Cubs Are the Real Power at Riverview

Rafelin Lorenzo drilled an RBI triple and a double and scored two runs, Fidel Mejia belted an RBI triple and a double and scored one run, Levi Jordan cracked an RBI triple and a single and scored a run, and six pitchers combined on a two-hitter, leading the South Bend Cubs (Lo-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) to a 6-1 victory over the West Virginia Power (Seattle Mariners Lo-A affiliate) in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training game action Thursday night on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

Although they were pitching for South Bend, it was actually a Eugene/Mesa "bullpen day" on Field #1, with six relievers from the Eugene/Mesa squad called upon to provide some "two-hit relief" for the SB-Cubs pen.  

Meanwhile, Thursday night's offensive heroes Rafelin Lorenzo and Fidel Mejia have been two of the pleasant surprises at Cubs Minor League Camp.

Lorenzo was selected by the Cubs in the AAA Phase of last December's Rule 5 Draft from the Pittsburgh Pirates in what appeared to be just an organizational depth transaction, but it turns out he is a really good receiver with a plus-arm and he has some XBH power at the plate as well. He showed enough at Minor League Camp that he beat-out Alexander Guerra, Jonathan Soto, and Henderson Perez for the #1 catching job at South Bend, and he actually probably could have been the #1 catcher at Myrtle Beach or maybe even at Tennessee if it wasn't for a guy named Miguel Amaya at Myrtle Beach and P. J. Higgins and Jhonny Pereda at Tennessee. Kudos to the Cubs Pro Scouting Dept. 

Fidel Mejia was leading (and may still be leading, I don't know) Cubs Minor League Camp in HR and XBH and (apparently) has won the starting 3B job at South Bend, even though he spent the last two seasons in the AZL and has yet to see Eugene. The 20-year old switch-hitter obviously put on some muscle during the off-season and now has pop from both sides of the plate (he hit a HR over the CF Batter's Eye on Riverview Field #5 last week), and he has worked hard to make himself into a decent-enough third-baseman that he should be able to stay at the hot corner as he advances through the Cubs system, although he can also play 1B and even a bit of 2B as well. 

Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether Cole Roederer will open the 2019 season at South Bend or at Extended Spring Training. Sometimes he looks great, and other times (like in Thursday night's game) he doesn't. So he is squarely "on the bubble," and it could go either way. (I guess we'll find out shortly). 

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

Cubs Release Four from Minor League Camp

The Cubs released four players from Minor League Camp this morning: 

Tyler Alamo, 1B (Cubs 2013 24th round draft pick - Cypress HS - Cypress, CA)  
Luis Ayala, OF (Cubs 2013 IFA - Venezuela) 
Michael Cruz, C-1B (Cubs 2016 7th round draft pick - Bethune Cookman)
Austin Upshaw, INF (Cubs 2017 13th round draft pick - Kennesaw State) 

2019 Cubs Spring Training Uniform Numbers


LHP Brian Duensing (who was Designated for Assigment this past Sunday) has cleared waivers and has accepted an Outright Assignment to AAA Iowa.

Because he has Article XIX-A status (player has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), Duensing had to give his permission before he could be sent to ther minors.



And to get down to the MLB Opening Day 25-man Active List roster limit, the Cubs have indeed placed RHRP Tony Barnette (right shoulder inflammation), LHRP Xavier Cedeno (left wrist inflammation), and RHRP Brandon Morrow (November 2018 right elbow debridement surgery) on their MLB 10-day Injured List retroactive to March 25th (which is the furthest back the assignments can be backdated).  



LHP Kyle Ryan has been optioned to AAA Iowa, and RHRP Allen Webster has been sent to Minor League Camp. 

So the Cubs MLB Active Roster now stands at 28, three above the MLB Opening Day limit of 25 players.

The three remaining moves that will get the Cubs Opening Day roster down to 25 will very likely involve placing RHP Tony Barnette (right shoulder), LHP Xavier Cedeno (left wrist), and RHP Brandon Morrow (November 2018 elbow surgery) on the MLB 10-day Injured List, retroactive to Monday 3/25.
NOTE: A 10-day Injured List assignment can be backdated up to three days -- including the three days prior to MLB Opening Day -- as long as the player being placed on the 10-day Injured List did not play in an MLB regular season game(s) and/or MLB Cactus League or Grapefruit League game(s) during the backdated period. 



The Cubs have signed FA LHRP Tim Collins to an MLB contract, and LHRP Brian Duensing has been Designated for Assignment to make room on the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) for Collins.

Collins accepted an Optional Assignment to Iowa after signing with the Cubs, and because he has Article XIX-A rights (he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), he had to give his consent before he could be sent to the minors.

Collins was an Article XX-B MLB free-agent post-2018, and he signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins in February, so just like Junichi Tazawa and the Cubs, the Twins would have had to pay Collins a $100K retention bonus and he would would have received an automatic June 1st opt-out if the Twins hadn't released him (or added him to their MLB 40-man roster) by yesterday's deadline.   

So the Cubs now have seven days to either release or trade Duensing.   



The Cubs have released RHRP Junichi Tazawa.

In addition, RHRP Dillon Maples, C-1B Taylor Davis, and INF-OF Ian Happ were optioned to AAA Iowa.

Also, NRI INF Cristhian Adames and OF Johnny Field have been assigned to Minor League Camp. 

So the Cubs MLB Active List now stands at 30, with one NRI (RHRP Allen Webster) still in MLB Camp as well. 

