Varonex Cuevas

Spingola Bat Speaks Loud & Clear in Pro Debut at Sloan Park

Daniel Spingola belted an opposite-field RBI double into the LF corner (first pro hit) to give the Cubs the lead and next batter 18-year old Andruw Monasterio followed with a towering two-run home run off the LF foul pole (first pro HR) to highlight a four-run 7th, as the AZL Cubs rallied to overwhelm the AZL Rangers 11-5 in Arizona League action Tuesday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.

AZL Cubs Check Out Small Ball Book at Sloan Park

Varonex Cuevas reached base four times (three singles and a walk), stole two bases, and scored a run, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the AZL Angels in Arizona League action Thursday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The Cubs did most of their damage in the bottom of the 6th inning, using "small ball" to plate three runs and take a 4-1 lead.

Jose Paniagua led-off the inning by drawing a rare (for him) walk, and advanced to 2nd base on a Varonex Cuevas bunt single. Roberto Caro laid down the first of what would be eventually two sacrifice bunts for him in the game to advance the runners to 2nd & 3rd,  and then 18-year old AZL Cubs shortstop Andruw Monasterio looped a single into short right to score Paniagua and move Cuevas up to 3rd. Monasterio and Cuevas then pulled-off a picture-perfect double steal, with Monasterio breaking for 2nd base to draw a throw (he was safe at 2nd), while Cuevas waited to break for home until he saw the throw go through to 2nd. Monasterio took off for 3rd base on the very next pitch (and he would have had 3rd base stolen easily, too), but Tyler Payne rocketed a line drive just past Monasteriio's ear into LF, as Monasterio continued around 3rd base to score the third run of the inning. Payne was then picked-off 1st base by the Angels pitcher (Payne was frozen like a deer-in-headlights two steps from 1st base, and so he took off for 2nd, but the slow-footed catcher was out by a mile).   

LHP Manny Rondon got the start for the Cubs, facing his former AZL Angels teammates for the first time. (Rondon was acquired from the Angels in a trade for catcher Rafael Lopez earlier this month). And not too surprisingly he came out firing from the gitgo, working his fastball consistently at 94 MPH (he hadn't thrown harder than 91-93 in previous ouitings) and mixing it with a hard-breaking curve. Being a bit hyped-up, Rondon did have some command problems, issuing three walks and hitting a batter, but he also struck out four while allowing only one run on four hits (all singles) in 5.0 IP. Rondon threw 85 pitches (52 strikes) over his five innings of work, the most pitches I have ever seen a non-rehabbing pitcher throw in an AZL game. 

To the best of my knowledge, Rondon is only the second pitcher acquired in a trade by the Cubs who went directly from one AZL team to the AZL Cubs during the AZL season. The last one (and the only other one I can recall) was 19-year old fireballing 6'3 280+ RHP Jose Ceda, acquired from San Diego for veteran INF Todd Walker on July 31, 2006. Ceda moved from the AZL Padres to the AZL Cubs after the trade.

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

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):

It's WBC Japan vs South Korea (Wada vs. Tseng) at Riverview Park

Ho-Young Son singled twice, tripled, and scored two runs, Roney Alcala belted an RBI double, singled, and reached base on an HBP, Varonex Cuevas smacked an RBI double, singled, and drove-in another run with an RBI GO (E-1), Carlos Jimenez tripled and singled and scored a run, and Eloy Jimenez singled and doubled and scored a run, in Cubs Extended Spring Training intrasquad game action this morning on Field #4 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

The game was called after 9-1/2 innings with the score tied 4-4. 

Chicago Cubs LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (15 -day DL - groin) continued his Mesa rehab, getting the start for Squad "A". He worked four innings (64 pitches) while allowing two runs on four hits (a triple, a double, and two singles), one HBP, and one WP, with no walks and four strikeouts (three swinging), one GIDP, and a 4/3 GO/FO. Wada threw 47 pitches in his first Spring Training Minor League Camp rehab start last Thursday, so barring a setback he should be on target to throw about 80 pitches in his next rehab start (wherever that may be), probably next Sunday or Monday. (Like the other three players on the Cubs 15-day DL, Wada is eligible to reinstated from the DL on Saturday 4/11).  

Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5th starter & 2014 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year RHP Jen-Ho Tseng got the start for Squad "B"  and threw 6.1 IP (77 pitches), allowing four runs on seven hits (five singles, a double, and a triple) and one HBP, with no walks allowed and seven strikeouts. He seemed to get stronger and more unhittable as the game progressed, striking out five of the last six hitters he faced (four swinging). Like fellow Pelican rotation starter Tyler Skulina (who threw 81 pitches in an Extended Spring Training intrasquad game yesterday), Tseng was left behind when his teammates left town on Sunday so that he could remain on his rotation schedule and stay sharp (Tseng was due to pitch today, and he isn't scheduled to start his first regular season Carolina League game until next Monday). 

In Cubs minor league news, catcher Will Remillard (Cubs 2013 19th round pick - Coastal Carolina U.) underwent "Tommy John" elbow UCL transplant surgery (TJS) last month and will miss the 2015 season.


Remillard was considered to be the best defensive catcher in the Cubs system, and in fact he was so highly thought of that he received an NRI to big league camp last season after signing the previous June.

Also, Cubs minor league RHP Pierce Johnson is at Extended Spring Training, although he is not active at this time. He strained a latissimus dorsi muscle (lat) about ten days ago. 

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

Cubs & Pelicans Pitchers Give Bees & 66ers That Sinking Feeling

Chesny Young belted a two-run triple, singled, and walked, Jason Vosler doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, Jesse Hodges ripped an RBI double and a single, Rashad Crawford roped a line-drive RBI single, drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run, and Jeremy Null threw five innings of two-run ball with an amazing 12/1 GO/FO, as the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A  affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to edge the Burlington Bees (Lo-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels) 4-3 on Field #5, and Daury Torrez threw six shutout innings with four strikeouts and an 11/2 GO/FO, Kevin Brown belted a two-run triple, singled twice, and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, and Danny Lockhart roped a two-run single, walked, and scored a run, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Cubs Hi-A affiliate) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.    

The 66ers had just scored four runs in the top of the 9th off Myrtle Beach lefty reliever Gerardo Concepcion to take a 6-2 lead, but the Pelicans came right back with four of their own. 

Both Daury Torrez and Jeremy Null had the sinker working to perfection, combining to produce a 23/3 GO/FO ratio over 11 innings of work, one of the most extraordinary groundball heavy minor league doubleheaders I have seen in some time. Torrez will join Duane Underwood, Tyler Skulina, Paul Blackburn, and Jen-Ho Tseng in the Myrtle Beach starting rotation, and Null will be part of a South Bend rotation that will also feature Jake Stinnett, Erick Leal, Trevor Clifton, James Norwood, and/or Zach Hedges (last slot still TBD)  

The defensive play of the day was turned-in by South Bend CF Trey Martin, who made a spectacular diving catch in right-centerfield after a long run at full speed. Martin is a "long-strider" who can make long distances seem shorter than they really are, but what was especially impressive about Martin's play was that he dived onto his left (non-throwing) shoulder to complete the catch, the same shoulder that was surgically repaired about a year ago.    

With the exception of Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks, the Chicago Cubs left town after last night's Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in anticipation of their MLB Opening Day game tomorrow night at Wrigley Field, leaving minor league players behind to be presented as the "Chicago Cubs" for this afternoon's MLB Cactus League finale. Most of the players assigned to the MLB game at Chase were pulled from the AAA Iowa Cubs roster, but a few came from the Tennessee and Myrtle Beach squads as well. Also, several members of the Myrtle Beach squad were moved up to the Iowa Cubs for this afternoon's Cactus League minor league game in Tempe against the Angels AAA Salt Lake City affiliate, and a number of players from the Cubs Extended Spring Training contingent filled in for the missing Pelicans at Riverview, as well as providing roster depth in the South Bend, Tennessee, and Iowa games.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games played today at Riverview Park (Cubs players only): 

Toros Don't Dig Graves at Mesa Cubtown

Calvin Graves drilled a double and a two-run single and Varonex Cuevas singled twice and scored two runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-5 victory over Los Toros de Tijuana (Mexican League) in Minor League Camp game action this morning at Mesa Cubtown Field #3.

The speedy Graves also made the defensive play of the game, an outstanding full-sprint running catch in left-centerfield. 

Miguel Torrero walked and roped a two-run single and Efren Espinoza singled twice, walked, and scored a run for Los Toros. 

The seven Cubs pitchers who worked in the game were from the Iowa (AAA) squad, and with five NRI pitchers having been sent down to Minor League Camp today from the MLB club, all seven of the guys who threw against Tijuana are probably "on the bubble."

Most (if not all) of the The position players who played in the game are likely destined for the Eugene/Mesa (Extended Spring Training) squad, and so most all of them are probably "on the bubble," too.   

