Cubs and AAA Iowa. 

The speedy Saunders (48 SB in 148 career minor league games) was a two-time NCAA Division 3 All American in college and the 2012 NCAA D-3 Player of the Year, but yet he seemingly came out of nowhere to hit 381/431/536 between AZL Cubs, Peoria, and Daytona (combined 49 games - 218 PA) after being drafted in 2012. But then he suffered an elbow injury at Daytona in 2013 that required a UCL transplant (Tommy John surgery), and he was unable to regain the 2012 mojo once he returned to action.   

The 24-year old Saunders retired last June, but decided to try it again this season. He reported to Minor League Camp in March, but was left behind at Extended Spring Training. He still shows plus-speed on the bases and versatility and range in the field, and he still has a good eye at the plate, but he hit only 154/313/231 in eleven Cactus League EXST games (32 PA), with four walks and two HBP, six strikeouts, three stolen bases (one CS), five runs scored, and two RBI. He played 2B, 3B, and SS in Cactus League EXST games and intrasquad games while he was at EXST, and he has also played the outfield earlier in his career. He should be able to find a spot with an indepenedent league team if he wants to continue playing. 

It wasn't a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game, but the Cubs did play an EXST intrasquad game on Field #6 at Riverview Park yesterday afternoon.

Veteran MLB RHP Felipe Paulino was one of the starting pitchers in the intrasquad game, and he worked 3.1 IP and got his pitch count up to 63, so he may ready to join AAA Iowa sooner rather than later. He did allow three runs on four hits (two singles, a triple and a solo HR) and two walks, but he also struck out six (all six swinging). His fastball was consistently 94-95 MPH, and touched 96 at least once, so apparently there is nothing wrong with his arm (Paulino missed most of the 2014 season with a sore shoulder, and he had TJS in 2012).  

Tyler Alamo slugged a solo home run (that was the one HR allowed by F. Paulino), Yohan Matos, Carlos Jimenez, and Jose Paniagua belted triples, and LHP Jose Paulino tossed four innings of one-hit ball with six strikeouts (and a 6/0 GO/FO) in the intrasquad game. (J. Paulino is a virtual-lock to join Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Austyn Willis in the Eugene starting rotation, when the Northwest League begins play next month). 

RHP Dillon Maples had another poor outing. Working in relief of J. Paulino in the intrasquad game, Maples allowed five runs on five hits (including two triples and a double) and two walks in just one inning of work.This is the fourth consecutive Extended Spring Training for the now 23-year old Maples (he was drafted out of a North Carolina HS in 2011, but did not sign until August of that year), and while he still throws a 94 MPH heater and a hammer curve, he has a lot of difficulty commanding his pitches. He also sometimes will lose confidence in his fastball if he's not getting good results with it, and when that happens he tends to lose focus. 

Here are the abridged box scores from today's two Cubs Cactus League EXST games (Cubs players only), followed by the abridged box score from yesterday's intrasquad game at Riverview Park: 

LaStella Rakes Far from the Maddon Crowd

Tommy LaStella belted a solo home run, two RBI doubles, and a single, Adonis Paula ripped a two-out two-run game-tying double in the bottom of the 7th, and Roberto Caro tripled and scored in the 7th and then drove-in what proved to be the winning run with an 8th inning sacrifice fly, as the Cubs rallied from a 5-0 deficit to edge the Athletics 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Gabriel Santana and Carlos Hiciano drilled RBI doubles to highlight a two-run third and Iolana Akau hammered a three-run HR in the fourth for the A's in a losing cause. 

The game was called after eight innings. 

LaStella batted six times and reached base four times (he also was retired on an F-9 fly out and a 3-U ground out). He played second-base for the first four innings and then moved to third base for the next three, and he made one really nice play in the field, coming-in fast from third-base to snatch a slow one-hopper before throwing the batter out at 1st in a "bang-bang" play.

At the plate, both of LaStella's doubles were hard-hit line-drives, one crashing off the CF fence and the other drilled into the right-centerfield gap, and the home run was a line-drive shot over the RF fence. Even the F-9 fly out his first-time up was hit to the warning track. The single was an opposite-field looper that fell between the A's left-fielder. shortstop, and third-baseman in short-left near the foul line. LaStella didn't run at first (he apparently thought it would land in foul territory), or else he might have had still another double. 

In just two Cactus League EXST rehab games (10 PA) so far, LaStella has seven hits (including four doubles and a HR) and a sacrifice fly, and six RBI. 

Two of the three Extended Spring Training position player "conversion projects" were on the hill for the Cubs in today's game. 

RHP Mark Malave (ex-C) got the start and was not effective, allowing two runs on three hits (including two doubles) and three walks in 2.1 IP. He didn't strike anyone out. Malave features a high-80's two-seam fastball that occasionally touches 90 MPH, and a curve (which is his best pitch). When he doesn't keep his fastball down in the zone, he can get hammered.

RHP Jae-Hoon Ha (ex-OF) pitched in relief and struggled with his command (as has been the case in most of his outings so far), issuing two walks in his one inning of work. (Cubs pitchers issued a combined nine walks today). Ha throws harder than Malave (he tops out at 92) and probably has more of a future as a pitcher, featuring the low-90's fastball, a curve, a slider, a change-up, and a "mystery pitch" (not sure even he knows what it is...)

