Roberto Caro

Cubs Take Two from D'backs at Talking Stick

P. J. Higgins belted a two-run HR, a double, and a single, Roberto Caro reached base six times (a double, an RBI single, three walks, and an E-6), stole a base, and scored a run, Andruw Monasterio singled twice, walked, and scored three runs, and Enrique de los Rios tossed 4.2 IP of two-hit shutout ball, as the AZL Cubs pounded the AZL Diamondbacks 12-1 in the completion of a game suspended on July 5th, and Angelo Amendolare doubled, singled, and drove-in two runs and Jose Paniagua clubbed a two-run home run to lead the AZL Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the AZL Diamondbacks in the regularly-scheduled game that followed, in Arizona League action Tuesday night on Whilrlwind Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Sciottsdale, AZ. 

The Cubs - Diamonbacks AZL game on July 5th at Whirlwind Field was suspended in the top of the 1st inning with one out and the Cubs leaduing 3-0 due to a medical enmergency. A person attending the game suffered a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest, and the game was halted while the Cubs & D'backs trainers performed emergency CPR until Salt River Fire Dept paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, the person could not be resuscitated, and so AZL Cubs Manager Carmelo Martinez, AZL Diamondbacks Manager Mike Benjamin, and the two umpires met at home plate and decided it would be best to just suspend the game and send everybody home. The players, managers, coaches, umpires, scouts, and many of the spectators who were there that night knew the person who very suddenly passed away in front of their eyes, and so it really wasn't possible to continue playing the game that night. 

Even the completion of the suspended game once it got going again last night was further delayed another 25 minutes in the fourth inning after the home plate umpire took a foul tip off his mask and had to leave the game with concussion symptoms. So while the players, managers and coaches were basically just standing around, the base umpire hurried back to his car to retrieve his home plate umpire gear, and then he disappeared into the Diamondbacks clubhouse to change into the outfit (which took even more time), after-which he umpired the game by himself (from behind home plate) for the final five innings (and nobody gave him any shit, either). .   

Here is the abridged box score from the suspended game from July 5th that was completed last night (Cubs players only) 

Camargo Sharp as AZL Cubs Defeat AZL Snakes

Andruw Monasterio drilled a two-run triple, walked twice, scored a run, and collected a third RBI on a bases-loaded walk, Wladimir Galindo belted a two-run double and knocked-in a third run with a sacrifice fly, Roberto Caro reached base on a bunt single, walked, stole a base, scored two runs, and drove-in a run with a sacrifice fly, and RHSP Jesus Camargo hurled five innings of three-hit one-run ball with no walks and a 11/1 GO/FO, helping the AZL Cubs defeat the AZL Diamondbaks 8-4 in AZL action last night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Cubs & Rockies Split the Difference at Talking Stick

Jairo Rosario reached base four times (single, double, walk, and an HBP) and scored a run and RHSP Javier Palacios tossed four innings of shutout ball, leading the Rockies to a 7-2 victory over the Cubs on Dust Storm Field, and Roberto Caro belted a two-run triple and Andruw Monasterio followed with an RBI single to highlight a three-run third to help the Cubs take an early 3-0 lead, but then they had to hold-on to edge the Rockies 5-4 on Red Mountain Field, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.   

Eloy Jimenez drilled an RBI double and a single for the Cubs in a losing cause on Dust Storm Field. 

Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - strained hamstring) continued his EXST rehab, serving as a DH for the Cubs squad on Red Mountain Field. He batted four times (once in each of the first four innings), and went 1-4 (5-3 GO his firsr time up, a strikeout looking in his second AB. a fly out to left his third time up, and a line-drive single to left in his fourth and final Plate Apparance). Denorfia appeared to be running better today than he did yesterday, but he clearly still isn't 100%.  

In EXST roster news, OF Kevin Encarnacion has been moved up to South Bend. Encarnacion was hitting 258/329/403 in 21 Cactus League EXST games (70 PA), with one HR and three triples, twelve RBI and nine runs scored, 7/10 BB/K, and one SB (no CS).  

Encarnnacion was signed by the Cubs out of Venezuela as an 18-year old in 2010, and has hit 291/402/428 in 797 career minor league games.

He was involved in a near-fatal car crash in the Dominican Republic post-2013 while attending an off-season mini-camp at the Cubs Dominican Academy. He was a passenger in the vehicle, and was pulled-out just seconds before the vehicle exploded.

Encarnacion suffered third-degree burns on his right side (he now wears a pressure-sleeve on his right arm) and shoulder damage as well, and the Cubs had him flown from the Dominican Republic to Phoenix immediately after the accident to be treated at the Burn Unit at Maricopa County Medical Center. After several surgeries and post-surgery rehabilitation that cost him the 2014 season, Encarnacion finally returned to the field at AZ Instructs post-2014.

