AZL Cubs

Matos Dinger Lifts AZL Cubs to Victory

Yohan Matos blasted a three-run HR to cap a four-run 5th and Enrique de los Rios and three relievers combined to hurl a three-hitter, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Angels 6-5 in AZL action last night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.

Camargo Sharp as AZL Cubs Defeat AZL Snakes

Andruw Monasterio drilled a two-run triple, walked twice, scored a run, and collected a third RBI on a bases-loaded walk, Wladimir Galindo belted a two-run double and knocked-in a third run with a sacrifice fly, Roberto Caro reached base on a bunt single, walked, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in a run with a sacrifice fly, and RHSP Jesus Camargo hurled five innings of three-hit one-run ball with no walks and a 11/1 GO/FO, helping the AZL Cubs defeat the AZL Diamondbaks 8-4 in AZL action last night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Zastryzny Gets Start for AZL Cubs

Hector Hernandez (on Kane County 7-day DL) hurled three innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with three relievers to toss a four-hitter, as the AZL Diamondbacks defeated the AZL Cubs 4-1 in AZL action this evening on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

AZL Cubs Drop 2015 Opener at Sloan Park

RHSP Jonathan Perrin (Milwaukee Brewers 2015 27th round draft pick - Oklahoma State) tossed three innings of perfect baseball and combined with three relievers to hurl a six-hit shutout, and Tyrone Perry (Milwaukee Brewers 2015 14th round draft pick - Lakeland Senior HS - Lakeland, FL) drilled an RBI single, doubled, and walked and scored, as the AZL Brewers blanked the AZL Cubs 4-0 in AZL Opening Day action Saturday evening at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.

2015 Eugene & AZL Cubs Opening Day Rosters (Updated 6/18)

The Eugene Emeralds (the Cubs affiliate in the SS-A Northwest League) begin play tonight at Everett (Seattle Mariners affiliate in NWL) with a four-game series that extends through Monday, and the AZL Cubs begin play Saturday night at Sloan Park in Mesa with a single game versus the AZL Brewers. After a day off on Sunday, the AZL Cubs will play four days in a row and then have a day off every 5th day for the balance of the AZL schedule (barring rain-out make-up games).  

Eugene has a 35-man reserve list limit and a 30-man active list limit, of which 25 players may be designated as "active" for each game, and 10 of the 25 players designated as active must be pitchers. In effect, this means that one starting pitcher and nine relief pitchers are active for each game, so Eugene will begin the season with a 14-man pitching staff (five starters and nine relievers) and 11 position players (three catchers, five infielders, and three outfieldes).

The AZL Cubs have a 35-man reserve list limit and a 35-man active list limit, of which 30 players may be designated as "active" for each game, and ten of the 30 players designated as active must be pitchers.

2015 Cubs draft picks who sign do not have to be added to a minor league reserve list for up to 15 days after signing, or until the player is placed on a minor league active list (whichever comes first). So at least five of the Cubs 2015 Draft picks (the more-advanced ones) will be assigned to Eugene as soon as they complete their orientation at the Cubs Training Complex (Under Armour Performance Center) at Riverview Park, at which point the Eugene 30-man active roster will be full. As more draft picks are gradually moved-up to Eugene, some of the players who were on the Eugene Opening Day roster could be either promoted to South Bend, sent back to the AZL Cubs in Mesa, or released. Other 2015 draft picks will begin their pro career with the AZL Cubs and remain in Mesa for the rest of the summer.

In AZL Cubs roster news, RHP Pedro Silverio and OF-1B (ex-LHP) Chris Pieters have been moved up to the AZL Cubs from the DSL Cubs, and RHPs Francisco Carrillo and John Michael Knighton were temporarily assigned to the AZL Cubs Reserve List, although they will remain with the South Bend Cubs. (Knighton was moved up to South Bend from Extended Spring Training last Sunday).

The 21-year old Silverio was signed by the Cubs as an 18-year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, and he has been the ace of the 2015 DSL Cubs (so far), with a 0.00 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. He has allowed no runs, 11 hits, two walks, and an HBP, with 17 strikeouts, in 17 IP (three GS).

Pieters (signed by the Cubs as a 16-year old out of Curacao in 2011 - $350K bonus) is making the unusual conversion of LHP to outfielder in 2015, after posting an ugly 9.31 ERA and issuing 119 walks in 77.1 IP over three seasons 2012-14. The 20-year old has put up equally bizarre numbers as a position player, hitting 238/484/262 with only one XBH in 58 PA for the DSL Cubs this season, but he has drawn 16 walks and has eight stolen bases (1 CS) in just 15 games.

