Lake & Castro Make the Minor League Scene, Pimentel Fires Goose-Eggs at Riverview

Carlos Pimentel tossed five shutout innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out nine, as the AAA Iowa Cubs throttled the Columbus Clippers (Indians AAA affiliate) 7-2 on Field #6, while on Field #3 the Akron Aeros (CLE AA affiliate) defeated the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) 5-2, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader game action Monday afternoon at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 
The 6'3 175 Pimentel was signed by the Cubs as a six-year minor league free-agent after the 2013 season, and after being named the Dominican Winter League Pitcher of the Year this past off-season, the 24 year old right-hander and former Texas Rangers prospect has been very impressive both in big league camp (where he was initially assigned) and in two outings for the AAA I-Cubs at Minor League Camp. He threw 72% strikes today (anything above 70% is outstanding), and totally dominated the Clippers lineup.  

RHP Yoanner Negrin "piggy-backed" with Pimentel (as both pitchers are being primed as rotation starters), and the two hurlers practiced their bunting skill by being inserted into the I-Cubs lineup whenever a sacrifice-bunt situation presented itself. 

Starlin Castro (hamstring injury rehab) played shorstop for five innings and got six Plate Appearances (one in each of the first six innings) for Iowa. After flying out F-9 in each of his first two AB, he struck out swinging, and then grounded out, before finishing his day with line-drive singles in consecutive innings, the first of which drove-in the game's first run. 

On the heels of his three-HR performance at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Sunday, Junior Lake served as a DH for the Tennessee squad on Monday, and went 1-7. He belted a triple in the 5th inning and scored a run, and he also just missed a monster HR in an earlier AB (ball curved foul at the last second), but he also struck out four times (all four swinging), popped out to the shortstop, and grounded out 5-3 (although to retire Lake required the Aeros third-baseman to make an outstanding diving stop before getting to his feet and making an accurate throw to 1st).   

Both Albert Almora and Javier Baez had RBI singles, but Baez also made a careless throwing error that resulted in an unearned run scoring, lolly-popping an easy toss to 1st base (the throw sailed over the first-baseman's head).  

Because he was on the Active List for Monday night's MLB Cubs-Padres game at Cubs Park, Jacob Hannemann did not make the trip to Goodyear with the Daytona squad. Instead he remained in Mesa and was temporarily assigned to the Iowa squad, and he got a PH AB (bunt single) and scored a run in the AAA game.   

Some of the Latin American players who will be assigned to Extended Spring Training have arrived from the Cubs Dominican Academy, and Varonex Cuevas and Dalfis Ortiz (both speedy switch-hitting infielders) made their U. S. game debuts on Monday, pinch-hitting in the AAA contest. Cuevas drew a walk and Ortiz laced a two-run single in a "tack-on" bottom of the 9th. 

Here are the abridged box scores from Monday's games (Cubs players only):   


X. Junior Lake, DH #1: 1-7 (K, K, P-6, K, 3B, K, 5-3, R)
NOTE: Lake hit 2nd in the bottom of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings
1a. Zeke DeVoss, LF: 0-2 (4-3, 1-6 FC, CS)
1b. Bijan Rademacher, LF: 1-1 (2B, R)
2. Albert Almora, CF: 1-3 (1-3, K, 1B, RBI)
3. Stephen Bruno, 2B: 0-2 (K, K, HBP)
4. Dustin Geiger, DH #2: 0-3 (L-4, F-7, P-3)
5. Jonathon Mota, 3B: 0-3 (K, P-3, K)
6a. Willson Contreras, C: 0-1 (6-3)
6b. Taylor Davis, C: 0-2 (F-9, F-8)
7. Anthony Giansanti, RF: 0-2 (K, 6-3)
8. Matt Scioscia, 1B: 1-2 (P-5, 1B)
9. Walter Ibarra, SS: 1-2 (K, 1B)
10. Chadd Krist, DH #3: 1-2 (1B, K, RBI)

1. Lendy Castillo: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 3/0 GO/FO, 37 pitches (21 strikes)
2. P. J. Francescon: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GO/FO, 29 pitches (20 strikes)
3. Starling Peralta: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 43 pitches (23 strikes)
4. Zak Hermans: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GO/FO, 13 pitches (8 strikes)
5. Frank del Valle: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/2 GO/FO, 20 pitches (13 strikes)
6. Zach Cates: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 19 pitches (8 strikes)

