Daniel Bard

Late Rally Helps Emeralds Sparkle at Riverview

Kevonte Mitchell smashed a solo HR to lead-off the inning and Frandy de la Rosa belted a two-run triple and scored on a WP to highlight a four-run 8th, as the Eugene Emeralds rallied to defeat the Mesa Cubs 5-3 in Extended Spring Training intrasquad action this morning on Field #1 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Eloy Jimenez reached base four times (two singles and two walks) for Eugene, Yohan Matos slugged a solo HR and singled twice for the Mesa Cubs, and the two starting pitchers (LHP Justin Steele and RHP Oscar de la Cruz) combined to hurl six innings of shutout ball.

Mesa Cubs LF Jose Paniagua left the game after being hit on the helmet by a Daniel Bard fastball in the top of the 4th. (Bard was pulled out of the game after throwing only eight pitches).

Mike Olt (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - broken right wrist) took pre-game BP but did not play in the game.

In EXST Cubs roster news, OF Shawon Dunston (on Myrtle Beach 7-day since April 23rd with a right shoulder injury) has completed his rehab and has returned to the Pelicans, and C-1B Alberto Mineo has been moved-up to Myrtle Beach.

Mineo will be inactive at MB (technically he's on the Eugene Reserve List) and will serve as a bullpen catcher for the Pelicans, but he can be activated if necessary.

Here is the abridged box score from today's game, followed by the updated Cubs Extended Spring Training roster: 

Moreno & Cease Piggy-Back Their Way to Fitch Park

Trace Loehr singled twice, walked, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Jean Carlo Rodriguez drilled a bases-loaded three-run double, Vicmal de la Cruz belted a solo home run, walked, and drove-in another run with a GO, Andy Paz slugged a two-run HR, and RHSP Jon Massad tossed four innings of no run/no hit ball, leading the Athletics to an 11-5 victory over the Cubs in Memorial Day Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. 

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

Kevin Encarnacion hammered a solo home run and an RBI single, Kevonte Mitchell drilled an RBI single, a double, drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run, and Ricardo Marcano roped an RBI triple, walked, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause.

In 22 Cactus League EXST games, Kevonte Mitchell leads the EXST Cubs in stolen bases with 12 (one CS and one PO). Also, he is hitting 239/345/310, with three doubles and a triple, eleven walks, 15 K, and one HBP, ten runs scored, and seven RBI, in the 22 games (84 PA). The 19-year old 6'4 185 Mitchell (Cubs 2014 13th round draft pick - Kennett HS - Kennett, Mo) is a virtual lock to play CF and hit lead-off for the Eugene Emeralds, once the Northwest League (NWL) commences play next month. 

RHP Erling Moreno (2013 IFA - Colombia) got the start for the Cubs today and retired six of the seven men he faced (1B, 5-3, 4-3, K, F-8, K, 4-3). He allowed one run on one hit (a single leading off the bottom of the 1st inning that came around to score on a couple of ground outs and a WP) and no walks, with two strikeouts (both swinging). Moreno rolled easily through his two innings, throwing a good percentage of strikes (27 pitches - 18 strikes - 67% K), and mixing his 91-92 MPH fastball, plus-curve, and change-up to keep the A's hitters mostly off-balance.

The 18-year old 6'3 200 Moreno was signed by the Cubs ($650K bonus) out of the same 2013-14 International Signing Period class that produced OF Eloy Jimenez, SS Gleyber Torres, RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, 3B-1B Wladmir Galindo, C Yohan Matos, and RHP Jeferson Mejia (since traded to AZ in the Miguel Montero deal), but he underwent an elbow UCL transplant (Tommy John Surgery) midway through the 2014 season that has slowed his development, and so this was his first game action in almost a year.

Moreno will likely join RHP Dylan Cease, ex-Mexico City Red Devils RHP Jesus Camargo, RHP (ex-C) Mark Malave, and probably either Adbert Alzolay or Santiago Rodriguez in the AZL Cubs starting rotation (at least at the outset of the AZL season, until the 2015 draft picks begin to arrive).     