Here are the updated rosters for the two teams, plus the Mesa Pitchers Rehab Group:

Ramirez Heats Up & Olt Has Active Day at Riverview Park

Ricardo Marcano (RBI single) and Varonex Cuevas (two-run single) drilled run-scoring hits to highlight a three-run 4th, as the Eugene Emeralds rallied to edge the Mesa Cubs 3-2 in Extended Spring Training intrasquad action this morning on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game was called after 5-1/2 innings of play. It was supposed to be a seven-inning affair, but one of the pitchers scheduled to throw in the game (RHRP John Michael Knighton) was called up to South Bend during the game, so the contest had to be truncated.   

Knighton (known as "Bama" to his teammates) was the most-consistent Cub reliever at Extended Spring Training. He features a "natural" upper-80's cutter and a curve, and he threw the highest-percentager of strikes (67%) of any EXST Cubs pitcher who worked more than six innings in Cactus League EXST games:

JOHN MICHAEL KNIGHTON - Age 21 - 2014 17th round draft pick (Central Alabama CC)
2.93 ERA - 0.91 WHIP - .228 OppBA
15.1 IP, 13 H, 8 R (5 ER), 1 BB, 11 K, 1 HBP, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 17/16 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 13.0 PITCHES-PER-INNING

RHRP Neil Ramirez (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - right shoulder inflammation) continued his EXST rehab, making his second appearance on the mound in three days, and Mike Olt (on Cubs 60-day DL - fractured right wrist) made his second rehab start in three days.  

Ramirez entered the game in the top of the 4th inning, with one out and a runner at 2nd base. He faced three hitters, striking out Mike Olt (looking) on a 3-2 pitch, before issuing a walk to Jhonny Pereda on a 3-1 pitch and striking out Carlos Jimenez (swinging) on three pitches.  

In 1.1 IP in two Cubs EXST intrasquad games (today and Friday), Ramirez has allowed no runs, two hits and a walk, and struck out four. 

Olt moved back & forth between the two teams, serving as a DH for the Mesa Cubs and playing third-base for Eugene.

He began the game as the Mesa DH, drawing a walk in the top of the 1st, before advancing to 2nd base on a WP and scoring on a Carlos Sepulveda RBI single to right. He batted in the bottom of the 1st inning for Eugene, reaching base on a two-out HBP. He then played third-base for two innings (top of the 2nd & top of the 3rd) for Eugene, before once again serving as a DH for Mesa in the top of the 4th (when he struck out looking against Neil Ramirez). He batted for Eugene again in the bottom of the 4th (line-drive single to right-center, then scored later in the inning on the Varonex Cuevas two-run single), before returning to the field and playing third-base again for two more innings (top of the 5th & top of the 6th). He handled two grounders flawlessly at third, turning both into 5-3 outs.    

After the game, Olt high-fived himself for doing his part to help Eugene rally to win the game, and cursed himself for not doing enough to prevent the Mesa Cubs from losing.   

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

C. J. Edwards Faces Diamondbacks at Riverview Park

The AZL Diamondbacks took advantage of four walks (including three bases-loaded walks that forced-in three runs) to plate seven runs in the 5th inning, and cruised to a 12-6 victory over the AZL Cubs Monday night at Cubs Park at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Gleyber Torres grounded out to end the game, but before that he reached base four consecutive times (single, walk, RBI single, and RBI triple) on the heels of last night's game at Salt River Fields when he reached base all six times he batted (two singles, two doubles, and two walks), for a total of ten consecutive Plate Appearances over the two games without being retired. 

2014 13th round draft pick Kevonte Mitchell (Kennett HS - Kennett, MO) continued his hot hitting, lacing three singles, while also stealing a base, scoring two runs, and collecting an RBI. He also made a fine running catch in CF. Torres, Mitchell, and Eloy Jimenez (who walked twice) are easily the top three position player prospects on the AZL Cubs right now (no others even close).  

Cubs top pitching prospect RHP C. J. Edwards (Tennessee 7-day DL - right shoulder inflamation) got the start for the Cubs (his second AZL rehab start) and worked 3.2 IP (62 pitches - 35 strikes), allowing one run on one hit and three walks with six strikeouts (four swinging and two looking) and a 4/1 GO/FO.

Cubs Pitchers Punch-Out 17 Giants in 1-0 Whitewash

Five pitchers combined to throw a six-hit shutout with 17 strikeouts, as the AZL Cubs blanked the AZL Giants 1-0 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training post-season action this morning at Indian School Park Field #4 in Scottsdale, AZ.  