1. 3B Jonathon Mota - E-5 (overthrow at 1st base on infield single allowed batter to advance to 2nd base)
2. 3B Jonathon Mota - E-5 (fielding error allowed batter to reach base safely - eventually scored unearned run)
3. 2B Stephen Bruno - E-4 (dropped throw on attempted 6-4 FC allowed baserunner to reach 2nd base safely)

LF Zeke DeVoss - threw out baserunner 7-2 trying to score from 2nd base on single


X-1. Starlin Castro, SS-DH: 2-6 (F-9, F-9, K, 5-3, 1B, 1B, RBI)
NOTE: Castro hit 3rd in the bottom of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th innings, and 4th in the bottom of the 5th inning
X-2. Carlos Pimentel, P: 0-0 (1-4 SH)
NOTE: Pimentel hit 3rd in the bottom of the 5th inning
X-3. Yoanner Negrin, P: 0-2 (5-6-3 DP, P-2, 1-3 SH)
NOTE: Negrin hit 2nd in the bottom of the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings
1a. Rubi Silva, CF: 1-2 (BB, F-9, 3B, R, RBI)
1b. Varonex Cuevas, PH: 0-0 (BB)
2a. Brett Jackson, RF: 0-1 (K, BB, BB, 2 R)
2b. Dalfis Ortiz, PH: 1-1 (1B, 2 RBI)
3. Javier Baez, DH-SS: 1-3 (F-9, K, 1B, RBI)
4. Matt Szczur, LF: 1-2 (L-6, BB, 1B, RBI)
5. Christian Villanueva, 3B: 1-3 (1B, F-9, 6-U FC)
6. Logan Watkins, 2B: 1-3 (K, 1B, F-8, R, SB)
7. Rafael Lopez, C-DH: 1-2 (4-3, 1B, BB, R, RBI)
8a. Luis Flores, DH #2: 0-2 (K, F-8)
8b. Jacob Hannemann, PH: 1-1 (1B, R)
9. Edgar Gonzalez, 1B: 0-3 (K, K, K)
10. Charlie Cutler, DH-C: 1-3 (K, 1B, P-6, R)

1. Carlos Pimentel: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 3/3 GO/FO, 57 pitches (41 strikes)
2. Yoanner Negrin: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 0 K, 1 GIDP, 6/3 GO/FO, 46 pitches (24 strikes)
3. Marcos Mateo: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 19 pitches (12 strikes)

1. C Charlie Cutler  - E-2 (overthrow on attempted PO at 1st base allowed runner at 2nd base to score unearned run)
2. SS Javier Baez - E-6 (throwing error allowed batter to reach base safely and unearned run to score)

Charlie Cutler: 0-1 CS, 1 E (see above)


WEATHER: Sunny with temperatures in the 80's 



AZ Phil: the outfield seems crowded with prospects, what is your projection for one of the less written about by the beat writer types, Rubi Silva? How do you project him as at the MLB level? How close is he to the majors?

CUBSTER: Rubi Silva was a Cuban defector who got a $1M signing bonus from the Cubs in December 2010, 

On the positive side, he is a "high energy" player with above-average speed, a dangerous line-drive hitter with decent HR power (he hit 15 HR at AA last year), and he can play all three OF positions plus 2B (and even SS in a pinch). 

On the negative side, he is an extreme first-pitch hacker (although he did hit lead-off yesterday and drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the 1st inning, so maybe he is trying to alter his approach), he tends to run into outs on the bases, and he doesn't always take the most direct route to fly balls. 

I would think he will probably once again be the 4th OF at Tennessee in 2014, although I suppose he could make the Iowa Opening Day roster (the I-Cubs outfield is extremely crowded right now, though). 

That said, I think he almost certainly will eventually be an MLB super-sub & LH bat off the bench. He might actually have value going forward with the Cubs, because the Cubs projected future lineup is very RH heavy, so a LH hitting back-up guy (like Silva) would have a decent chance to fill a slot with the Cubs long-term if he can smooth out the rough edges a bit. 

