Jordan Hankins

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.

Cubs Sweep Giants & Beeler Continues Rehab at Riverview Park

Roney Alcala (RBI single), Jhonny Pereda (RBI double), and Jose Paniagua (RBI double) drilled run-scoring hits to highlight a three-run 2nd inning and Jose Paulino and three relievers combined to hurl a two-hitter, leading the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Giants on Field #5, and Jordan Hankins ripped a double and an RBI single and Frandy de la Rosa doubled, singled, and scored a run, as the Cubs edged the Giants 3-2 on Field #6, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.   

The Cubs scored three runs on six hits (four singles, a double, and a triple), two walks, and a HBP off veteran RHP Kevin Correia in four innings on Field #6.  

On the Cubs MLB 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation, RHP Dallas Beeler got a rehab start for the Cubs on Field #6, allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits and two walks in 4.1 IP (69 pitches). He struck out two (both swinging) with a 6/5 GO/FO.

Beeler looked better today than he did in his first EXST rehab start versus the Rockies at Salt River Fields last Wednesday when he allowed four runs on eight hits (five singles, a double, a triple, and a two-run home run) in just three innings of work (61 pitches), retiring the first seven Giants he faced (K, 4-3, F-7, 3-1, 5-3, F-9, P-6) before allowing a walk and a single in the top of the 3rd, and two singles, a double, and a walk in the top of the 4th. His fastball velocity sat consistently at 93-94 MPH and topped out at 95, but he had trouble commanding his secondary stuff (breaking ball and change-up) the second time through the batting order.

It is unknown at this time if Beeler will get another rehab start in Arizona, or if he will make his next start at AAA Iowa.

In EXST Cubs roster news, Cubs 2013 15th round draft pick RHRP Michael Wagner has been moved up to AAA Iowa. Wagner was the closer at the University of San Diego prior to getting drafted and signing with the Cubs in 2013, and he was a teammate of Kris Bryant at USD.

Also, 20-year old Dominican RHP Santiago Rodriguez and 17-year old Venezuelan switch-hitting SS Andruw Monasterio have been added to the Cubs Extended Spring Training roster. Rodriguez was at Instructs last fall, while Monasterio will be making his U. S. debut. 

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

Sands & Steele Help Cubs Polish-Off Giants in Scottsdale

LHP Carson Sands (Cubs 2014 4th round draft pick) and three relievers combined to toss a three-hitter, Carlos Sepulveda singled twice, stole a base, and scored two runs, and Eloy Jimenez (RBI single) and Adonis Paula (two-run single) contributed run-scoring hits to highlight a four-run 4th inning, as the Cubs cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Giants on Field #1, and Kevin Encarnacion drilled three singles, drove-in two runs, stole a base, and scored a run, Jordan Hankins hammered an RBI double and a single and scored a run, and Justin Steele (Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick) and four relievers combined to hurl a three-hitter, as the Cubs edged the Giants 5-4 on Field #2, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ. 

Chase Compton belted a two-run triple and then scored on a wild pitch to account for three of the Giants runs on Field #2. 

The defensive play of the day was a run-saving sliding catch by Cubs CF Roberto Caro in right-centerfield in the game on Field #2. 

Iowa Cubs catcher Taylor Teagarden (on the I-Cubs 7-day DL with a sore shoulder) continued his EXST rehab, catching seven innings and batting four times in the game on Field #1. He went 2-4 with a double and a single at the plate, scored one run but was also thrown-out on the bases trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a two-out single, and made a terrible short-hop throw on a stolen base attempt that resulted in an error. Teagarden went 4-4 (three singles and a two-run home run) versus the Rockies on Wednesday, and then he had two more hits in an intrasquad game yesterday. His throwing has been poor, however (not just today, but every day so far).  

Ho-Young Son walked twice and was picked-off 1st base again, the third time he has been picked-off 1st base in two EXST games.       

The game on Field #1 was called after eight innings, and the game on Field #2 was called with two outs in the top of the 8th 

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

Pelicans Gobble Nuts & Tourists Fly Past Cubs at Riverview

Jesse Hodges belted a solo HR and singled, Jordan Hankins singled twice, drove-in a run, and scored another, and Jake Stinnett tossed five innings of one-run ball as the Cubs took a 4-1 lead through five innings, but the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies Lo-A affiliate) scored four in the 6th, two in the 8th, and two more in the 9th, to rally to a 9-7 victory over the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) on Field #5. and Jacob Rogers and Kevin Brown hammered doubles and scored, Shawon Dunston Jr and Jeimer Candelario drilled RBI singles, and Wes Darvill slugged a two-run home run to highlight a five-run 3rd, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Modesto Nuts (Rockies Hi-A affiliate) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League game action this afternoon at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

Brown (two doubles and a single) and Candelario (two singles and a double) collected three hits a piece for the Pelicans. 

Chris Denorfia (hamstring rehab) saw his first game action in a couple of weeks, serving as a DH for Myrtle Beach and going 1-3. He led-off each of the first three innings, flying out F-9 in his first AB, bouncing back to the pitcher 1-3 his second time up, and then clubbing a ringing double into the right-centerfield gap in his third Plate Appearance.

While Denorfia jogged somewhat gingerly into second base and looked to be something less than 100% on his double, a minute later he went full-tilt from second to home to score on the Dunston ground RBI single to center. 

South Bend RHP Zach Hedges had a tough outing while piggy-backing with Stinnett on Field #5. Coming in with a 4-1 lead in the top of the 6th, Hedges allowed eight run (all earned) on nine hits (including two doubles, a triple, and a home run) and two walks (plus a wild pitch) and no strikeouts in four innings of work.  

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

Down Goes Frazier!

Victor Caratini blasted a two-run home run, doubled, singled twice, walked, and scored four runs, Jordan Hankins knocked-in four runs with three run-scoring singles, Kevonte Mitchell singled twice and doubled, scored twice, and drove-in a run, Chesny Young laced a bases-loaded three-run triple and a single, and Johan Matos belted a solo home run and singled, in an AZ Instructional League Cubs intrasquad game played this morning at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

The game was played at "Cubs Park" (home to the AZL Cubs and the Mesa Solar Sox of the AFL, and the Chicago Cubs during Spring Training in March).

Collecting 17 hits (including three doubles, a triple, and a home run), Team Gonzalez evened-up the "Cubs World Series" at two games a piece with a 15-5 drubbing of Team Johnson. 

Eloy Jimenez left the game after being hit on the left arm by an Erick Leal fastball. 

Several of the Cubs young sluggers competed in the annual Cubs Instructs Home Run Derby on Field #2 prior to the game, and Billy McKinney edged out Scott Frazier to take home the title. 

Frazier is a pitcher, but the 6'7 fireballer was a two-way player (pitcher/outfielder) in HS, and he showed that he still knows how to swing the lumber, clubbing several prodigious shots onto the street beyond the LF fence ("Cubs Way') during the course of the contest. He then threw a 1-2-3 7th inning in the game that followed. 

Here is the box score from today's game: