Cubs Minor League Spring Training Game Recap

I-Cubs and Smokies Pound RockHounds and Sounds at Fitch Park

Ian Rice hammered an RBI double and a single and scored a run, Jesse Hodges belted an RBI triple and a single and scored a run, Tyler Pearson slugged a solo home run, and five pitchers combined to toss a shutout, as the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) blanked the Midland RockHounds (AA affiliate of the Oakland Athletics) 5-0 on Field #3, and David Bote ripped an RBI triple and two singles, stole a base, and scored two runs, Charcer Burks drilled a triple and an RBI single, walked, stole a base, and scored a run, Jason Vosler singled, doubled, stole a base, and scored two runs, and Brandon Cummins (recently acquired from the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League) singled twice, stole two bases, scored a run, and drove-in another, leading the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) to a 9-5 victory over the Nashville Sounds (A's AAA affiliate) on Field #4, in Cactus League Minor League game action Wednesday afternoon at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The game on Field #4 was called after eight innings of play.

The A's started two of their top pitching prospects in the games, with RHSP Jharel Cotton getting the start for Nashville and RHSP Daniel Gossett the SP for Midland. Both pitchers were sent down to Minor League Camp by the A's specifically to pitch in the two games against the Cubs AA/AAA affiliates, and they are the type of high-end MLB-ready (or near-ready) arms the Cubs might target in a potential trade involving Cubs excess position-player prospects somewhere down the line. Cotton was acquired from the Dodgers as part of the Rich Hill trade last July and led the PCL in strikeouts, WHIP, and OppBA in 2016, and Gossett was the A's 2nd round draft pick out of Clemson in 2014.

As is typical for minor league Spring Training games, a few Cubs position-players were moved up to higher levels for the two games. 

Also, while Zach Hedges is assigned to the Tennessee squad at Minor League Camp, he was the starting pitcher for Iowa, and Adbert Alzolay is assigned to the Myrtle Beach squad at Minor League Camp, but he was the starting pitcher for Tennessee. (Alzolay's fastball was sitting at 95, BTW). All of the other Cubs pitchers who worked in the games pitched for their assigned squads (levels), including Jake Stinnett, who "piggy-backed" with Alzolay in the AA game but actually threw more innings and six less pitches than Alzolay.

Cubs pitchers being stretched out as starters (Alzolay, Stinnett, and Hedges) were limited to three innings or 45-50 pitches (whichever came first).  

RHP Tyler Skulina (Cubs 2013 4th round draft pick - Kent State) is being moved to the bullpen in 2017. (He was a SP at AA Tennessee last season). He threw a scoreless inning in the AAA game on Field #4 (but only 50% strikes).

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Wilson, Cease, and Hudson Star at Minor League Camp

CF D. J. Wilson (Cubs 2015 4th round draft pick - Canton South HS - Canton, OH) tripled and singled and scored two runs, 6'8 LHP Bryan Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round draft pick - Alton HS - Alton, IL) tossed 4.1 IP of one hit shutout ball with a 10/1 GO/AO, and Cubs top pitching prospect fireballin' RHSP Dylan Cease (Cubs 2014 6th round draft pick - Milton HS - Milton, GA) hurled four innings of one-run/one hit ball, in Minor League Camp intrasquad game action Wednesday morning on Field #6 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was called after 11-1/2 innings of play with the score tied 2-2. 

Shane Victorino (calf strain) continued his rehab, playing LF for six innings and going 0-3 at the plate (4-3, 4-3, 5-3). 

Ex-KC closer RHP Aaron Crow (signed by the Cubs to a minor league contract prior to the start of Spring Training) made his first game appearance since undergoing TJS last April, throwing 1.2 IP (19 pitches - 12 strikes) and allowing one hit and an unearned run with a 4/0 GO/AO.  

Ex-HOU RHRP Jake Buchanan made his first game appearance in a Cub uniform since being signed to a minor league contract last week, throwing 1.2 IP (21 pitches) while surrendering a run (earmed) on two hits (a triple and an RBI single) and a 3/0 GO/AO.