I would mention three other positives about Silva: His fifteen HRs last season were a personal best, compared to a previous high of five--so it could have been something of a breakout year in terms of power. I think the Cubs FO might have taken notice, because Silva was included in that Cubs Rookie Development Program in Chicago in January. The other OF's in that group were Almora and Soler. Szczur, for example, was not in the group. (Szczur went to major-league camp this spring because he's on the 40-man, courtesy of J. Hendry.) Silva is supposed to have a strong outfield arm, isn't he? He had sixteen outfield assists at Tennessee last season.

"Starlin Castro (hamstring injury rehab) played shorstop for five innings..." It's good to hear Javier Baez is back on the field.

@LAA...olt 3rd, valbuena 2nd, barney SS...vogelbomb 1st, almora DH (there's a night game to play, too, so some kids are seeing late spring action) wada pitching for no reason that's evident...besides general need and a lack of caring who gets work, i guess.

Olt on CJ Edwards

"I've watched C.J. Edwards pitch a lot," Olt said Tuesday morning. "Every time I watch him pitch I'm even more impressed. He has something pitchers don't have. Basically he has an invisible fastball. No one can hit it. It's pretty incredible to watch. He'll do well (Tuesday)."

I'm not in favor of some of the comments around the web that have referred to Olt as blind, but it's interesting to see him desribe CJ's fastball as invisible

lake with another homer...4th of spring.

Did I hear that correctly? The cubs lead the Cactus League in homers?

yes sir

and the individual leaders over all teams are c.heisey (CIN) and l.valbuena (CHC) with 6...woo spring. baez + olt have 5, btw...

i.stewart finally musters enough strength, concentration, bitterness, and hate to hit a homer off the cubs. good for him. he's having an oddly decent spring, btw. ...and a.cabrerra is falling apart in the 9th...the homer, a triple, a double, a single in a row...and a tie game...with men on the corners and no outs. K w/ SB...intentional walk to load the bases...f.bautista comes in to pitch...single to CF...LAA leads. neat. ...and with the damage to a.cabrerra tallied (all 3 runs he left on base were sent home by f.bautista's pitching)...cabrerra's ERA shoots up 4.79 points to 5.79 in 0.1ip...woo spring. 9ip of awesome ball thrown in the stats toilet because of 1 horrid outing followed by a guy who didn't bail him out.

I'm rescinding your 'woo' privileges...and everyone's for that matter.

Bruce Levine tweets...
After losing Geo Soto to injury. Texas taking hard look at Cub catcher George Kottaras .
John Baker is a dozen times better than Kottaras (ta-da-boom).

who knew that "the plan" for the cubs involved totally adopting the entire TEX minor league system? slick. also..."T.R. Sullivan of reports that the Rangers have been scouting the Cubs' infielders in recent days. Sullivan notes that the Rangers appear most interested in Darwin Barney, something that Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has also reported."

It's been a long time since it's been fun to be a Cubs fan (over a decade... think on that for a moment...). I think they'll still probably have trouble cracking .500 this year, but at least they have a farm system they can be proud of and hope of better seasons ahead.

You must really hated LouPa.

He was entertaining...

Back to back playoffs That was kind if exciting

AZ Phil, do you have an update on the health status of Duane Underwood?

BP reviews the NL East and they play the 5 questions game...
5) Junior Lake? (Really, that’s the question.) Ken: Junior Lake (really, that’s my answer). I think saying Junior Lake is like saying “aloha,” since it could mean hello, goodbye, utility player, Triple-A outfielder, All-Star left fielder, Felix Pie … HP Lots of tools that show up in games. Lots of flaws that show up in games. The man is more of a question than an answer, but the entertainment value is high.

That's quite possibly my favorite prospect write-up ever.

cj edwards gets through through 2.2ip 2.2ip 4h 3bb 1k, 3 r/er the 1 K was a.cashner...they're not using the DH tonight

bryant finishes 0-4 with 3 Ks. that gives him 11Ks in 18AB. he only has 2 hits...both homers, though. baez went 1-5 tonight, btw...a single (and a SB)...and he committed 2 errors, 1 throwing, 1 fielding.

Hector Rondon's final pitch in the top of the 7th (called 3rd strike) was clocked at 99 MPH. 

