2022 ACL Cubs Opening Day Roster

2022 ACL Cubs Opening Day Roster


* bats or throws left 
# bats both 

PITCHERS: 
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 

CATCHERS: 7 
* Moises Ballesteros 
Edgar Gamargo 
* Dilan Granadillo (formerly a switch-hitter) 
Miguel Pabon (ex-INF) 
* Ronnier Quintero  
* Wally Soto 
* Bryan Serra (ex-INF) 

INFIELDERS: 9  
# 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) 

OUTFIELDERS: 7  
Brayan Altuve 
Flemin Bautista (ex-INF) 
Raino Coran 
* Ismael Mena 
* Cristian More 
Carlos Morfa 
* Anderson Suriel 

MANAGER 
Edgar Perez

COACHES: 
Yovanny Cuevas 
Rachel Folden  
Armando Gabino 
Eric Patterson 
Doug Willey 

ATHLETIC TRAINER: 
Maggie Lowenthar 

STRENGTH & CONDITIOING COACH: 
John Abbott 
Ryan Clausen 

Comments

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.  

Rough outing for ACL Cubs top pitching prospect RHSP (ex-SS) Michael Arias Tuesday night vs ACL Guardians at Sloan Park. He recorded only two outs (one was a CS, the other was a strikeout) and walked four before being relieved. He threw 28 pitches, but only nine strikes. The Guardian hitters made no contact with any of his pitches. He apparently has (at least temporarily) junked the upper 80's SL that he could not throw for strikes, and replaced it with a 77-79 MPH CV that he can't throw for strikes. High velo FB was still 95-98, but he even had trouble commanding THAT pitch, which has been the one pitch he can generally throw for strikes. I wouldn't be surprised if Arias joins LHSP Marino Santy in the Pitch Lab. 

RHRP Elian Almanzar was up to 96-99 with his FB. He mainly threw the heater, but he also dropped in an occasional non-competetive 81 MPH SL and 83-85 CH. With Gregoi Montano and Yovanny Cabrera having been moved up to Myrtle Beach, Almanzar might be the new ACL Cubs closer. 

RHP Oliver Roique was hit fairly hard, as he did not appear to have a feel for his 77-80 MPH plus-CV. As a result, Guardian hitters were making hard contact with his 87-90 MPH FB that he can command but that he normally uses only as a set-up pitch for his CV. But at least Roque throws strikes!

Rough outing for RHSP Kenyi Perez versus ACL Brewers Blue at Sloan Park in Mesa Friday night. He recorded two outs on GO and then walked the bases loaded before being relieved with two outs in the top of the 1st inning. He threw 27 pitches - only 11 strikes. FB 94-96, CH 90-91, SL 81-83. Only one swing & miss (CH). 

RHP Sam Thoresen (on Myrtle Beach 60-day IL) made his second ACL rehab appearance and it did not go well. He labored through one inning (31 pitches - 16 strikes), allowing two runs on three hits and a walk. FB 96-99, SL/CT 88-91, CV 81-83. Four swings & misses, including three on FB and one on SL/CT. Gave up three hard contact hits, all three on 98 and 99 MPH FB. Employs a short-arm action like Lucas Giolito. 

Miguel Amaya (on AA Tennessee 7-day IL - 2021 TJS) hit his first HR of 2022, a "loud" solo shot belted onto the berm over the left-centerfield fence. 

Brayan Altuve also clubbed a solo HR over the left-field fence. Altuve consistently has among the highest exit velocities as well as the highest K-rates on ACL Cubs (he had - THE - highest K-rate at EXST). ​​​​​​

Other pitchers: 

RHP Tomy Sanchez: FB 88-91, CH 84-86, CV 73-76; Relieved K. Perez in 1st inning and after walking first hitter he faced on four pitches to force-in a run, he mixed his pitches well and threw strikes.  

RHP Dominic Hambley: FB 89-93, CH 84-85, SL 80-82, CV 75-77, threw two WP on SL; hard contact versus FB, 42 pitches in two innings including a 29-pitch second inning, He has a max effort delivery and his FB velo went down 2-3 MPH in second inning of work when he appeared to be gassed. Also E-1 on pick-off attempt.         

