Your 2015 VSL Cubs!

The Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) begins play tomorrow (Monday 5/18), and the Cubs are one of only four MLB organizations fielding a team in the VSL this year. 

As recently as 2005 there were ten teams in the VSL, but over time the number has fallen dramatically. The political climate in the country (including assassinations and kidnappings) has made Venezuela a dangerous place, and while most MLB organizations have full-time or part-time scouts working there, only four MLB organizations now field a team in the VSL.

When the Cubs moved their second affiliate in the Dominican Summer League (DSL Cubs #2) to the VSL in 2013, they were bucking a trend where MLB organizations were.moving their VSL affiliate to the DSL as a second DSL team. (The Cubs had just built their new state-of-the-art academy complex in the Dominican Republic, but they also wanted to increase their presence in Venezuela). So the VSL became a five-team league in 2013 when the Cubs placed a team there, 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.

However, the 2015 VSL schedule had to be re-worked at the last minute after the Mariners suddenly and unexpectedly pulled out of the VSL, moving their VSL affiliate (VSL Mariners) to the DSL earlier this year (that affiliate will play in the DSL as DSL Mariners #2). So 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).

The youngest player on the VSL Cubs roster is SS Rafael Narea,(he just turned 17 last month). The slick-fielding Narea was at Extended Spring Training for about a month before returning to Venezuela last week, and while he went 
hitless in eight Cactus League EXST Plate Appearances, he was impressive in the field, especially for a player that young. 

21-year old catcher Roberto Vahlis (known as "Fuji" by his teammates) is also on the VSL Cubs roster. He was at Riverview Park for Minor League Camp and then for the first half of Extended Spring Training, before returning to Venezuela with Narea last week. Vahlis spent 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). So this will be the last season for Vahlis as an active player in the VSL or DSL, because players are not allowed to spend more than four seasons in Latin American summer leagues. (Same goes for LHP Carlos Rodriguez and RHP Harrinson Bermudez). 

Vahlis had three hits (all three singles) in five Cactus League EXST AB (all as a pinch-hitter or DH) before returning to Venezuela. 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). 

Besides Narea and Vahlis, LHSPs Carlos Rodriguez and Yapson Gomez have spent time in the U. S., Rodriguez at Cubs Extended Spring Training and then with the AZL Cubs in 2013, and Gomez at Cubs AZ Instructs post-2014. (Neither was invited to Minor League Camp or Extended Spring Training this season). . 

Six members of the 2014 VSL Cubs are presently at Cubs Extended Spring Training in Mesa, including RHP Enrique de los Rios, 2014 VSL HR champion 3B-1B Wladimir Galindo, IF-OF Danny Gutierrez, SS Andruw Monasterio, C Jhonny Pereda, and 1B-3B Miguel Rico (the Cubs are converting Rico to catcher).

Althouigh all three pitched for the VSL Cubs last season, Venezuelan LHP Alex Pacheco, Panamanian RHP Moises Ramirez, and Colombian RHP Mauro Vides have been assigned to the DSL Cubs (at least temporariliy). .  .    

Almost half of the players on the VSL Cubs Opening Day roster will be making their pro debut in 2015 (these players are underlined).

Because they exceeded their pre-assigned 2013-14 International Signmg Bonus Pool limit by more than 15% (when they signed OF Eloy Jimenez, SS Gleyber Torres, RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP Jeferson Mejia, RHP Erling Moreno, and C Yohan Matos), the Cubs were restricted to signing no player to a bonus in excess of $250,000 in the 2014-15 International Signing Period (ISP), Four of the twelve players receiving six-figure signing bonuses from the Cubs during the 2014-15 ISP have been assigned to the VSL Cubs, including LHP Emilio Ferrebus ($250K signing bonus), LHP Riger Fernandez ($200K signing bonus), SS Francisco Garay ($200K signing bonus), and SS Rafael Narea ($150K signing bonus).  


