Jason Vosler

Two-Out 9th Inning Magic Saves the Day for I-Cubs at Fitch

Jason Vosler hammered an opposite-field game-tying two-run double off the LF fence with two out in the top of the 9th and Ian Rice followed with a two-run home run over the left-centerfield fence to give the Cubs a two-run lead, and then Ryan McNeil converted the save (albeit allowing a run and stranding the potential game-tying run on base in the bottom of the 9th), as the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rallied to edge the Nashville Sounds (AAA affiliate of the Oakland Athletics) 6-5 on Field #4, and Jesse Hodges belted a two-run HR over the LF fence onto Center Street to give the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) a 2-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, but Skye Bolt belted an RBI triple and scored, singled, and walked, as the Midland RockHounds (A's AA affiliate) plated four runs over the next seven innings en route to a 4-2 victory on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action Monday afternoon at the Lew Wolff Training Complex at Fiitch Park in Mesa, AZ.

As usual, several players were moved-up from lower-levels for the day to replace Iowa and Tennessee players assigned to the Cubs MLB game roster at Goodyear. 

It was a "bullpen day" for the Smokies, as five relievers vying for pen jobs at Tennessee got work. There were no stand-out eve-opening performances among the five (Pugliese, Skulina, Thorpe, Minch, and Norwood). 

Meanwhile, RHSP Jordan Pries (acquired from the Seattle Mariners along with LHP Mike Montgomery for 1B Dan Vogelbach and RHSP Paul Blackburn last June) got the start for the I-Cubs, in what might be his final opportinity to win a job at AAA. It will be tough for Pries to crack the Iowa starting rotation in 2017, and his 87-88 MPH fastball and OK (but not great) off-speed stuff probably don't have a whole lot of value out of the bullpen. However, he might find a job as a SP/RP "swing-man" at Iowa if he can beat-out Casey Kelly, Seth Frankoff, Williams Perez, and/or Dallas Beeler for a AAA "utility pitcher" slot. 

Veteran minor league RHRP Frank Batista saw his first game action since undergoing an elbow UCL transplant (TJS) last April, and retired the side 1-2-3 (5-3, K, F-9). The 27-year old (soon to be 28) diminutive (5'10) Batista has been around a while (he signed with the Cubs as an IFA out of the Dominican Republic in January 2009), but you could see he was stoked about his outing.    

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

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):

Senzel Can't Be Stopped or Contained

Blake Trahan lofted a sacrifice fly to left with one out in the 7th to tie the game and Daniel Sweet followed with a two-out RBI single to give his team a 3-2 lead, and Nick Senzel (Reds 2016 1st round draft pick - 2nd overall pick in the draft) provided an insurance run with a gargantuan home run over the scoreboard in right-centerfield leading off the bottom of the 8th, as the Reds rallied late and then held-on to edge the Angels/Cubs co-op squad 4-3 in AZ Advanced Instructional League game action Tuesday afternoon on Field #1 at the Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex in Goodyear, AZ.  

Brendon Sanger (Angels) and Alberto Mineo (Cubs) belted solo home runs and Mineo also doubled and scored on a Jason Vosler (Cubs) two-out RBI single to account for the three Angels/Cubs runs.  

Although they lost the game, Angels/Cubs pitchers (actually they were all Cubs pitchers) fanned 14 Reds in the game (11 swinging). 

Nick Senzel continues to wow scouts & spectators alike with his awesome power to all fields. Reds fans didn't have a whole lot to cheer about this past season, but I would expect the University of Tennessee product to make the Riverfront Stadium scene sooner rather than later, providing misery to Cubs pitchers (and to all opposing pitchers) for years to come. He could be the next great young stud MLB third-baseman, following in the footsteps of Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, and Kris Bryant. 

The Reds starting lineup featured four players who will be playing for the Peoria Javelinas in Arizona Fall League beginning next week, including SS Zach Vincej (singled and scored), CF Brian O'Grady, 1B Chad Wallach (RBI double), and 3B Brandon Dixon. Wallach is the son of long-time MLB third-baseman Tim Wallach (Expos, Dodgers, Angels).  

