Cubs Newcomers Make Good First Impression at Riverview

Michael Cruz and Robel Garcia belted back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches, Brandon Vicens drilled a bases-loaded bases-clearing double, and Derek Casey fired three innings of no run/no hit ball with five strikeouts, in Cubs Minor League Camp intrasquad game action Friday afternoon on John Arguello Way at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

The 23 year old Vicens was signed recently by the Cubs as a non-drafted free-agent (NDFA) out of the University of Maine, where he played both baseball (CF) and football (FB) for the Black Bears. He grew up in Hialeah, FL, and played HS ball against Cubs CF Albert Almora Jr. He attended Miami-Dade CC prior to transferring to Maine in 2016. The son of a Puerto Rican father and a Cuban-American mother, Vicens was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 35th round of the 2014 draft out of HS but decided to attend college instead. Now that he can concentrate on baseball full-time, he might be able to unlock some of the potential he displayed as a HS All-American CF at American Heritage School in Plantation. (His HS won three state championships while he was there, one in football and two in baseball).  
Robel Garcia (not to be confused with Cubs minor league 2B Reivaj Garcia) was signed by the Cubs last October after he starred for Team Italy in the AZ Instructional League. (The Italian team spent parts of September & October with the Oakland A's squad at Fitch Park). Soon to be 26, the switch-hitting Dominican had previously played five seasons of affiliated ball in the Cleveland Indians organization, before being released in 2014.    

Casey was the Cubs 2018 9th round draft pick out of UVA, and the 6-2 190 23-year old righthander was really sharp today, mowing down hitter-after-hitter over the course of his three innings of work as he effectively mixed a FB, CV, SL, and CH to keep hitters off-balance. Cubs 2018 2nd round compensation pick Paul Richan also threw in the game, but Casey really stood out.      

Here is the box score frrom the game: 

1a. Edmond Americaan, CF: 0-2 (K, K) 
1b. Brennen Davis, CF: 0-1 (BB, 6-3, R) 
2a. Levi Jordan, 2B-DH: 0-2 (F-7, F-8) 
2b. Brandon Vicens, PH-RF: 1-2 (2B, F-9, R, 3 RBI)
3a. D. J. Artis, LF: 0-2 (K, 4-3)
3b. Eric Gonzalez, C: 0-1 (6-3) 
3c. Rafelin Lorenzo, C: 1-1 (1B) 
4a. Tyler Alamo, 1B: 1-2 (1B, F-7, R)
4b. Yeiler Peguero, SS: 1-1 (1B, SB)
4c. Gustavo Polanco, 1B: 0-1 (K) 
5a. Christopher Morel, SS: 0-1 (P-3)
5b. Jose Gutierrez, PH-LF: 0-2 (6-3, 3-U) 
6a. Jimmy Herron, DH: 0-1 (F-9)
6b. Luis Diaz, PH-2B: 0-2 (K, 1-3)
7a. Michael Cruz, C: 1-1 (HR, R, 2 RBI)
7b. Fidel Mejia, 1B: 2-2 (1B, 2B, R) 
7c. Cam Balego, 3B: NO AB 
8a. Robel Garcia, 3B: 1-1 (HR, R, RBI)
8b. Orian Nunez, PH: 0-1 (K)
8c. Clayton Daniel, 3B-SS: 0-1 (K)
9a. Luis Ayala, RF: 0-1 (L-6)
9b. Kwangmin Kwon, RF-DH: 1-2 (1B, K, R) 

1a. Fernando Kelli, CF: 0-2 (6-3, F-8) 
1b. Caleb Knight, C: 1-1 (1B) 
1c. Benny Kaleiwahea, C: 0-1 (K) 
2a. Cole Roederer, LF: 1-2 (1B, 4-6 FC, SB) 
2b. Jamie Galazin, CF: 0-1 (BB, F-8) 
3a. Austin Filiere, 3B: 0-1 (K) 
3b. Zach Davis, LF: 0-2 (4-3, 1-2 FC) 
3c. Kevin Moreno, LF: 0-1 (K) 
4a. Luke Reynolds, 1B: 0-1 (K),  
4b. Delvin Zinn, 2B: 1-2 (1B, K) 
4c. Henderson Perez, PH: 0-1 (5-3) 
5a. Jake Slaughter, 2B-DH: 0-1 (K) 
5b. Brandon Hughes, PH-DH: 0-2 (4-6 FC, F-7)
6a. Jonathan Sierra, RF: 1-1 (1B) 
6b. Chris Pieters, RF: 0-1 (BB, K) 
7a. Grant Fennell, DH #1: 0-0 (BB) 
7b. Yonathan Perlaza, 3B: 0-1 (BB, K) 
8a. Erick Castillo, C: 1-1 (1B) 
8b. Josue Huma, SS: 0-2 (F-8, 5-3) 
9a. Luis Vazquez, SS: NO AB
9b. Austin Upshaw, 1B: 1-2 (1B, K) 
10. Chris Carrier, DH #2: 0-2 (K, E-5)  