James Russell's fastball topped out at 88 in his inning, although his off-speed stuff looked OK 

Bears to 69 this season Jared Allen signs four years(NFL years, opposite of dog years) with Bears

Donnie Murphy to Rangers Welcome to Cubs Mike Olt

Patrick Mooney‏@CSNMooney Donnie Murphy, who was put on waivers, is heading to Texas Rangers. Catcher George Kottaras will go on unconditional release waivers.

Kottaras losing to Baker is a surprise, but whatever. Murphy didn't do much all spring, so that seemed obvious.

between Roberts, Bonifacio, Kalish and Coghlan for final spot it appears presuming Olt has indeed made club. Be interesting what they do with Valbuena if Olt is the starter.

kott played really horrible D this spring. well, he was a decent target, but that's about it. he "only" made 1 error, but he was clunky behind the plate and allowed 8sb (1cs) in only 57 innings.

By releasing Kottaras now the Cubs recoup roughly $810,000 of his $1.075 million salary, according to Wittenmyer.

Tunney must have been looking for more money again :)

Rusin forgot to not suck today, 4 HR's allowed vs. Dbacks, 3 in one inning.

Villaneuva's handlebar mustache seems a bit curlier today!

the wind is a bit off the hook in AZ today, but still...yow. also, a.cabrerra adds another 2er today. in the past 2 days he's added 5.97 points of ERA to his spring stats...harsh.

twitter rumoring that Kalish will get last spot

Good roster day for Chicago. Olt and hopefully Kalish, and I'm reading Olt may start. And I liked Baker over Kotteras, for unknown reasons. And the Bears don't have to play against Jared Allen anymore.

I'm not up on Bears salary cap issues other than they did something with Cutler's contract yesterday to buy themselves some room. Am I safe to assume Bears saved a few million by getting Allen over keeping Peppers? Otherwise I fail to see a huge difference in the players other than a couple of years of age.

Regardless, seems like a wise move, new team, new energy for Allen hopefully and I'm sure the coaches and Emery want their own guys at this point.

Can't imagine Olt would make team to be benched, although I'm guessing they'll be quite liberal in giving him days off.

Allen to me is a better player right now than Peppers, and I liked Peppers. Allen is an absolute beast, and as usual, I'm too lazy to look up stats, but I'm pretty sure he's got quite a few more sacks over the last 2 years than Peppers, but of course DE isn't only about sacks, by any means. Peppers did pretty well with cutting off that end of the field from offenses (when he wasn't getting held by two guys), which you don't see in a stat line. With Olt, it only makes sense to start him and see what he does. If he joins the world of Cubbery, at least they have options.

Allen was cheaper then Peppers

They converted some of what they owed Cutler into a signing bonus spread out over multiple years. In terms of contracts, 15million is guaranteed to Allen (each year of the contract so no back loading) while I think 18 million was guaranteed to Peppers this year. Also, while I think individual #s can be deceiving with elite DEs since Peppers commanded a lot of double teams but Allen actually has decently better stats over the last 4 years and is more durable, which does matter especially as a player ages. I though Peppers was pretty underrated for us but I also think releasing him was the right move and I think Allen is a better player with a very different personality that might help replace the leadership Urlacher brought. Cause I don't think Briggs is a natural leader and Peppers certainly isn't. If they pick up a safety in the draft think our defense will be much better and we already know our offense is elite.

Yes they need db's. But I bet you five bucks and my left nut Bears take a QB with #2 or #3 pick. /Trestman's project

Defense for the first 18 rounds. Whatever they want after that.

I didn't know Jerry Angelo posted here. :0)

Rob....they beat this topic to death on sports radio here in Chicago but they've been clearing cap space for the past ten days (Hester, Bennett, Peppers, etc.). Pepper's cap hit would have been over $18m and talk was he wouldn't re-do his deal. The tipoff should have been the $4m they cleared from Cutler yesterday calling it his signing bonus. The Bears' brain trust feel Allen has more left in the tank than Peppers. Also talk is look for them to go CB or S in Round 1.

2014 salary and payroll numbers, Cubs come in at #23

BP (Jason Parks and Chris Mellen) review 5 prospects: Almora, Baez, Lendy Castillo, Jr Lake and Christian Villaneuva.
When it comes to loud tools, Lake is a Mastodon record—minus any of the complexity and understanding of artistic construction.

lendy castillo..."prospect"

Nice video of Ruth, Johnson and Gehrig found. Great history here.