Tommy LaStella

Arrieta Leads Cubs to Doubleheader Sweep

Jake Arrieta and four relievers combined to hurl a three-hit shutout, Tommy LaStella drilled three singles, and Kelly Dugan and Ryan Kalish each belted a two-run home run, as the Iowa Cubs (AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) blanked the Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado Rockies AAA affiliate) 5-0 on Field #6, and Cael Brockmeyer ripped a double and a two-run single, David Bote collected an RBI double and a single, and four relievers combined to toss five innings of one-hit shutout relief, helping the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) edge the New Britain Rock Cats (Rockies AA affiliate) 5-4 on Field #5, in a Cactus League Minor League Camp doubleheader played in front of a standing-room-only crowd Saturday afternoon at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.  

Arrieta was sharp throughout his five innings (57 pitches - 72% strikes), allowing just two singles and a walk (1B, 6-4-3 DP, F-8, 4-3, P-4, F-7, 1B+E5, K, 4-3, K, 4-3, K, 4-1, BB, F-9, K, 5-3). In addition to his work on the mound, the Cubs also had Arrieta bat twice, and he struck out both times (once bunting foul for strike three while attempting a sac-bunt).  

Miguel Montero served as Arrieta's catcher, and went 0-2 with two deep F-8 fly-outs. 

Tommy LaStella (calf strain) made his second start in two days at Minor League Camp, serving as a DH for the Iowa squad. Once again, a pinch-runner ran for him when he reached base, but at the plate he was roping balls all over the yard, from foul line to foul line. I guess he's the kind of hitter who can roll out of bed anytime and anyplace and hammer line-drive after line-drive. He could probably turn around a 100 MPH fastball from a wheelchair.  

Matt Szczur (oblique strain) got the start in CF for Iowa and looked very good at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. He went 1-3 with a single, an infield pop out, and a fly out, and appeared to have no lingering issues with the oblique.  

As per usual, several players were called up to the Iowa and Tennessee squads for the day. RHRP Scott Effross was moved up from the Myrtle Beach squad and worked a scoreless 9th while picking-up the save for Tennessee on Field #5, and OF (ex-C) Yohan Matos was moved up to the Tennessee squad from the South Bend group and made a late appearance in LF. Also, 3B Wladimir Galindo, OF Michael Foster, 3B Adonis Paula, C Tyler Payne, and INF Edgar Rondon were moved-up to the Iowa squad from the South Bend group, and each saw some action in the game on Field #6 (Paula got the start at 3B for the I-Cubs). 

It would appear that C-1B Cael Brockmeyer, RHSP Brad Markey, and RHRP Juan Carlos Paniagua have been moved-down to the Tennessee squad from the Iowa group (not confirmed yet).  


 (updated daily)

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

Eloy, Marcano, and Sands Offer the Snake-Bite Cure at Talking Stick

Eloy Jimenez reached base four times (two doubles, a single, and a walk) in four Plate Appearances and drove-in a run, Ricardo Marcano belted a triple and a two-run double and scored a run, and LHP Carson Sands hurled four innings of shutout ball, as the Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 5-3 on Jackrabbit Field, and Raymel Flores drilled two triples and scored two runs, Sergio Alcantara ripped a two-run inside-the-park HR, and Wei-Chieh Huang and five relievers combined to retire 25 of the first 27 men they faced, leading the D'backs to an 8-2 victory over the Cubs on Whirlwind Field, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ. 

Jose Paniagua singled twice, doubled, and scored a run for the Cubs in a losing cause on Whirlwind Field. 

Recently signed free-agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 1-3 with a single and a walk and a run scored in four PA and RHRP Matt Stites (on AZ MLB 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation) threw a shutout inning (one hit allowed, one strikeout) for the Diamondbacks squad on Whirlwind Field.  . 

