2022 ACL Cubs Opening Day Roster

2022 ACL Cubs Opening Day Roster

* bats or throws left 
# bats both 

Jose Alcila 
Elian Almanzar 
Michael Arias (ex-SS) 
Rony Baez 
Yovanny Cabrera 
* Wilson Cunningham
Wilfri Figuereo 
Dominic Hambley 
* Ben Holmes 
Anthony Martinez 
Anthony Mendez 
Gregori Montano 
Gleiber Morales 
Koen Moreno 
Kenyi Perez 
Starlyn Pichardo 
Cristian Rojas 
Jose Romero 
Oliver Roque 
Tomy Sanchez 
* Marino Santy 
Joel Sierra 

* Moises Ballesteros 
Edgar Gamargo 
* Dilan Granadillo (formerly a switch-hitter) 
Miguel Pabon (ex-INF) 
* Ronnier Quintero  
* Wally Soto 
* Bryan Serra (ex-INF) 

# Reivaj Garcia 
Cristian Hernandez 
# Josue Huma 
Rafael Morel 
Christian Olivo 
# Pedro Ramirez 
Alejandro Rivero 
Joanfran Rojas 
Matt Warkentin (back to 1B again, he is no longer pitching) 

Brayan Altuve 
Flemin Bautista (ex-INF) 
Raino Coran 
* Ismael Mena 
* Cristian More 
Carlos Morfa 
* Anderson Suriel 

Edgar Perez

Yovanny Cuevas 
Rachel Folden  
Armando Gabino 
Eric Patterson 
Doug Willey 

Maggie Lowenthar 

John Abbott 
Ryan Clausen 


Obviously it's almost exactly the same as the Extended Spring Training roster.

The only player who came up to EXST from the Dominican Academy who didn't make the ACL Cubs Opening Day roster was RHP Yohan Crispin, who was sent back to the DSL this past week. 

Also, LHP Wilson Cunningham (Cubs 2021 20th round draft pick - J Serra Catholic HS - San Juan Capistrano, CA) just completed the spring quarter at the University of Chicago this past week, and he will be reporting to the Cubs Nike Performance Center in Mesa.  

 Cunningham was offically signed for 10K, but the Cubs agreed to pay for his education at UC which does not count against the bonus pool.

Cunningham spent his spring break at Minor League Camp in March, so he is familiar with the program. It should just be a matter of throwing some bullpens and then "live" BP before he is game-ready, just like any pitcher at Spring Training. 

RHP Yovanny Cruz, RHP Tanner Jesson-Dalton,  RHP Gabriel Jaramillo, RHP Michael McAvene, RHP Alberto Sojo, RHP Sam Thoresen, and C Tim Susnara will likely be assigned to the ACL Cubs on injury rehab assignments this week.  

Everytime I see ACL, I think 'Anterior Cruciate Ligament'. Glad to be wrong. 

For those of you who might not have seen it, the Cristian Hernandez first inning two-run HR was a high fly ball that just kept carrying and carrying before it landed in the RF bullpen. 

It wasn't the hardest-hit ball or the longest HR I've seen him hit this spring, but it sure had some carry to it! 

The best Cubs defensive plays on what was an otherwise lackuster ACL Opening Night were a fine running catch on the warning track in right-centerfield by CF Ismael Mena (who is a gold glove defender, but unfortunately not so good as a hitter) in the top of the 2nd, a leaping catch of a hard-hit line-drive on the very next pitch by 2B Pedro Ramirez who then fired the ball to Cristian Hernandez at 2nd base for a bang-bang inning-ending 4-6 DP, and another inning-ending DP (this one 4-6-3) in the top of the 7th with Ramirez making a fine stop & feed and Hernandez turning it like he's been doing it all his life (all 18 years of it!)  

RHP Yovanny Cruz (on South Bend 7-day IL - 2021 TJS rehab) threw two innings for ACL Cubs versus ACL Athletics at Sloan Park Saturday morning... "easy gas" 98-100 MPH FB (and he was sitting on 100, too, not just touching it), with a nasty wipe-out 84-87 MPH slider. Six strikeouts in two innings. The HR was on his very first pitch, a 100 MPH FB! 

Confusion for the official scorer in the top of the 1st inning in the ACL Cubs - ACL Athletics game at Sloan Park Saturday morning.

Acting manager Eric Patterson pulled SP Joel Sierra after two outs when he sailed past his pitch limit, and a RP was summoned from the bullpen to finish the inning. 