Here is the box scoere from the game (Cubs players highlighted in bold and underlined):

Dewees Double Triple Leads Angels/Cubs over Rangers at Riverview

Donnie Dewees smacked two triples, scored a run, and drove-in another, Yeiler Peguero laced an RBI triple (back-to-back RBI triples with Dewees in a three-run 3rd) and a single, scored a run, and knocked-in a run, Alberto Mineo doubled twice and scored a run, Ian Rice drilled a two-run single, walked, and scored a run, Jason Vosler doubled, walked, and scored a run, Eddy Julio Martinez hammered an RBI double, SP Garrett Richards (on LAA MLB 60-day DL since May with a torn elbow UCL) tossed 2-1/3 innings of perfect baseball, and the bullpen threw four innings of no-hit shutout ball to close the game out, leading the Angels/Cubs co-op team to an 8-4 victory over the Rangers in AZ Advanced Instructional League game action Monday afternoon on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.

Yeyson Yrizarri smashed a two-run double to highlight a four-run 5th inning rally and Melvin Novoa and ex-Cub Frandy de la Rosa each singled twice, walked, and scored a run for the Rangers in a losing cause.  

Here is the box score from the game (Cubs players highlighted in bold and underlined): 

Royals Latest Victims of Angel-Cub Detente

Victor Caratini (Cubs) and Shawon Dunston Jr (Cubs) ripped run-scoring singles and Wade Wass (Angels) contributed an RBI double, leading the Angels/Cubs co-op squad to a 4-2 victory over the Royals in Arizona Advanced Instructional League play this afternoon on Field #2 at the Papago Sports Complex in Phoenix, AZ. 

Cubs & Pelicans Pitchers Give Bees & 66ers That Sinking Feeling

Chesny Young belted a two-run triple, singled, and walked, Jason Vosler doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, Jesse Hodges ripped an RBI double and a single, Rashad Crawford roped a line-drive RBI single, drew a walk, stole a base, and scored a run, and Jeremy Null threw five innings of two-run ball with an amazing 12/1 GO/FO, as the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A  affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) rallied from a 3-0 deficit to edge the Burlington Bees (Lo-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels) 4-3 on Field #5, and Daury Torrez threw six shutout innings with four strikeouts and an 11/2 GO/FO, Kevin Brown belted a two-run triple, singled twice, and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas doubled twice, singled, and scored a run, and Danny Lockhart roped a two-run single, walked, and scored a run, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Cubs Hi-A affiliate) rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.    

The 66ers had just scored four runs in the top of the 9th off Myrtle Beach lefty reliever Gerardo Concepcion to take a 6-2 lead, but the Pelicans came right back with four of their own. 

Both Daury Torrez and Jeremy Null had the sinker working to perfection, combining to produce a 23/3 GO/FO ratio over 11 innings of work, one of the most extraordinary groundball heavy minor league doubleheaders I have seen in some time. Torrez will join Duane Underwood, Tyler Skulina, Paul Blackburn, and Jen-Ho Tseng in the Myrtle Beach starting rotation, and Null will be part of a South Bend rotation that will also feature Jake Stinnett, Erick Leal, Trevor Clifton, James Norwood, and/or Zach Hedges (last slot still TBD)  

The defensive play of the day was turned-in by South Bend CF Trey Martin, who made a spectacular diving catch in right-centerfield after a long run at full speed. Martin is a "long-strider" who can make long distances seem shorter than they really are, but what was especially impressive about Martin's play was that he dived onto his left (non-throwing) shoulder to complete the catch, the same shoulder that was surgically repaired about a year ago.    

With the exception of Travis Wood and Kyle Hendricks, the Chicago Cubs left town after last night's Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in anticipation of their MLB Opening Day game tomorrow night at Wrigley Field, leaving minor league players behind to be presented as the "Chicago Cubs" for this afternoon's MLB Cactus League finale. Most of the players assigned to the MLB game at Chase were pulled from the AAA Iowa Cubs roster, but a few came from the Tennessee and Myrtle Beach squads as well. Also, several members of the Myrtle Beach squad were moved up to the Iowa Cubs for this afternoon's Cactus League minor league game in Tempe against the Angels AAA Salt Lake City affiliate, and a number of players from the Cubs Extended Spring Training contingent filled in for the missing Pelicans at Riverview, as well as providing roster depth in the South Bend, Tennessee, and Iowa games.  

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