AZL Cubs Kick Boise Hawks Out of Fitch Park

Jesse Hodges reached base four times on a double, two singles, and a walk, drove-in three runs, and scored another, and Jose Morales also reached base four times on a double, two singles, and a walk, leading the AZL Cubs to a 7-2 victory over the Boise Hawks this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa, AZ.  

Kevin Encarnacion went 4-4 with three singles and a double for Boise.

Cubs 2012 2nd round draft pick RHP Duane Underwood got the start for Boise and hurled 3.1 IP. He struggled to command his fastball (82 pitches - only 40 strikes), allowing two runs on four hits and five walks and two WP. He also struck out four.

RHP Jorge Diaz pitched for Boise although he is assigned to the AZL Cubs.  

The game was a seven-inning contest.  

The Hawks arrived by bus at 6 AM for the 7:30 AM game, and departed for Sky Harbor Airport after the conclusion of the game. They are due to arrive in Boise at 5:30 PM (local time). They will travel by bus from Boise to Eugene on Thursday, and will play their first 2013 NWL game Friday night.  

There was a lot of loud joking around by the Boise players (like giving Shawon Dunston Jr a rash of shit about his tweets), but the AZL Cubs were fairly quiet. Players spend ten weeks at Extended Spring Training trying to make the Boise roster (if not Kane County or Daytona), and failing to do so can be a bit of a let-down. For AZL Cubs players like RF Jeffrey Baez (323/400/554 in 75 PA - 24 EXST Cactus League), 3B Jesse Hodges (275/342/449 in EXST Cactus League play  - with 321/387/571 over his last ten games), and 1B-OF Xavier Batista (387/441/935 with four HR over his last ten EXST Cactus League games, plus another HR in yesterday's intrasquad game), there had to be a feeling of vindication in soundly beating the team that will be leaving without them. All three deserve to be in Boise (and Batista probably should be at Kane County), but justice is usually not a factor when it comes to assigning players to a particular minor league affiliate.

AA Tennessee OF Jae-Hoon Ha continued his rehab, playing CF for five inings for the AZL Cubs and batting seven times in the game (once each inning). Ha went 1-6 with two fly outs, two ground outs, a line-drive-out, an RBI double, and a HBP, with two runs scored. He also stole two bases (including third base, and then he scored on an E-2 overthrow), and he also won the bat toss by heaving his bat over the grandstand fence and into the bleachers after being hit in the ribs by an Ethan Elias pitch. Ha looks like he's very close to being ready to return to Tennessee.

AA Tennessee 1B Justin Bour (broken wrist rehab) saw his first game action since April 19th, playing 1B for four innings with the Boise squad and batting five times. He went 1-4 with a sharp ground single through the 3.5 hole and a walk. a 3-1 GO, and two strike outs (both swinging). Bour left the game temporarily during the 5th & 6th innings and went over to Field #1 and took about four dozen ground balls around first base. One thing about Bour is that he is a tireless worker.    

Beefy 3B-1B Mark Malave was pressed into service at 2B for the AZL Cubs today. That's because INF Brad Zapenas was absent from Fitch Park, possibly en route to join the Kane County Cougars to replace INF David Bote, who has been assigned to Boise. (Bote will join his Hawks teammates in Boise). Zapenas hit 382/446/564 in 22 EXST Cactus League games (65 PA) while rehabbing from 2012 season-ending shoulder surgery.  

RHP Mike Hamann was (somewhat surprisingly) not on the Boise roster posted yesterday, but that might be because be could be going to KC instead. (Hamann was the Cubs #1 closer at Extended Spring Training). Or he may not be 100%.

2009 South Korean bonus baby ($550K) OF Dong-Yub Kim has disappeared from Fitch Park and may heve been released (can't be confirmed). Kim sufferered a torn labrum in his right shoulder at AZ Instructs post-2009, and eventually learned to throw left-handed. But even then he has a below-average arm (even for a LF), and so he had to hit a ton to remain a prospect. And while he still has plus bat speed and runs well for a big guy, it probably isn't enough (245/328/396 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, and eight RBI, in 27 EXST Cactus League games - 61 PA). 
Here is the box score from today's game:

Cubs Keep Heat on the A's in Arizona

Carlos Penalver and Shawon Dunston smacked back-to-back two-out doubles and Ben Carhart followed with an RBI single to plate the first two runs in the top of the 5th, and Jeffrey Baez poked an opposite-field RBI single to drive-in the final run in the 8th, leading the AZL Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the AZL Athletics in Arizona League action at Papago Park Baseball Complex Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field" ) in Phoenix this evening. 


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