Patterson thought he was calling in Anthony MARTINEZ and so he announced the pitching change to the home plate umpire and the A's manager, but it turned out that it was Anthony MENDEZ who had been warming up and who came into the game. How and why the mix-up happened is unknown, but it was a classic screw-up. 

As a result, Anthony MARTINEZ had to get up off the bullpen bench "cold" (it was 110 degrees) and come into the game. The A's manager consented to allow Martinez to have as much time as he needed to warm-up (just as if he was an injury replacement), as long as the A's SP would get as much time as he needed to get loose in the bottom of the 1st inning. (The top of the 1st inning lasted about 35 minutes!) 

So although he walked to the mound and threw warm-up pitches, Mendez technically was never in the game. ACL Cubs pitching coach Doug Willey subsequently sent Mendez back to the bullpen where he threw an additional 15 pitches, and then he was sent to the clubhouse. 

You might notice in the box score that Mendez is listed as being in the game, but technically he never was. It was Anthony Martinez -- not Anthony Mendez -- who officially relieved Sierra, so Mendez should not be listed in the box score. In fact he actually could have pitched later in the game, except the Cubs didn't want him to warm-up twice. 

The moral of the story is that Anthony Martinez (#74) and Anthony Mendez (#75) should not be scheduled to pitch in the same game. 

Electric outing for ACL Cubs top pitching prospect RHP (ex-SS) Michael Arias at Sloan Park Tuesday night, with a high velo 95-98 FB / 87-90 wipeout SL combo that produced broken bats and swings & misses.

He also is trying to mix-in a mid-80's CH and a 70's CV, but they are strictly pipe dreams right now and are probably best left in the pitch lab.  

Arias missed about three weeks during EXST after suffering a lower body injury while coming off the mound to cover home plate after a bases-loaded WP so he has been brought along slowly in ACL games. He also had a blister issue during EXST, but he looks to be 100% healthy right now.  

Another power arm that is looking good in ACL games is RHRP Gregori Montano, who had all kinds of difficulty throwing his 94-97 MPH FB for strikes in EXST games, but is now pumping regular gas into the strike zone. His secondary pitch is a 79-82 MPH slurvy breaking ball, but at least he is finally starting to command that pitch, too. 

The best long-term SP prospect at ACL Cubs is probably RHP Kenyi Perez, who features a three pitch mix (93-96 FB, 83-85 CH, and a 83-86 SL), and the stamina to maIntain his FB velo and the high spin rate on his SL into multiple innings of work. Command and throwing too many pitches-per-inning remain problems for K. Perez, however.  

ACL Cubs RHSP Kenyi Perez had an extra day of rest since his last start, so it probably shouldn't be too surprising that his velo was up a bit Friday night at Sloan Park versus Giants Black. FB: 94-97 (up from the usual 93-96); SL 84-87 (up from 83-85), and a 86-89 CH which is different from the one he has been throwing that had velo like the SL. Command is still an issue (63 pitches - 33 strikes in 3.0 IP, including a 30-pitch 2nd inning and a 24-pitch 3rd). 

Also, RHP Alberto Sojo yanked a hammy on his 7th pitch in the top of the 8th, so you might not be seeing his name in the ACL Cubs box scores for a while. 

Turning two triple plays (one of which ended the game) and a walk-off grand slam HR in extra innings highlighted the last four ACL Cubs games (albeit the walk-off grand slam was on a 51 MPH FB thrown by a position player because the A's ran out of pitchers, but still it was exciting).   

While ACL Cubs LHSP Marino Santy continues to struggle to throw strikes and still throws too many pitches per inning, he is very hard to hit. He has tamed his FB from the explosive one in EXST that was 91-94 T 95-96 but that he could not command to a more consistent & reliable 90-93 version, and he is going more & more to his 74-77 MPH CV and 79-80 MPH CH as he works to become a SP who can throw more than three innings per start.

Santy worked three innings on Saturday 6/25 at Sloan Park, throwing 59 pitches (including a a 25-pitch 1st inning that almost cut short his outing) and 53% strikes. While this was only marginally better than his previous work, it was an upgrade never-the-less. 

Thank you for these updates!

Professional debut for 20-year old lanky 6'3 RHP Erian Rodriguez (Cubs 2021 13th round pick - Georgia Premier Academy - Statesboro, GA) for ACL Cubs versus ACL Rockies at Sloan Park Tuesday night. He threw one inning in relief.  