The 23-year old Encarnacion was forced to give up switch-hitting as the result of the injuries sustained in the crash (he now only bats left-handed), and he was left behind at Extended Spring Training this year to continue working on hitting left-handed against LHP (not an easy task when you've never done it before) and to get regular playing time. 

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

Cease Fires 99, but Not Enough Gas to Stop Giants from Pummeling Cubs

Nicol Parra reached base four times (a two-run HR, two singles, and a walk), Chase Compton belted a triple and two doubles, drove-in a run, and scored another, Byron Murray slugged a three-run home run and a triple, Richard Amion Jr drilled an RBI triple, singled, walked, and scored a run, Fernando Pujadas smashed a two-run triple, and LHSP Nik Turley hurled six innings of shutout ball, as the Giants swept a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split squad doubleheader from the Cubs this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.

The Giants shutout the Cubs 6-0 in the game played on Field #6, and drubbed the Cubs 10-4 in the game played on Field #5. 

Roberto Caro singled twice, tripled, and drove-in two runs for the Cubs.

RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) got the start for the Cubs on Field #6, and worked a third of an inning, walking the bases loaded around a strikeout. Cease's fastball was riding high (topping out at 99 MPH), but he had difficulty commanding it (22 pitches - only ten strikes). Otherwise, he was unhittable.

Cease was the Cubs 6th round draft pick out of Milton HS - Milton, Ga in 2014, and the Cubs selected him despite knowing that he would need a UCL elbow ligament transplant ("Tommy John surgery"). Considered one of the top high school arms in the 2014 draft class and a likely 1st round pick prior to his elbow issues, he received a $1.5M signing bonus (equivalent to "first round money") and then had the TJS last July 22nd. He has made a rapid recovery, and barring a setback, he will likely be a rotation starter for the AZL Cubs when the Arizona League season begins play next month.

In his first EXST Cactus League start start last Tuesday (16 pitches, two outs recorded, one HBP), Cease's fastball was topping out at 97 MPH, so his velocity has increased a bit over the past week. 

Prior to the Cactus League games, RHPs Jacob Turner (on Cubs MLB 60-day DL with a right flexor strain), Erling Moreno (2014 TJS), and Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery) threw in a three-ining "sim" game on Field #3. Turner threw one inning (15 pitches), and Moreno and Masek threw two innings a piece (30 pitches each).

OF Chris Denorfia (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL with a hamstring strain) was one of the hitters in the "sim" game. 

In EXST Cubs roster news, LHRP Daniel Schlereth and RHSP Felipe Paulino have been moved-up to AAA Iowa.

The 6'3 260+ 31-year old Paulino was orginally signed by the Houston Astros as an International free-agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2001, and he has pitched in the big leagues with Houston, Colorado, Kansas City, and the White Sox. He underwent an elbow UCL transplant (TJS) post-2012 when he was with the Royals, and then missed most of last season with a right shoulder injury while a member of the White Sox.

Paulino was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on May 3rd, after being released by the Boston Red Sox at the end of Spring Training. His fastball velocity has ranged from 94-96 MPH in his two Cactus League Extended Spring Training outings and one EXST intrasquad game.  

Schlereth was the 1st round pick (26th overall) of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008 out of the University of Arizona, and was part of the Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Edwin Jackson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson/Phil Coke three-team mega-deal in December 2009, going to the Tigers with Scherzer, Coke and A. Jackson (Granderson went to the Yankees, and E. Jackson and Kennedy ended up in Arizona).

Schlereth was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs on April 26th, after he was released by the Detroit Tigers,

FELIPE PAULINO - CACTUS LEAGUE EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING GAMES
1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GO/FO, 22 pitches (12 strikes)  
2. 5/9: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1/1 GO/FO, 29 pitches (20 strikes)
TOTAL: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GO/FO, 64% strikes,  0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .182 OppBA

Paulino also pitched in one EXST intrasquad game:
5/14: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 2/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (43 strikes) 
 
DANIEL SCHLERETH - CACTUS LEAGUE EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING GAMES
1. 5/6: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GO/FO, 15 pitches (7 strikes)
2. 5/9 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 2 K, 2 WP, 0/1 GO/FO, 26 pitches (11 strikes)
3. 5/12: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO, 11 pitches (8 strikes)_
4. 5/15: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GO/FO, 22 pitvhes (15 strikes)
TOTAL: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 4 K, 2 WP, 4/3 GO/FO, 55% strikes, 6.25 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, .313 OppBA

Here are the box scores from the two Cactus League EXST games (Cubs players only):

LaStella Rakes Far from the Maddon Crowd

Tommy LaStella belted a solo home run, two RBI doubles, and a single, Adonis Paula ripped a two-out two-run game-tying double in the bottom of the 7th, and Roberto Caro tripled and scored in the 7th and then drove-in what proved to be the winning run with an 8th inning sacrifice fly, as the Cubs rallied from a 5-0 deficit to edge the Athletics 7-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park. 