The Cubs must reduce their Active List to 25 players by MLB Opening Day (Thursday 3/28).

An injured or ill player on a club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) can be placed on the club's MLB 10-day Injured List beginning on Opening Day, but the assignment can be backdated up to three days (including the three days prior to MLB Opening Day) as long as the player did not play in an MLB regular season game(s) and/or MLB Cactus League game(s) or Grapefruit League game(s) during the backdated period.  


3/22 UPDATE:

The Cubs have optioned RHSP Alec Mills to Iowa. Mills suffered a lower back strain a couple of weeks ago and so he could not be optioned to the minors until he was healthy enough to pitch. 



The Cubs have optioned RHP James Norwood, RHP Duane Underwood Jr, and RHP Rowan Wick to AAA Iowa. 

In addition, twelve NRI players (RHP Christian Bergman, RHP Matt Carasiti, RHP George Kontos, RHP Dakota Mekkes, LHP Mike Zagurski, C Francisco Arcia, C P. J. Higgins, 1B-OF Jim Adduci, INF Ryan Court, INF Philip Evans, INF Trent Giambrone, and INF Zach Short) have been sent to Minor League Camp.     

So the Cubs MLB Camp roster now stands at 38 (including four NRI).   



First "batch cut" from Cubs MLB Camp:  

The Cubs have optioned RHP Adbert Alzolay and RHP Jen-Ho Tseng to AAA Iowa and RHP Oscar de la Cruz and LHP Justin Steele to AA Tennessee (although he is on the Restricted List, de la Cruz was optioned so that he cannot accrue MLB Service Time while on the MLB-MLBPA JDV suspension), sent LHP Alberto Baldonado, RHP Craig Brooks, LHP Ian Clarkin, RHP Carlos Ramirez, LHP Colin Rea, RHP Duncan Robinson, C Ian Rice, OF Charcer Burks, OF Jacob Hannemann, and OF Evan Marzilli to Minor League Camp, and released RHP Rob Scahill (who was signed to a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training).   

And as I have mentioned before, players who are optioned to the minors or sent to Minor League Camp can continue to play in MLB Cactus League games.  



Smokies Hurlers Cloud Drillers Vision at Riverview

Robel Garcia (RBI single), P. J. Higgins (RBI single), Roberto Caro (two-run single), Nico Hoerner (sacrifice fly), and Connor Myers (solo HR) contributed RBI and Oscar de la Cruz and three relievers combined to hurl a five-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts, as the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) blanked the Tulsa Drillers (Los Angeles Dodgers AA affiliate) 6-0 in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training game action Wednesday night on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.   

Prior to the game, C-1B Ian Rice and INF Vimael Machin were moved-down to AA Tennessee from AAA Iowa. 

Also, C Rafelin Lorenzo, 1B Tyler Alamo, INF Jhonny Bethencourt, INF Yeiler Peguero, 2B Carlos Sepulveda, OF Luis Ayala, and OF D. J. Wilson were not on the Smokies bench, so they may have been moved-down to Myrtle Beach from Tennessee at the same time that Machin and Rice were moved down to Tennessee from Iowa.  

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

Cubs Release Tazawa... But He Could Be Back

3/26 UPDATE 

The Cubs have indeed re-signed RHP Junichi Tazawa to a new (different) 2019 minor league contract. 



The Cubs released NRI RHRP Junichi Tazawa today, but that might not be the end of the Tazawa-Cubs connection.

Because Tazawa was a post-2018 Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signed a minor league contract more than ten days prior to MLB Opening Day (he was signed on January 26th), the CBA mandates that if the Cubs did not release Tazawa by today (five days prior to MLB Opening Day), the Cubs would have had to either add him to their MLB 40-man roster (and 25-man roster) by MLB Opening Day or else pay him a $100K retention bonus with a June 1st opt-out. 

So it's possible that the Cubs will re-sign Tazawa to a new (different) minor league contract without the automatic Article XX-B retention bonus and/or the June 1st opt-out (the Cubs actually did exactly this in 2016 with Shane Victorino, Manny Parra, and Munenori Kawasaki).

Rucker & Hatch Steal the Yu Show at Riverview

Michael Rucker (five innings) and Tom Hatch (four no hit innings) combined to hurl a three-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts, but neither team could push across a run, and so the Hartford Yard Goats (Colorado Rockies AA affiliate) and the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) played to a scoreless tie on Field #5, and the Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies AAA affiliate) blistered five HR en route to a 13-5 drubbing of the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Cubs) on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training game action Sunday afternoon on John Arguello Way at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ. 

Zack Short drilled a two-run double for the I-Cubs in a losing cause. 

Yu Darvish came over to the Riverview backfields from MLB Camp and got the start for Iowa, going 4.1 IP (71 pitches - 47 strikes), and allowing three runs on five hits (a HR on the very first pitch of the game, a double, and three singles), no walks, one HBP, two wild pitches, eight strikeouts, and 1/4 GO/AO. Despite allowing the three runs, it actually was a decent outing for Yu.

INF Daniel Descalso, who has been nursing a sore shoulder, also came over to the Minor League side from MLB Camp. Descalso batted second in each of the first six innings, going a combined 0-5 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored, and two strikeouts (one swinging and one looking). He looked a bit rusty at the plate. He played 2B for three innings, then moved to 3B for two innings, and then served as a DH, before retiring to the clubhouse in the 7th.  

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