Prior to the Cactus League EXST game on Field #6, RHPs Neil Ramirez (on the Cubs MLB 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation), Santiago Rodriguez, and Pedro Araujo pitched in a two-inning "sim" game on Field #4. Rodriguez threw two innings (30 pitches) and Araujo and Ramirez each threw one inning (15 pitches a piece). Ramirez looked good, with no distress indicated by his body language or visible on his face during the course of the outing.    

In EXST Cubs roster news, RHP Trevor Graham has been released, and catcher Roberto Vahlis and SS Rafael Narea have been assigned to the VSL Cubs.

the 23-year old Graham was the Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick out of Franklin Pierce University, and he has not pitched since Minor League Camp (he has been inactive at Extended Spring Training). He began last season at Extended Spring Training and was moved up to Daytona briefly in May, before ending up at Boise. 

The 21-year old Vahlis (known affectionately as "Fuji" by his teammates) was at Minor League Camp at Riverview Park during Spring Training after spending the previous three seasons playing in Latin American summer leagues, with the DSL Blue Jays in 2012, and then with the VSL Cubs in 2013-14. (He is from Venezula).

Vahlis had three hits (all three singles) in five Cactus League EXST AB (all as a pinch-hitter or DH). He was originally signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a 17-year old international free-agent in July 2011, and he has hit a combined 213/324/313 in 107 career minor league games (2012-14). 

Narea was signed out of Venezuela by the Cubs as a 16-year old last July ("Signed for Future Service"), and was invited to Extended Spring Training after he turned 17 the first week of April. The slick-fielding Narea was hitless in eight Cactus League EXST Plate Appearances, but was impressive in the field. (Narea is one of 27 international free-agents signed by the Cubs so far in the 2014-15 International Signing Period) 

The Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) begins play this coming Monday (5/18), and the league schedule had to be re-worked somewhat at the last minute after the Mariners suddenly and unexpectedly moved their VSL affiliate (VSL Mariners) to the Dominican Summer League (DSL) earlier this year (the affiliate will play in the DSL as DSL Mariners #2).   

When the Cubs moved their second DSL:affiliate (DSL Cubs #2) to the VSL in 2013, the VSL became a five-team league at that time, resulting in a schedule where each of the five teams would play each of the other four VSL teams once and then get a bye on the 5th day. With only four teams now in the VSL (VSL Cubs, VSL Phillies, VSL Rays, and VSL Tigers), the schedule has been altered to where the four clubs will play six days in a row and then get Sundays off (like the Arizona Fall League).

Here is the abridged box score from today's Cactus League EXST game (Cubs players only), followed by the updated Cubs Extended Spring Training roster: 


Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • When I first saw the Tweet, I thought there were two guys. Happy Thanksgiving gang! And TheoJed!

  • They can use another Brother

  • Cubs acquired Rex Brothers. Awesome fit for this team. Wander Cabrera going to COL.

  • "MLB announces #Cubs Minor League RHP Tanner Griggs receives 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for amphetamine"

    2014 12th rounder...

    it's hard to know who to blame...on one hand he's a baseball player, on the other he sells cars in the offseason...either job leads to amphetamine abuse. =p

  • Thanks PHIL! I thought only the Cubs had control until the last day of the MLB 2015 Season.

  • that's awesome...makes me look forward to hearing theo talk some more about how the team needs to be creative with finances because money is tight.


  • See What The Cubs Are Building This Off-Season For Wrigley Plaza, Clubhouse

  • CUBBIES-4-EVER: It's not unusual for a PTBNL to be chosen after the Rule 5 Draft from the list of Rule 5 eligible players who were not selected. That way, a club gets a player they like (perhaps somebody like OF Jeffrey Baez) without the cumbersome Rule 5 roster restrictions that go with a Rule 5 Draft pick.

  • Clayton Richard is absolutely, positively NOT a free-agent. He is under club control through the 2016 season. 

  • Haren was 4-2 with a 4.01 ERA with the Cubs. Seems like he worked out just as expected.

  • Did they ever say or who the PTBNL or cash decision on Rodney was or who was the PTBNL in the Austin Jackson deal was yet? Neither was worth whatever they gave up. Cahill and Richard were the only two good "deadline" deals they made. Hunter (given Lake was the odd man out by far and taking up a roster spot) and Haren weren't worth it.

  • says he is, site says he's a Cub, great cooperation between the 2 sites, weird

  • The drafting of Shea at #1 was a sign of things to come -- an undersized white linebacker who's not particularly fast; lets make him an NFL defensive end! Just idiotic. When the best thing you can say about your #1 pick is that he has a "high motor", that's a problem...that's what you should say about late-round picks.

  • Not AZ PHIL but after being DFA'd by the Cubs (after they got him from the Pirates in the "I get a chance in the Majors clause"), the Cubs re-signed him for the remainder of the season. I do not believe service time is an issue for him, so he is eligible to opt for Major League Free Agency - which he is doing and the Cubs or someone else will sign him to an MLB deal. AZ PHIL please correct this if you see fit - but that is the most current info that I'm aware of.

  • To also be fair to Emery, wtf do you draft Shea McLellin as a #1, Jonathan Bostic in the same draft, let Peppers go in lieu of signing Jared Shit-Head, Brandon Hardin, Evan Rodriguez, Isiah Frey, on and on...

    I will give him credit for Kyle Long - who is like my favorite player (what does THAT say about the team - but he did throw in the 90's as a former pitcher), and Jeffrey.

  • Geo Soto leaves the WSux and signs with the Angels who lost Chris Ianetta to the Mariners.

    Freed... The Angels also promoted Bobby Scales from director of player development to special assistant