RHP Cristian Rojas: FB 86-88, CV 72-75 four swings & misses on CV, hard contact versus FB. Rojas has the lowest velocity FB and best slow CV on ACL Cubs.  

RHP Elian Almanzar: 20 pitches (13 strikes). FB 94-97, SL 81-82. Did not throw his CH. 16 of his 20 pitches were FB  and he got five swings & misses with it. Threw six consecutive unhittable FB to start the inning before allowing a HR on a hanging 82 MPH SL that was drilled into the RF bullpen by a LH hitter. 

Had a chance to see Cubs ACL vs. Guardians last night. Impressed by Andrickson Salazar who only pitched 1.1 but was throwing hard. I couldn't get the guy doing the gun to tell me but I'd estimate 92-93. Real nice kid too. Koen Moreno went 3 innings, not overpowering by any means but nice mix of stuff. Pedro Ramirez hit a long home run. Miguel Amaya another hit less game but he had 3 long at bats (6-9 pitches) fouling off everything. 

RHP Ben Hecht (on AA Tennessee 60-day IL - April 2021 TJS) made his first game appearance in well over a year, coming into the ACL Cubs versus ACL Athletics game at Sloan Park Saturday morning with one out in the top of the 4th. His first six pitches were balls (all were low), but then he found the strike zone and struck out two of the last three hitters he faced. He threw 17 pitches - only 8 strikes, but again his first six pitches were balls so he threw eight of his last eleven pitches for strikes. FB: 92-95, SL 83-85, and he got four swings & misses, three with his FB and one with his SL.

Oliver Roque threw two innings and did not display his normal excellent control, throwing 24 pitches but only eleven strikes. He threw 21 FB and only three CV, which is also unusual because he has a plus-CV. His FB velo (which is never eye-popping) was actually down a tick today: FB 86-89, CV 77-79, and he got two swings & misses on the FB and one on the CV. As I've mentioned here before, Roque is one of several ACL Cubs pitchers with a plus-CV and a pedestrian FB, but Roque throws his CV about five MPH faster than do the others.      

The game was delayed for about ten minutes in the bottom of the 1st after the A's SP slipped on the over-watered muddy pitcher's mound while warming up. The ground crew had to be called to the stadium from elsewhere on the campus, and then had to spread the drying agent used when it rains on the muddy mound. Head groundskeeper Wilson Inoa (who is a former minor league player in the Cubs system) is off on Saturdays, so whoever was running the show made a major water allocation miscalculation when watering the infield and pitcher's mound pre-game. Wilson will not be happy when he finds out!     

Hi Arizona Phil! I appreciate all these updates from the ACL. I wqs wondering if you caught Koen Moreno's outing Thursday. Looked like his best outing of the year and first time he didn't walk anyone and was hoping the eye test matches the stat line.

Raisin: I did not see Koen Moreno's outing last Thursday and I do not having any pitch data on him. The only Moreno I saw could not throw strikes with any of his pitches, but that was apparemtly not the case in his most recent outing. Hopefully he can build on that. 

Also, there was an error by the official scorer in last night's ACL game. Cristian Hernandez was replaced by Christian Olivo at SS in the top of the 4th inning and it was Olivo who made the costly E-6 bases loaded throwing error in the 5th. Olivo and Liam Spence then switched positions in the 6th, with Spence moving from 2B to SS and Olivo moving frrom SS to 2B. 

As for why C. Hernandez left the game, he popped an F-7 for the last out in the bottom of the third and jogged out of the box. I don't know if he tweeked something or if he was benched for not hustling, but he was replaced by Olivo at SS in the top of the 4th.  

Also, while Cristian Hernandez did have two hits in the nine-run ACL Cubs 1st inning, the two hits were a bloop single that dropped between three Brewers in short RF, and a swinging bunt that rolled slowly down the 3rd base line.  

RHSP Kenyi Perez threw only one inning in Tuesday night's game, laboring through the top of the first inning (27 pitches - only 14 strikes). His FB was 94-97 (up a couple of ticks from his last outing), with an 82-85 SL and an 85-86 CH. He then sat for 35 minutes while the Cubs scored nine runs in the bottom of the first inning, so the 27 pitch top of the first combined with the long sit in the the bottom of the first apparently caused his early departure. There was no evidence of an injury.