* bats or throws left
# bats both 

Jesus Arias
Andres Arteaga 
Harrinson Bermudez
* Andres Bonalde 
Alejandro Colorado
Luis Contreras
* Riger Fernandez 
Emilio Ferrebus 
* Yapson Gomez
Jose Leidenz
Gabriel Lima
Ivan Medina
Bryan Molina 
* Eugenio Palma
Juan Rengifo
* Carlos Rodriguez
Freddy Tineo 

: 3
Daniel Diaz
Gustavo Polanco 
Roberto Vahlis

Jhonny Bethencourt 
Francisco Garay 
Fidel Matos
Rafael Narea 
Henry Pedra

* Luis Ayala
Moises Colasante
Jose Gonzalez
Luis Hidalgo
Jose Rojas 

Pedro Gonzalez 

Franklin Blanco (Hitting Coach)
Eduardo Villacis (Pitching Coach)

Arnoldo Goite

Manny Estrada 



Will the players be wearing bullet proof vests on the field as they play?

Any news on why Bryant left the game?

"not feeling well" btw, everyone is wearing the heat/humidity, even PIT players...fatigue/cramping/etc.

m.redmond fired by MIA (and his bench coach) ozzie is still under contract, btw (final year of a 4/10m) they'll have 3 managers under contract in 2015.

jeff conine to be the new manager. no previous coaching or managing experience...a lot of time spent in announce booths. interesting move...redmond was hired with only a couple years of experience managing in the minors...conine has none.

Well, CRUNCH, like you always say - a manager is only worth a win or two. Conine comes real cheap I'm sure - a good thing for Miami.

that's not me that says that...that said, as long as he can keep the clubhouse as loose and ready to perform in sept/oct as they are in april that's getting most of the job done. i wonder how they arrived at conine being that person, though.

Nightengale retracts Conine. Hmmmm.

that seems more believable than conine being a manager after the redmond experience.

even more out of the box is the Pudge Rodriguez rumor

my favorite was kris bryant. he was removed from the cubs game less than 30 minutes before the redmond news leaked. of course it was a joke rumor, but everything lined up nicely.

And it's Dan Jennings, the gm, who is now the manager. Didn't they do that in 2003 with McKeon?

hell of a scout. he spent a good amount of time in NC scouting j.hamilton way back when. it sounds weird, but up until the draft it was a toss-up whether he'd be drafted as a hitter or a pitcher (he could bring it high-90s).

today is rosscup's turn to suck out of the pen...ah, it's everyone's turn everyday! dat pen...

...and shitter is the only guy up in the pen.

Schwarber with 2 bombs today -- now has 9 on the year. He and Vogelbomb are 1-2 in OPS in the Southern League, and the only 2 over 1.000. Looks like an interesting battle for LF between Schwarber and Baez...

I'm assuming the Cubs will still give Schwarber the chance to stick out at catcher since as good as Montero has been he's probably not the long term answer. Be nice to have Montero and Schwarber both at C for now and Castillo and Ross gone. Guess I need to read more how he's been doing defensively though. God we need someone in LF though as it's been a black hole of suck so far offensively.

The fact that TheoCorp is sticking with him is a good sign to me when it comes to his catching. I take what some of the "experts" say with a grain of salt, since they don't see him every day, but a lot of the "experts" seem to think it's all just an experiment that will end with him in LF. However, the word from the "experts" on Bryant was that he wouldn't make it as a third baseman, and he's been fine. Once in awhile I do notice things like, "so and so stole 3 bases" on Schwarber and the stats seem to show him at about 17% on caught stealing, so that is pretty horrific. Not as bad as Montero's 13% though, so perspective is everything, I guess. I would think the next stop for Schwarber is Iowa since they don't have a real prospect there, and Contreras is starting to make a lot of noise in Double A and they may want to hand him the job full time over there. Wada starting Wednesday confirmed. Lake likely to be recalled Tuesday in exchange for a pitcher. LaStella re-injured at Tennessee today.

Kyle Schwarber and Vogelbach for M. Brantley (signed through 2017 with an $11M team option for 2018)

Who says no?

(probably me and I know as Cubs fans the bulk of you will say no way, like you said no way to trading Javier Baez last season)

Are they looking to move him?

when their 20 games back in July, they might be!!!!

just me spit-ballin', his rather unique and absurd K vs BB rates would be nice on our no contact team.

Schwarber's K vs BB rates in the minors are pretty absurd as well. IMO the trade bait for a big fish is Castro or Baez.