Speaking of Dylan Cease, he also saw action in today's game, "piggy-backing" with Moreno. Although he threw just 1.0 IP, Cease actually pitched in parts of two different innings (facing eight hitters total), hence the high pitch count (37 pitches) in just one inning (three outs). 

Cease was working his fastball at 95-97 MPH to the first four batters he faced, but then elevated the FB velocity up to 98-99 when facing the next four. He continues to struggle with command, however, walking two and going to three-ball counts on two other hitters, bouncing his breaking ball (which is a really a plus-pitch when he throws it over the plate instead of bouncing it in front of the plate), and throwing only 56% strikes.

After throwing an amazing six wild pitches in just one inning of work last Friday versus the Diamondbacks at Talking Stick, RHRP Daniel Bard had another nightmare inning (actually just one-third of an inning), allowing four runs on one hit (the Rodriguez bases-loaded double) after walking three and hitting a batter. And he threw three more WP today, too, for a total of nine in his last 1.1 IP.       

Here is the abridged box score from today's games (Cubs players only) :

Bard Totally Wild at Talking Stick

Jenner Emeterio singled, doubled, and tripled, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Varonex Cuevas singled and scored in the 3rd and belted a two-run home run in the 6th, and Carlos Jimenez singled, doubled, reached base on an HBP, and scored a run. as the Cubs edged the Diamondbacks 6-5 on Whirlwind Field, and Raymel Flores drilled a two-run single with two outs and the bases loaded to key a four-run 3rd, as the D'backs shutout the Cubs 6-0 on Jackrabbit Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split squad doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Both games were called after 7-1/2 innings of play. 

Veteran MLB RHRP Daniel Bard had a very odd/unusual day. Working one inning in the game on Whirlwind Field, Bard issued three walks, struck out two (both swinging), and uncorked six wild pitches. That's six wild pitches In one inning!

In EXST Cubs roster news, catcher Eric Gonzalez has been assigned to the DSL Cubs, and catcher Tyler Pearson has been moved-up to AA Tennessee.  

The 18-year old Gonzalez got into eight Cactus League EXST games (14 PA), going 0-13 with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw out one of three baserunners attempting to steal against him (33% CS). Gonzalez was signed by the Cubs last June, and he hit 254/297/322 in 19 DSL games last season.

The DSL Cubs begin play a week from tomorrow (Saturday May 30th), and it's possible that additional players who are presently at Extended Spring Training will get assigned to the DSL Cubs prior to DSL Opening Day.

The 23-year old Pearson was the Cubs 25th round pick in the 2014 MLB Fiirst-Year Player Draft out of Texas State (by way of Rice). He hit 235/322/431 in 21 games with AZL Cubs last season, and 250/333/458 in 14 Cactus League EXST games (30 PA) this season (with three doubles and a triple, three walks and an HBP, eight strikeouts, a SH, a SF, and two GIDP). He had a 14% CS, with one passed ball in Cactus League EXST games.

While he was assigned to Tennessee and will physically report to the Smokies, he will not be activated until he is needed. The Cubs have been doing that quite a bit this season, which is to say a a player will be placed on a minor league affiliate's 7-day DL or assigned to Eugene or AZL Cubs (but only on paper), without the player actually leaving the club or reporting to Extended Spring Teaining. Then other times, the player does report to EXST.

One player on a Cubs minor league affiliate's 7-day DL who is definitely at Extended Spring Training is OF Shawon Dunston Jr, who is rehabbing a right arm injury (I believe it's the right shoulder) sustained about a month go at Hi-A Myrtle Beach. Dunston is just now beginning a throwing program and to take BP at EXST, so he probably won't be ready to return to the Pelicans for a while.

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

LaStella Shows Desire to Play at Riverview Park

Jenner Emeterio doubled twice, scored two runs, and drove-in another, and Tyler Alamo belted a solo home run, leading the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Rockies on Field #5, and Luis Castro reached base three times (a single, a double, and an HBP), stole a base, and scored three runs, as the Rockies rallied for three runs in the 8th and two in the 9th to edge the Cubs 8-7 on Field #6, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

Terry McClure belted a solo HR in the Rockies loss on Field #5, and Roberto Caro smacked an RBI double, singled twice, stole a base, and scored two runs in a losing cause for the Cubs on Field #6.    