In Minor League Camp roster news, 3B-1B  Blake Headley (Cubs 2015 20th round draft pick - U. of Nebraska) has retired. Also, INF-OF David Bote was assigned to Myrtle Beach (where either he or Erick Castillo will likely initially be inactive, but available to be reinstated when needed), and LHP Jeffry Antigua has been assigned to Extended Spring Training (he was previously with the Iowa squad at Minor League Camp) and will be available to respond whenever needed on a moment's notice to any of the Cubs four full-season afiliates.  

Here is the box score from the game: 

Victorino Continues to Rake & Run at Riverview

Shane Victorino (calf strain) drilled a line-drive double into the left-field corner and scored and blooped a single to center and stole a base, Kelly Dugan slugged a solo home run, and RHSP Kyle Miller hurled 3.1 IP of one-hit shutout ball, in a Minor League Camp intrasquad game played this morning on Field #6 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was called after 7-1/2 innings of play. 

Victorino played RF for four innings and batted three times (2B, 1-3, 1B). He is running OK, and in addition to stealing a base (he also stole a base yesterday), he even tried to lay down a bunt single (he was retired 1-3 on a nice play by pitcher Manny Rondon). 

No sign of Javy Baez on the field today. Baez was beaned on the helmet by a Tyler Skulina fastball yesterday (although he did not appear to be seriously injured and left the field under his own power, he did go directly to the clubhouse, presumably to be tested for a concuussion).  
 
Here is the box score from today's game:

Baez and Victorino in Action at Riverview

Shane Victorino (calf strain) singled twice and doubled and Javy Baez (thumb contusion) belted an RBI double and scored a run in Minor League Camp intrasquad game action this morning at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

Cubs Tie Bees While 66ers Blank Pelicans at Diablo

Matt Rose belted an RBI double, singled, and stole a base, Eloy Jimenez singled twice and scored a run, and Justin Steele and Kyle Twomey combined to toss a five-hitter for the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs), while Michael Pierson ripped an RBI single and walked and SP Joe Gatto fanned seven in 4.1 IP for the Burlington Bees (Lo-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels), as the Bees and Cubs played to a 1-1 tie on Field #4, and Trever Allen drove-in two runs with a SF and an RBI double and Jake Jewell and four relievers combined to hurl a four-hit shutout, as the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) blanked the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) 3-0 on Field #7, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action this morning at the Diablo Stadium Complex in Tempe, AZ.  

It was a "bullpen day" for Myrtle Beach, as six Pelican relievers threw in the game on Field #7.  

Four position players (INF David Bote, C-1B Alberto Mineo, OF Kevonte Mitchell, and INF Sutton Whiting) were moved-up from the Eugene/Mesa group (Extended Spring Training) for the day, providing additional roster depth for the Pelicans and SB-Cubs. 

In Minor League Camp roster news, INF Danny Lockhart has been moved-down to Myrtle Beach from AA Tennessee. (Lockhart spent the 2015 season at Myrtle Beach). 

(both updated daily) 

Still waiting for final minor league roster cuts, moves, and adjustments, although several pitchers and position players presently on the Iowa, Tennessee, Myrtle Beach, and South Bend active lists will likely be temporarily assigned to Eugene (AKA "Extended Spring Training") for a few days until further disposition can be determined. Last year, about a dozen pitchers and position players were left behind at EXST simply because there was no room for them on a full-season club's Opening Day roster, but the Cubs did not want to release them, either.     

Also, the Cubs will likely assign one position player (typically either a back-up catcher or multi-postional utility-type player) to each of the four full-season affiliates as a "player-coach," with the player inactive (usually by being placed on the club's 7-day DL with some vague soft-tissue injury) but staying in playing shape so that he can be activated in case another player goes on the DL. Last year, IF-OF Jonathan Mota (Iowa), C Tyler Pearson (Tennessee), C-1B Alberto Mineo (Myrtle Beach), and C Erick Castillo (South Bend) were the player-coaches for the four full-season teams, and RHP Jose Zapata (who was unable to pitch due to a broken neck suffered in a car crash post-2013) served as a player-coach (assistant pitching coach) with the short-season AZL Cubs.  

