Trevor Gretzky

The Cubs have added a couple of 25-year old "suspects" to Minor League Camp, acquiring 1B Matt Scioscia from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for 1B-OF Trevor Gretzky, and signing RHP Reinier Roibal (ex-SF).

The 6'3 230 Roibal was a high-profile Cuban defector signed by the Giants in 2010, but he was unable to work his way out of Lo-A ball after three seasons in the Giants organization, and was released at the end of Minor League Camp this time a year ago. He then spent the 2013 season pitching for the Newark Bears in the independent Atlantic League.  

The son of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, the right-handed hitting Matt Scioscia was selected by the Angels in the 45th round of the 2011 draft as a college senior out of the University of Notre Dame, where he had been a catcher, first-baseman, and DH. The Angels moved him to 1B full-time in 2013, but like Roibal, the younger Scioscia has been unable to progress, hitting a combined 194/248/224 in 46 games (146 PA) between AZL Angels, Burlington, and Inland Empire in 2013. 

I strongly suspect the Cubs will immediately move Scioscia back to catcher, the one position in the Cubs system that lacks quality depth, perhaps hoping that his catching "bloodlines" might awaken. The Cubs are also probably hoping a change of scenery might help the younger Scioscia fulfill his promise, but at age 25 he won't have a lot of time to show what he can do. 

21-year old Trevor Gretzky is (of course) the son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, and was the Cubs 7th round pick in the 2011 June draft. But through no fault of his own, he was seemingly buried in a Cubs system that is chock full of outfielders with promise. The younger Gretzky never fully recovered from right shoulder surgery (he suffered a torn labrum while playing QB in a football game his senior year in HS) and so he been has been relegated to playing only DH, LF, or 1B in pro ball. (He has what is sometimes called a "rag arm"). However, he doesn't have the HR power you would want out of DH, 1B, or LF, he has just average speed so he doesn't profile as a CF, and he is a below average defender at both 1B and LF. What the younger Gretzky does have is decent eye/hand coordination, a good eye for the strike zone, and a nice opposite-field line-drive stroke at the plate (albeit without any HR power).  

2014 CUBS MINOR LEAGUE CAMP ROSTERS (last updated 3-20-2014):

Xavier Batista walloped two two-run home runs, Junior Lake belted three doubles, scored twice, and drove-in a run, and Steve Clevenger stroked a two-run double, leading the Cubs to a 9-2 victory over the Athletics in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Papago Park Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") in Phoenix, AZ.

The game was pre-planned as an 11-inning contest, and the game was called in the middle of the 11th inning after all of the Cubs and A's pitchers who were scheduled to throw in the game got their work.

Junior Lake (rib cage fracture rehab) played third-base for six innings and batted six times, hitting once in six of the first seven innings.

He lined a double off the LF fence (near-HR) in his first AB in the top of the 1st, and then scored from second base on a Yasiel Balaguert 4-3 GO (Lake was running on the pitch, and he didn't stop when he got to third-base, putting on the "after-burners" before sliding home safely just ahead of the throw in a cloud of dust). Lake also doubled in the top of the 2nd inning, this time an RBI two-bagger off the right-centerfield fence (another near-HR). He struck out swinging on a breaking ball in the 4th, but doubled again in the top of the 5th (opposite-field line-drive sliced into the RF corner) before scoring on Clevenger's two-run double. Lake popped-out to the first-baseman and grounded into a 6-4-3 DP in his final two AB.

Steve Clevenger (strained oblique rehab) was the starting catcher for the Cubs and was the backstop for the first six innings, and then moved to DH for the rest of the game. He batted five times, and went 1-5 with the big two-run double in the top of the 5th. He also struck out swinging, grounded out to the first-baseman (unassisted), flied out to CF, and reached base on an E-6. He was thrown out trying to steal third-base after the 5th inning double, and was picked-off 1st base after reaching on the E-6. He twisted his ankle on the pick-off and limped off the field after being tagged out by the A's first-baseman.

X. Batista came into the game hitting 182/262/255 with no home runs and just one RBI and 19 strikeouts in 22 Cactus League Extended Spring Training games (61 PA), so hitting a couple of two-run HR in one game probably felt pretty good. 

2012 6th round draft pick RHP Trey Lang was the Cubs starting pitcher and worked 3.2 IP, allowing two runs (one earned) on just one hit (a 4th inning single) with five strikeouts (all five swinging). But he also walked five, hit a batter, and threw two wild pitches, and needed 75 pitches (only 36 strikes) to get the 11 outs (including a 28-pitch 4th inning that he could not even finish). Lang will likely be one of the starting pitchers at Boise, although his control issues are a big problem and have been all year.

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

Yasiel Balaguert mashed a two-run home run to key a three-run 3rd, Jeffrey Baez belted a solo HR, Trevor Gretzky collected an RBI double and two singles and scored three runs, Carlos Penalver singled, doubled, walked, stole a base, and scored two runs, Reggie Golden singled twice, walked, drove-in a run, and scored two more, and Lance Rymel doubled and walked and drove-in three runs, as one squad of Cubs throttled one squad of Diamondbacks 10-2 on Whirlwind Field, and Ben Eckels and three relievers combined to throw a three-hitter with ten strikeouts and Damion Smith laced a bases-loaded three-run double, as the other squad of D'backs defeated the other squad of Cubs 4-1 on Jackrabbit Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.  