RHRP Ben Hecht (on AA Tennessee 60-day IL - April 2021 TJS) came into the game in the top of the fifth, threw 24 pitches, recorded two outs (both strikeouts), then gave up a single and two walks and left the game with the bases loaded. All three runs eventually scored (and all three runs were unearned) thanks to a throwing error by SS Christian Olivo and an RBI single off Tomy Sanchez. Hecht struck out the first two batters on twelve pitches (seven strikes, including three swinging, all three on hard-breaking 85-86 MPH sliders), and then he hit a wall and couldn't throw strikes with any of his pitches (next twelve pitches - only three strikes). FB 93-96 (higher FB velo earlier in the inning) and SL 83-86 (higher SL velo earlier in the inning). 

Oliver Roque got hit ptetty hard. He threw 29 pitches before being relieved after recording only two outs. As usual, his "show me" FB was 86-90 and his CV was 77-79, but when he can't command his plus-CV, his FB gets creamed. 

Cubs 2020 5th round pick RHP Koen Moreno got the start for the ACL Cubs versus division-leading ACL Reds at Sloan Park Thursday night. He allowed no runs & no hits, but he walked three and hit three batters and left the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the third inning. He also struck out three (two swinging). FB 89-92 and CV 70-75. Worked fast. Had a quick nine-pitch 1st inning, before laboring through the second inning (25 pitches) and two outs into the the third inning (23 pitches). For the game he threw 57 pitches (only 28 strikes), but the last seven pitches he threw were balls (not even close) as he clearly "hit the wall" at pitch" # 50. He got a total of six swing & miss (all on FB).  

RHP Ben Hecht (on AA Tennessee 60-day IL - April 2021 TJS) relieved Moreno and got the third out in the top of the third (swinging strike three) on a 3-2 SL, and then worked a scoreless fourth inning. He struck out three (all three swinging, all three on 3-2 pitches) and walked one in 1.1 IP, but it certainly was not easy  He had a lot of difficulty commanding his pitches (25 pitches - only 12 strikes), but he was able to get three swinging strikeouts when he needed them. He also committed a lazy throwing error on a pick-off attempt at 1st base, but the runner did not score. FB 91-94 and SL 79-82 (FB velo was down a couple of clicks and SL velo was significantly down from where it was last time)  

RHP Dominic Hambley (Cubs 2021 18th round draft pick) worked two innings, laboring through the first of the two innings (top of the 5th) when he walked two, surrendered two singles, and struck out two, but then he had a quick bounceback 1-2-3 second inning (top of the 6th). He threw 26 pitches (14 strikes) in his first inning and then only 12 pitches (7 strikes) in his second inning, so a total of 38 pitches (21 strikes). FB 91-94, SL 81-84, CV 76-79. He got only two swing & miss, as Reds hitters fouled off 10 of his 38 pitches. Although this is the highest sustained FB velo he has shown so far (FB is usually 89-93), he had difficuty putting Reds hitters away with his FB.  

RHP Oliver Roque got the save with a "rocking chair" 1-2-3 seven-pitch 9th (6-3, 6-3, F-9). Roque has only two pitches, a plus 77-79 MPH hard CV and a marginal 86-90 MPH FB. (Most ACL hitters cannot hit a good CV). Also, he works fast and (usually) throws strikes.

ACL Cubs leading hitter (313/433/546) Cristian More left the game after being hit on his left wrist by a pitch.  

For those of you who might have missed it when I posted it elsewhere at TCR, ACL Cubs OF Carlos Morfa has been released. Now 21, Morfa made his debut in the ACL as an 18 year old back in 2019, and while he has a plus-arm and plus-power, he was never able to overcome his big-time (and I mean HUGE) swing & miss problem (120 K in 325 PA). 

