Espinoza Sharp at Sloan

After hurling three perfect innings in his previous start, Manuel Espinoza fired three innings of one-hit shutout ball (and threw 75% strikes), and Pablo Aliendo singled twice and drove-in a run and Cam Balego tripled and scored, in Cubs AZ Instructional League intrasquad game action Wednesday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.   

The Giants at Cubs AZIL game was canceled, so the Cubs played an intrasquad game instead.   

The five pitchers who were scheduled to pitch in the AZIL game threw in the intrasquad game, and the game was called after 3-1/2 innings of play after all of the pitchers got their scheduled work. 

It wasn't possible to field two full teams because only the players who were set to play in the AZIL game played in the intrasquad game (the other position players retired to the clubhouse after early BP), so there was no DH used in the game and Alfonso Rivas (who is already an accomplished hitter and really doesn't need any more game ABs) played LF for both squads and did not take an AB (he stood out in LF for the entire game -- that's 90 minutes straight defense in 90-degree heat without a break, folks).  

Also, Ethan Hearn played 1B and Yonathan Perlaza (ex-infielder now playing outfield) temporarily moved back to the infield and played 2B. 

Fireballin' RHP Danis Correa labored through one inning of work while throwing almost all secondary stuff (only a couple of high velo FB) after throwing almost all FB in his previous outing, while RHRP Eduarniel Nunez threw almost 100% FB (only two off-speed pitches) and was sitting 95-96 (T-97). Both Corraa and E. Nunez are 21-year old Dominican power bullpen arms who could advance quickly if they can improve their secondaries and FB command (easier said than done, obviously).    

Here is the box score from the game: 

1. Nelson Velazquez, RF: 0-3 (P-6, F-8, K)
2. Bryce Windham, C: 1-2 (4-3, 1B)
3. Ethan Hearn, 1B: 0-2 (K, 1-3)
4. Andy Weber, SS: 0-2 (K, L-8)
5. Chase Strumpf, 2B: 0-2 (6-3, K) 
6. Rafael Morel, 3B: 0-1 (P-3, HBP)
7. Jacob Wetzel, CF: 0-2 (E-4, 4-6 FC, SB) 

1. Cam Balego, 3B: 1-3 (K, 3B, P-4, R)
2. Pablo Aliendo, C: 2-2 (1B, 1B, RBI)
3. Felix Stevens, RF: 0-0 (BB, HBP)
4. Matt Mervis, 1B: 0-1 (HBP, L-7)
5. Cole Roederer, CF: 0-2 (5-3 DP, 4-1)
6. Luis Vazquez, SS: 0-2 (K, 6-3)
7. Yonathan Perlaza, 2B: 0-1 (K, BB) 
8. Alfonso Rivas, LF: PLAYED DEFENSE ONLY - NO AB 

1. Danis Correa: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP, 1/0 GO/AO, 21 pitches (10 strikes)
2. Chris Clarke: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 19 pitches (10 strikes)
3. Brad Deppermann: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/2 GO/AO, 17 pitches (7 strikes) 

1. Manuel Espinoza: 3.0 IP, 1 H, ,0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 3/4 GO/AO, 40 pitches (30 strikes) 
2. Eduarniel Nunez: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 1/0 GO/AO, 18 pitches (9 strikes) 

2B Yonathan Perlaza: E-4 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely) 

Pablo Aliendo: 0-1 CS 


WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 90's


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


oscar de la cruz signs a minor league deal with the mets (with spring training invite)...dunno if his starting days will get a chance to continue with the mets, but i wouldn't be shocked to see him working effectively out of the pen.  i was hoping the cubs would retain him.

"Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that players want to keep the universal designated hitter for 2021, but owners want them to agree to keep the expanded playoffs for the 2021 season in exchange." thanks expanded playoffs.  dunno how the players feel about it or if they care...or if they consider it plus because of a bigger chance to get a share of that TV loot on their playoff cut.  it all just seems so watered down...

What a crappy bargaining position. It's annoying to see the owners opposing the DH just for leverage.

a team that was 2 games under .500 came within 1 game of going to the world series.

i was kinda hoping they'd win it all just so we could face head-on how stupid it is to let this many teams into the playoffs.

Welcome to Rob Manfred's Baseball One.

We'd prefer a product the owners don't even like, as the players would like it 

So did Rivas get any chances in LF? If so, how does he look out there?

BRADSBEARD: Alfonso Rivas got a lot of reps in LF at Instructs, but his best position is 1B.

It's sort of like when Rafael Palmeiro first came up with the Cubs and he played LF because Mark Grace had to play 1B, but as soon as Palmeiro was traded to Texas the Rangers immediatelty moved him to 1B and left him there. 

I think the best comp for Rivas is probably Victor Caratini, if you forget about Caratini as a catcher and think of him  strictly as a first-baseman (or as a DH).  

Disregarding the obvious differences (Caratini is a switch-hitting catcher who can also play 1B while Rivas is a LH hitting & throwing 1B who can also play LF), both Caratini and Rivas are patient hitters who take walks but also strike out because they are willing to go deep into the count and hit with two strikes, and they both have a smooth LH line-drive stroke and make hard contact with high exit-velo when they do make contact. 

Rivas (in particular) sprays line drives from foul line to foul line, although he doesn't have an elevated launch angle so he doesn't hit many HR (even in BP). But if he played every day Rivas could probably hit 30 or 40 doubles and take maybe 80 or 90 walks over the course of a 162-game season. 

