Cubs Spring Training
In a nice bit of serendipity, the Cubs start off the Cactus League schedule with a doubleheader..of sorts. Split squad action on the "road" versus San Francisco and a home game versus the revamped Oakland A's. The home game will start with this: Fowler, Rizzo, Castro, Montero, Baez(2B), Coghlan, Olt, Sweeney (DH), Lake(RF) and Travis Wood on the mound. The Giants will see La Stella (2B), Denorfia, Alcantara (CF), Soler, Castillo, Bryant, Schwarber (DH), Valaika, Russell and Turner taking the mound.
Carlos Pimentel tossed five shutout innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out nine, as the AAA Iowa Cubs throttled the Columbus Clippers (Indians AAA affiliate) 7-2 on Field #6, while on Field #3 the Akron Aeros (CLE AA affiliate) defeated the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) 5-2, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader game action Monday afternoon at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
Jeimer Candelario drove-in three runs with two sacrifice flies and a ground out and Gioskar Amaya reached base three times on a single, a walk, and a HBP, stole a base, and scored a run, as the Daytona Cubs defeated the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels Hi-A affiliate) 5-2, and five pitchers combined to toss a two-hitter as the Burlington Bees (LAA Lo-A affiliate) edged the Kane County Cougars 2-1, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action this afternoon at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
The Cubs have added a couple of 25-year old "suspects" to Minor League Camp, acquiring 1B Matt Scioscia from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for 1B-OF Trevor Gretzky, and signing RHP Reinier Roibal (ex-SF).
The 6'3 230 Roibal was a high-profile Cuban defector signed by the Giants in 2010, but he was unable to work his way out of Lo-A ball after three seasons in the Giants organization, and was released at the end of Minor League Camp this time a year ago. He then spent the 2013 season pitching for the Newark Bears in the independent Atlantic League.
The son of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, the right-handed hitting Matt Scioscia was selected by the Angels in the 45th round of the 2011 draft as a college senior out of the University of Notre Dame, where he had been a catcher, first-baseman, and DH. The Angels moved him to 1B full-time in 2013, but like Roibal, the younger Scioscia has been unable to progress, hitting a combined 194/248/224 in 46 games (146 PA) between AZL Angels, Burlington, and Inland Empire in 2013.
I strongly suspect the Cubs will immediately move Scioscia back to catcher, the one position in the Cubs system that lacks quality depth, perhaps hoping that his catching "bloodlines" might awaken. The Cubs are also probably hoping a change of scenery might help the younger Scioscia fulfill his promise, but at age 25 he won't have a lot of time to show what he can do.
21-year old Trevor Gretzky is (of course) the son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, and was the Cubs 7th round pick in the 2011 June draft. But through no fault of his own, he was seemingly buried in a Cubs system that is chock full of outfielders with promise. The younger Gretzky never fully recovered from right shoulder surgery (he suffered a torn labrum while playing QB in a football game his senior year in HS) and so he been has been relegated to playing only DH, LF, or 1B in pro ball. (He has what is sometimes called a "rag arm"). However, he doesn't have the HR power you would want out of DH, 1B, or LF, he has just average speed so he doesn't profile as a CF, and he is a below average defender at both 1B and LF. What the younger Gretzky does have is decent eye/hand coordination, a good eye for the strike zone, and a nice opposite-field line-drive stroke at the plate (albeit without any HR power).
2014 CUBS MINOR LEAGUE CAMP ROSTERS (last updated 3-20-2014):
Junior Lake collected five hits (four singles and a double), stole two bases, and scored two runs, Welington Castillo reached base four times on three walks and a single, and Dustin Geiger singled twice, doubled, and drove-in four runs, in Cactus League Minor League action this afternoon at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
The Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affliate) hammered the Chattanooga Lookouts (Dodgers AA affiliate) 10-4 on Field #3, while the Albuquerque Isotopes (LAD AAA affiliate) edged the Iowa Cubs 4-3 on Field #6.
Lake and Castillo moved back & forth between the two fields, each working as an extra DH and taking an AB whenever the opportunity arose. Lake managed eight Plate Appearances between the two games, and Castillo had six.
Cubs #1 pitching prospect RHP C. J. Edwards got the start for Tennessee on Field #3, and he allowed one run on three hits (two singles and a double) and a walk, with five strikeouts and a 6/0 GO/FO in 3.2 IP (67 pitches).
Recently returned from the Arizona Diamondbacks (who had selected him the Major League Phase of the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft), RHRP Marcos Mateo threw a dominating 9th inning on Field #3 (two strikeouts and a broken bat 5-3 GO) to seal the victory for the Smokies.
LHP Eric Jokisch got the start for the I-Cubs, and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits (a single and a double) and four walks in 5.2 IP (78 pitches). He also struck out seven and induced two DP grounders along the way, using his quality off-speed stuff to keep Isoptope hitters off-balance. Albuquerque plated their two runs off Jokisch on a bases-loaded walk and a two-out RBI double.
Carlos Pimentel "piggy-backed" with Jokisch and worked 3.1 IP, allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits (three singles and a triple) and two walks. He struck out four, with a 2/4 GO/FO.
Kris Bryant went 0-3 for Tennessee, striking out (swinging) his first two times up, and then popping out to the first-baseman in foul territory in his final AB.
Arismendy Alcantara played SS and batted 3rd for Iowa, and he struck out all three times up, first two times swinging, and last time looking.
Though assigned to the Tennessee squad, Dan Vogelbach was the Iowa DH, and he went 0-3 in the game, grounding into a 4-6-3 DP and then striking out twice (both times swinging).
Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):
Welington Castillo homered, doubled, and singled, Jesse Hodges doubled twice and walked, and Duane Underwood tossed four innings of no run/no hit ball, as the Kane County Cougars rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 9th to edge the Burlingtom Bees (Los Angeles Angels Lo-A affiliate) 7-6 on Field #3, while the Inland Empire 66ers (the LAA Hi-A affiliate) drubbed the Daytona Cubs 12-3 on Field #6, in Cactus League Minor League Camp action this afternoon at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.