Thanks AZ Phil... based on the pitching you saw it sounds like this game was a slog

Phil, tonight Anderson Suriel debuted for ACL Cubs. 19 yr old lefty hitter. Stats at DSL last yr were solid. Any known reason for his delay to play this yr. Injury? Big changes to mechanics? Just curious. I love seeing young lefty bats in the system!! Thanks 

childersb3: Anderson Suriel was playing in EXST games up through May 24th. I posted the box scores for every game as well as the final Cactus League EXST game stats so you could see how Suriel and the others were doing. Suriel hit 444/545/556 in 11 Cactus League EXST games. and had two OF assists.  

Suriel was injured either in the Camp Day workout on 5/25 or in pre-game BP on 5/26 prior to the intrasquad game. He then missed six weeks. I did not see the injury occur, but he is wearing a wrap or brace on his right (non-throwing) wrist, so that - MAY - have been the area of the injury, but I can't confirm that. 

Suriel was moved from corner OF to 1B late in EXST and he played 1B last night. He is very agile and athletic, so I can see why the Cubs are playing him at 1B. It also might have to do with the Cubs having so many OF prospects and Suriel's defensive limitations in the outfield (corner OF only, and he has trouble tracking fly balls).  

Thanks Phil

Sounds/reads like he can swing it a little.

ACL Cubs Top 10 prospects right now: 

1. Cristian Hernandez, SS (org Top 5) 
2. Moises Ballesteros, C (org Top 15)
3. Pedro Ramirez, 2B-3B (org Top 30) 
4. Michael Arias, RHSP (ex-SS)  
5. Kenyi Perez, RHSP
6. Cristian More, OF  
7. Elian Almanzar, RHRP  
8, Raino Coran, RF 
9. Rafael Morel, 3B     
10. Ismael Mena, CF 

Watched Koen Moreno pitch again last night in the ACL and he was a completely different pitcher than a week earlier. Threw hard and until he lost the strike zone in the third inning, very effective. Coaches told me he was 94-96 although it felt more like 94. I spoke with him after he came out and he was real pleased with the significant uptick in velocity. Cubs pitching was electric last night with 15 strikeouts and only two hits allowed. Didier Vargas looked particularly good. Miguel Amaya told me that yes he was going to Tennessee but he did not know exactly when. He said he has been throwing but will not catch this year. Moises Ballesteros home run hit a long ways. The ball carries extremely well in Goodyear but that shot didn't need any help. He needs to lose some baby fat but he can sure hit.

Another difficult outing for ACL Cubs RHSP Kenyi Perez Saturday morning versus ACL Athletics at HoHoKam Park in Mesa: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 4 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 3 WP - 54 pitches (only 27 strikes). FB 94-96, SL 81-85, CH 90-91. First ten pitches were FB and he was still hitting 96 in his third inning of work. Got four swing & miss (two on FB, one on SL, and one on CH). Gave up his only hit -- a single to LF -- on a hanging 82 MPH SL on his 54th and final pitch. 

Rehab RHRP Ben Hecht (on Tennessee 60-day IL - April 2021 TJS) had a very good outing, working 1.2 IP and allowing one hit (a bunt single rolled perfectly up the 3rd base line), while striking out two (both swinging)  He threw 19 pitches (16 strikes, including all eight pitches for strikes in his second inning of work before being relieved with two out). FB 92-94, SL 83-85, CH 89. Got six swing & miss on his 19 pitches, including three on his FB and three on his SL. In his previous outing he hit the wall after twelve pitches, but yesterday he he was able to throw 19 pitches over the course of two separate innings (eleven pitches in his first inning, and eight in his the second inning). 

Rehab LHP Andricson Salvador (on Myrtle Beach 60-day IL) was really spinning it, working a hitless / shutout inning while striking out the side. He did issue one walk. He mixed his pitches effectively and kept the A's hitters off balance, throwing ten FB, ten CV, five SL, and one CH. FB 87-90, SL 81-83, CV 73-75, CH 85, getting six swing & miss on 26 pitches (14 strikes), including four swing & miss on his plus-CV, one on the SL, and one on the FB. 

RHRP Elian Almanzar entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the 7th and was tasked with retiring one batter. However, he walked the first man he faced on four pitches, before blowing away the next hitter (swinging) on a 97 MPH FB on a 1-2 pitch to end the inning. He also got a swing & miss on the one SL he threw. He threw nine pitches (only four strikes), including eight FB and one SL. FB 94-97 and SL 85. Almanzar is a big dude with a plus FB, but he has command issues. His SL is still a work in progress and he seems reluctant to throw it.     

Cubs 2021 13th round draft pick RHP Erian Rodriguez (on Myrtle Beach 60-day IL) worked one inning (13 pitches - 7 strikes), and issued a walk, then got a 5-4-3 DP and an F-9 to end the inning. He threw eleven FB, one CH, and one CV, with FB 93-96, CH 86,  and CV 80. Although he has decent velo on his FB, it gets squared up consistently with above-average exit velo. His best pitch is probably his CH, but he threw only one on Saturday. The 6'3 Rodriguez is from Panama but he attended HS at Georgia Premier Academy, which has recruited several players from the 16U Panamanian Junior National team over the past few years. 

DH Miguel Amaya (on Tennessee 7-day IL - July 2021 TJS) continues to make hard contact, smoking an oppo-field solo HR into the A's bullpen in RF. He also walked and came around to score, making an outstanding fade-away slide and slapping the plate with his left hand while avoiding the catcher's sweep-tag. Amaya is in really good shape, having lost a few pounds and converting some of his "baby fat" to adult muscle while in the Mesa rehab throwing program. He isn't ready to catch in games just yet because he can't make the pop throws to bases that would be necessary in a game, but he has been catching bullpen side sessions and tossng the ball back to the pitcher. So he is almost there, but not quite yet. 

Amaya's floor is an MLB back-up C-1B, but he could very well be an MLB front-line catcher. I would project a high K-rate and low AVG but high ISO SLG and a decent walk-rate from Amaya as he matures. His catch & throw development was unfortumately interrupted at an iinopportune time in his career last year, so hopefully he will have enough time to work on what he needs to improve before he runs out of minor league options. (He will be getting a 4th minor league option in 2023). He will likely play winter ball post-2022 to make up for some of the lost game-reps. Amaya is a natural leader and is very popular with his teammates, sort of a more even-keeled version of Willson Contreras.  

I got to watch RHP Gunnar Hoglund pitch for the ACL Athletics versus the ACL Cubs Saturday morning at Sloan Park.

Hoglund was the 1st round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays out of Ole Miss in 2021 despite having undergone TJS prior to the draft. He was then traded by Toronto to Oakland in the Matt Chapman deal.

So this was Hoglund's pro game debut, and his first game action since before the 2021 draft.   

FB 89-92 
SL: 81-83 
CH: 80-81 

Hoglund gave up a line-drive single to Ismael Mena on his very first pitch (a 90 MPH FB) and then retired six of seven (there was an error in between). He got mad after the error that would have ended the 1st inning after only six pitches, so then he struck out Moises Ballesteros on three max effort 92 MPH FB up in the zone (Ballesteros swung & missed all three pitches), so 92 MPH right now is his max FB velo. Then he struck out the side 1-2-3 in the second inning on 17 pitches (incliding five foul balls).

He threw two innings (26 pitches - 19 strikes - that's 75% strikes), allowed one hit (a single) and no walks, and struck out five (three swinging). He threw 17 FB, five CH, and four SL, and got six swing & miss (four on the FB, one on a SL, anf one on a CH). 

Not a bad pro game debut! 

While Gunnar Hoglund had a day to remember on Saturday, ACL Cubs SP Starlyn Pichardo had a day to forget. Pichardo threw 1.2 IP (49 pitches - only 25 strikes), and while he allowed no runs and no hits, he walked four (one in the top of the first inning, and then he walked the bases loaded in the top of the second before being relieved). He displayed an 87-89 MPH FB, an 82-85 MPH SL, and a slow 70-73 MPH CV. He did get six swing & miss (three on FB, three on SL), but his four CV were non-competitive pitches. 