Tommy LaStella (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - rib cage inflammation) returned to the field for the first time in almost five weeks and saw action in the game on Field #6, playing 3rd base for four innings and then 2nd base for two innings. He batted four times (once in each of the first four innings) and had quite a day, driving-in three runs with two doubles, an RBI single, and a sacrifice fly, while also scoring two runs, helping the Cubs take a 7-1 lead through three innings.   

19-year old RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance after pitching in several "sim" games over the past month, throwing 16 pitches in the top of the 1st inning in the game on Field #5. He retired two (a 1-3 comebacker and a strikeout looking) and hit one batter before being relieved (he was under a strict pitch count).

Cease was the Cubs 6th round draft pick out of Milton HS - Milton, Ga in 2014, and the Cubs selected him despite knowing that he would need a UCL elbow ligament transplant ("Tommy John surgery"). Considered one of the top high school arms in the 2014 draft class and a likely 1st round pick prior to his elbow issues, he received a $1.5M signing bonus (equivalent to "first round money") and then had the TJS last July 22nd. He has made a rapid recovery, and barring a setback, he will likely be a rotation starter for the AZL Cubs when the Arizona League season begins play next month. 

RHRP Daniel Bard and LHRP Daniel Schlereth each threw an inning in the game on Field #6. Schlereth had an easy eleven-pitch inning (K, 6-3, 1B, 6-4 FC), but Bard allowed two runs on two hits, an HBP, and a WP, plus a two-base throwing error on an attempted pick-off in his inning (20 pitches - only 10 strikes). Bard is now throwing mostly side-arm, and his one-time upper 90's velocity now sits at 91-92, occasionally touching 93.  

Speaking of throwing sidearm, RHRP Corbin Hoffner has gone to an extreme sidearm delivery (it's almost "submarine"), and while he has struggled to command his pitches in games with his new delivery, he had a 1-2-3 9th in the game on Field #5, picking up the save with two strikeouts and an F-7.   

Prior to the Cactus League doubleheader, Erling Moreno (2014 TJS), Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery), and Anthony Carter (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL) pitched in a three-inning "sim" game on Field #3. Moreno and Masek threw two innings each, and Carter threw one.

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

Cubs See High-Speed Black and Rally to Tie at Riverview Park

Jhonny Pereda drilled a game-tying two-out two-run single in the bottom of the 7th and then he tied the game again with an RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, as the Cubs rallied to tie the Giants in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game played this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

The game was called after ten innings of play with the scored tied 4-4.

Kevin Encarnacion singled twice, walked, drove-in a run, and scored another for the Cubs, and Chuckie Jones drove-in two runs with an RBI single and a sacrifice fly and scored a run, Evan Potter reached base twice (HBP and a single), stole a base, and scored two runs, and LHSP Nik Turley hurled four innings of shutout ball for the Giants.

Veteran MLB RHP Felipe Paulino got his second EXST start for the Cubs, throwing two shutout innings (29 pitches - 20 strikes), allowing two singles and no walks, with four strikeouts and a 1/1 GO/FO.

Veteran MLB RHRP Daniel Bard saw his first Cactus League EXST game action (he pitched in an intrasquad game two days ago), and threw one inning (17 pitches - 10 strikes), allowing one run on two hits (both singles) and a HBP, with no walks or strikeouts, 

Veteran LHRP Daniel Schlereth threw in his second Cactus League EXST game for the Cubs, and he labored through his one inning of work (26 pitches - only 11 strikes), allowing a run on one hit (a single), three walks, and two WP (but also two strikeouts),   

The Cubs trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the 7th, and then proceeded to tie the game with a three-spot off Giants fireballing RHRP Ray Black (Eloy Jimenez lead-off double off the LF fence, Kevin Encarnacion RBI single to right, and two walks to load the bases, and then the two-out two-run Jhonny Pereda line-drive RBI single once Black had left the game).