Gabriel Santana and Carlos Hiciano drilled RBI doubles to highlight a two-run third and Iolana Akau hammered a three-run HR in the fourth for the A's in a losing cause. 

The game was called after eight innings. 

LaStella batted six times and reached base four times (he also was retired on an F-9 fly out and a 3-U ground out). He played second-base for the first four innings and then moved to third base for the next three, and he made one really nice play in the field, coming-in fast from third-base to snatch a slow one-hopper before throwing the batter out at 1st in a "bang-bang" play.

At the plate, both of LaStella's doubles were hard-hit line-drives, one crashing off the CF fence and the other drilled into the right-centerfield gap, and the home run was a line-drive shot over the RF fence. Even the F-9 fly out his first-time up was hit to the warning track. The single was an opposite-field looper that fell between the A's left-fielder. shortstop, and third-baseman in short-left near the foul line. LaStella didn't run at first (he apparently thought it would land in foul territory), or else he might have had still another double. 

In just two Cactus League EXST rehab games (10 PA) so far, LaStella has seven hits (including four doubles and a HR) and a sacrifice fly, and six RBI. 

Two of the three Extended Spring Training position player "conversion projects" were on the hill for the Cubs in today's game. 

RHP Mark Malave (ex-C) got the start and was not effective, allowing two runs on three hits (including two doubles) and three walks in 2.1 IP. He didn't strike anyone out. Malave features a high-80's two-seam fastball that occasionally touches 90 MPH, and a curve (which is his best pitch). When he doesn't keep his fastball down in the zone, he can get hammered.

RHP Jae-Hoon Ha (ex-OF) pitched in relief and struggled with his command (as has been the case in most of his outings so far), issuing two walks in his one inning of work. (Cubs pitchers issued a combined nine walks today). Ha throws harder than Malave (he tops out at 92) and probably has more of a future as a pitcher, featuring the low-90's fastball, a curve, a slider, a change-up, and a "mystery pitch" (not sure even he knows what it is...)

Prior to the Cactus League EXST game on Field #6, RHPs Neil Ramirez (on the Cubs MLB 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation), Santiago Rodriguez, and Pedro Araujo pitched in a two-inning "sim" game on Field #4. Rodriguez threw two innings (30 pitches) and Araujo and Ramirez each threw one inning (15 pitches a piece). Ramirez looked good, with no distress indicated by his body language or visible on his face during the course of the outing.    

In EXST Cubs roster news, RHP Trevor Graham has been released, and catcher Roberto Vahlis and SS Rafael Narea have been assigned to the VSL Cubs.

the 23-year old Graham was the Cubs 2013 13th round draft pick out of Franklin Pierce University, and he has not pitched since Minor League Camp (he has been inactive at Extended Spring Training). He began last season at Extended Spring Training and was moved up to Daytona briefly in May, before ending up at Boise. 

The 21-year old Vahlis (known affectionately as "Fuji" by his teammates) was at Minor League Camp at Riverview Park during Spring Training after spending the previous three seasons playing in Latin American summer leagues, with the DSL Blue Jays in 2012, and then with the VSL Cubs in 2013-14. (He is from Venezula).

Vahlis had three hits (all three singles) in five Cactus League EXST AB (all as a pinch-hitter or DH). He was originally signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a 17-year old international free-agent in July 2011, and he has hit a combined 213/324/313 in 107 career minor league games (2012-14). 

Narea was signed out of Venezuela by the Cubs as a 16-year old last July ("Signed for Future Service"), and was invited to Extended Spring Training after he turned 17 the first week of April. The slick-fielding Narea was hitless in eight Cactus League EXST Plate Appearances, but was impressive in the field. (Narea is one of 27 international free-agents signed by the Cubs so far in the 2014-15 International Signing Period) 

The Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) begins play this coming Monday (5/18), and the league schedule had to be re-worked somewhat at the last minute after the Mariners suddenly and unexpectedly moved their VSL affiliate (VSL Mariners) to the Dominican Summer League (DSL) earlier this year (the affiliate will play in the DSL as DSL Mariners #2).   