27 pitches (17 strikes) 

FB: 94-96 
CH: 85-86 
CV: 78-80

FB got hammered (HR onto left-centerfield berm, line-drive rope double off LF fence, and line-drive single to CF).  He struck out the side on the CV (one swinging and one looking ) and CH (one looking). 

ACL Cubs top pitching prospect RHP (ex-SS) Michael Arias got the start for the ACL Cubs and worked only two innings. He did not allow a hit or a run but he walked five and struck out one. He threw 48 pitches (only 20 strikes) In his two innings of work, including a 28-pitch 2nd inning. FB: 95-98, SL: 84-87, CV: 77. 

RHP Elian Almanzar had an easy 1-2-3 inning (13 pitches - 9 strikes) in relief. FB 95-97, SL 82-84, CH 83-84. He struck out two (both on the slider). Pop fly out was on the CH.  

RHP Dominic Hambley recorded two outs before being relieved in the top of the 7th (23 pitches - 14 strikes). FB  89-92 T-93, SL: 81-83, CV 76-79. Got three swings & misses with the SL but he also threw two wild pitches with it, could not throw CV for strikes, and FB kept getting fouled off. Max effort guy with thick lower half who grunts when he throws (I'm not sure if the grunt is the same for the FB, SL, and CV, or if he is tipping his pitches by grunting slightly differently depending on the type of pitch).

Two more HR by Moises Ballesteros and one by Cristian Hernandez for ACL Cubs versus ACL Padres at Sloan Park Friday night. Also, Miguel Amaya saw his first game action since TJS last summer, serving as ACL Cubs DH. 

Amaya was hitless in three AB (pop up behind 2nd base on 1st AB, pop fly out behind first base along foul line in short RF in his second AB, and then a called third strike when he was frozen by a 83 MPH SL on an 0-2 pitch his 3rd AB).  

Both Ballesteros HR were oppo blasts, one was a line-drive off a LHP that landed on LF berm and the other was a towering fly that landed under the Budweiser Party Deck beyond the LF berm.

Hernandez HR was a high-velocity line drive with a lot of hook that went over the LF bullpen and landed on the berm. It was his first HR since hitting one on ACL Opening Day on June 6th.

Rehab RHP Sam Thoresen (on Myrtle Beach 60-day IL) started for ACL Cubs and worked one inning plus three batters in the 2nd. 41 pitches (only 19 strikes). FB: 96-99, SL/CT 88-91, and slurvy CV 82-84. Six swings & miss on high-octane FB in 1st inning, but FB velo was down to 94-95 in 2nd inning when he was obviously running out of gas and walked the last two men he faced. Throws with a short arm action like Lucas Giolito.   

Rehab LHP Steven Brault (on Iowa 60-day IL) threw one inning - 13 pitches (9 strikes). FB 92-93, CH 85-87, and CV 78-81. Only two swings & misses were on CH. This was his first game action of 2022. 

Oliver Roque threw two innings. He is a two-pitch pitcher: 87-90 FB and 79-81 CV. 1st inning was a nine-pitch inning (and ALL NINE PITCHES WERE STRIKES!), including six swings & misses on CV (which is a plus pitch). However 2nd inning was a different story (25 pitches - 16 strikes) as his CV velo dipped down to 76-78 and lost its bite and his mediocre FB got hammered. He also allowed two runners on 1st base to steal 2nd uncontested because he didn't pay any attention to them. While he has a plus-CV and throws strikes, Roque's FB has the second-lowest velo among ACL Cubs pitchers (Cristian Rojas FB is 88-89). 

RHP Dominic Hambley is a max effort pitcher with a 90-93 FB, 81-84 SL, and 76-78 CV. He got swings & misses with SL, but couldn't command CV, and FB got creamed. As I have mentioned before, he grunts loudly went he pitches.  

RHP Elian Almanzar threw less than 50% strikes in relief of Hambley. He threw almost entirely his 95-98 FB but he couldn't command it. He threw just one SL (a 82 MPH non-competitive pitch that bounced in front of home plate). 

22-year old INF Esmarly Tatis gets called up to ACL Cubs from DSL Cubs after spending the maximum-allowed four seasons in the DSL, replacing INF Joanfran Rojas who injured his left shoulder / collarbone in a collision with a baserunner a few days ago.

No relation to Fernando Tatis Jr, Esmarly Tatis started today's game at 2B. He's a little guy, a switch-hitting utility infielder with no power and slightly above-average speed. 