Despite blowing the lead, Black was getting his fastball velocity up to triple digits today, topping out at 101 MPH. (He was clocked at 102 last Saturday in a Cactus League EXST game versus the Angels in Tempe). The Cubs knew about him, so a couple dozen of the players who weren't in the game crowded around behind the screen watching the radar gun readings, shouting out each time he hit 100 or 101. It's not often you seen triple-digit fastballs at Extended Spring Training. 

Black is an interesting case, because he had TJS in high school and then after being drafted by the Giants in 2011 (7th round out of the U. of Pittsburgh), he missed the next two seasons with a torn labrum. He finally returned to the mound last season, and he racked up an incredible 71 strikeouts in only 35.1 IP (that's 18.1 K per 9 innings) and only 4.3 hits allowed per 9 innings (combined) at Augusta and San Jose, which got him a spot on the Giants MLB 40-man roster post-2014 despite having only one year of pro game experience and no experience above "A" ball.  

While the Cubs were playing the Giants in the Cactus League EXST game on Field #6, the rest of the Cubs EXST contigent was engaged in a seven-inning intrasquad game on Field #4.

LHP Carson Sands (Cubs 2014 4th round pick - North Florida Christian HS - Tallahassee, FL) was one of the starting pitchers in the intrasquad game, and he was outstanding, hurling 3.1 IP of hitless shutout ball (one walk and four strikeouts).

Conversely, RHP Jose Zapata was unable to retire a batter, allowing five runs on a single, a double, a triple, and two walks. Zapata is attempting to come back after suffering a cervical fracture in an off-season car crash in the Dominican Republic post-2013, the same crash that almost killed Kevin Encarnacion. 

Here is the abridged box score from today's Cactus Leagie EXST game (Cubs players only), followed by the box score from the intrasquad game: 

Gloomy Skies Produce Sunny Result for Cubs at Riverview Park

LHP Jose Paulino tossed three innings of no-run/no-hit ball, Ho-Young Son belted an RBI triple, an RBI double, and a single, Tim Saunders reached base three times (a walk, an RBI single, and a triple) and scored two runs, Ricardo Marcano hammered a solo home run and an RBI single and scored twice, and Andrew Ely stroked an RBI double and a single, stole a base, and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Angels in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

In EXST Cubs roster news, Jordan Hankins has completed the Catcher Conversion Program course at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park and has been assigned to Hi-A Myrtle Beach. Hankins takes the place of C-1B Alberto Mineo, who moves down to Extended Spring Training from Myrtle Beach.

The left-handed swinging Hankins was drafted by the Cubs as an infielder in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft) out of Austin Peay University, and after playing 3B-2B with the AZL Cubs and Boise his first year of pro ball, he received initial catcher training at Instructs post-2013, and then again at Minor League Camp in 2014. But he was moved back to 3B once the 2014 minor league regular season started, and was good enough to be selected to the Midwest League All-Star game as a third-baseman while assigned to Kane County (he hit 322/361/461 in 50 MWL games). That earned Hankins a June promotion to Daytona (he and a struggling Jeimer Candelario changed places), but he was unable to find the same success at Daytona that he had found at KC (218/323/318 in 33 games at Daytona). He got a second opportunity to try catching at Instructs last fall, continuing the process into this season, first at Minor League Camp, and then at Extended Spring Training.

The 23-year old Hankins has been the best hitter on the 2015 EXST Cubs squad, putting up a 462/481/654 line (plus an eight-game hitting streak) with three doubles and a triple, four RBI, five runs scored, and only one strikeout in nine Cactus League EXST games (27 PA), while simultaneously learning the finer points of the receiving arts. (He also hit two home runs in EXST intrasquad games). Hankins likely projects as an "offense-first" left-handed hitting 3B-2B-1B-C bench guy at the higher levels (sort of a left-handed hitting version of Ben Carhart), but adding catcher to his "tool box" should make him more valuable as he moves up through the pipeline.