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Tommy LaStella (on Cubs 15-day DL - rib cage inflammation) has completed the Extended Spring Training portion of his rehab and has moved up to AA Tennessee, where he will begin his Article XIX-C Minor League Rehab Assignment. In just two Cactus League EXST games (10 PA), LaStella had seven hits (including four doubles and a HR) and a sacrifice fly, and six RBI. 

Also, INF Andrew Ely (Cubs 2014 32nd round draft pick - U. of Washington) has been moved-up to Lo-A South Bend, and INF Tim Saunders (Cubs 2012 32nd round draft pick - Marietta College) has been released.  

The 22 year old Ely began the season on the Hi-A Myrtle Beach roster, but he did not play for the Pelicans and was assigned to Extended Spring Training last month. In six Cactus League EXST games (21 PA), Ely hit 312/476/375, with a double, four walks, an HBP, two strikeouts, a stolen base, a run scored, and an RBI. He played both 2B and 3B while he was in Arizona. 

The left-handed hitting Ely had a fine debut professional season in 2014, hitting 298/348/479 with five HR & 16 RBI in 34 games combined between AZL Cubs and AAA Iowa. 

The speedy Saunders (48 SB in 148 career minor league games) was a two-time NCAA Division 3 All American in college and the 2012 NCAA D-3 Player of the Year, but yet he seemingly came out of nowhere to hit 381/431/536 between AZL Cubs, Peoria, and Daytona (combined 49 games - 218 PA) after being drafted in 2012. But then he suffered an elbow injury at Daytona in 2013 that required a UCL transplant (Tommy John surgery), and he was unable to regain the 2012 mojo once he returned to action.   

The 24-year old Saunders retired last June, but decided to try it again this season. He reported to Minor League Camp in March, but was left behind at Extended Spring Training. He still shows plus-speed on the bases and versatility and range in the field, and he still has a good eye at the plate, but he hit only 154/313/231 in eleven Cactus League EXST games (32 PA), with four walks and two HBP, six strikeouts, three stolen bases (one CS), five runs scored, and two RBI. He played 2B, 3B, and SS in Cactus League EXST games and intrasquad games while he was at EXST, and he has also played the outfield earlier in his career. He should be able to find a spot with an indepenedent league team if he wants to continue playing. 

It wasn't a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game, but the Cubs did play an EXST intrasquad game on Field #6 at Riverview Park yesterday afternoon.

Veteran MLB RHP Felipe Paulino was one of the starting pitchers in the intrasquad game, and he worked 3.1 IP and got his pitch count up to 63, so he may ready to join AAA Iowa sooner rather than later. He did allow three runs on four hits (two singles, a triple and a solo HR) and two walks, but he also struck out six (all six swinging). His fastball was consistently 94-95 MPH, and touched 96 at least once, so apparently there is nothing wrong with his arm (Paulino missed most of the 2014 season with a sore shoulder, and he had TJS in 2012).  

Tyler Alamo slugged a solo home run (that was the one HR allowed by F. Paulino), Yohan Matos, Carlos Jimenez, and Jose Paniagua belted triples, and LHP Jose Paulino tossed four innings of one-hit ball with six strikeouts (and a 6/0 GO/FO) in the intrasquad game. (J. Paulino is a virtual-lock to join Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Austyn Willis in the Eugene starting rotation, when the Northwest League begins play next month). 

RHP Dillon Maples had another poor outing. Working in relief of J. Paulino in the intrasquad game, Maples allowed five runs on five hits (including two triples and a double) and two walks in just one inning of work.This is the fourth consecutive Extended Spring Training for the now 23-year old Maples (he was drafted out of a North Carolina HS in 2011, but did not sign until August of that year), and while he still throws a 94 MPH heater and a hammer curve, he has a lot of difficulty commanding his pitches. He also sometimes will lose confidence in his fastball if he's not getting good results with it, and when that happens he tends to lose focus. 

Here are the abridged box scores from today's two Cubs Cactus League EXST games (Cubs players only), followed by the abridged box score from yesterday's intrasquad game at Riverview Park: 

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):