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games played today at Diablo (Cubs players only): 

Eloy, Happ, Freitas, and Carhart Go Yard at Minor League Camp

Eloy Jimenez belted a two-run 1st inning home run, P. J. Higgins collected four hits (three singles and a triple), scored a run, and drove-in another, and SP Preston Morrison tossed five innings of shutout ball, leading the South Bend Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Field #4, and David Freitas clubbed a two-run 1st inning HR (his second round-tripper in two days) and Billy McKinney drilled a tie-breaking RBI single in the 6th, as the Tennessee Smokies edged the Iowa Cubs 3-2 on Field #6, in Minor League Camp game action Friday morning at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.  

Ian Happ smacked a solo HR for Myrtle Beach in a losing cause on Field #4, and Ben Carhart hammered a solo home run in a losing cause for Iowa on Field #6. (Carhart was temporarily moved-up to the Iowa squad from Tennessee because the three catchers assigned to Iowa are in Las Vegas with the parent club). 

The game on Field #6 was called after seven innings of play. 

There were a number of roster moves made at Minor League Camp prior to the two games, with the Opening Day rosters of the four full-season clubs (particularly regarding position players and starting pitchers) becoming a bit more clear. There are still a few more moves/cuts to be made, however, especially involving the AAA Iowa and Hi-A Myrtle Beach bullpens and the Iowa outfield, and it's always possible that some of the assignments could be changed at the last minute due to injuries or other factors.     

(both updated daily) 

Also, 18 players who are assigned to the Cubs Dominican Acdemy but who were not invited to Minor League Camp will be attending Extended Spring Training and will be arriving over the next several days. The first three (LHP Pablo Ochoa, LHP Eugenio Palma, and RHP Andri Rondon) arrived today. Ochoa and A. Rondon attended Instructs in Mesa last Fall, but Palma is making his U. S. debut. 

Here are the box scores from the two games: 

Lackey Sharp at Riverview

Eloy Jimenez knocked-in two runs with a 1st inning RBI double and a 9th inning RBI single, Andruw Monasterio ripped a single and an RBI double, scored a run, and stole a base, and Donnie Dewees tripled, walked, and scored, helping the South Bend Cubs edge the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5-4 on Field #4, and David Freitas singled twice, walked, and smacked a two-run HR, Matt Murton drilled a two-run double, singled twice, reached base on an HBP, stole a base, and scored a run, Juan Carlos Perez tripled twice, drove-in a run, and scored another, and Jeimer Candelario walked four times, leading the Iowa Cubs to an 8-2 victory over the Tennessee Smokies on Field #6, in Minor League Camp doubleheader action Thursday morning at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.  

RHSP John Lackey was left behind in Mesa when the Cubs departed for Las Vegas, and so he got the start for Iowa on Field #6. The big right-hander worked seven innings (100 pitches - 62 strikes), allowing two runs (both earned) on five hits (four singles and a double) and a walk, with eight strikeouts (five swinging), and a 7/5 GO/AO. At one point he retired eleven in a row.

Miguel Montero served as Lackey's catcher, and went 0-3 at the plate (a FO, an inning-ending GIDP, and a K-swinging on what was a nine-pitch AB) and 0-3 CS (with one throwing error), but he did pick a runner off 2nd base.  

Billy McKinney hammered a double and a triple in a losing cause for Tennessee.

RHSP Jen-Ho Tseng had a rough outing for the Smokies on Field #6, allowing ten hits (including two triples and a double) and four walks in 4.1 IP. 

The game on Field #4 was extended an extra half-inning so that all of the pitchers who were scheduled to throw could get their work. 

Because the MLB Cubs took a number of minor leaguers with them to Vegas, several players were temporariliy moved-up from a lower level group to augment the rosters of the four squads playing at Riverview.

Here are the box scores from the two games: 

Pages