The game on Whirlwind Field was called by mutual agreement in the middle of the 9th inning, and the game on Jackrabbit Field was called by mutual agreement in the middle of the 8th.

The Cubs got outstanding work from their two starting pitchers today. RHP James Pugliese fired three innings of one-hit shutout ball (80% strikes) with five strikeouts on Whirlwind Field, and 19-year old Dominican RHP Alexander Santana tossed three innings of no-run/no-hit ball on Jackrabbit Field, retiring nine of the ten men he faced (the only blemish being an HBP).  

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF David Bote and C-DH Carlos Escobar have been moved up to Kane County.


Bote was hitting 219/324/344 in 12 Cactus League EXST games (37 PA), with two triples, one SB (three CS), and 5/8 BB/K. He has played 2B, SS, and 3B for the EXST Cubs, and this is the second time he has been moved up to a full-season club since the end of Minor League Camp (he was with the Daytona Cubs for about a week last month when Tim Saunders was on the DL). The 20-year old Bote was the Cubs 18th round pick in the 2012 June Draft out of Neosho County CC.     


The Cubs 2012 15th round draft pick out of the U. of Nevada, Escobar was sidelined with an ankle injury during Minor League Camp and for the first three weeks of Extended Spring Training. But he hit 462/462/846 in five Cactus League EXST games (13 PA) since returning to action, and he hammered two home runs over a period of three days last week (one in an intrasquad game at Fitch Park, and then a tape measure shot last Saturday at Maryvale). Escobar had a 25% CS in Cactus League EXST games, and he also picked one runner off base.    


Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Jaron Shepherd and Correlle Prime smacked solo home runs to highlight a three-run 1st inning, 2012 1st round pick David Dahl blasted a two-run HR to key a three-run 4th, Jared Simon singled, tripled, walked twice, and scored two runs, and Jeff Popick singled twice, doubled, and drove-in a run, leading the Rockies to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs in Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park Field #4 (formerly known as "Field #3") in Mesa, AZ.


Garrett Schlecht drilled a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 2nd inning and Trevor Gretzky crushed a 420+ ft solo HR over the right-centerfield fence with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to account for the two Cub runs.


The defensive play of the day was a run-saving diving catch of a sinking line-drive by Rashad Crawford in short CF.


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


Jeffrey Baez rapped out four singles, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in another, and Trevor Gretzky, Luis Acosta, and Francisco Sanchez each hammered an RBI double, but the Giants rallied for three runs over the final two innings to defeat the Cubs 8-5 on Field #2, while on Field #3, Josh Conway tossed three shutout innings for the Cubs, but three Giants pitchers combined to throw a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts, Leonardo Fuentes smacked an RBI triple and Sam Eberle followed with an RBI double to spark a two-run 7th, and Rando Moreno clubbed a bases-clearing three-run triple to cap a three run 8th, as the Giants blanked the Cubs 5-0 and swept the doubleheader, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

The position players were divided up according to where they are projected (as of right now) to be assigned in June, so the squad on Field #2 was essentially the AZL Cubs, and the squad on Field #3 was what will likely eventually be the Boise Hawks (again, at least as things stand right now)

The game on Field #2 was called in the middle of the 7th inning, and the game on Field #3 was called in the middle of the 8th inning.

Jorge Soler batted 3rd and played RF in the game on Field #3, going 0-3 with two ground outs and a called third strike.

David Bote started at 2B for the Cubs squad on Field #3, but was pulled from the game after the 5th inning when Manager Bobby Mitchell was notified that Bote was being promoted and needed to get to Sky Harbor Airport to catch a plane ASAP. As a result, 1B Jose Dore was moved over to 2B for the final three innings, the first time he has played the position in pro ball.

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Trevor Gretzky singled, doubled, walked, stole a base, scored three runs, and drove-in another, and Danny Lockhart belted an RBI triple to key a five-run 5th, leading the Cubs to a 7-2 victory over the Diamondbacks on Quail Field, and Jeimer Candelario and Xavier Batista each rapped a two-run single and Dustin Geiger laced an RBI double to highlight a five-run 2nd inning, but the D’backs took advantage of four Cub errors (including three errant throws on attempted pick-offs) to score seven unanswered runs en route to a 7-5 victory on Mesquite Field, as the Cubs and Diamondbacks split an Arizona Barbeque Festival Cactus League Extended Spring Training doubleheader this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.


Bruce Levine's latest has a few new rumors, most of it probably trying to drum up interest in Cubs players that doesn't exist, but it's fun to dream.

- He says the Cubs are looking for minor league pitching that they can project to the majors in return for veteran players.

- The Cubs have fielded calls on Fukudome, Byrd, Grabow and Soriano (prank calls don't count). In Fukudome's case the Indians are specifically mentioned and then Levine quotes an NL scout (probably one from the Cubs) about how much better Fukudome is this year.

- The Cubs would apparently be wiling to eat a "high percentage" of Soriano's contract (still owed nearly $60M through 2014) and that he could be an attractive target as a right-handed DH in the American League (no he wouldn't).

- Aramis talked with his agent and the Cubs brass and indications are that he is very unwilling to waive his NTC.

- Also, the Cubs have signed 7th round pick Trevor Gretzky (yes, there's a relation) and 13th round pick Trey Martin.

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