Justin Steele

Nic, Bug, and Mac Are a Rockie Concoction for Cubs at Riverview

Nic Motley doubled twice, walked, and collected two RBI, Tyler Bugner singled twice, stole two bases, and scored twice, and RHSP Pearson McMahan hurled five innings of two-hit/one-run ball (retiring the first nine men and the last six men he faced), helping the Rockies edge the Cubs 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training game action Wednesday morning on Field #5 on John Arguello Way at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

Luis Hidalgo smacked a three-run HR, Luis Vazquez drilled a single and an RBI double and scored a run, Reivaj Garcia singled, doubled, and scored a run, and Yovanny Cuevas belted an RBI triple and drove-in another run with an RBI GO for the Cubs in a losing cause. 

The game was pre-planned as an eight-inning affair, but was extended an extra half-inning so that all of the Rockies pitchers who were scheduled to throw could get their work. 

Prior to the game, LHSP Justin Steele (July 2017 TJS) threw "live" BP (two innings - 35 pitches) on Field #4 and it went very well (FB velo good and flashed a plus-CH). Next step is three innings (45 pitches), and then he will begin to throw a breaking ball.  

In EXST Cubs roster news, RHSP Erick Leal (missed 2017 season with a non-TJS elbow injury) has completed his rehab and has rejoined Myrtle Beach, replacing RHRP Elvis Diaz on the Pelicans roster (E. Diaz was released). In addition, RHP Kyle Miller (Cubs 2015 19th round draft pick - Florida Atlantic) has been released from Extended Spring Training. (K. Miller had a lot of difficulty throwing strikes at Minor League Camp and was left behind in Mesa to work on his mechanics when Myrtle Beach departed Arizona at the end of March, but he was unable to overcome the problem). 

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only): 

Galindo Three-run Blast Highlights Cubs Sweep over Giants

Wladimir Galindo belted a three-run home run and an RBI single, Chris Pieters rifled a two-run double, and Andry Rondon and four relievers combined to toss a five-hit shutout, as the Cubs blanked the Giants 7-0 on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex, and RHSP Pedro Silverio hurled five innings of three-hit/one-run ball with no walks & eight strikeouts and Roberto Caro drilled three singles, as the Cubs edged the Giants 4-3 at Sloan Park, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning in Mesa, AZ.  

The game on Field #1 was called after seven innings of play, and the game at Sloan Park was called after 6-1/2 innings. 

The EXST Cubs record now stands at 32-16-6. 

With today's outing, Silverio becomes the second Eugene starting pitcher to go five innings (Jesus Castillo was the first, hurling five innings yesterday).  

In EXST Cubs roster news, LHSP Justin Steele (Cubs 2014 5th round pick - George County HS - Lucedale, MS) has been assigned to Extended Spring Training after struggling at South Bend (6.17 ERA - 1.94 WHIP - .308 OppBA - 45 H - 23/37 BB/K in 35 IP - nine GS). Steele will likely be a starting pitcher at Eugene (NWL season begins on June 16th), joining some combination of Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Manny Rondon in the Emeralds rotation (if there isn't room for all of them in the starting rotation, one or two may end up as "piggy-back" relievers). 

Also, RHRP P. J. Francescon has completed his 50-game "Drug of Abuse" suspension and has been reinstated from the Restricted List. He celebrated his freedom by working two perfect innings on Field #1. Francescon was the closer at AA Tennessee last season, and it's probably just a matter of time before he's back in the Smokies bullpen.

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

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): 

Smokies Crack Nuts with Bombs at Riverview

Jake Hannemann crushed a three-run homer, Juan Paniagua and Matt Rose each smacked a two-run HR, Victor Caratini drilled an RBI single, doubled, walked, and scored a run, Ryan Dent singled twice, walked, scored twice, and collected an RBI, Chesny Young drove-in three runs with a FC and a two-run single, and SP Preston Morrison hurled four innings of shutout ball, as the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) crushed the Modesto Nuts (Colorado Rockies Hi-A affiliate) 13-5 on Field #6, and Sam Hilliard tripled, singled twice, and scored two runs, Brian Mundell slugged a solo HR and singled and scored, and Jonathan Piron belted an RBI triple, singled, walked, and stole a base, helping the Asheville Tourists (Rockies low-A affiliate) edge the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) 9-8 on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action Sunday afternoon at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.

P. J. Higgins blasted a two-run HR for South Bend in a losing cause on Field #3, and Ryan Stephens contributed a solo HR and a two-run single in a losing cause for Modesto on Field #6. 

LHSP Justin Steele had a rough outing for South Bend, surrendering seven runs on 11 hits (including two doubles, a triple, and a home run) and a walk in five innings of work. 

As usual, several players were temporarily moved-up from a lower level just for the day. 

The game on Field #6 was unusual in that the Cubs AA squad played the Rockies Hi-A squad. Normally AAA plays AAA, AA plays AA, etc, but the members of last season's Myrtle Beach Pelicans received their 2015 Carolina League Champion rings in a ceremony prior to the games, and because most of the 2015 Pelicans are presently assigned to the AA Tennessee squad at Minor League Camp, the Cubs Hi-A group was dispatched to Salt River Fields to play the Rockies AA squad in place of the Smokies, leaving the Cubs AA group behind at Riverview to collect their rings and destroy the Rockies Hi-A group.