When the Cubs moved their second DSL:affiliate (DSL Cubs #2) to the VSL in 2013, the VSL became a five-team league at that time, resulting in a schedule where each of the five teams would play each of the other four VSL teams once and then get a bye on the 5th day. With only four teams now in the VSL (VSL Cubs, VSL Phillies, VSL Rays, and VSL Tigers), the schedule has been altered to where the four clubs will play six days in a row and then get Sundays off (like the Arizona Fall League).

Here is the abridged box score from today's Cactus League EXST game (Cubs players only), followed by the updated Cubs Extended Spring Training roster: 

LaStella Shows Desire to Play at Riverview Park

Jenner Emeterio doubled twice, scored two runs, and drove-in another, and Tyler Alamo belted a solo home run, leading the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Rockies on Field #5, and Luis Castro reached base three times (a single, a double, and an HBP), stole a base, and scored three runs, as the Rockies rallied for three runs in the 8th and two in the 9th to edge the Cubs 8-7 on Field #6, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Mesa CubTown at Riverview Park.  

Terry McClure belted a solo HR in the Rockies loss on Field #5, and Roberto Caro smacked an RBI double, singled twice, stole a base, and scored two runs in a losing cause for the Cubs on Field #6.    

Tommy LaStella (on Cubs MLB 15-day DL - rib cage inflammation) returned to the field for the first time in almost five weeks and saw action in the game on Field #6, playing 3rd base for four innings and then 2nd base for two innings. He batted four times (once in each of the first four innings) and had quite a day, driving-in three runs with two doubles, an RBI single, and a sacrifice fly, while also scoring two runs, helping the Cubs take a 7-1 lead through three innings.   

19-year old RHP Dylan Cease (2014 TJS) made his first Cactus League EXST game appearance after pitching in several "sim" games over the past month, throwing 16 pitches in the top of the 1st inning in the game on Field #5. He retired two (a 1-3 comebacker and a strikeout looking) and hit one batter before being relieved (he was under a strict pitch count).

Cease was the Cubs 6th round draft pick out of Milton HS - Milton, Ga in 2014, and the Cubs selected him despite knowing that he would need a UCL elbow ligament transplant ("Tommy John surgery"). Considered one of the top high school arms in the 2014 draft class and a likely 1st round pick prior to his elbow issues, he received a $1.5M signing bonus (equivalent to "first round money") and then had the TJS last July 22nd. He has made a rapid recovery, and barring a setback, he will likely be a rotation starter for the AZL Cubs when the Arizona League season begins play next month. 

RHRP Daniel Bard and LHRP Daniel Schlereth each threw an inning in the game on Field #6. Schlereth had an easy eleven-pitch inning (K, 6-3, 1B, 6-4 FC), but Bard allowed two runs on two hits, an HBP, and a WP, plus a two-base throwing error on an attempted pick-off in his inning (20 pitches - only 10 strikes). Bard is now throwing mostly side-arm, and his one-time upper 90's velocity now sits at 91-92, occasionally touching 93.  

Speaking of throwing sidearm, RHRP Corbin Hoffner has gone to an extreme sidearm delivery (it's almost "submarine"), and while he has struggled to command his pitches in games with his new delivery, he had a 1-2-3 9th in the game on Field #5, picking up the save with two strikeouts and an F-7.   

Prior to the Cactus League doubleheader, Erling Moreno (2014 TJS), Trey Masek (2014 shoulder surgery), and Anthony Carter (on AAA Iowa 7-day DL) pitched in a three-inning "sim" game on Field #3. Moreno and Masek threw two innings each, and Carter threw one.

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

Lew Wolff Knows Cubs CAN Go Home Again

Robero Caro (opposite-field line-drive RBI double into left-centerfield alley), Kevonte Mitchell (two-out RBI single chopped over 3rd baseman's head and into LF), Bryant Flete (two-out RBI bloop double that fell between three defenders in short rightfield), Eloy Jimenez (two-out RBI ground single pulled through the 5.5 hole), and Tyler Alamo (two-out two-run double off CF "Batter's Eye") collected run-scoring hits in a seven-run top of the 7th, as the Cubs rallied from a 5-1 deficit to beat the Athletics 8-6 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #4 at the Lew Wolff Training Center Complex at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ.   

Jhonny Rodriguez drove-in three of the A's runs, with a two-run HR in the bottom of the 1st inning and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 3rd.

The Defensive Play of the Game was (once again) turned-in by speedy Cubs outfielder Roberto Caro, who made a spectacular sliding catch along the right-field line and into foul territory to end the bottom of the 7th inning.  

This was the first visit by the Cubs Extended Spring Training contingent to their former minor league HQ at Fitch Park, which is now home to the A's minor leagues. The clubhouse and batting cages have been expanded (and look great), and new bullpens have been added to the four fields.  

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

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