For those of you who follow the Tijuana Toros in particular and the Mexican League in general, Mexican League Opening Day is Friday April 3rd, and Tijuana will be on the road at Mexico City Red Devils. So if you were planning to be in Tijuana to watch Los Toros on Mexican League Opening Day, you will need to divert to Mexico City.

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

Cubs Romp over Angels at Riverview Park

Kevin Brown ripped an RBI triple and two singles and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas drilled a two-run triple and an RBI single, Jesse Hodges reached base four times (HBP, 2B, 2B, and BB), scored two runs, and drove-in another, Alberto Mineo collected three singles and scored a run, and five pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs overwhelmed the Angels 10-1 in Cactus League  Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #1 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

19-year old 6'2 Dominican stringbean LHP Jose Paulino was the most-impressive Cub hurler today, tossing four innings of one-hit shutout ball. If any of the Cubs teenaged Latin pitchers making their U. S. debut in 2014 make the Boise Opening Day roster, it would probably be Paulino. (I'm not counting RHSP Erick Leal because he was in the U. S. last year at AZL Cubs, and although RHRP Francisco Carrillo and LHRP Alberto Diaz will be making their U. S. debut this season, both pitchers are in their 20's).

Manny Ramirez served as a DH and batted five times in the game (once in each of the first five innings), going 1-5 with three ground outs, a fly out to RF, and a single off the LF wall (ManRam can still hit, but he just doesn't run as well as he once did).

Ryan Sweeney (Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring) played CF for five innings and batted four times, going 1-3 with a walk, a single and a run scored. Sweeney seems to be running just fine, so I would think he will probably get moved-up to AAA Iowa very soon to continue his rehab (just like Justin Ruggiano did a couple of weeks ago), before being reinstated from the DL sometime next week (barring any setbacks).  

RHRP Kyuiji Fujikawa (Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS rehab) threw an inning and allowed one run on a HBP and an RBI double. He did strike out two batters, however (both swinging). His rehab has gone kind of slow, but he really needs to get out of here ASAP, even if it's just a minor league rehab assignment at Kane County or Daytona.   

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Tim Saunders has been sent to Extended Spring Training from Daytona and he played 2B in today's game, so expect Saunders to be on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster. RHP Trevor Graham also was returned to Extended Spring Training from Daytona, so he should join LHP Tyler Ihrig, RHP Erick Leal, and RHP Trevor Clifton (plus one more starter TBA, could be Jose Paulino) in the Boise starting rotation. And RHP Josh Davis has been moved up to Kane County from Extended Spring Training, in what will be his second tour with the Cougars this season. (Davis has logged some time with the Daytona Cubs in 2014, too).

Giant Relentless Attack Too Much for Cubs to Overcome

Shilo McCall drilled a two-run single and a solo home run and scored twice, Jonah Arenado ripped an RBI single and two doubles and scored a run, Carlos Valdez singled twice, doubled, and scored three runs, Tyler Hollick smacked an RBI double, singled, walked, and scored a run, Julio Pena doubled twice and singled, and John Riley hammered a solo HR, as the Giants pounded out 19 hits (including seven doubles and two home runs) en route to a 10-5 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training Memorial Day action on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.   

Jeffrey Baez and Varonex Cuevas belted solo home runs for the Cubs.

The EXST Cubs hit only three HR over their first 37 Cactus League games, but they have hit nine HR over their last nine Cactus League Extended Spring Training games.

2014 EXST CUBS HOME RUNS (thru 5/26 - 46 games): 12
Jeffrey Baez - 2
Erick Castillo - 2
Rashad Crawford - 2
Varonex Cuevas - 2
Tyler Alamo - 1
Zak Blair - 1
Kevin Brown - 1
Rony Rodriguez - 1 

RHRP Kyuji Fujikawa (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS rehab) started the game for the Cubs and threw a 14-pitch 1-2-3 1st inning (F-8, 6-3, K-looking). Fujikawa has thrown three times in the last six days, working one inning each time (40 pitches total - 23 strikes - 58% K), and he has retired all nine men he has faced in those 3.0 IP (4-3, F-9, P-3, K, F-8, 3-1, F-8, 6-3, K).  

RHP Erick Leal had his second consecutive poor outing, allowing seven runs (all earned) on 11 hits (including four doubles and two HR) and a walk in 5.0 IP (71 pitches). Over his last two games (8.0 IP - 141 pitches) Leal has allowed 13 runs (12 ER), 15 hits, and five walks.