Outstanding outing by RHSP Kenyi Perez for ACL Cubs at ACL Athletics at HoHoKam Park Saturday morning. Four innings, no runs, two hits (both singles, including one infield single), only one walk, and four strikeouts. Only two hard-hit balls. He threw 54 pitches - 35 strikes (65% strikes). FB 94-95 first two innings before velo dropped down to 92-93 last two innings. Threw filthy 85-88 SL first couple of innings and then switched to a 74-77 CV and a 89-90 CT combo later in the game. This pitch mix is ideal for a SP. Got lots of swings & misses with the plus-SL 

Rehab LHP Andricson Salvador (on Myrtle Beach 60-day IL) with his first game action of the year, a 1-2-3 inning (15 pitches - 11 strikes) with two strikeouts (one looking and one swinging, both with the CV). The little lefty worked fast and effectively mixed a 89-91 FB with a 82-84 CH and a 72-77 CV. Got swings & misses with both the FB and the CV. Salvador is another long-term SP candidate once he gets stretched-out.    

Second outing for rehab RHP Erian Rodriguez (on Myrtle Beach 60-day IL). Threw 24 pitches (14 strikes) in one inning of work. FB was 94-96 (same as last week), 85-88 CT/CH?, and 77-79 CV but he couldn;t get the CV to break. Got swings & misses with both the FB and the CT/CH. He is still somewhat raw. Rodriguez is from Panamas but attended high school in U. S. at Georgia Premier Academy in Georgia, which has a baseball pipeline to Panama. 

Miguel Amaya (on AA Tennessee 7-day IL - 2021 TJS) served as DH again for ACL Cubs in Saturday's game at A's. In his first AB he grounded a single imto RF on hit & run, hitting it right where the second-baseman had just left to cover 2nd. Second time up was an eight-pitch AB with several foul balls before walking on a 3-2 pitch. In his third AB, Amaya pulled a near-HR high fly down the LF line that hooked and went foul just before reaching the foul pole, and then was called out on strikes on the very next pitch. 

Because Amaya is a TJS rehabber, he will be eligible to rehab at ACL Cubs for 40 days instead of just 20. 

Another player has been moved-up from the DSL to the ACL, as C-1B Fredy Montenegro replaces injured C-1B Miguel Fabrizio. 

The ACL has no 7-day IL or other temporary inactive lists like the full season teams do, because there is no roster limit for ACL teams. However, at some point it will become necessary to place some of the injured guys on the 60-day IL to make room for draft picks after they sign. 

One other thing to keep in mind is that unlike promotions from Myrtle Beach to South Bend, South Bend to Tennessee, and Tennessee to Iowa, players who are moved-up to the ACL from the DSL DURING THE SEASON (known back in the day as a "battlefield promotion') are usually not considered top prospects or even "seconf tier" prospects. That's because once a player is moved up from the DSL to the ACL (or FCL), he can't go back to the DSL.

So don't get too excited about Esmarly Tatis and Fredy Montenegro getting promoted from the DSL to the ACL during to the season. 

Best outing so far by RHSP Starlyn Pichardo Monday morning for ACL Cubs versus ACL White Sox... 3.0 IP, 2 hits, only one walk, and six strikeouts (four swinging).

Pichardo features an 87-90 MPH FB, an 83-84 MPH CH, and a 71-74 SLOW CV, and it's the CV that got all the swings & misses (ten!) on Monday.

ACL hitters can usually handle high velo FB, especially if the pitcher's secondaries aren't working, but most of the hitters are completely mystified by a really good breaking ball or off speed pitch. 

Pichardo previously had trouble commanding his CV and so he did not fare well in EXST or ACL games, but the CV was really working for him against the Sox on Monday, and so he could use the FB to set-up his CV instead of pitching to contact.   

Starlyn Pichardo and Oliver Roque are similar-type pitchers. Both have an 87-90 MPH FB that they use to set up a swing & miss breaking ball, but Roque is a two-pitch pitcher (he doesn't throw a CH), his breaking ball is more "slurvy" (78-81 MPH), and he throws his breaking ball for strikes, while Pichardo has more of a SP-type three-pitch mix (FB, CH, CV), and his CV is REALLY slow, but he sometimes struggles to command it. Also, Roque is a lanky "beanpole," while Pichardo is a bit more muscular, and so he looks like he could add more FB velo eventually.  

BTW, Starlyn Pichardo is the 4th youngest pitcher on the ACL Cubs. Only Tomy Sanchez and 2021 HS draft picks Dominic Hambley and Wilson Cunningham are younger.