Also, 24-year old RHP Jose Rosario underwent an elbow UCL transplant ("Tommy John surgery") last month and will miss the 2015 season. Rosario is the second Cub minor leaguer to undergo TJS since the start of Spring Training (catcher Will Remillard was other one).  

Born in New York City, Rosario was signed by the Cubs as a 17-year old international free-agent out of the Dominican Republic in April 2008. He was eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent (so-called "six-year minor league free-agent") after the 2014 World Series, but he signed a 2015 minor league successor contract with the Cubs before being declared a free-agent. In 115 career minor league games 2008-14, Rosario has compiled a rather ugly 5.06 ERA and 1.56 WHIP, while allowing 489 hits (including 32 HR) and 192 walks in 437.2 IP, with 378 strikeouts.

Although he has plus-stuff, Rosario has been unable to harness it and has battled command issues throughout his career, He failed to reach AA in seven minor league seasons, and yet the Cubs saw enough in him to offer him a 2015 contract rather than allowing him to walk away as a free-agent. But he continued to struggle with his control at Minor League Camp this season, before being shut-down with a sore elbow the last week of Spring Training. Rosario is eligible to be a minor league 6YFA again post-2015, but since the TJS rehab process takes at least a year, I would not be surprised if he signs another minor league successor contract for 2016 so that he can continue his rehab with the same training staff.  

It wasn't a Cactus League EXST game, but the Cubs did play an EXST intrasquad game on Field #5 yesterday (Thursday). 29-year old veteran MLB and ex-Red Sox RHRP Daniel Bard threw an inning in the game, and while he continues to have difficulty throwing strikes (24 pitches - only 9 strikes, with one walk and two WP in the one IP), he did manage to retire the side without allowing a hit or a run. Known as a hard-throwing late-inning reliever, Bard didn't show it yesterday. His fastball consistently sat at 91-92 MPH, and touched 93 only once.

Cubs Minor League Infield Coordinator Jose Flores is at Extended Spring Training this week, working with the young Cub infielders on the finer points of infield play. (He also throws a mean BP).    

Here is the abridged box score from today's Cactus League EXST game (Cubs players only), followed by the box score from yesterday's EXST Cubs intrasquad game.

Bard, Russell, and Denorfia Get Pre-Game Reps at Extended Spring Training

Adonis Paula singled twice, stole a base, and drove-in a run, Kevonte Mitchell singled twice and scored a run, and Carlos Sepulveda smacked a solo home run, in Cubs Extended Spring Training intrasquad game action this morning on Field #5 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

The game was called after 4-1/2 innings with the score tied 2-2. (All three Extended Spring Training intrasquad games played this week have ended in a tie)

RHP (ex-C) Mark Malave finally made his game debut as a pitcher, throwing a shutout inning (4-3, 3-1, BB, 4-6 FC). I didn't see anthing special with his stuff, although he throws both a two-seam fastball and a curve (and the curve might be his best pitch). Malave received a reported $1.6M bonus when he was signed by the Cubs as a 16-year old switch-hitting catcher out of Venezuela in July 2011, the highest bonus ever given by the Cubs to an international amateur free-agent up to that point in time. He was moved almost immediately to 3rd base, and then he was moved back to catcher again (and gave up switch-hitting to hit only RH) after the 2013 season. He struggled offensively throughout his pro career as a postion player (248/347/305 in 141 career minor league games and 560 career minor league PA), and then was converted to a pitcher at Minor League Camp last month.       

In Cubs minor league roster news, RHP Daniel Bard (signed to a minor league contract during the off-season with an NRI to Spring Training, then couldn't throw strikes) and ex-Cubs LHP James Russell (signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs this morning after being released by the Atlanta Braves last week) have been assigned to Extended Spring Training. Both pitchers threw morning bullpen side-sessions but did not pitch in the game. Rehabbers RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS), RHP Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery), and RHP Austin Reed (2014 TJS) also threw bullpen side-sessions this morning.  

Chicago Cubs OF Chris Denorfia (15-day DL - hamstring) took BP on Field #6 prior to the game.  

Here is the box score from the game: 

Pages