Four Jacks Give Cubs Winning Hand at Riverview Park

Zak Blair (single, walk, 3-run HR, three runs scored), Kevin Brown (single, walk, solo HR, three runs scored), and Erick Castillo (three singles and a solo HR) slugged back-to-back-to-back home runs to cap a six-run 2nd inning, Varonex Cuevas clubbed a two-run HR, singled, walked, and scored two runs, and Roney Alcala drilled a two-run double, as the Cubs decimated the Diamondbacks 15-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Mesa, AZ.  

Fernery Ozuna belted a solo HR, a triple, and a single, and Damion Smith slugged an RBI double, singled, walked, and stole two bases for the D'backs in a losing cause.

The Cubs came into game having homered only five times in their first 42 Cactus League EXST games (Tyler Alamo, Rashad Crawford, Erick Castillo, Jeffrey Baez, and Rony Rodriguez with one each), so hitting four dingers in one game was a bit of a surprise. (And Erick Castillo now leads the team in HR with two).   

In EXST Cubs roster news, 22-year old LHP Tyler Ihrig (Cubs 2013 23rd round draft pick - College of Marin) and 22-year old RHP Trevor Graham (Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick - Franklin Pierce University) have been promoted to Hi-A Daytona, replacing RHP Jose Rosario (assigned to Extended Spring Training) and RHP Zach Cates (placed on D-Cubs 7-day DL). Graham and Ihrig have been the two best starting pitchers so far at Extended Spring Training and the duo very likely would have been the Boise Hawks top two starters, too. Graham was scheduled to start today's game at Riverview Park and Ihrig was scheduled to start tomorrow, so the EXST Cubs pitching plans were thrown into disarray with the two promotions (although nobody is complaining).   

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TYLER IHRIG'S SEVEN 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/11 - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 40 pitches (25 strikes)  
4/16 - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 25 pitches (15 strikes) 
4/23 - 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 3/2 GO/FO, 51 pitches (32 strikes) 
4/29 - 3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 4/1 GO/FO, 38 pitches (26 strikes) 
5/5   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 3/1 GO/FO, 39 pitches (27 strikes) 
5/10 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2/5 GO/FO, 53 pitches (39 strikes)  
5/16 - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 5/2 GO/FO, 61 pitches (41 strikes)
TOTAL: 21.0 IP, 16 H, 8 R (4 ER), 4 BB, 26 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 1 GIDP, 22/13 GO/FO, 67% strikes, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .211 OppBA

THE PITCHING LINES FROM TREVOR GRAHAM'S FIVE 2014 CACTUS LEAGUE EXST OUTINGS
4/10 - INTRASQUAD GAME
4/15 - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 GIDP, 7/0 GO/FO, 43 pitches (26 strikes)  
4/21 - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 33 pitches (24 strikes)  
4/26 - INTRASQUAD GAME 
5/2   - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GO/FO, 65 pitches (36 strikes)   
5/8   - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 2/6 GO/FO, 52 pitches (30 strikes) 
5/15 - 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 4/1 GO/FO, 68 pitches (45 strikes)
TOTAL: 17.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R (3 ER), 5 BB, 22 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 GIDP, 15/12 GO/FO, 62% strikes, 1.59 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .226 OppBA   

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

Angels Rally with Two in 9th to Tie Cubs at Diablo Park

Raul Linares rifled a single through the box to drive-in the tying run from 3rd base with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, as the Angels rallied for two runs in their final AB to tie the Cubs 3-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe, AZ.

Eloy Jimenez singled twice and collected an RBI and Varonex Cuevas ripped an RBI triple and scored a run for the Cubs.

Casper Wells (Iowa 7-day DL - back spasms) continued his EXST rehab, playing RF for five innings and batting once in each of the first five innings. He went 0-5, getting called out on strikes in both the 1st and 2nd innings (in both cases strike three was a knee-buckling curve thrown by Angels 2013 3rd round draft pick RHP Keynan Middleton), before grounding out 5-3 in the 3rd, and flying out in the 4th and 5th innings. 

After LHP Michael Heesch (Daytona 7-day DL) made his 2014 game debut with a 1-2-3 five-pitch bottom of the 1st inning (6-3, F-9, P-4), veteran MLB RHP Joel Pineiro took the hill and threw the next six innings (77 pitches) for the Cubs, allowing one run on six hits (four singles and two doubles) and a walk, with five strikeouts. Pineiro also induced three inning-ending double plays, as he really had the sinker working today (12/2 GO/FO).   

There was a somewhat larger crowd than normal at today's game, although some of the fans were clearly there to watch Angels OF Josh Hamilton (15-day DL - torn ligament in thumb) run the bases and field fly balls and grounders on an adjacent field. 

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

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