I imagine a lot of Schwarber's walks are pitchers afraid to throw to him and that very may well continue in majors. His K rates are great for a power hitter for sure.

But Brantley at the moment is walking more than striking out, can't tell you rare that is, his last few years it's almost been a 1:1 ratio.

I doubt Cubs are trading Schwarber and Brantley's defense by the metrics is less than great. I don't think Castro or Baez gets anyone's big fish either. Baez as part of a real good prospect package certainly.

I have no idea what Castro will get them if they move him. I think most teams see an average shortstop that may not play shortstop that's gonna be cheap. How much is a complimentary piece worth?

Of course I think he's the perfect complimentary piece for the Cubs and believe his value is greater to the Cubs than any other team.

(Although that pop-up he let drop was pretty brutal yesterday)

I guess it depends on how big the fish is, but certainly Castro and Baez are not without their flaws. Regarding the pop up, at the game it looked like no one had a play on the ball, and the mistake was Russell not covering second since the ball was on the shortstop side of the bag.

not sure that was my read on the pop-up, certainly on Russell it was, but Castro ran out, then backpedaled like he had it easily, then misjudged the wind or the ball or thought the outfield was playing more shallow or something, but if he just ran to the spot or at the very least, didn't backpedial...he should have made that play

Thanks, it was hard to tell from my seat if he had a play.

BA Top 200 prospects, not a mock draft, but a listing by ceiling...

A. Benintendi is ranked #42, although the intro says they expect him to go in top 15.

Wow, Lester questioned on the DH rule- his response- Nope, he likes NL strategy. If anybody supported the DH rule in the NL, I figured it would have been Jon Lester...

Well, he also gets to pitch to pitchers several times a game rather than a DH! 

Great point.


No volume Can you tell me what Josh Donaldson is saying to Angels' Butcher?

it seems to be multiple invitations for gay sex. canada is open minded as hell. good for them.

Javier Baez last 10 games

13/36 1 HR, 9 K, 5 BB

D. Vogelbach has 28 BB vs 29 K this season (is just 4 months older than Schwarber)

K. Schwarber has 25 BB vs 30 K

Both have 16 XBH's, but Schwarber has 9 HR's vs Vogelbach's 4

don't BRING HIM UP!! Just yet. Thanks.

Future Hof Little Ryan Terry O. had 73BB and 58 Ks in 2008. He actually had more walks than Ks for his first 1400 or so MLB plate appearances, which is remarkable for how much he sucks.

2008 Ryan Theriot was a really good player, at least with the bat, 2009 was passable. But he was already 28 and 29 then by that point, defensive skills were adequate at best at short and for whatever reason decided he didn't want to walk as much, probably because of that 2009 'power surge' he had. Why take walks when you can hit dingers!!! And he was a bit of a douchebag.

There is a hitter in the Cub minors with more walks than strikeouts (and an .866 OPs, to boot): Zagunis, at Myrtle Beach. Go, Hokies!

J. Parker had another elbow surgery, luckily for him it was just a fracture. He's already had 2 Tommy John surgeries, but has avoided his 3rd for now.

A few commenters have wondered over the last few weeks how badly Cubs hitters have been squeezed by the poor strike zone while hitting. Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs used info from Brooks Baseball to look at all 30 teams. Just as we all suspected, Cubs hitters are 29th in baseball in getting favorable calls while hitting. Luckily, the good work by our battery to get called strike outside the zone have resulted in basically a neutral overall effect so far this season.

Thanks for that, glad I'm not imagining that. Soler seems to get a fair brunt of this all by himself for some reason. Another maybe my imagination thought, but Bryant seems to be getting a few more calls in his favor than he did the first week.

"Soler seems to get a fair brunt . . ." Probably some element of rookie hazing, which includes teaching young hitters how to behave with respect to the plate umpire. I recall Joe West and Soler having a little standoff a few weeks ago. West won the argument, because the next pitch was an automatic called strike three after Soler had taken a little walk, shaking his head and grinning broadly, after a bad call for strike two. I'm generally very happy with the way opposing teams and umps enforce certain rules of behavior in baseball, in particular the one that prohibits celebration until the game is over.

Good summary about why we should remove the human element from calling balls and strikes.

So you have to kiss the ring of Joe West when your a rookie? F' that.

The minute I read that West was the umpire, I switched from being in favor of the ump to favoring Soler. West is a sub-par, out of shape, egotistical and foolish person (all bad things to be as an umpire). And I'm trying to be nice.

Robot balls and strikes now please.

I'm always a baseball purist, preferring umpires over machines. Until we get a few weeks into the season...

i want aluminum bats and bare handed fielding...also, multi-ball.

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  • crunch 7 hours 15 min ago (view)

    don't worry, i'm sure even though he was spared from cuts there's some hardship he's being tortured with that he has to unfairly overcome.  #coreystrong #onthecross #yolo #swag #kony2012


  • crunch 7 hours 17 min ago (view)

    there's no way a system like that or something similar to that would work.

    "oh hi." - green bay packers

    *shoves out of way*

    like i said, there's no way that would work.


  • Hagsag 10 hours 13 min ago (view)

    Corey Black still has a job.


  • Charlie 10 hours 20 min ago (view)

    I am ready for MLB owners to give it a f***ing rest. I don't have any outrage to spare on them.

    If they can't afford this crisis, maybe they can surrender franchise rights to the players, grounds crew, concession employees, etc., and MLB teams can be employee owned.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 14 hours 34 min ago (view)

    Couldn't have said it better myself, unfortunately.


  • JustSayin' 23 hours 2 min ago (view)

    These players weren't cut/released; laid off is more like it. Fifty-two minor leaguers let go before any real games played, in two waves. The draft will be five rounds this year, not forty.  This is industrial downsizing, anticipating no traditional season this year and capitulation to MLB demands for a much smaller minor league system in 2021.  Next year or 2022 could also see a labor stoppage in the big leagues, over what promises to be a very tough CBA negotiation.  The game will not be what it used to be after this.


  • crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    i don't blame the ownership/font office for doing what they did with bryant.  it was just kinda bad timing that bryant was the client that boras was finally "i'm sick of this" over.  the cubs were warned that boras was going to make a stand and it dragged on so long there has to be some kind of toll on the boras/cubs relationship.


  • bigsky33 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    Hi Phil, yes, hoping for an extended AZ Fall League.  Do you think there will be more cuts?  De La Cruz was the only big sureprise to me. I thought he had some upside. 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    It'll be more over when Kris leaves. Or whenever the same thing happens to another of his clients.

    He isn't wrong though...


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Presuming there is no traditional minor league season in 2020, expect an expanded Arizona Fall League (with potentially a new "Florida Fall League" as well) for the best prospects and expanded post-season instructs for other minor leaguers (all TBA). 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    My understanding is that the other two Cubs minor leaguers who are to be released are the two post-2019 Article XX-B MLB free-agents who signed 2020 minor league contracts, Brandon Morrow and Jason Kipnis. The Cubs will then supposedly re-sign them to new minor league contracts without the $100K retention bonus and 6/1 opt-out. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    CRUNCH: Agreed. Not counting the "4-A" guys, Oscar de la Cruz is the one legit MLB prospect on the list.  


  • crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view) la cruz had some decent looking spring outings (though late inning spring work isn't exactly challenging).  the years of injuries insanely slowed his progression.  totally wouldn't mind seeing him return in 2021 if the team would still be on his radar after getting cut at a time like this.


  • crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    that whole "kris bryant thing" is over...but it's never going to be over as long as this ownership group and boras is around.

    boras could have focused this on 29 other teams, especially the more vocal ones because the cubs have been mostly silent.  the cubs aren't the only team out there paying off "creatively financed" loans, either.

    he chose the cubs.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Not looking forward to seeing that list. Hate to see it when a guy you've invested any sort of energy in is given up on.


  • Cubster 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Chi Tribune today. Boras picks, and focused on the Ricketts. 

    Headline writer, fun job: Agent won’t let Cubs get away Scott-free Matt York/AP and Paul Sullivan.

    Boras told his players “the game can not be played without you” and asked them to share the concept with teammates and opposing players when “MLB requests further concessions or deferral of salaries” during negotiations.