Michael Cruz

Cubs Newcomers Make Good First Impression at Riverview

Michael Cruz and Robel Garcia belted back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches, Brandon Vicens drilled a bases-loaded bases-clearing double, and Derek Casey fired three innings of no run/no hit ball with five strikeouts, in Cubs Minor League Camp intrasquad game action Friday afternoon on John Arguello Way at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

The 23 year old Vicens was signed recently by the Cubs as a non-drafted free-agent (NDFA) out of the University of Maine, where he played both baseball (CF) and football (FB) for the Black Bears. He grew up in Hialeah, FL, and played HS ball against Cubs CF Albert Almora Jr. He attended Miami-Dade CC prior to transferring to Maine in 2016. The son of a Puerto Rican father and a Cuban-American mother, Vicens was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 35th round of the 2014 draft out of HS but decided to attend college instead. Now that he can concentrate on baseball full-time, he might be able to unlock some of the potential he displayed as a HS All-American CF at American Heritage School in Plantation. (His HS won three state championships while he was there, one in football and two in baseball).  
 
Robel Garcia (not to be confused with Cubs minor league 2B Reivaj Garcia) was signed by the Cubs last October after he starred for Team Italy in the AZ Instructional League. (The Italian team spent parts of September & October with the Oakland A's squad at Fitch Park). Soon to be 26, the switch-hitting Dominican had previously played five seasons of affiliated ball in the Cleveland Indians organization, before being released in 2014.    

Casey was the Cubs 2018 9th round draft pick out of UVA, and the 6-2 190 23-year old righthander was really sharp today, mowing down hitter-after-hitter over the course of his three innings of work as he effectively mixed a FB, CV, SL, and CH to keep hitters off-balance. Cubs 2018 2nd round compensation pick Paul Richan also threw in the game, but Casey really stood out.      

Here is the box score frrom the game: 

The Bryan Hudson Ground Ball Machine Chews Up A's at Extended Spring Training

LHSP Bryan Hudson hurled six innings of two-hit shutout ball with six strikeouts, no walks, and a 10/0 GO/AO, Michael Cruz drilled a triple and two singles and scored two runs, Andruw Monasterio doubled twice and scored a run, and Jacob Hannemann (on AA Tennessee 7-day DL - knee injury) reached base four times (two singles and two walks), as the Cubs edged the Athletics 3-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training Opening Day game action this morning on Field #6 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was called after eight innings of play. 

The 6'8 Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round draft pick - Alton HS - Alton, IL) was an absolute ground-ball machine, mixing an 87-89 MPH sinker, a plus-curve, and an occasional change-up to keep the A's hitters off-balance and constantly beating pitches into the ground. He also threw 70% strikes and averaged only 11.5 pitches-per-inning. Hudson's outing was simply one of the best performances by a starting pitcher in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game I have ever witnessed (and I have seen many good ones over the last 40 years). There were three or four scouts from other MLB clubs in attendance at the game watching Hudson work, and I would think they probably came away favorably impressed as well. 

Prior to the game, the six newly-arrived pitchers from the Cubs Dominican Academy (LHP Faustino Carrera, RHP Hector Garcia, RHP Fauris Guerrero, LHP Brailyn Marquez, RHP Yunior Perez, and RHP Eury Ramos) threw "live" BP on Field #5. Each pitcher threw one inning (20 pitches). All six were at post-2016 AZ Instructs, so they have been at the Cubs Mesa facility before. Two other pitchers who attended post-2016 AZ Instructs (RHP Alfredo Colorado and Carlos Ocampo) were supposedly going to be at Extended Spring Training, too, but both will be remaining at the Cubs Dominican Academy.  

Also, Eloy Jimenez (on Myrtle Beach 7-day DL - right shoulder bruise) began taking BP this morning, as he gets himself into playing shape prior to playing in EXST games and (eventually) re-joining the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. However, he still is not throwing. Prior to today, Eloy had been participating in baserunning and outfield drills (without throwing), and he was "tracking" pitches in BP but not taking swings. So at least now he is able to swing the bat. Because the DH is used in the Carolina League, it's possible that Eloy could move-up to Myrtle Beach and be the DH even if he is unable to throw, although the Cubs will probably want him to complete the Rehab Throwing Program before he departs.