1. Tyson Miller: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GO/AO, 43 pitches (27 strikes) 
2. Paul Richan: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GO/AO, 17 pitches (10 strikes) 
3. Ben Hecht: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 29 pitches (16 strikes) 
4. Derek Casey: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 2/2 GO/AO, 39 pitches (27 strikes) 

1. Tom Hatch: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 2/5 GO/AO, 34 pitches (26 strikes) 
2. Cam Sanders: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 3/0 GO/AO, 39 pitches (22 strikes) 
3. Ryan Williams: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/AO, 16 pitches (11 strikes) 
4. Jake Steffens: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GO/AO, 11 pitches (9 strikes) 

3B Cam Balego: E-5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely) 


Michael Cruz: 0-1 CS 

Caleb Knight: 0-1 CS 


WEATHER: Partly cloudy & breezy with temperatures in the 60's 


"Just because it isn't oficial doesn't mean it didn't happen"


Thanks AZ Phil. How do you say Vicens?

Cubs get Donnie DeWees back from KC per mlbtr 

This is what I wrote about Stephen Ridings last June at the end of Extended Spring Training: 

"The "wild card" may be 22-year old 6'8 Stephen Ridings. who ramped his FB up to 95-96 in some of his outings at EXST, and with his size and relatively young age he could add some MPH to his FB eventually. Ridings struggled a bit with command and consistency at EXST but was assigned to Eugene anyway, and since he was not stretched-out beyond one inning at EXST, he will likely work as a late-inning reliever going forward (at least in the immediate future) where his velocity would play-up."

What I would also say about the Cubs reacquiring Donnie Dewees is that it's an indication that the Cubs are not especially pleased with their OF group at Iowa and Tennessee. 

One thing I do remember about Donnie Dewees when he was with the Cubs is that he had a "rag" arm that pretty much relegates him to LF despite having the speed, range, and acumen to play CF. 

While I agree it likely isn't a ringing endorsement of (among others) Eddy Martinez, if Ridings wasn't looking like he was going to make the South Bend bullpen (Plausible), getting something for him is better than a pur release. (Gretzky for a trumped up version of Scosscia's kid?)

TIM: I think Ridings is a better prospect than that. He improved his command a lot after he arrived at Eugene, and he would have very likely been in the South Bend bullpen this season. I suspect the Royals will send him to Lo-A (just like the Cubs would have done), and if all goes well there I would expect a July or August promotion to Hi-A and then a gig in the AFL (something the Cubs probably would not have done), and if that goes well he could - conceivably - get added to the KC MLB 40-man roster post-2019 (something the Cubs definitely would not have done) since he is Rule 5 Draft eligible post-2019. 

As for Dewees, I would be surprised if he ever plays in MLB. He probably has a better chance of eventually replacing Doug Dascenzo as Minor League Outfield & Baserunning Coordinator. 

BTW, if you want to see what the Cubs think of their more "advanced" OF prospects, look at who they initially assigned to the Tennessee squad at Minor League Camp: 

Edmond Americaan 
D. J. Artis 
Brennen Davis 
Jimmie Herron 
Fernando Kelli 
Kevin Moreno 
Jonathan Sierra 

Not to mention Nelson Velazquez getting initially assigned to the Iowa squad. 

Now obviously, Velazquez is not making the Iowa Opening Day roster and none of the seven outfielders assigned to the Tennessee squad are making the Tennessee Opening Day roster (or even the Myrtle Beach Opening Day roster for that matter), but the Tennessee squad at Minor League Camp has no Connor Myers, no Zach Davis, no Roberto Caro, no Luis Ayala, no Jose Gutierrez, no Chris Singleton, no Brandon Hughes, and no Chris Pieters.

The only two outfield "prospects" presently on the Iowa roster at Minor League Camp who are even somewhat likely to make the Tennessee Opening Day roster are D. J. Wilson and Kevonte Mitchell, and I'm not even sure either of those guys are ready for AA. Which means Donnie Dewees, Wynton Bernard, and Yasiel Balaguert (who can play 1B-LF-RF) could (conceivably) be the Smokies Opening Day OF! Yikes!  

Of course, the Cubs could play Jared Young at both 1B and in LF at Tennessee, but even if Young makes the Smokies Opening Day roster (and think it's better than 50-50 that he does) and plays half his games in LF, there still is a dearth of outfield talent at AA.  

No Cole Roederer in that group?

DLS: For whatever reason, the Cubs assigned Cole Roederer to the South Bend squad at the beginning of Minor League Camp. Why he was "left behind" (so to speak) while B. Davis, Americaan, Sierra, Kelli, Herron, and Artis (and even Kevin Moreno!) were assigned to the Tennessee squad, I do not know. 

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  • MIL closer (but not their best reliever) c.knebel has gone from "tired arm" to "elbow might be a little bit torn up"

    unfortunately, they've been linked to c.kimbrel lately...hopefully that doesn't happen.

    crunch 5 hours 42 min ago view
  • Here is how the Cubs starting pitching is trending at Minor League Camp as of this morning (Thursday 3/21). There will be changes before the affiliates leave town in about ten days, but here is how things stand right now:  

    Arizona Phil 6 hours 55 min ago view
  • brach not throwing mid-90s yet at this point in spring is a bit concerning...he's been in the high 80s, touching low 90s almost all spring.

    slider velocity is on point.

    crunch 8 hours 23 min ago view
  • Here are the Cubs pitchers velo readings from Thursday afternoon's Cubs - Giants Cactus League game at Sloan Park: 

    FB: 84-86 - T-87 
    CH: 77-80
    CV: 69-71 
    NOTE: Velo was down a bit across the board for Hendricks, but does it really matter?  

    FB: 88-89
    CH: 84-86 
    SL: 80
    NOTE: Finished Hendricks' final inning (the 6th)... best thing I can say about Duensing is that he appears to be healthy and is throwing the ball as well as he can... 

    Arizona Phil 8 hours 35 min ago view
  • ...speaking of extensions...looks like goldschmidt/cards are going to be a long-term pain the cubs ass sometime soon.

    crunch 9 hours 2 min ago view
  • Ken Rosenthal‏ @Ken_Rosenthal

    Eloy Jimenez deal with #whitesox is six years, $43M with two club options, but in his camp’s view, he effectively is giving up only one free-agent year. Without deal, he would have started season in AAA and stayed down until at least point when CWS would gain seven years control.

    crunch 15 hours 8 min ago view
  • Thanks alot for the rundown. I’d really like to see them take some risks rather than run with retreads . For instance, I’d like to see Soto-Reynolds/Mejia-Perlaza-Vazquez-Morel to be the SB infield for a good chunk of the year or the MB OF to be Wilson/Artis-Gutierrez-Herron to open with Mitchell on the bench. I’d really really like to see one of Davis or Roederer open with SB (personal preference is Davis but only because I like his potential more). 

    KingKongvsGodzilla 16 hours 39 min ago view
  • ichiro goes 0/4 in his farewell's been an interesting run for a guy who didn't get here til he was 27.

    3089 hits...509 sb...350+ ob%...10 GG...1 MVP

    M's win over the A's in 12 innings...

    crunch 18 hours 18 min ago view
  • For those of you who might have missed Wednesday night's MLB Cactus League Game at Sloan Park, here are the velo readings from Cubs pitchers (and one Dodger pitcher): 

    FB: 91-93 
    CT  87-89 
    CH: 83-85 
    CU: 77-79 
    NOTE: Mixed up his pitches very well and maintained FB velo throughout outing, but fly ball pitchers like Hamels usually don't fare too well in Arizona in March (they don't fare too well in Texas, either). 

    Arizona Phil 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • BRADSBEARD: Cole Roederer has had an impressive week at Minor League Camp and with the MLB club as well, but I think the most-likely scenario is that he stays in Mesa at EXST April-June, is assigned to Eugene on NWL Opening Day, and then (if all goes well at Eugene) gets a promotion to South Bend in mid-July or August, and then gets assigned to the AFL post-2019, and then (best case scenario) - POSSIBLY - gets to AA sometime in 2020 (although Myrtle Beach would be a lot more-likely for Opening Day 2020).

    Arizona Phil 1 day 1 hour ago view
  • The Cubs have released RHSP Christian Bergman from Minor League Camp. He was an NRI to MLB Camp, but was sent down to Minor League Camp last week 

    Arizona Phil 1 day 2 hours ago view
  • Thanks to PHIL and the ASS.

    On another topic - looks like J-Hey is in mid-season form at the plate in camp.

    The E-Man 1 day 5 hours ago view
  • Do you think Roederer opens the season at SB?

    bradsbeard 1 day 6 hours ago view
  • good news...

    Jordan Bastian‏ @MLBastian

    Yu Darvish's between-start bullpen session is scheduled for Friday. If all goes well, his next turn to pitch would fall on Sunday.

    crunch 1 day 7 hours ago view
  • Some things to keep in mind about the "backdating" of injured list assignments: 

    As long as the player did not appear in a game during the retroactive period (including "official" MLB Cactus League or Grapefruit League games or other MLB pre-season exhibition games), an MLB 10-day Injured List assignment can be backdated up to three days (including the three days prior to MLB Opening Day), and a 7-day (acute concussion) Injured List assignment can be backdated up to four days (including the four days prior to MLB Opening Day).

    Arizona Phil 2 days 5 hours ago view
  • For anyone interested, here are the Cubs pitchers velo readings from Tuesday's Cubs - Mariners game at Sloan Park: 

    FB: 93-96 
    2S: 89-92
    SL: 83-86  
    CH: 80-83 
    CV: 78 
    ???: 59 (I don't know what type of pitch this was but it was the slowest pitch I've seen since Little League) 
    NOTE: A really interesting variety of pitches from Yu... Looked good until the blister caused him to leave the game earlier than planned...

    Arizona Phil 2 days 5 hours ago view