Sam Thoresen (on Myrtle Beach 60-day IL) continued his ACL rehab and could not locate the strike zone. He threw 34 pitches (only 15 strikes) in 1.1 IP, walking three and allowing one hit (a single) and striking out one (swinging on a 96 MPH FB). While he certainly has a "live" arm (FB 93-96 and SL 87-90), Thoresen couldn't command anything. Some of his pitches bounced in front of the plate, and others went over catcher's head to the back screen. 

RHRP Jonathan Holder (on Iowa 60-day IL with a right shoulder issue) was finally back in action Monday night, throwing an inning for the ACL Cubs versus the ACL Guardians at Sloan Park. He allowed a ground single to the first batter he faced, and then retired three in a row (the last two on strikeouts - both swinging).  

FB: 92-94 
SL/CT: 89-90
CH: 85-86
CV: 90 

Holder threw 12 pitches (9 strikes), with - SIX - swing & miss on the 12 pitches (two on the FB, two on the CH, one on the SL/CT, and one on the CV). It was a dominating performance by Holder. 

RHP Jose Romero got the start for the ACL Cubs and worked three shutout innings, allowing a double into the LF corner to the first batter of the game before retiring nine in a row, including four by strikeout (two swinging and two looking). 

FB: 90-93
CH: 86 
SL: 79-82 

Romero threw 43 pitches (33 strikes - 76% strikes) in his three innings of work, getting 10 swing & miss (three on the FB and seven on the SL). His ability to mix his pitches and throw strikes works to his advantage. Not including rehabbers, Romero is probably the most-polished pitcher presently on the ACL Cubs, although he is also one of the older pitchers on the staff.

CF Ismael Mena left the game after sustaining an injury to his left quad or groin while running the bases. One of several prospects acquired by the Cubs from the Padres in the Yu Darvish trade, the 19-year old Mena is probably the most improved player on the ACL Cubs, with a promotion to Myrtle Beach likely in the near-future (although now it will probably be delayed for a while...). 

DSL Cubs top pitching prospect 20-year old 6'4 LHSP Kevin Valdez has been moved up to the ACL Cubs. 

Another really good outing by RHRP Jonathan Holder (on AAA Iowa 60-day IL) for ACL Cubs this morning versus ACL Athletics at HoHoKam Park: 2.0 IP, no hits, no runs, one walk, three strikeouts (all three swinging). 20 pitches (14 strikes), with a mid-90's FB, SL/CT, CH, and CV mix. The six balls included a four-pitch walk with two outs in the top of the 1st inning, otherwise he threw strike after strike after strike...  Forget AAA, he looks like he is ready to pitch in MLB right now. 

Cubs Top 15 prospect C Moises Ballesteros has been moved up to Myrtle Beach from ACL Cubs. 

An eye-popping performance by ACL Cubs RHSP Kevin Valdez versus ACL Athletics this morning at Sloan Park in Mesa. 

Facing a lineup of A's 2022 draft picks including 1st round pick Andrew Susac and 2nd round pick Henry Bolte that scored 12 runs on 15 hits versus the ACL Brewers Blue on Thursday, Valdez retired all eight men he faced, striking out seven of them (including five swinging). The only out that wasn'r a punch-out was an inning-ending broken bat pop up to shortstop Cristian Hernandez in short LF. 

Mxing a 90-93 MPH FB with a 74-76 MPH CV, Valdez threw ten pitches in the 1st, (eight strikes),14 in the 2nd (10 strikes), and nine in the 3rd (six strikes), for a total of 33 pitches - 24 strikes (72% strikes), before rreaching his pre-planned pitch limit. He threw 24 FB and nine CV, and got an unbelievable 14 swings & misses on his 33 pitches, nine on his his FB and five on his CV. He throws with a relaxed "no sweat" minimum-effort delivery that makes it seem like he's just playing catch 

The 20-year old 6'4 Valdez was signed by the Cubs last November and he somewhat unexpectedly emerged as the Cubs #1 pitching prospect in the DSL this year. He received the rare mid-season promotion from the DSL to the ACL that was not related to being an injury-replacement. He is just that good. 

Today's outing comes just four days after Valdez made his ACL debut versus the ACL Reds. In that game, Valdez was unable to complete even one inning, walking three, allowing a two-run triple, and needing 27 pitches (only 14 strikes) to record just two outs.