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

D. J. Helps Pelicans Cruz to Miller Time Music at Diablo

Zack Short singled, doubled, stole a base, and scored a run, and Jose Gutierrez singled, walked, stole a base and scored two runs, helping the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) defeat the Burlington Bees (Lo-A affilate of the Los Angeles Angels) 7-4 on Field #3, and Trent Giambrone belted a two-run double, stole 3rd base, and then scored on a FC to highlight a three-run 2nd, D. J. Wilson smashed a tape-measure solo home run off the Angels clubhouse in the 3rd, Michael Cruz blasted a two-run HR down the RF line in the 4th, and Kyle Miller hurled three innings of shutout ball, leading the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs Hi-A affiliate) to an 11-7 victory over the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) on Field #4, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action Saturday afternoon at the Diablo Stadium Complex n Tempe, AZ.

Myrtle Beach 1B Matt Rose left the game on Field #4 in the top of the 2nd inning after being hit by a pitch, and he was driven back to the UAPC in Mesa by Cubs training staff. Also, South Bend catcher Tyler Payne suffered what appeared to be a lower-body injury while sliding into 2nd base (RBI double) in the top of the 6th on Field #3.   

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

Albertos Gives D'backs Plenty of Nothin' at Salt River Fields

RHSP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M signing bonus) hurled four innings of one-hit shutout ball with seven strikeouts and Cubs 2016 7th round draft pick Michael Cruz (making his pro debut) belted an RBI double off the top of the right-centerfield fence (near HR) with two outs in the top of the 8th that drove-in the run that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game, as the AZL Cubs withstood a four-run 9th inning rally and edged the AZL Diamondbacks 5-4 in Arizona League action Wednesday night on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Strick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

Besides the 8th inning RBI double, Cruz also was hit by a pitch (right shoulder) in his first pro AB, fouled a ball off his right instep in his second AB, and took a foul-tip off his right shoulder in the bottom of the 4th while working behind the plate (he caught all nine innings in 105+ degree heat). Welcome to pro ball. 

The 17-year old Albertos was masterful beyond his years in his four innings of work, staying ahead in the count (69% of his pitches were strikes) and mixing a 96-98 MPH fastball with a plus-change and an occasional curve to keep the opposing hitters off-balance. In fact, the Albertos change-up was so deceptive that one D'backs hitter injured his right knee (and had to leave the game) screwing himself into the ground on a swinging third strike trying in vain to hit one. The only hit off Albertos was a broken-bat line drive single over the third-baseman's head with two outs in the top of the 1st.

The AZL Diamondbacks were held to one hit (the first-inning broken-bat single) through the first eight innings of the game, but Kyle Smith (two-run double), Juan Araujo (RBI double), and Michael Branigan (RBI single) contributed run-scoring hits to the four-run 9th inning rally that fell a run short, as the potential tying and winning runs were left-stranded on the bases.

LHRP Jack Leathersich (ex-NYM) had another clean 1-2-3 inning (K, K, 6-3), as he continues to impress in his rehab from July 2015 TJS.    

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

Leathersich Impressive at Salt River Fields

RHSP Melvin Ovalles hurled three innings of shutout ball and combined with four relievers to toss a three-hitter and Kyle Smith (2016 NDFA - Vanderbilt) drilled an RBI double and later scored to highlight a two-run 4th, as the AZL Diamondbacks took a 3-0 lead and then held-on to edge the AZL Cubs 3-2 in AZL mini-camp pre-season game action Saturday night on Whirlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

The game was called by mutual-consent after seven innings of play. 

Ex-NYM LHRP Jack Leathersich (July 2015 TJS) was unhittable in his one inning of work for the AZL Cubs, striking out the side (all three swinging).  

In AZL Cubs roster news, C-1B Michael Cruz (Cubs 2016 7th round draft pick - Bethune-Cookman) has arrived and he was in uniform at Salt River Fields, although he did not play in the game. Cruz was the first (and is apparently the only) 2016 draft pick signed by the Cubs (so far).  

Also, 16-year old SS Christopher Morel (2015 IFA - Dominican Republic - $800K signing bonus) has been added to the AZL Cubs roster. Morel suffered a severe laceration to his left arm last off-season that delayed his pro debut and he has been rehabbing at the UAPC for the last few months. He will provide temporary infield depth for the AZL Cubs until more draft picks arrive, and then he will be sent to the DSL.   

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