John Arguello at Cubs Den has some great pictures and game reports from Saturday's games at Riveview Park. 

 

And here are the abridged box scores from the two games played at Riverview on Sunday (Cubs players only): 

 

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: 

Turner Continues Rehab at Riverview, While Denorfia is Leaving on a Jet Plane

Eloy Jimenez (two-run double), Tyler Alamo (RBI double), and Ricardo Marcano (RBI single) stroked consecutive running-scoring hits to highlight a four-run 6th, and LHSP Justin Steele (Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick - George County HS - Lucedale, MS) tossed 5.1 IP of one-run ball (11/2 GO/FO), leading the Eugene Emeralds to a 4-1 victory over the Mesa Cubs in Extended Spring Training intrasquad game action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

RHP Jacob Turner (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL- right flexor strain) started the game for Mesa and threw 3.2 IP of shutout ball (56 pitches), allowing four hits (all singles) and two walks, with two strikeouts and a 3/4 GO/FO. This will almost certainly be Turner's last EXST rehab outing before he departs for one of the Cubs full-season minor league affiliates, where he will continue his rehab under Article XIX-C.

Turner's fastball velocity sat at 91-92 MPH through his first two innings of work, but then it spiked to 93-94 over his final two frames. He had some command issues at times with his cutter, but his breaking ball was very sharp. 

OF Chris Denorfia (on Cubs 15-day DL - hamstring strain) has definitely completed the Arizona portion of his rehab and is en route to AA Tennessee, where he will spend the weekend facing more advanced pitching than he saw at EXST. Then he will (presumably) re- join the Cubs in Detroit on Tuesday.   

Originally, Denorfia was supposed to remain at Extend0ed Spring Training through Saturday and then spend the first-half of next week at Tennessee, but the timetable was pushed-up when he got back into playing shape sooner than was expected. In six Cactus League EXST games (24 PA), Denorfia hit 400/500/550, reaching base 12 times in the six games (five singles, three doubles, and four walks). He also struck out five times in the 24 Plate Appearances.   

Prior to the intrasquad game, RHRP Neil Ramirez (on Cubs 15-day DL - right shoulder inflammation), RHRP Anthony Carter (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL), and LHSP Rob Zastryzny (on AA Tennessee 7-day DL - foot injury) squared-off in a two-inining "sim" game on Field #5. Ramirez threw two innings (25 pitches - 15 in the first inning, then ten in the second), and Carter and Zastryzny threw one inning a piece (15 pitches each).   

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

Angels Take Down Cubs in Diablo Park

Alex Abbott drilled a triple and a single and scored twice and Jose Antonio Rodriguez reached base three times (two singles and an HBP) and scored a run, helping the Angels to a 7-4 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe. 

Eloy Jimenez belted a two-run triple, walked, and scored a run, Kevonte Mitchell singled twice, stole two bases, and scored a run, and Andrew Ely reached base three times (two singles and an HBP) for the Cubs in a losing cause.

Mitchell leads the EXST Cubs in stolen bases with eight (no CS) in 16 Cactus League EXST games, and E. Jimenez has been an "RBI machine," with 13 ribbies in just 15 Cactus League EXST games (leads team).

ELOY JIMENEZ in 15 Cactus League EXST games (55 PA):
265/309/511, with three doubles, three triples, and one HR, three walks, eight strikeouts, and one HBP, and two SB (no CS).  

NOTE: Through 23 Cactus League EXST games so far, the Cubs have hit only five home runs as a team... one each by Frandy de la Rosa, Eloy Jimenez, Ricardo Marcano, Yohan Matos, and Taylor Teagarden,  

19-year old lanky lefty Justin Steele (Cubs 2014 5th round draft pick - George County HS - Lucedale, MS) got the start for the Cubs and quickly and easily retired the first seven men he faced (6-3, 4-3, 3-U, 5-3, K, F-7, K) on just 20 pitches, before running into trouble with one out in the bottom of the third, when he allowed four consecutive batters to reach base (1B, 1B, BB, BB). The 2014 Mississippi High School Player of the Year, Steele was cruising along, working his two-seam fastball in the low 90's and getting a ton of ground balls with it, before he began to lose command in his third inning of work once he had to start pitching out of the stretch. 

JUSTIN STEELE in his four Cactus League EXST games : 
9.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 9 K, 13/7 GO/FO, 63% strikes (4 games) 
2.79 ERA - 1.03 WHIP 

RHP Oscar de la Cruz "piggy-backed" with Steele, working 3.2 IP (65 pitches) and allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits (all singles), two walks, and an HBP. He struck out three (all swinging), with a 5/3 GO/FO. Along with RHRP Scott Frazier (whose fastball velocity has reached 99 MPH this spring) and Alexander Santana (mid-90's fastball that sits at 94 and touches 95), the 20-year old 6'6 de la Cruz is one of the hardest throwers among Cub pitchers at EXST, with a 94 MPH fastball that can touch 95. Like a lot of young pitchers, de la Cruz's fastball command and secondary stuff (breaking ball and change-up) need work, but he was the ace of the staff at DSL Cubs last season, and he is in the mix for one of the rotation starter jobs at Eugene this year. (Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Austyn Willis are virtual locks to make the Eugene rotation, with de la Cruz, Santana, and Jose Paulino likely competing for the remaining two slots). 

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

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