Rivas is a legit prospect. Not Top 10 because he is a bat-first 1B-LF-DH who doesn't hit many HR, but because of his ability to hit doubles and take walks he should be at least in the Top 25.

Rivas will be Rule 5 Draft-eligible for the first time after next season (post-2021), and as things stand right now I would say he is a very good candidate to get added to the 40 this time next year (ESPECIALLY if the Cubs don't sign Rizzo to a contract extension, but still likely to be added even if they do).  

"According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the "belief is" the Red Sox are deciding between Alex Cora and Sam Fuld for their managerial opening."

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced on Thursday that they acquired infielder Ronny Simon from the Chicago Cubs to complete their trade deadline deal on Aug. 31 for reliever Andrew Chafin.

Read more:

Ronny Simon was one of the first five IFA signed by the Cubs in the 2018-19 ISP. 

RHP Richard Gallardo, LHP Joel Machado, and OF Yohendrick Pinango were the hot shot 16-year olds who received substantial bonuses when they were "Signed for Future Service" on the first day of the ISP (7/2), but two older IFA (19-year old RHP Gabriel Jaramillo and 18-year old INF Ronny Simon) were signed a few days later and were placed on DSL active rosters that season.     

And while Gallardo, Machado, Pinango, and Jaramillo were invited to AZ Instructs post-2020, Simon was not (possibly because the Cubs already knew Simon was going to be sent to LAD in November).  

If Sam Fuld gets the BoSox job, Ron Santo will be ordering Seattle Sutton, Acapulco Taco Pies for EVERYONE!

i'm actually surprised he's not going the GM route.

when the cubs signed him out of the draft he was rehabbing injury so he got a internship at STATS INC doing video tracking to kill time.  i think his degree is in statistics, too.

he's most likely a guy who's name we'll hear for decades even if he's never more than a regular baseball lifer.

Alex Cora hired by Red Sox. 

Sam Fuld falls a bit short. (ducks...)

corey black seems have had a nice twitter meltdown over the election.  he's deleted some stuff after the fact, but he's on the "stolen election" bandwagon.

he's also declaring people moving from Cali to AZ need to stop because AZ people don't want them. is from san diego and not long ago moved to AZ...but well, you know...he's special.

Can he get a job in the trump campaign in 2024 to elect Donald Jr?

Recent comments

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  • Charlie 29 min 33 sec ago (view)

    I would be happy to see the Cubs no longer spend DH time on Victor Caratini. Provided there's a Kyle Schwarber or better alternative, of course.


  • Arizona Phil 8 hours 32 min ago (view)

    DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?). 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 9 hours 15 min ago (view)

    I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point


  • waveland 18 hours 1 min ago (view)

    really appreciate the years and years of your updates


  • Arizona Phil 19 hours 55 min ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS. 


  • bradsbeard 20 hours 39 min ago (view)

    Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH. 


  • Arizona Phil 21 hours 14 min ago (view)

    Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).   

    Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.   


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 16 min ago (view)

    I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option


  • bradsbeard 22 hours 21 min ago (view)

    I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose. 


  • Arizona Phil 22 hours 22 min ago (view)

    CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward. 

    BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021). 


  • Arizona Phil 22 hours 33 min ago (view)

    Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft). 

    Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could. 


  • crunch 22 hours 39 min ago (view)

    i am rooting for the cubs to retain schwarber.

    even though he's average on the best of days in LF (except his above average arm), i would like to see him and his work ethic remain in the cubs system...the homers from the left side of the plate are nice, too.


  • Arizona Phil 23 hours 1 min ago (view)

    At least as things stand right now, Kris Bryant is your Cubs de facto 2021 Opening Day LF! (Of course we know he will be traded before then...). 

    Otherwise, minor league NRI outfielders Ian Miller, Michael Hermosillo, and Rafael Ortega will be competing for Opening Day OF slots, with a legit shot to win a job.

    Even Alfonso Rivas (who was hitting rockets from foul line to foul line at AZ Instructs) and/or Eddy Julio Martinez (who has had a very good winter in the Mexican Pacific League) might have a shot.  


  • Arizona Phil 23 hours 4 min ago (view)

    I would think that both Colin Rea and Kyle Ryan must have signed contracts with minor league split salaries, otherwise I doubt very much that they would have been tendered. 


  • Arizona Phil 23 hours 15 min ago (view)

    With Tepera non-tendered and Winkler, Ryan, and Rea signed, the Cubs 2021 Opening Day bullpen (right now) would appear to be Kimbrel (clearly not tradeable), Wick (virtual lock), Winkler (can't be optioned without his consent), Underwood (out of minor league options), and Maples (out of minor league options), and then three from amongst Adam, Norwood, Rea, Ryan, Stock, and Wieck (each of whom can be optioned back & forth to AAA as needed).


  • Arizona Phil 23 hours 35 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed RHSP Colin Rea, LHRP Kyle Ryan, and RHRP Dan Winkler to 2021 MLB contracts (terms TBD) and tendered 2021 MLB contracts to all other unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) except OF Albert Almora, OF-1B Jose Martinez, OF Kyle Schwarber, and RHRP Ryan Tepera.

    So Almora, J. Martinez, Schwarber, and Tepera are now unrestricted free-agents, free to sign an MLB or minor league contract with any club (including the Cubs) without any salary restrictions.   

    The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 34 (six slots are open).